Last week the wife and I took our yearly trip to Lincoln City on the Oregon coast to rent the tiny beach house we've rented for nine years, a truly gorgeous spot on earth via United Airlines (UA). I will post a report on the stay in Oregon later in the Blog section.
Our Houston Intercontinental (IAH) to Portland (PDX) flight was on a B739 that was delivered to Continental Airlines (CO) in 2001, but the aircraft was in such good condition it looked like it was brand new. We departed IAH five minutes early for our 4+18 minute flight to the great northwest. Not far out of the cold rainy morning in Houston we cleared the clouds and found what winter looks like 60 miles north of us, this is still Texas remember. Brrrr where is Spring?
The Flight Attendants soon came around with hot towels then took beverage orders and breakfast options. We could pick from French Toast, Cold Cereal or Skillet Style Scrambled Eggs all accompanied with Fresh Fruit and Greek Yogurt. My wife selected the French Toast while I opted for the Eggs. Both entrees came with New Mexico Applewood Sausage and Potato Graitin.
My Eggs were excellently seasoned and very moist while the Sausage and Potato combination just perfectly done.
My wife got into her meal too fast for a nice picture, but a lover of French Toast all I can say it is must have been wonderful as she didn't make a sound or offer me a taste! After two rows of seats were served they came around with Cinnamon Rolls or Biscuits thankfully we passed on those. The meal was totally filling and when they came around to pick up the trays we were asked if we needed refreshing on our beverages to which someone couldn't resist themselves to top off the French Toast.
With DirecTV and WiFi the time just flew (pun intended) by. I even found some oldies on TV. Why were these POW's out in the woods?
Soon it was time to start the descent from 38,000' and some 45 miles east of PDX she appeared while passing 15,000' WOW, always amazed whether it be Mt. Rainier, St. Helen's or Hood, but this day Mt. Hood stood out clear and crisp while across the aisle you could see Mt. Rainier.
Our beverage glasses were picked up by our incredible Houston based CO now UA crew, they even knew my best friend the retired B772 Captain from his days on the B73's as well as his wife who was a Flight Attendant for CO. It was really nice to share stories of the couple during the flight. The landing was so smooth you didn't know you were on the ground until the thrust reverse was initiated and you felt the brakes. A short taxi to E1 and we said bye to the great crew and thanked them for keeping us safe and their service.
Fast forward six days and we are heading back home aboard a B738 that was delivered to CO in 2008 and again looked brand new. Equipped with DirecTV and WiFi again for our trip home we boarded and who do we find, the exact same two Flight Attendants we had coming up in the Premium cabin. Too funny and after exchanging hello we were served pre-departure beverages and closed the door five minutes early for the 3+35 flight back home to IAH.
I the row across from us 1E/F sat a couple that had been involved in a head on car accident two weeks earlier and had been in a Portland Hospital until the day before. They had broken feet, ankles, bruises on their faces yet were in great spirits. The Flight Attendants took such great care of them, even to the point of placing one of the meal cases from the galley beneath the woman's foot so she could keep in elevated without any difficulty. What an act of kindness in this day of Flight Crew bashing that takes place so often.
With the door closed we were off right on schedule and ready to order lunch while the hot towels were passed out. We were offered a selection of Tandoori Chicken with Rice and Salad, Grilled Chicken Salad with Tomato Basil Soup or Zucchini Ravioli with Salad. My wife selected the Ravioli and I the Tandoori Chicken both with White Wine and Water for beverages.
OH MY, the Chicken was delicious yet not quite as spicy as I would have liked (guess you have to keep the spice lower for some) and the Ravioli equally as good. Again both meals nicely heated and very low in sodium which we both loved. As they picked up the completely empty places we were told once all the customers food was taken away we would have desert. I'm thinking Cookies or maybe the often found UA Cheesecake, but NO......are you kidding me Sorbet with Mint. WOW impressive!!!!!
Totally full now and enjoying the bottomless wine serving we found ourselves in some moderate turbulence which makes my wife totally uneasy, me not so much. The Pilot's kept changing altitudes from 37,000' all the way down to 25,000' and still we got a mostly bumpy ride even if not so bad as an hour back.
Just before our descent into IAH a look back at the new Scimitar Winglet that is showing up on more and more Boeing planes these days.
Before we knew it we'd come up on the approaching clouds and rain coming up from the Gulf of Mexico then as we turned on to final approach for what I soon discovered was Runway 8R at IAH we popped out of the clouds at 4,000' to find an E145 to our left (some 5,000' horizontally) on final to Runway 8L. That poor guy didn't stand a chance in the race to the airport as we rolled by them. Out the other side of the airplane we were passing an A320 landing Runway 9, busy time at IAH during the 5:45 PM time frame to say the least.
Another outstanding landing and we were saying bye to our Flight Attendants again thanking them for keeping us safe and the excellent service. It's always fun to fly with people you know, almost feels like family.
UA gets a bad rap for many things, from flight interruptions, lost baggage, bad customer service and more. I even get on the band wagon on some occasions yet most often have no issues with most if any of these issues.
Recently some of you may have read about UA upgrading their meals in the Premium cabins. Since that announcement I've had four flights in their Premium cabins during meal time and maybe just maybe they're turning the corner in giving the passenger what they've been screaming for in the last few years.
BRAVO United on this trip, hopefully things are looking up for all who fly you and the employees as well.
Thanks so much for coming along with our flights.
Well hello IAHFLYR, let me be the first to post a hearty welcome back by saying so glad you and the little french-toast-loving Missus had a good time at your special getaway place. So glad to read that you had excellent flights with excellent service. The plane must have indeed been like brand new, judging from that fantastic shot of Mt. Hood, which was obviously taken through a clear window (isn't it great to get one of those?)
Was it you or zukracer who mentioned previously that one can take a 787 from IAH to ORD on UA? I'll have to try that when I finally make my way to Chicago (even going out of my way), not just to taste the Dreamliner, but also to sample the "Newer New United Airlines," 'Cuz. I think. It. Sounds. Like. What I might. Be hearing. Is. Someone down in Houston saying, "Come on in, the water's warm!"
"Oh... okayyyy... "
Hmmm... might have to give up my UA whining. Just might... Hey, and maybe you too!
Sharp right turn here, bet those poor folks will be so grateful to finally be home. Good on the UA F/A's for their kindness.
Particularly that window at 1A which is always subject to "jetway rash).
Thanks Pluto and not sure about the B788 to ORD, I know you can get one from LAX, SFO and DEN to IAH in the current schedule as the only Pilot base until recently was IAH until they added LAX I believe.
Could be that "Someone" might be saying give it a try and you might like it. But now the disclaimer......these were all west coast to IAH flights so can't be sure what the new food will be like on 2-3 hour jaunts, but one never knows till they experience it.
Thank you for the great review. To be honest, I've been avoiding United for several years after bad experiences when I lived in Chicago. I enjoyed CO and accumulated a lot of miles. I transferred most to Amtrak after the merger, but saved a few. I have an upcoming trip from SFO to CVG in FC and look forward to the upgraded meal service you described. Now that I am Silver with the Marriott status match, I may consider flying them instead of the other airlines that have really downgraded their service.
Glad you enjoyed the report.
They all look the same, but are different and here are the links about their upgraded meals on mainline and Express flights as well as the upgraded food their putting into the UA Clubs this year.
Thanks for the report! Sounds like you had a great time and really good flights. The UA experience is often better if in FC, am I right?
The parallel landing into IAH is cool. I have seen this twice while landing at ORD. One time in particular I remember seeing the other plane with us for a good 6-7 minutes on approach. It was pretty cool. I can't wait for the ORD runway modernization program to finish. It probably has a good 2 years to go, but they have made significant progress already and I would think it will help greatly in regards to delays.
Better in FC, thinking like that you sound like you're from far Northeast Texas!!
I haven't even looked at what ORD is going, but they already are capable of triple simultaneous approaches in all weather just like IAH, DFW, ATL and a couple of other joints. Now you make me curious to look.
O'Hare International Airport - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia see Modernization Program
Eventual configuration. I think it should be totally done 2018. They have come quite a long way already (since 2009) and it will only get better each year.
Thanks for the link. Looks to me like the arrival capacity won't increase much as they already have the 3rd runway for triple ops in place however; it will add longer and a new runway for departures which will help some. Those two sets if middle runways are too close together it appears to be able to fly quad simul approaches, which when if ever implemented around the country with airports that have the ability will certainly put much more demand on the taxiway and ramp structures to avoid gridlock which happens now on some days.
I just got my first upgrade on United. Well, technically, that's not true. I've been upgraded to Economy Plus on every flight since getting UA Silver Premier status courtesy of the Marriott-United partnership. What I should have said is that I got my first upgrade to First Class.
It was an overnight flight from SMF to IAH on B738 (16 FC seats). Even overnight, the flight was full, so having the extra room was wonderful. While I don't ever find it easy to sleep on a plane, I must have dozed off a couple times because the flight only seemed to last about an hour (actual flight time was over 3 hours).
I don't know when it might happen again, but this upgrade came at just the right time. Too bad the flight from IAH to CMH was on United Express. Quite possible the least comfortable airline seat I have experienced (or maybe it just felt that way after flying FC ).
If you're flying the Airbus then it is for sure an old UA crew, but all the B737/8/9 flights you'll have CO crews for Flight Attendants even though the very newest B739ER's with Ship # in ending in the 800 numbering will be old UA pilots as these were UA deliveries, but you won't know until the plane is parked at the gate and you get on for the newest 900ER's.
We've not had bad luck with any of the old UA Flight Attendants as to/from IAH I pretty much think the put on a better show!
Do you live in the Houston area?