I got to LAX a bit early (1 hour, 45 minutes or so before departure) and made my way to the premium check-in line. Since the flight was showing F0J0Y0, I volunteered to be bumped to a rather surprised service manager. Am I the only 1K traveling in business class who has ever asked about being bumped?
I then made my way to the priority security line to enjoy my Freedom Grope. (I’m now 8 for 8 in being “randomly” selected for the backscatter at the United LAX terminal in the past 11 months). I had the (mis)fortune of facing the nonpriority line to notice two facts: The nonpriority line was markedly shorter and the nonpriority line only seems to have walk-through metal detectors.
As I had about an hour and a half before departure, I visited the United Club where my old standbys awaited me: Crackers, cheese, carrots with ranch dip, shortbread cookies, trail mix, pretzels, and yogurt-covered raisins. At least it’s consistent?
An hour before departure, I headed to the gate next door to look into my chances of getting VDB’d where I got to kick off the start of my trainwreck of a p.s. flight. It seems these days that misadventures in business class are the best first world problems I can muster.
Los Angeles (LAX) – New York Kennedy (JFK)
Monday, January 2nd
Duration: 4 hours, 55 minutes
Aircraft: Boeing 757-222 (N512UA)
Seat: 9C (Business Class)
With three agents at the gate, one was busy for 50 minutes “setting up the flight” to avoid passenger questions. The other two stood around helplessly, talking between themselves. When it came time to start boarding, the two agents both openly announced to the other gate agent and the passengers in earshot that they did not know the boarding order. While United has made changes to its boarding order, it’s not especially complex.
I made my way to my seat and began noticing the differences between this flight and my normal experience on p.s. Three flight attendants were gathered in the galley at door 2R talking amongst themselves rather than greeting passengers or taking jackets. While my jacket was stuffed into my carry-on bag in the overhead, numerous passengers were sitting with jackets in their laps. Given the conveniently placed handle on the right (and only right) side of business class in front of 9C that a flight attendant normally temporarily hangs bags on, I can only believe that taking jackets is the rule and not the exception.
About five minutes into boarding, I wandered up to the galley to get something to drink as I wasn’t going to be interested in my choices of water, orange juice, or faux champagne. One of the flight attendants, annoyed that I had disturbed their conversation, retorted back that my “choices were those on the tray,” gesturing at the three beverages that were prepoured in the galley. At this point, it’s worth noting that customized predeparture beverages have been available on United since September 1st.
I returned to my seat to be asked by a husband and wife split across 9A and 9D to change seats… with their 13 year old son seated in 10D. Going from an aisle seat with practically infinite legroom to a window seat is hardly a fair trade, especially when the son (nor technically the parents) was not exit row qualified. Needless to say, 9B wasn’t enthusiastic about their offer either.
We had an initial 35 minute delay for pushback because the ground crew was still loading bags. Having missed our slot for departure, our wheels up time was further delayed by another 15 minutes. After take off, I opted for the cheese plate as a quick snack while checking up on the Internet before turning in for the night.
While the hard product was every bit as comfortable as it normally would be, the experience on this flight was far below my expectations on p.s. and lackluster even for a domestic flight.