I had the chance to join Lucky for some mileage running over the weekend and was able to snag a great fare to Seattle. The only catch: I had to get up to Newark or LaGuardia to start the run. I chose Newark because it was easier to get to from Philadelphia's 30th Street Train Station.
Saturday morning I hopped on a SEPTA regional train to Trenton with a connection on NJTransit directly to EWR. The whole journey took about two hours and I was able to get some work done onboard, despite the screaming children who were kicking my seat all the way from Trenton to Newark.
The United counters were deserted and I quickly obtained my boarding passes and proceeded to the security line, which was also deserted. Moments later I entered the--yes, deserted--Red Carpet Club. There was only one other passenger inside.
I settled in and got a laugh out of the placards placed around the club highlighting United's youthful fleet. The signs were dated 1998!
The snack options included the usual late morning mix of potato chips, granola bars, packaged brownies, apples, and bananas.
Boarding for my flight to Chicago was scheduled to begin at 1210 and I left the club around that time, making it to the gate before 1215. The gate area was deserted (do you see a pattern?) and the agent called out, "Are you 1A?" I replied in the affirmative and she scolded me for almost missing the flight. I pointed out that that the flight was not scheduled to depart for another 15 minutes, to which the agent responded that they were trying to get the flight out early.
Onboard, I was offered a choice of beverage. As is usually the case on my CR7 flights, only half the seats were taken. The aircraft door did not close until 1227, so I don't understand why the gate agent scolded me for being late.
With flight time scheduled for over 2.5 hours, I was expecting a snack box onboard, the FA said that they were not offered on "these" flights. I was not hungry, so I did not argue. But to my knowledge (and in my experience), snack boxes are offered on all ex-Plus flights longer than 2.5 hours.
The two Go-Jet FAs rushed through a beverage service in the back of the plane then stood in the galley area discussing their relationships for the remainder of the flight. Unfortunately, they did not keep thier voices down so I got to hear all the details from my seat in 1A. Apparently, the purser's partner had just cheated on him and so he took revenge by sleeping with his partner's roommate. He also promised to introduce his roommate to his co-worker. Fun times...
I did manage to get some studying done on the flight for my upcoming law exams and we landed at ORD 30 minutes early. The Captain, trying to be funny, got on the PA and apologized profusely that the flight was arriving 30 minutes early. I didn't hear any laughing.
There were 30 people in line for the shuttle from the F Terminal to the C Terminal, but as I got in line a staff worker was calling for one more passenger for the bus that had just loaded. No one was stepping forward, so I did.
Upon reaching my SFO gate, I ran into Rick, author of the Frugal Travel Guy blog. We chatted for a bit before boarding began. Apparently, I am really missing out on a lot of miles by not churning credit cards. Check out his blog for more info.
Soon, Lucky arrived from One Mile at a Time and we settled in for the 4.5 hour flight to San Francisco. The 777 did not go out full in Business or Economy and the Captain had channel 9 on. BUT, the flight attendants were (how shall I put this delicately?) gruff.
The nuts were served piping hot and were very tasty. I noticed that the passenger in the row ahead of us was offered a refill, so Lucky and I asked for a refill too. The FA said there were none left and lunch was coming anyway. Hint to FA: If you want the nuts for yourself, just say so. After lunch when I got up to use the lavatory, I observed said FA enjoying said nuts as she scarfed down her lunch in the galley.
I was very pleased with the meal. The bread and shirmp were warm, the spinach tasted great, the balsamic vinaigrette dressing was flavorful, and the chocolate chip cookie was fresh.
While serving Lucky's meal, the FA dropped his bread on the floor...and left it there.
I took a nap after lunch and awoke as we began our descent into the Bay Area.
Lucky and I had two hours before our connection to Seattle and Rick had about two hours before his flight to Boise, so we hung out in the Red Carpet Club for a while.
At 7:15 we boarded our flight to SEA. The aged SEA flight crew was friendly and took my coat and offered water or OJ.
Lucky has many fans on his blog: I count myself as one of them. He also has a stalker. Anyone who reads his blog knows exactly who I am taking about. A few minutes later, a kid came onboard who looked exactly how I pictured the stalker would look.
Up in the air, sitting across from us, he ordered five orange juices and two cheese plates. He kept looking over, but it wasn't till we got to SEA that we determined that it must be him.
He got off the plane in front of us and sat down in the gate area. Who else would fly from SFO to IAD through SEA?
For a moment, I thought (hoped) we were mistaken because he did not initially appear on the SEA-IAD flight. But as boarding was winding down, he appeared and took a seat across the aisle in row three. He ordered more OJ. There were other traits that gave him away, but I won't go into them here. I will say this: if you ever read this blog JOSH (or should I say John)--you might want to be a little more discreet on future flights.
Enough about that. My special meal was not loaded so I received a skykit from the purser. The purser was exceptional--friendly and attentive the entire time I was awake.
I did manage to get a little sleep on the flight, though I was a bit leery of the passenger on the other side of the cabin.
We landed at Dulles early and retreated to the Red Carpet Club. At about 0745 I said goodbye to Lucky and walked over to the new Dulles train system to get to the A gates for my final flight to PHL.
The Terminal C train station is actually built quite a distance from the current Terminal C. A renovated terminal has been in the planning stages for two decades, but progress has been slow--very s l o w.
The train station reminds me of ZRH and is pleasant to the eye, but it takes twice as long to get from Terminal C to Terminal A than the old mobile lounge system did.
The ERJ-145 flight to PHL, operated by Trans States, was not filled.
I had a mango smoothie (pictured above) in my seatback pocket and as the FA walked down the aisle, she said, "Hey. Is dat wine? You can't be drinkin' in sittin' in the exit row." I showed her the container and she said, "Oh, okay. Muh wine looks like that." LOL. Hope she is not drinking it on the job!
It turned out to be a miserable flight. We were delayed 30 minutes and the heat was on high the entire flight, making the cabin stifling hot. But, we made it eventually.
Overall, I had a very enjoyable MR. While running into Lucky's stalker was odd and not all the crews were stellar, I just love to be up in the air. United isn't perfect, but they're my airline.
It is going to be three weeks before I get to fly again and I am already starting to go through withdrawal symptoms.