A fun day of flying on United!

I was going to title this “the story of how I touched an 88 year old man’s nuts,” but I figured I’d just be pushing my luck. Stay tuned. 😀

Anyway, as I mentioned last night, I wasn’t all that optimistic about my flights today. They were both sold out and I was still stuck in coach, with the chances of an upgrade looking slim to none. Anyway, it turned out to be a pretty darn good day.

I arrived at TPA early for my flight this afternoon, and when I used the Easy Check-In Kiosk I received a boarding pass for seat 20B, which caught me by surprise since I had selected seat 16C. The boarding pass still indicated it was an exit row seat, so that could only mean one thing — a swap to a 767. I went to speak to my service director friend and he confirmed that it indeed was a three cabin 767 swap. Unfortunately I wasn’t on the upgrade list, which seems to be because my upgrade showed as “denied.” He quickly added me to the list and said that my chances looked good.

At the gate it was complete chaos as they reassigned dozens of seats thanks to the plane change. My upgrade ended up clearing and I got seat 6B, a rear facing business class seat. It seems like they preassigned all the first class seats to those previously booked in first class. Bummer!

The flight attendants were also caught off guard by this aircraft swap and didn’t seem to know how to work the entertainment system. The purser announced that they would be playing the safety demo once we pushed back, “because the video system only works when both engines are on.” Well, we push back and both engines are on, but we’re without any video. The purser keeps trying to play with the system to make it work, and finally decides it won’t work as we’re short of the runway. We had to sit there for about three minutes so the manual safety demo could be completed before taking off.

Once airborne I headed to the lav, where I was caught off guard when I ran into a flight attendant friend of mine sitting in the jumpseat. I’ve come to know many of the United flight attendants that live in Tampa quite well, as most of them are based in Washington Dulles. This particular flight attendant is one of my favorites, but I hadn’t seen her in at least a couple of months. She’s so much fun to talk to, as nothing is out of bounds, she’s hilarious, and she loves her job. Time flew by, and only when the seatbelt sign was turned on during the final descent did we stop talking. So much for enjoying the business class seat!

I had a short 30 minute connection at Dulles to catch my flight to Los Angeles. For that flight I was confirmed in seat 10D, an Economy Plus seat, which I was expecting to be stuck in. I figured I had no shot in hell at an upgrade. First class was sold out, I was on an L fare (one of the lowest fare buckets), and it was a Thursday afternoon, one of the most elite heavy times to travel. As I got to the gate boarding began and I looked at the monitor to see what my position on the waitlist was, for entertainment more than anything else.

I was shocked to find that I was number two on the upgrade list with four seats remaining. I also noticed that number one on the list had the same initials as a friend of mine from New Zealand. As it turned out, we were both called up to the podium together and both cleared, and it was in fact him. Given how few upgrades seem to have cleared before the gate, I was shocked by the lack of 1Ks on the waitlist.

You could immediately tell the crew was top notch. They helped with stowing bags (which is a big deal, believe it or not) and were all around attentive. The door closed ten minutes early and the purser was about to close the cockpit door, as one of the flight attendants came storming up front from the back as she loudly screamed “wait, tell the captain to call the agents.” Flight attendants stormed back and forth, at which point they realized there was a passenger aboard that was really supposed to be heading to Sacramento. They asked for his boarding pass and ID and then called the gate agent to bring the jet bridge back. Not sure how the hell that happens anymore, especially after the destination check. Anyway, they bring back the jet bridge back and let the passenger off.

While the flight attendants laugh about this and the door is once again closed, the captain yells “wait, I still have his ID.” This time they bring the forward jet bridge close to the cockpit window so the captain can just hand them his ID. Lovely. Once again, laughs all around as we’re finally ready to go.

After a few minutes a flight attendant comes storming up front and says there are two passengers that are sick and need to get off. Yet again after a few minutes the door opens and the passengers are let out. Of course each of these times the flight attendants have to arm and disarm the doors, and a couple of times they got a bit confused about all of it.

Eventually we pushed back and then go to the “penalty box,” as we need a new flight plan due to some weather in the area. We sit there for about 30 minutes with the engines running all along. That sucks for a couple of reasons. First, it’s Earth Day. So much for caring about the environment! Second of all, it was clear we were already “short” on fuel due to the longer route, so wasting even more fuel isn’t helping. The captain mentioned we might have to refuel, but we didn’t end up having to.

The rest of the flight was rather uneventful, other than my seatmate. He was an 88 year old guy who didn’t look a day over 68. As the hot nuts were being served I asked the flight attendant whether there were any extras, and she said she’d look. As I turned my head back towards my tray table, I noticed that my 88 year old seatmate had placed his nuts on my tray table. I said, “are you offering me your nuts?” And he was indeed! How nice of him.

Then he proceeded to tell me what a great deal he got on this flight — “It was only $4,000 roundtrip from Halifax to Los Angeles.” My eyes grew wide and he was obviously confused, as he responded with “why, what did you pay?” I explained I paid $200, which made his eyes even wider.

It was lovely to hear his stories about how his son makes over $1,000,000 per year and how his daughter’s husband has made $8,000,000 per year for the past seven years. Don’t get me wrong, he was a nice guy, but really?

Also, I was quite relieved (he seemed to have plenty of relief as well!) by his consumption of a 20 pack of Gas-X, which he dearly needed.

Anyway, the crew on this flight did an amazing job. And that’s my travel day…

The only other thing worth noting is my hotel experience here at LAX. After landing and checking in I headed to the gym, where I was alone, until a guy walked in wearing high heels and carrying a suitcase, who headed towards the locker room. I didn’t think much of it, until 30 minutes later, when he emerged wearing a flight attendant uniform. Ehhh?

And for those of you interested, here are just a few pictures from today taken with my iPhone:


Not a bad seat out of Tampa!


IAD-LAX hot nuts and Diet Coke


IAD-LAX dinner


IAD-LAX dessert


IAD-LAX pre-landing snack

Comments

  1. Looks like I pushed the wrong button last night when I published this, which didn’t allow for comments. Corrected now. Sorry about that!

  2. You have a sly sense of humor! Saying you’re worried about Earth Day when you are travelling cross country for the purpose of turning around and coming right back!

  3. Of course when you’re no1 on the WL you don’t tend to look at the 30+ below but perhaps I should now! It was great catching up with you Lucky. I guess I should be grateful to the Volcano

  4. Great to see you got upgraded and also got to sit in the 767C.
    Those meals shown are getting tired…not your photographs, the meals orffered. United is offering the same cheap meals over and over agin in the past 6 or 7 months. I have nothing to complain about if I am using a upgrade (which I do often), but I would feel a little cheated when paying C or F (which I also do often).

  5. You are lucky indeed!

    I’m based in Tampa too, haven’t seen $200 flights to the west coast lately. Had one to Seattle 2 weeks ago, $250, not bad. But can’t find anything like that anymore! Even on the MR forum! HELP!

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