Review of United flight F. Lauderdale San Francisco in Premium Eco

Airline United
Flight UA 1645
Class Premium Eco
Seat 11E
Aircraft Boeing 737-800
Flight time 06:11
Take-off 03 Aug 13, 18:14
Arrival at 03 Aug 13, 21:25
UA   #92 out of 121 Airlines A minimum of 10 flight-reports within the past two years is required to appear in the rankings. 319 reviews
jetsetpanda
By 4720
Published on 16th April 2014
Hi eveyone,

Please accept my apologies for the short nature of this report and the lack of substantial pictures that convey the whole experience from check-in to landing. Back when I took this trip, I have not discovered FR yet and I was more interested in capturing my catering impressions rather than the overall trip experience. You could say that thanks to FR I have become a more comprehensive and inclusive reporter.

This report not only covers the trip on UA but also includes some plane spotting at MIA and a bonus of the city with some nice areas besides Miami Beach. For those that are fans of Cuban, Nicaraguan or Peruvian cuisine, I have included some of my favorite dishes and restaurants.

As some of you know, I grew up in MIA and attended high school and university there. I frequently flew from SFO to visit my parents but last July I stayed over a month due to a death in the family. It was difficult and in my grief I went out to do the things that I enjoy doing the most. One of those activities is being at the airport and looking at planes, so armed with a camera I ventured one day to the outskirts of MIA airport and spent an afternoon photographing airplanes. MIA can be one of the few airports in the U.S. that are great for plane spotting with very convenient access. Right off the road on NW 72nd Av., you can park close to the train track and watch planes land and take off. Airline enthusiasts do that frequently and on the day that I went I was joined by a few aviation geeks.

photo Dramatic sky (5) (1024x681)photo Dramatic sky (1024x683)


MIA is known as the unofficial capital of Latin America and it is not surprising to see an extensive presence of carriers at the airport from that region. Two of my favorites liveries are AR and AV and I got a chance to take some close ups of both. My fascination with AR goes back to childhood when I received a carry on bag in 7th grade and used to carry it to school proudly with all my supplies and books inside. I always thought that their condor logo was distinctive and elegant.

Back then I lived in SJO and on a few occasions after school I used to visit the offices of different airlines to stock up on their latest promotional brochures on inflight service and airplanes. I remember a LH and RG brochure promoting longhaul service on their DC-10's which was a beautiful aircraft. In those days without internet and social media, companies relied heavily on marketing publications to get their message across and my room looked like a travel agency full of brochures everywhere. Some were quite elaborate and beautiful displaying the best the airline had to offer. Interestingly, I don't remember U.S. carriers offering a lot of printed literature, just schedules. As a matter of fact the ones that really went out of their way to showcase their products were European carriers like LH, AF, KL and British Caledonian. Asian carriers were just beginning to work on their reputations and the only truly visible one was JAL which was the best known of the group.


Plane spotting @ MIA


photo Dramatic sky (2) (1024x683)


The hometown carrier

AA 757

photo AA 757 (1) (1024x683)photo AA 757 (7) (1024x628)photo AA 757 (3) (1024x592)


AA 767

photo AA 767 (2) (1024x484)photo AA 767 (1024x622)


AV A330

photo AVA330BYAW (1024x682)photo AV A330 (1) (1024x458)


AR A340




BA 744

photo BA 744 (1) (1024x587)photo BA 744 (4) (1024x649)


LH 744




JJ 777

photo JJ 777 (1) (1024x683)


MP MD11

photo MP M11 (1024x668)



Around town


Coral Gables

Located about 4 miles from MIA, Coral Gables is an affluent neighborhood with good restaurants and diverse shopping. Its residential area is surrounded by trees and this area is a pedestrian friendly destination.




South Miami

This is a leafy neighborhood with a relaxing feel. There is a small French presence here and according to the census, 1.25% of the population in this city claimed French as its mother tongue in 2000.






The Falls shopping center

A very nice shopping area with upscale stores and restaurants.





Speaking of food

La Carreta is a popular Cuban chain located throughout Miami. Food is solid and reliable and this is one of the restaurants that I visit for my Cuban fix.

Caldo Gallego - a hearty soup made with white beans, bacon, pork pieces and chorizo.

photo La Carreta (1) (1024x768)


Arroz con Pollo with tostones (fried green plantains)

photo La Carreta (3) (1024x768)


Pig's feet stew with maduros (fried sweet plantains)

photo La Carreta (4) (1024x768)



Aromas del Peru specializes in Peruvian cuisine.

Aji de Gallina - shredded chicken in a spicy creamy sauce thickened with breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese and ground nuts served over rice.

photo Aromas del Peru (2) (1024x768)

Papas a la Huancaina - boiled potatoes served with a creamy and spicy cheese sauce accompanied by hard boiled eggs and olives.

photo Aromas del Peru (1) (1024x768)

Saltado de pollo - saltado is a stir fry with any type of meat and in this case it is chicken. The meat is stir fried with french fries and soy sauce is added along with other spices and herbs.

photo Aromas del Peru (3) (1024x768)



Los Ranchos is probably the most famous Nicaraguan restaurant chain in Miami. The quality of the food is great and reliable.

Interior of restaurant in the Falls shopping center.

photo Los Ranchos MIA (16) (1024x768)photo Los Ranchos MIA (17) (1024x768)


Tajadas - thinly sliced and fried green plantains

photo Los Ranchos MIA (12) (1024x685)


Churrasco steak with chimichurri sauce and gallo pinto (red beans with rice)

photo Los Ranchos MIA (9) (1024x768)photo Los Ranchos MIA (11) (1024x755)


Accompaniments - chimichurri, salsa picante and pickled onions

photo Los Ranchos MIA (4) (1024x817)


Cuatro leches with layer of dulce de leche on top and Pio V (a custard with cake infused with rum).

photo Los Ranchos MIA (13) (1024x734)



My trip started in FLL on a rainy day and once I arrived at the airport I went straight to the UA counter. A very nice agent checked me in and issued the boarding passes. I requested a wheelchair for my mother and after a couple of minutes one showed up to take her to the gate. Security was done in a very professional and quick way, and soon we were inside the gates. The skycap left my mom by the gate and advised that someone will return when it was time to board to take her to the plane. I made some last minute calls to relatives and friends and eventually it was time to board. When I saw that an announcement was made for elderly and families to board and no one has arrived to push my mother's wheelchair, I decided to do it myself. The gate agent was already pushing the chair of another passenger and this experience was just chaotic and disorderly. I don't blame the gate agents so much as the contracted wheelchair personnel. Once inside the jetbridge at the entrance of the door, one of the skycap agents helped my mom after he finished with his customer ahead of us.

I have requested Economy Plus seats and paid for them online. I did not have status with UA, so I had to pay for Y+. On their website, the middle Y+ seats are cheaper than the window or aisle ones. I reserved two middle seats one behind the other, but in order to get seats together I called UA reservations and requested to be seated together. The reservation agent assigned us a window and middle in Y+ without any issues and I was not charged for the difference.

The Y+ seats on UA are spacious and I would even say that they seemed a little roomier than AA's MCE.

Boarding

photo UA 1645 (1) (1024x768)photo UA 1645 (2) (1024x768)


Service was attentive with FA's that were pleasant. I purchased the Roast Beef baguette for USD 8.99 which was served cold and it was more bread than anything else. For a transcon flight of this length, I think a warm option would have been desirable. Then I had the Artisan Cheese selection for USD 7.99 which I enjoyed with the fig spread on top of crackers.




We landed on time and to be honest this flight was better than I expected with the exception of a hot catering item.
See more

Verdict

United

7.4/10
Cabin8.0
Cabin crew8.5
Entertainment/wifi6.5
Meal/catering6.5

F. Lauderdale - FLL

8.1/10
Efficiency8.5
Access8.5
Services7.5
Cleanliness8.0

San Francisco - SFO

9.2/10
Efficiency9.0
Access9.0
Services9.0
Cleanliness10.0

Conclusion

Compared to MIA, FLL is less crowded and smoother to fly from. The check-in experience was great and it is always great to be assisted by a helpful and professional agent. The only disappointment was with the wheelchair agent that did not show up at the gate, but that is not the airline's fault.

Having an Economy Plus seat made for a very comfortable ride on this transcon flight. The crew were attentive and friendly, so there is nothing to complain about. IFE had a choice of different programs but I always bring a book or magazines, do I did not use it.

Catering can be improved and on a long haul like this it would be nice to be able to buy something hot, especially one that departs in the afternoon close to dinner.

Thank you for your visit and I hope you enjoy this report.

Related

16 Comments

  • Comment 105950 by
    lagentsecret GOLD 12417 Comments

    Thanks for sharing this FR

    Gorgeous pictures of spotting

    Interesting gastronomic bonus

    Not a lot of pictures of the flight but the writing is brilliant and it's easy to picture the scenes

  • Comment 105971 by
    Numero_2 GOLD 9930 Comments

    Gorgeous spotting at MIA.

    The flight itself is an average UA transcon.
    Good to know that a couple of 737s are equipped with IFE. Or is it just the case in Y+ ?
    What a shame not to offer better meal options than the cold items you've had ! What about alcoholic drinks in UA Y+ ?

    Thanks a lot for this new report.

    • Comment 292513 by
      jetsetpanda AUTHOR 2294 Comments

      I believe all seats have IFE, not just Y+, otherwise that would be really segregating and I don't think the airline would go to such extreme to upset the customers. ;)

      Alcoholic drinks are buy on board items.

      Thanks for your visit.

  • Comment 105988 by
    AirCanada881 1622 Comments

    thank you for sharing this report. The spotting photos are stunning as are those of the culinary delights you enjoyed on the ground, I certainly won't complain to see more of these :)

    Standard US domestic flight, thanks for sharing.

    • Comment 292518 by
      jetsetpanda AUTHOR 2294 Comments

      Thanks mon ami. As someone who loves food I try to include a bit of that in my reports. Stay tune for some German treats at the end of May when I go to TXL and fly on LH J. I learned that LH is showcasing American food on flights departing from the U.S. I will be flying YVR-MUC and pray that Canadian flights are not affected by this new implementation.

      One can eat very well in MIA without breaking the bank. Portions tend to be large and tasty.

  • Comment 105994 by
    KL651 TEAM 4492 Comments

    Thanks for this FR.
    I too used to go to airlines offices to get brochures, I still have many of them today and that enables to remember how exclusive it still was to fly before the internet and LCC emerged.
    Nice trick to get decent Y+ seats for a cheaper price!

    • Comment 292521 by
      jetsetpanda AUTHOR 2294 Comments

      It's great that you kept some of those vintage brochures. My collection is almost gone because I moved from one country to another and it was not practical to bring all that baggage with you. I wish I had kept some of them. Fortunately there is a website that showcases these promotional materials. I don't know if you are familiar with it but there it is:

      http://airlinespastpresent.blogspot.com/

      There are loopholes everywhere and if you take the time to look, you can find them. ;)

  • Comment 106082 by
    KévinDC TEAM SILVER 5305 Comments

    Great planespotting! I love the diversity of traffic at MIA--a nice mix of Latin American and European aircraft you don't get really get to see here in the Northeast. FLL-SFO is a looooong flight to be in a 737! Good thing you were in E+. The lack of hot food for sale is a shame...does any airline offer warm BOB in the US? I've only seen that on Air Asia before.

    • Comment 292659 by
      KévinDC TEAM SILVER 5305 Comments

      YX's hot meals were free since the whole cabin was Premium....aaah, those were the days.

    • Comment 292676 by
      jetsetpanda AUTHOR 2294 Comments

      I once flew YX from MKE-LAX and had the most generous meal in Y. I was impressed by the use of chinaware and although there was no choice of meals, I was given a chicken dish that consisted of two generous breast portions, a salad and a big piece of cake with strawberries and whipped cream.

      Ah the good old days when domestic U.S. flights used to provide meals in Y with metal utensils. I wonder if 9/11 didn't happen how different would the aviation landscape be. One thing is for sure, competition has always been good for the customer.

    • Comment 292522 by
      jetsetpanda AUTHOR 2294 Comments

      Yes, MIA is one of a kind airport.

      I hate narrowbodies on long transcon flights. They are really uncomfortable.

      Actually UA advertises on their magazine that on certain routes the sandwich that I got is served warm. I thought that would apply on a transcon but that was not the case. I think AS offers a hot dish and YX used to have them as well. Also, I had a hot BOB on Niki.

      Thanks.

  • Comment 106314 by
    Avionero 77 Comments

    Thanks for this report with awesome spotting pictures.
    I specially loved the AR's A340 sequence and the magnificent LH's B747-8i... I hope Lufthansa send them to Argentina one day...
    I bet you weren't using a pocket camera ;)

    • Comment 292941 by
      jetsetpanda AUTHOR 2294 Comments

      Gracias Avionero. I rented a Canon EOS Rebel T3 for the spotting pictures and the ones on UA were taken with a Canon Powershot G12 (not quite pocket size).

      I will be flying the LH 744 from FRA-ORD. Stay tuned for my report later next month.

  • Comment 106855 by
    marathon GOLD 9566 Comments

    A great plane spotting place indeed, with excellent lighting conditions and proximity to the landing planes ! Thanks for the ensuing tourist bonus too and for the recall of this flight.

Login to post a comment.