2010 SOUTH AMERICA TRIP REPORT
My flight wasn’t till 8:17a, but I arrived at the airport at 6:30a to conduct a little research experiment—fodder for a future post.
United Premium Check-In in Terminal 6
The project took longer than I anticipated and had I not glanced at a wall clock outside CO’s Presidents club, I would have missed my flight. I thought it was about 7:30a. Turns out it was 7:59a. I returned to Red Carpet Club to gather my belongings, snapped the picture below (at least the LAX RCC looks nice), and was the last passenger to board my flight to Denver.
Onboard, a very friendly FA offered passengers a choice of water of OJ. She had a contagious smile on her face that appeared genuine. A pity she couldn’t have been on the IAD-EZE flight…
A lot of people rag on United’s “powdered” eggs served to passengers in first class on breakfast flights, but I have never minded them. In fact, today I found the choice was outstandingly tasty. Scrambled eggs mixed with cheese and green chili peppers served with sausage links and a hash of potatoes and chorizo really hit the spot. Even the croissant was warm and flaky. Outside of p.s. F, this was one of the best breakfasts I have ever had on a United flight—and I’ve had a LOT of them.
I picked up a HP netbook before the trip because my dear ‘ol Apple Powerbook just is not holding a charge for very long anymore. Plus, I wanted something compact. Ordinarily, my iPhone would have been enough (though I must admit, blogging from an iPhone is not an easy thing to do) but the wi-fi on my phone has not been working lately. Someone suggested I put the phone in the freezer for 20 minutes and see if that fixes it, but I thought buying a $300 netbook would be safer than replacing a $600 iPhone that would take hours to jailbreak and sync. That long-winded prelude is merely to say that I spent the rest of the flight typing on my new toy (that has since been returned to Staples).
After landing in Denver, the captain announced that thunderstorms were in the area. I had an umbrella with me, but was in no mood to take the hour-long journey into Denver if it was going to be pouring rain outside. As I mentioned in the introduction, I no longer needed to go to Boston and wanted to spend an extra day in Argentina, so I stopped by a customer service desk after landing and asked if I could standby from Denver to Washington Dulles and catch my flight to Buenos Aires a day early. The agent simply responded, “Tell me you have no bags,” to which I replied, “Of course I don’t” and out came the boarding pass, in first class, for my trip to Washington. I had done my homework on ExpertFlyer before asking to standby and knew that there was still three NF (confirmable upgrade) seats available on the 2:38p flight to Dulles. Looking back, it is sad to think that I may have given up a day in Argentina just because I did not want spend three hours in economy class on a domestic flight.
Mad stampede to board the flight to Dulles
We pulled out of the gate, taxied out of the alley, then sat…for about ten minutes. Those who were listening to Channel 9 knew that ATC had just placed a 3.5hr delay on our flight. Moments later, the Captain announced that we would be returning to the gate. Groans were heard throughout the cabin, but I was all smiles. Long delays on UA, even if they are due to matters beyond UA’s control, often mean an automatic e-mail to 1K members with compensation. I always have a use for another $250 voucher.
The captain mentioned something about a slot switch and no sooner did we pull up to the gate when we got word that we were cleared to go and another flight would be taking the delay on our behalf. We were fourth in line to depart when the Frontier Airlines flight in front of us got a four hour ATC delay of their own just moments before they were scheduled to take off. Selfishly, I was hoping we would be delayed again (as bolts of lightning were raining down in the distance and the sound of thunder could be heard even with Channel 9 turned up).
But we took off. This crew was surlier than the last and in a rush to chat among themselves. Since this was a middle afternoon departure, between the lunch and dinner windows, a snack was served—featuring a hot turkey panini, green salad, SunChips, and chocolate chip cookie. No hot nuts. No nuts at all, unless you count the woman across the aisle from me who was picking her nose. Unlike my last experience with UA’s new panini, this one was actually very tasty. I had to pick the wilted spinach out, but there was more than one slice of meat and one bite of red pepper this time.
Flight time was under 3 hours so despite the 45 minute delay, we landed only 15 minutes late. Next stop: Buenos Aires.