Good morning everyone, and welcome to a new RJ Aviation flight review!
First of all, I would like to apologize that there hasn’t been a post up in so long. Even though I started this post a while ago, I have been busy during the summer with other things and been focusing on the beginning of school, and was sick for a while as well.
So without further ado, let’s get started.
This flight was the return flight of our Verbier skiing trip. We went for a week in February and had loads of fun. Then it was time to fly United.
We left our hotel around 4:30 AM for our 9:15 AM scheduled departure (the drive from Verbier to Geneva is about 90-120 minutes long). We quickly checked in at one of the kiosks and dropped our bags off at the counter. United was offering $956 for each business class upgrade. No thanks!
After heading through security, we went to the SWISS Business Class lounge, which we had access to as Priority Pass members. This was the same lounge that business class passengers on our flight had access to. The lounge was fine and had all of the essentials (food, comfortable seating, etc). However, it did not have hot food.
Because we were departing to the US, we had to go through a second security screening. I wish this was evident earlier, as people seemed pretty confused (not that it is necessarily the airport’s fault). We could see our plane at its remote stand while waiting in this looong line. I could not get a good shot of the plane.
We made it to the gate just as boarding was starting. We felt that we were lucky we hadn’t decided to stay at the lounge for longer. At that point in time, it seemed that if we had decided to stay longer, we might have missed boarding.
We got onto a bus and quickly drove to our plane.
But that was where things started to get interesting.
United Airlines 957
Plane Registration: N677UA
Plane Type: Boeing 767-300er
Flown: February 2018
Flight Time: 8 hrs 37 mins
Flight Distance: ~3,878 Miles
Seat: 29L (Economy)
This plane was one of United’s 2012-configured aircraft. It featured 30 Polaris seats in a 2-1-2 configuration, 49 Economy Plus seats in a 2-3-2 configuration, and 135 Economy Class seats, also in a 2-3-2 configuration.
In Economy, the retrofit replaced the thick United seats with newer slimline seats and replaced the old and tiny looping channel TVs with a 9-inch on-demand entertainment screen. The options were great, as there were 200 movies and 130 TV episodes. There was a headphone jack and USB port underneath the screen. There were also power plugs for charging larger devices beneath the seats.
The moving map was pretty interactive as well.
Panasonic WiFi was available, but I did not test it.
The seatback contents included the safety card, an information card, United’s “Hemispheres” duty-free magazine, and an air sickness bag.
After getting settled, the captain welcomed us aboard our 8 hour 37 minute flight to Newark and informed us that there would be at least a 30-minute delay due to a cargo load issue. I knew these delays can get longer as time goes on, so I was nervous. The delay was then extended to one hour. At this point, the flight attendants started the service and brought glasses of water and Biscoff cookies to everyone.
The delay kept getting extended, and the passengers were visibly getting agitated. At least it meant I could spot some interesting aircraft. Have you seen my four Austrian Airlines flight reviews yet? 🙂
We even saw another fellow United 767 departing to Washington, DC, also delayed.
I had great views of an Air Canada A330 and an Aeroflot A330 landing.
Almost three hours passed from the first announcement, and the captain said that they needed to fill out some paperwork. That was fine. Then they said the pushback truck was not ready. The passengers were really getting mad at this point.
Finally, over three hours after the initial announcement, the safety video played and we finally pushed back. I have no idea how the captain expected it could possibly take anywhere close to 30 minutes.
After a quick taxi, we were next in line for takeoff. Ahead of us was the brand new EasyJet A320neo. At that time, there were very few of those aircraft in the fleet.
About a minute later, we taxied into position and took off from Runway 5. It was now about 12:30 PM. The original scheduled departure time was 9:15 AM.Even though it was cloudy, we got amazing views of the Swiss Alps above the clouds.
Shortly after reaching cruising altitude, breakfast was served. The choices were a cheese omelet and chocolate pancakes. I chose the omelet, which came with tomatoes, chicken sausage, mixed fruits and a cupcake. While the omelet was a bit spongy and the sausage tasted a bit off, overall the food tasted fine.
Shortly after breakfast, flight attendants handed out United’s famous Stroopwafels. They tasted great as always.
Bottled water was served as well.
Soon we left the continental mainland…
…and then later started our Atlantic crossing.
After a few hours of watching movies and sleeping, turkey wraps were served. They were fine, even though I wasn’t really hungry at this point.
The rest of the flight was pretty uneventful. I just relaxed and watched a movie, and before we knew it, we were descending.
We touched down about three hours late as expected, and quickly taxied to our arrival gate at Terminal C.
Overall, while the flight itself was fine, the delay management needs to be improved. Flight delays happen, but there needs to be a good estimate of the delay time from the beginning. There is simply no way that a cabin load issue and the necessary paperwork afterwards would just cause a half an hour delay, and even when it was clear that it would be more, the flight deck only announced another half an hour at a time. Six times.
Would I avoid United on this route? No, because these long delays are rare, the flight experience and entertainment was fine, and the convenience of a direct flight over connecting in London, Frankfurt, or any other large European city is awesome. There was also WiFi unlike some other carriers. However, United should really work on communicating to the passengers on what is going on in a delay and give rough estimations on how long delays will last.
My next Trip Report will involve two new airlines on the blog and one existing airline, so stay tuned for that in a few weeks!
Other than that, thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoyed this review!