A few weeks ago I took a father-son trip with the older of my two boys. It was a multi-stop trip with a weekend in Chicago followed by a few days in the Detroit area. Since midsummer flight costs were pretty high, I used United miles to book our outbound and Delta for our return. Silver status let me snag United 757 Economy Plus seats on the leg from LAX to Chicago O’Hare.
We don’t often fly out of our tiny regional airport, but since an award from ACV to ORD was the same as one from SFO or SMF, it was the better choice. We’d avoid a 5-hour drive to a bigger airport. These were booked as United saver awards for 12,500 miles per person. The United MileagePlus card came through, too. I’d downgraded my MileagePlus Explorer card to the no-fee version several months ago. You still get access to the XN award space with this card, which turned out to be critical.
Arrival Into LAX
We arrived into LAX from ACV on a tiny CRJ-200. With four hours to kill, it was worth going all the way to the Tom Bradley International Terminal for a late lunch at P.F Chang’s and some time in the KAL Lounge LAX. We gave ourselves 20 minutes to make our way back to Terminal 7 for our United 757 Economy Plus flight, as it is a loooong walk. But you do get to see some cool aircraft over at TBIT.
Our United 757 aircraft was delayed, which wasn’t entirely unexpected. Par for the course with United, at least in my experience. At least we were only about 20 minutes behind rather than hours. Significant delays on a late flight are the worst. Back in April I had a nightmarish JetBlue flight with my daughter.
Just minutes before boarding commenced, a gate agent made an announcement that the personal device entertainment was down. Ouch. With nothing loaded onto either my phone or laptop, this was going to be a long flight for the two of us. The gate agent literally said “just download something from Netflix”. With dozens of other people doing this over already slow airport WiFi, you can imagine how things progressed. I didn’t end up with anything fully downloaded before we had to board.
We did have an Australian gate agent who did half the announcements. We’ll give United some points for his cool accent. He did his best to manage United’s boarding process and keep people seated until their group needed to line up. There isn’t a specific boarding group for United Economy Plus. Since I dropped my United MileagePlus Explorer card, we were in Group 3 instead of Group 2.
The group just ahead of us ended up causing a bunch of havoc. They each had a carry-on very obviously bigger than the maximum allowable size. While I estimated that they would still fit in the Boeing 757 overhead bins, the gate agent was a stickler. She made every one of them place it in the bag sizer. Or at least attempt to. Every bag failed the test and had to be gate checked. The ensuing arguments resulted in four full minutes of chaos. Just bring the right size bag, people!
Once the gate agent had taken the five over-sized bags from the group, we finally made our way down the jetway. Boarding was through the second door, which put out United 757 Economy Plus seats just a few rows away. We were in 11E and 11F.
United 757 Economy Plus Seat
United 757 Economy Plus only differs from regular economy in one respect: legroom. The legroom is generous for at about 34 inches. This is four inches more than the standard economy seats that have a pitch of about 30 inches. Unlike the extra-legroom seats on Delta (Comfort+) and American (Main Cabin Extra), United Economy Plus does not come with complimentary alcoholic beverages.
The tray tables on United’s 757s are nice. They slide out substantially, placing a laptop both at the perfect distance for work yet sufficiently far from the “smash zone” of the reclining seat in front. On a 737 or A319/320, it’s super awkward to try to work from the tray table when the person in front of you is reclined.
Four extra inches of legroom is not necessarily something I would pay for on its own, unless the flight was at least four hours and the price point really good. But if that what you need (and all you need) United 757 Economy Plus fits the bill.
Here is my kid doing what he does every single flight. Be safe in the air, y’all.
United Economy Service
Even though we’d eaten at P.F. Chang’s LAX restaurant using my Priority Pass membership, we had hardly eaten anything in the KAL Lounge. I decided dinner would be aboard our flight, since I didn’t want to have to grab anything at O’Hare when we arrived.
United only packed two kids snack boxes on the flight and they sold them both before they got to us. The flight attendant swapped the classic snack box, which was fine. Plus, I’d already paid, and she said the $4 difference was on them. Still not a lot of food for the asking price.
United really doesn’t have a great selection of food for purchase. Unlike Delta, where I will be happy with a Luvo wrap every single time, neither option sounded that appealing on this flight. I went with the chicken tinga tacos, but that was probably a mistake.
I love tacos. These were neither lovable nor tasty. The filling is okay, but the shells were about what you’d expect for something warmed up again. There are so many things you can do better, United. Not sure why this is being catered.
The lady at the aisle next to me asked for a Coke. Well…this was done by pointing at the beverage cart, which was unique. Even more unique was the moment she proceeded to offer the flight attendant a $20 bill. The look on the FA’s face was priceless. Not sure if she doesn’t fly much, or maybe only flies low cost carriers. Not to mention United flight attendants don’t even take cash!
United 757 Economy Plus Experience
The flight was mostly uneventful. My son player a game on my phone, as the flight was lacking WiFi or personal entertainment. I worked. I’d managed to download one before we took off, and it turned out to be enough to keep him occupied.
An announcement of “flight attendants, take your jump-seats” prematurely is never good. Turns out, we were a minute away from a rough patch of turbulence. It was brief, but violent enough to totally freak my son out. The lightning clearly visible in the clouds to the south didn’t help matters, either. He is normally totally fine flying, and this was probably the most frightening experience yet.
But by the time we landed at Chicago O’Hare, he was fine again. There was the typical rush to get off the plane. One thing that surprised me was that the flight attendants did not hold the economy cabin to let the first class passengers off first. We deplaned through the second door, between the two sections.
I’ve flown United Economy Plus, but never on this aircraft or a flight this long. It’s always been on a regional jet, either the hated CRJ-200 or loved ERJ-175. But it’s all basically the same. United 757 Economy Plus offer you one thing: extra legroom. If you need those few more inches, it’s fine. No difference in service, no difference in beverage or food options, or any other aspect of travel. But we got there relatively on time, which is always a reason to smile when flying United.