Review of United flight Denver Milwaukee in Economy

Airline United
Flight UA361
Class Economy
Seat 25F
Aircraft Airbus A319
Flight time 02:18
Take-off 14 Feb 24, 13:36
Arrival at 14 Feb 24, 16:54
UA   #68 out of 94 Airlines A minimum of 10 flight-reports within the past two years is required to appear in the rankings. 448 reviews
NGO85
By SILVER 212
Published on 21st February 2024

This set of domestic reports will be from a recent trip to MKE that had some interesting aspects to it


I picked a SFO-DEN-MKE routing outbound based on shortest timetable versus a longer routing through IAH or a dreaded ORD connection. UA currently operates DEN-MKE 3x daily on either ERJ-175s (2x) or an A319 (the only flight into MKE on mainline UA from any hub). The A319 flight turned out to be at the best time for me.


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This report will cover the flight from Denver to Milwaukee also taking a look at the new UA Club East and UA Club Fly at DEN.



Pre-flight


After deplaning from SFO, I went off in search of the UA Club in Concourse B since I only had ~40 minutes before my flight was due to board. I had read online that the West Club had been under renovation, so just headed in the direction of the East Club despite it being in the opposite direction of my gate. Reaching the central plaza in Concourse B above the intra-concourse trams.


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The entrance to the UA Club East is near Gate B44. There was a line to use the automated kiosks, due to some errors with the scanners. Eventually I was able to scan in requiring me to respond “Self” or“+Guest” on the touch screen before opening the gate.


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The lounge sits across 2 floors above the main concourse. The lower level was a zoo, so I went up to the top level admiring the new architecture of the lounge. Despite their lackluster reputation, UA has done a good job investing in the refurbishment of their lounges while also providing local character. The DEN Lounge is decorated with natural wood and contains several faux fireplaces with firewood stacked throughout.


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The bar on the upper level was packed, but has a ski lodge vibe.


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The buffet was also packed, not surprising during meal hours so no photos of the food offering. There were 5-6 hot items along with the standard cold offerings (sandwiches, fruit, etc.). I just grabbed some food and went in search for a space to sit. I found a place in the back corner to sit down.


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My sampling of the mac and cheese (soggy), roasted potatoes, and baked chicken thighs. I quickly ate and left the zoo.


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After leaving the UA Club East, I had about 20 minutes to boarding so went to go try the new UA Club Fly since DEN has the only one in the network. It is located at the far east end of concourse B near all the regional jet gates. The Club Fly is a grab-and-go concept for those with tight connections on/off regional jets. There are no agents and is accessed by scanning your boarding pass.


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Inside, there is a coffee bar where you can order drinks from a barista.


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Along the back wall, there is a convenience store style shelf and refrigerators filled with grab-and-go snacks. Beverages are pretty much everything they carry in-flight from the non-alcoholic selection. In addition to chips, muffins, and cookies, there are refrigerators filled with sandwiches, dips, yogurts, and fruit cups.


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There is a self-serve drink station if you do not want to wait for the barista, where I grabbed a quick shot of espresso.


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I sipped my espresso and ate a yogurt while I charged my phone along one of the counters. There are plenty of USB-A and USB-C sockets throughout


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With 10 minutes to boarding, I grabbed some snacks from the refrigerator to supplement my lunch and headed back across Concourse B towards my gate.


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I arrived at my gate just as pre-boarding finished and Group 1 was called perfectly on-time at 13:01.


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flight


United Airlines, UA361
Equipment: Airbus A319 [N854UA, delivered May 2002]
Departure: 13:36 (ATD: 13:32)
Arrival: 16:54 (ATA: 16:26)
Flight time: 1:55


Group 1 was only ~10 people on this flight to MKE and I joined the back of the queue.


Entering our 22-year old A319, a FA was in the galley offering sanitizing wipes. She handed me 2 and I turned to head back to my seat. No surprises, this A319 is not one that has been retrofitted with the Next cabin. A319 retrofits are only at ~20% complete and given the age of most of these planes, I see little value in the investment at this point.


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A view of the cabin with its juxtaposition of new seats in a tired, yellowed A319 frame.


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My seat, 25F. The flight would only be ~60% load factor so I had the row to myself. During boarding, people were told they could change seats throughout the cabin, but not to move into any of the EconomyPlus seats to keep respect for those that paid for them.


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A look at the Recaro seats in the A319 with adjustable headrest. The Economy section does not have any sort of charging ports, only EconomyPlus seats have AC sockets.


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The seats look new, but show a lot of damage on the seatbacks. Mine had a broken storage pocket.


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The seat pitch is 30” in this cabin, which is acceptable for a <2h flight.


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The age of the plane is confirmed by older PSU.


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Seatback pocket and instructions for BYOD.


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Seatback contents: safety card, Hemispheres, and barf bag.


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The sanitizing wipes handed out during boarding.


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Browsing Hemispheres while boarding completes. The BOB offering, since this flight is under 1500 miles, there is no Bistro on Board available, but I'll show this month's offerings.


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The route map caught my attention, I do not think SFO-CTU has resumed or will anytime soon.


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We get pushed back at 13:23 in parallel to our twin in Evo Blue livery.


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We fire up our turbines as we start our taxi out to the runway as the FAs perform the safety demonstration. Some excessive riveting on our wing showing the age of this frame.


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We are followed out by our bigger sister, a UA A320.


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There is no wait at this time of day so we are quickly aligning onto runway 34L behind a little UA CRJ-200 finishing her short run down the runway.


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We take-off ahead of schedule at 13:31 on a sunny day in DEN.


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We get nice views of DEN as we loop across the airport to start our eastern trek to MKE.


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It was a bumpy ride out of DEN causing us to stay at 30,000 feet for the first 15 minutes of the climb until we got into cleaner air along the Nebraska border.


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Since service was delayed due to the turbulence, I went ahead and pulled out my grab-and-go offerings from UA Club Fly. The vegan curry chickpea wrap was OK, had an unpleasant texture despite good flavor.


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After we reached 39,000 feet, the crew was released for service. There was no option for snacks, I was just handed both snack mix and chocolate quinoa crisps while I was asked if I wanted to buy anything from the Bistro. I declined and just took a water to accompany my snacks.


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The WiFi was active at the normal rate ($10 or $8 for MileagePlus members), but I only used the free flight tracking features on this short flight.


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Our descent started ~30 minutes out as we reached the Iowa/Wisconsin border.


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It was too cloudy to see the Mississippi River, but I did catch the Rock River heading down to Beloit.


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Crossing over the "Alpine" Valley Resort, a sad sight after crossing over the Rockies early in the day.


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We crossed into Lake Michigan just north of the Oak Creek Power Plant.


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A very cold looking Lake Michigan in winter.


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After making our u-turn, we aligned for arrival on runway 25L. This approach gives nice views of downtown Milwaukee in the distance.


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Landing on runway 25L ~30 minutes ahead of schedule.


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A look at our hydraulics.


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We pull into our gate, C14, 25 minutes early next to a SkyWest CRJ-200 about to leave for ORD.


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Since our gate was blind at DEN, a first look at N854UA still adorning the old livery (if it wasn't obvious from the wingtips in the above photos).


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MKE is a small airport and it was a short walk out past security.


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Reaching the main lobby, it is a short walk over to where the rental car center is located in the adjacent parking garage that is accessed by an indoor walkway. I picked up my car and was on the I-41 less than 30 minutes of touching down highlighting the airport's efficiency.


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This is where I will leave off this series as I start my short stay in MKE, thanks for stopping by!


flight details


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Verdict

United

6.1/10
Cabin7.0
Cabin crew7.5
Entertainment/wifi4.0
Meal/catering6.0

Denver - DEN

7.0/10
Efficiency8.0
Access6.0
Services7.0
Cleanliness7.0

Milwaukee - MKE

7.0/10
Efficiency9.0
Access6.0
Services5.0
Cleanliness8.0

Conclusion

Standard uneventful UA service with nothing of note standing out other than an on-time departure and early arrival into MKE. The new UA Club East is aesthetically nice, but over crowded with the closure of UA Club West for its renovation. The UA Club Fly's grab-and-go concept is an interesting model and I wonder if they will start rolling this type of lounge out at other hubs with sprawling regional jet gates soon (IAH/ORD).

Cabin: Another flight on a 20+ year old plane. The A319s have Recaro seats in a 30" pitch so are acceptable for a <2h flight. I had a whole row to myself so the cabin comfort was better than normal.

Crew: A friendly DEN-based crew, but were not really out and about in the cabin with the turbulence on take-off and landing.

IFE: BYOD and WiFi on offer. No charging whatsoever in the normal Economy section which is a big negative for the A319s.

Catering: Just one drink service, but the crew was more liberal on the snacks handing everyone multiple items due to the low load factor.

Related

2 Comments

If you liked this review or if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to post a comment below !
  • Comment 644804 by
    KévinDC TEAM SILVER 6719 Comments
    Always fun (and rare) to see FRs into MKE since I lived there for a few years after college and still go back pretty regularly to visit friends.

    I picked a SFO-DEN-MKE routing based on shortest timetable versus a longer routing through IAH or a dreaded ORD connection (might as well just drive the 70 miles).

    Haha...a lot to unpack here because it brings back a lot of memories (not all good lol). So baaack in the day, before all these revenue-based requirements for elite status, I would have maybe considered the longer options because the reward for the lost time was extra award and elite qualifying miles...well no more, no point to that anymore. I've done that ORD connection before and it's so silly being on that RJ for like 18 minutes going up I-94...I just always drive from ORD anymore because I've had that flight cancelled so many times and then had to take a train or bus up that it's left me post-traumatic stress. Same thing when I used to fly DL a lot into MSP and connected to RST...NOT worth it...just drive the hour or so lol.

    After deplaning from SFO, I went off in search of the UA Club in Concourse B since I only had ~40 minutes before my flight was due to board

    Gonna be following in your footsteps here. I'd contemplated switching FFP to non-US carrier for years for domestic lounge access and am finally taking the plunge. Switching to BA since I basically fly only BA and IB so it just makes sense. And it's not like we ever get upgrades on domestic flights anyway on the few flights we ever book in Y so yeah, it was time!

    A view of the cabin with its juxtaposition of new seats in a tired, yellowed A319 frame.

    HAH, that is EXACTLY what I said to myself when I saw that pic. UA really did a half-a$$ed job putting in these cabins a few years ago. Those side walls and bins should've been replaced--new bins space bins are really needed on DOM flights where everyone apparently takes their entire life in a humongoid carry-on bag these days.

    MKE is a small airport and it was a short walk out past security.

    Is the little aviation museum upstairs still open? Since I always fly into ORD I haven't been through MKE in ages, but always got a kick out of all the airplane models in the "museum"

    Thanks for sharing!
    • Comment 644871 by
      NGO85 SILVER AUTHOR 1972 Comments
      I've done that ORD connection before and it's so silly being on that RJ for like 18 minutes going up I-94...

      Ohhh, just wait for the next report. We were almost 2 hours gate to gate. Definitely not doing ORD-MKE again, DEN connection is the way to go, but then makes a F fare undesirable with the shorter flights.

      And it's not like we ever get upgrades on domestic flights anyway on the few flights we ever book in Y so yeah, it was time!

      Yeah, the whole revenue system just doesn’t pay off to make it worth while since there are a sea of elites these days. I’d rather just slum it as a plain *G and take advantage of the lounge benefits versus the inch or two of extra legroom on a Y fare. There are always other means to get EconomyPlus seats so it’s not that big of perk.

      new bins space bins are really needed on DOM flights where everyone apparently takes their entire life in a humongoid carry-on bag these days.

      Tell me about it… We had an old B739 (non-BSI) on the way back and they ran out of bin space with Group 1, lol. Everyone else had to gate check which took forever. The whole luggage situation in the US is out of control.

      I haven't been through MKE in ages, but always got a kick out of all the airplane models in the "museum"

      I looked it up and it is still there. Next time I have to go back to MKE, I’ll add it to my to do list while at the airport. I was too distracted by that clock in the lobby to notice the museum.

      Glad to take you back down memory lane, thanks for stopping by!

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