With 1K status now in the bag (in fact, I was surprised to see that I have banked over 120K EQMs already this year after all the flights credited), my travel on United for the year may be over. My recently concluded 58,000 mile trip was quite an adventure and I want to share, over a number of posts, highlights from the 23 flights I took on four airlines. Many of the flights were just run-of-the mill so I will not describe those while others, like my four Hawaiian flights, will be grouped into a single post.
Flight 1 – Frankfurt to Washington Dulles in United Economy Plus
I had a meeting at 1600 and by 1640 it was not close to being over. With departure 20 minutes away, I had to excuse myself and quickly make my way over to the gate. I had already checked in earlier and thankfully my office is just a short walk down the hall and down the escalator from the USA departures level at Frankfurt Airport.
Other than the Washington flight leaving at 1700 and San Francisco flight at 1725, there were no other flights for the day and because it was late, there was no one in line for security or passport control. As a matter fact, I probably could have remained in the meeting for an extra five minutes.
At the gate, everyone had boarded, but before I did I secured a row to myself in the center section of the Economy Plus cabin. This would once again prove to be better than an upgrade to United’s outdated business class on most of their 777s.
Onboard, once again I put down my Continental Airlines “This Seat is Occupied” signs, much to the amusement of the FAs who noticed (I do this to keep seat poachers away from the other seats in the row). I was still wearing my badge so the crew immediately picked up that I was in the industry and would go out of their way to treat me well on the flight.
The FRA-based purser came back prior to pushback, took note of the signs, and immediately struck up a conversation with me, promising to take great care of me during the flight. We talked about the airline business, primarily United, for a few minutes before she had to excuse herself to take care of some pre-departure duties.
The whole crew was friendly and sprang into action soon after liftoff, rolling out the beverage carts and offering me anything I wanted. Although in the past it has been worse than cough medicine, I took a bottle of red wine to have with dinner.
Soon the purser came back to chat a bit more with me and a Lufthansa guy who had a row to himself behind me. She spied my bottle of economy class wine and quickly whisked it away, promising to bring me the “good stuff from up front.” She did not disappoint.
I was not very hungry, but did eat the economy class meal provided—the combination of pasta and salad was tasty, though I did not touch the bread and dessert.
With five seats to myself, I took advantage of the space to stretch out and rest my eyes. I had not slept much the night before and soon was asleep, not awaking until I heard the clanking of the beverage cart: we were only an hour outside of Washington.
The purser was nearby and after chatting a bit more, she brought me a hot snack from business class—a delicious hot chicken wrap.
Who needs in business class when you have this?
We landed early at Dulles and I made it a point to thank her and many of the other crew members (becoming familiar faces by now after making multiple trips between FRA and IAD this year) as the aircraft de-boarded.
After a disappointing flight in first class the week before, this flight once again affirmed why I love United.
I realize that most would not get the special treatment I did, but I do suggest you engage the crew members and smile—it goes a long way. At the very least, snag a couple sick bags next time you are on Continental and put them to use on your next lightly-filled flight.
Just a quick bonus flight—
Flight 2 –Washington Dulles to Houston in United Economy Plus (United Express – exPlus)
Most of the traffic on the flight from Frankfurt was local and even though I had stayed to chat with the crew as most of the plane emptied out, I was the first passenger through passport control and over to the TSA checkpoint in the midfield concourse to catch my connecting flight. I made it from the plane back to the departure hall in under 10 minutes—a new record for me at Washington Dulles. The TSA even had the nude-o-scopes off, so the evening was going swimmingly.
As I mentioned in another post, my upgrade on the late IAD to IAH flight got screwed up and I ended up missing it. With a flight time of over three hours to Houston, my only solace in United’s mix-up was that I was seated in 3B, a seat that is not as comfortable as first class but has more legroom.
I still had my badge on and asked one of the FAs for a glass of water after boarding. She must have thought I was an employee, because she handed me an unopened large bottle of water instead. I was set for the flight!
The flight itself, with no IFE, was uneventful. I did some reading to make me tired, then passed out for the rest of the flight.
Headwinds were strong, so we ended up losing time in the air and did not arrive in Houston until after midnight. My next flight was less than six hours away.