It is easy to rag on United Airlines for its many shortcomings, but United once again came through in a pinch over the weekend, leaving me very pleased to be a Premier 1K member and wondering whether I can ever give up this status.
Last June I had a death in the family that required a next-day flight to Denver. At that time I was determined to divert my business to American Airlines, but United’s schedule and price were too convenient to pass up for that particular journey. I wondered then if I would ever be able to truly give AA a try and it turned out I did not–I flew only about 10K miles on AA last year for the overarching reason that United was just more practical.
Another family member died last week (tragically, the spouse of the deceased cousin from last year), so it became necessary to make another last-minute trip to Denver. Once again, I was traveling with my father and uncle and needed three tickets fast. Comparing prices, United once again came out on top and would allow us to leave LAX early, attend the service, and fly back that evening.
After assigning my uncle an exit row seat on both flights, I split him out of the PNR so that my father and I would be eligible for complimentary upgrades and just hours later our upgrades cleared on the outbound to Denver. The following evening, about 20 hours before the return flight, our return upgrades cleared too.
We arrived at LAX early on Saturday for the 5:50a departure where I was able to take my uncle into the United Club for a decent breakfast of granola, a banana, yogurt, and a bagel before the flight (he flatly refused my offer to take my first class seat). The flight was oversold and we could have each picked up a $150 voucher to go 1hr, 10min later, but we did not have the time…we had little room to work with if we were to make the funeral on time at 11am.
Celebrity Josh Duhamel was seated across from my father and me in first class and attracted a lot of attention throughout the flight, including two FAs (pretty tacky) and several passengers who asked him for a picture together. Several others engaged in small talk and I just felt sorry for him–it was 5:30a after all, but he was very gracious to all who approached him.
Service was good and breakfast–though not particularly healthy–fueled me until lunch.
I love flying through Denver and find the airport very easy to navigate. We proceeded down to the shuttle, took it two stops to the Jeppesen terminal, boarded a bus to the Hertz lot, and were soon our way to Denver, arriving at 10:40a for an 11:00a service.
Our flight back was at 5:45p and we were safely back in the confines of the United Club by 3:30p. The snack selection is not all that impressive, but I was able to get some work done and it was a quiet oasis from the terminal outside.
The flight back to LA was staffed by a very junior ex-Continental crew, but they were all smiles and it was my father’s first flight with DirecTV. He was amazed…and enjoyed it the whole flight. I also enjoyed watching 42 (the story of Jackie Robinson), as the flight time was just long enough to finish it. Dinner was a choice between chicken calazone or shrimp salad, both served with tomato soup and an oatmeal raisin cookie. Hot nuts to start and while hardly a remarkable meal, it was perfectly adequate and actually filling.
PreCheck at both LAX and DEN made the security experience a breeze–I was through in five seconds while it took my uncle and father 10 minutes to clear the premium security screening line.
I was back at my house by 8:00p where I promptly fell asleep for the next 10 hours. It was a good day of flying and United got me where I needed to go, on time, well-fed, and for a reasonable price. I could not have asked for anything more and dread the thought of losing my status in 2015 if I scale back my flying.