What a refreshing mileage run….

I’m not sure whether this should make me happy or sad, but I had a truly good mileage run yesterday and today. No, not in the form of $600 bump vouchers or other goodies, but rather in terms of on-time flights, clean planes, and friendly employees. United really can be a consistent, reliable airline on a good day. Although I guess that’s the issue, it’s only on “good days.”

It’s funny, because I thought my trip was screwed before it ever started. I was flying Tampa to Washington on a 757 and we push back. I’m listening to Channel 9, and I hear the pilot say we have a mechanical issue. After about 20 minutes we return to the gate and mechanics come aboard. What did the captain do? No, not hide in the flight deck, but instead he came into the cabin to reassure passengers. He was even wearing his hat which is a rare occurrence, since ALPA (the union) encourages pilots not to wear hats at the moment as a sign of “solidarity” (yeah, right). We started talking, and as it turned out this particular captain knows another great captain, which lead to even more to discuss. His approach was simple: “I’m not a military guy. I had to work hard for 20 years flying small planes before I could land a job at United. I love this job and don’t take it for granted.”

Amazingly enough Channel 9 was available on all the other flights as well, and the service was consistently friendly. I flew with the same crew roundtrip from Los Angeles to San Francisco, and they couldn’t have been nicer.

After all that international first class flying in the past few weeks, I forgot just how painful domestic redeyes are. It was a domestic 767 I was flying, so I didn’t even bother upgrading and just stuck with an exit row. Man, it’s rough, I tell ya. I’m getting too old for this stuff. 😉

About lucky

Ben Schlappig (aka Lucky) is a travel consultant, blogger, and avid points collector. He travels about 400,000 miles a year, primarily using miles and points to fund his first class experiences. He chronicles his adventures, along with industry news, here at One Mile At A Time.

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Comments

  1. on MR like these, are you more disappointed you didnt get any vouchers, or are you more excited to have had such a good, hassle free experience? It has to be a little of both, right?

  2. @ Stevie G — I’m never disappointed when things go well, because ultimately I like to see “my” airline doing well in terms of customer service, on-time performance, etc. It even makes me proud to be flying United, because I know that the other passengers on the flight can go home to their families and say they had a nice flight, instead of “I’m never flying United again.”

    I’m sad to see when things go bad, but at the same time bump vouchers tend to take a frown off my face pretty quickly. 😉

    @ MatthewLAX — Actually, I can handle coach just fine, for the most part. What I’m getting too old for are redeyes.

  3. @ Simon — I upgraded the outbound. TPA-IAD was on a 757, IAD-SAN was on an A320, and LAX-SFO was on an A319. I got a free upgrade on SFO-LAX (A319), and decided not to upgrade the redeye since there’s hardly a difference between first and coach. IAD-TPA was Ted, sadly.

  4. I’ve been noticing some unusually clean aircraft lately too – even the seatback pockets! They do seem to get the door closed on time and the plane landed on time. Push back and having a gate ready after landing seem to still be a bit weak though. Glad it went well !

  5. @Lucky: We are moving in opposite directions! The more redeyes I take, the more I get used to them. My new policy is that all eastbound transcons must be redeyes. Still working on finding the ideal sleeping position in a Y or domestic F seat…

  6. @ HunterSFO — I guess that’s the other side of H1N1. Maybe they’re actually cleaning the planes more thoroughly, but of course they also used it as an excuse for getting rid of pillows in coach.

    @ MatthewLAX — Simple answer: there is no ideal sleeping position in coach! I’ve tried everything, and on this trip I went so far as to bring my own pillow and blanket. It didn’t help. The fundamental issue with sleeping in coach is what I refer to as the “head bobbing syndrome.” Your head slowly leans forward, and then quickly moves up again. I almost always have a sore neck after a redeye. I agree with you, though, about redeyes getting easier with frequency. When I do three in a month I rarely have a problem, but this was my first “painful” redeye in a while.

  7. Redeye expert here: been doing it every other week for 3.5 yrs.
    Coach / Side Sleeper: Window seat, non bulkhead or exit row so you can flip up the armrest if middle is free and slide your legs over a bit. Take a squishy neck pillow and put it against the wall, take a cylindrical squishy pillow and place under your arm on the armest against the wall. Use the UA provided pillow between you and the middle armrest, partially on top of it, to claim some space. Use UA blanket folded up to place behind your back, lumbar region … adjust as needed. Add blindfold and earplugs as needed.
    First: I just use the headrest wings to sleep against. Use blanket on lumbar and add blindfold and ear plugs. Window or Aisle equally useful.

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