West Coast Loop – Part 6 – United SFO-LAS in Economy+

After a half day at the US Open on Thursday, it was time to head on to Las Vegas for the last stop on my trip.  It has been several years since I’d flown United out of San Francisco, so I wasn’t super familiar with their setup at this field.

Thanks to my Star Gold status via Aegean, I was able to check in at United’s Premier Access area.  I had checked the flight load previously, and saw it was quite full, so I elected the upgrade to Economy+ for $24.  Non-United elites do not get free access to Economy+.  This proved to be money well spent as the flight was entirely full.

Sorry this one is blurry.

I was directed to the security queue to the left (north) from the check-in area.  There was quite a long queue, and when I showed my boarding pass to the preliminary document checker, she saw my gate number was in the 90s and I was directed further along to the international terminal.

Naively, I followed her advice.  After a few minutes’ walk to get there, I found the international security area to have no queue.  I cleared quickly and found the United Club just on the other side of security.

I presented my boarding pass, and for once, the lounge access agent recognized Aegean Airlines and my status, and welcomed me to the club.  The lounge was reasonably spacious and nice by domestic carrier standards.




After about 15 minutes, I decided I should just get to the gate, as I wasn’t sure how far it was, leaving me about 45 minutes till departure time.  This turned out to be a lucky break.

As I was leaving, I asked the lounge agent how far to my gate – and it was then that I learned that I needed to take a shuttle bus to get to the gate.  It turns out United’s 92B-D gates are located not between gates 91 and 93, where one might expect them, but instead between gates 32 and 36!

I was directed to a poorly signed shuttle transfer station, where I needed to take an elevator down a few levels, then wait for a van.


Three UA staff chit-chatting...keeping airfares high

All in, it took about 20 minutes to get to my gate, and this was largely due to the shuttle waiting when I got to the ground level.  While I made it in time, had I left any later, it would have been cutting it perilously close.  Who puts gate 92C between 32 and 36?  Not one United staff-member that I interacted with mentioned the distance to me – and indeed, signs throughout the airport make no mention of this odd positioning.  Perhaps gate 92B could be renamed 32B?  If no airline staff is going to warn you of the challenge, sequential numbering shouldn’t be too much to ask.


uasfolas08Klein's Deli even gets a specially colored sign; Gates 92B-D are ahead, but this isn't signed anywhere!


On board, I was pleased with my seat at least.  The bulkhead had plenty of room for my knees and feet. 



While seated and others were completing boarding, one very large passenger walked down the aisle with surprising alacrity and jammed my arm.  Ouch.

The flight itself was quick and uneventful.  Service was limited to a beverage.

Landing in June in Las Vegas, of course things were bumpy on the descent.  A few people seated near me were clearly nervous fliers, and they had some white knuckles.

McCarran Airport in Las Vegas has open gaming areas (limited to slots, I believe) in the middle of the various concourses.  For those looking to get one last gambling fix, this must be welcome.  Too bad they don’t have table games.



Knowing how bad the taxi queue can be at LAS on Thursday and Friday afternoons/evenings, I had my assistant reserve a driver for me.  He escorted me out and indeed the taxi queue had well over 100 people in it.  (One other solution to beat the taxi wait at LAS is to retain the services of a skycap.  Even if you don’t have heavy luggage or actually need help, if the queue is long, simply ask a Skycap for help – and tip him $10 – and he will automatically bring you to the front of the queue!)

Let the fun begin…


Mike August 10, 2012 at 10:58 pm

I was wondering what kind of camera you were using. Those pictures look great!

Thanks. These are un-retouched photos taken with an old Leica D-Lux 2.

mike August 11, 2012 at 02:25 am

yet another wonderful little quirk introduced to the new UA post-merger with CO. gates 32 through 36 are the legacy CO gates; why do they keep those suckers? it makes no sense. and the strange thing is every single boarding pass on an itinerary through SFO (regardless of whether your flight will actually plane or deplane at those gates) will have the warning about some flights leaving out of gates 32 through 36 in terminal 1, even though legacy UA is out of terminal 3. and the one time that you did need to board at those gates, they don't bother telling you. great. with "service" like this, i wonder why i bother maintaining 1k status. ridiculous.