I booked a United non-stop from Washington-Dulles to Los Angeles for my way back home from my trip to attend the BAcon conference last month. I wanted an evening flight so that after the conference ended at noon, I could explore D.C. for a bit before heading home. United had a perfect flight that left at 8 PM and arrived at LAX at before 11 PM. Perfect, as I did have school the next day. 🙂
AT THE AIRPORT:
Wow have times changed! I remember flying to Dulles in 2008, and there was no AeroTrain connecting all the terminals underground! All the terminals are connected by walkways and the monorail AeroTrain. I like Dulles Airport, but I do have to say the food options are a bit lacking.
United Airlines Flight 208
Washington Dulles (IAD) to Los Angeles (LAX)
Seat: 10F- Window- Economy Plus
Aircraft: Boeing 737-900
Scheduled Departure: 7:54 PM
Actual Departure: On- Time
Scheduled Arrival: 10:41 PM
Landed at LAX: 9:58 PM
Actual Arrival to Gate: LATE- 10:50 PM
Boarding was swift, and I was in row 10, sitting in Econ Plus. The plane strutted the new United interiors with the blue leather seats! Yay! I flew a old non-remodeled plane to DC, so it was nice to see my plane home updated.
Well, there is no seat-back entertainment on the newer/retrofitted 737’s! That’s fine by me because United says that there is complementary stream to your device. Great right?
Not when the only things to stream to your device are 3 kid show episodes and 1 random cnn tv movie. Tsk tsk. Not impressed United…
Wifi was offered on this flight. Or so the web browser said. The flight attendants stated that the wifi broke, so it actually wasn’t working…
Bummed with the lack of in-flight entertainment, I decided to be a good student and do some studying. 🙂 On the bright side, this plane did have power outlets so I could charge my phone.
IN- FLIGHT SERVICE + THE REMAINDER OF THE FLIGHT
Thankfully, the flight attendants were decently nice on this flight, much less rude than the flight attendants on my flight to DC.
I did appreciate that they had two beverage services, and they gave a nice little trail mix!
Econ Plus really is nice to have, it makes it much easier to stretch out your feet. It made the 5 hr flight really comfortable.
WE LANDED EARLY! (OR DID WE):
The captain said upon departure that due to good headwinds, our flight time would be much shorter than normal (only a bit over 4 hours) and that we should land about 45 minutes early in Los Angeles. He did say we might face an issue with gate space, but was going to just get to LA ASAP, and play it from there.
So, we did touch the ground at LAX at 9:58 PM, a good 43 minutes ahead of schedule.
THE INFAMOUS LAX “GROUNDFLIGHT”:
Despite being 43 minutes early, we couldn’t disembark because there was no gate space. So, we circled around the airport for quite awhile. A really long while, to a point where I thought we would run out of fuel. We finally got our “assigned gate” and the plane disembarked at 10:50 PM, 9 minutes BEHIND schedule.
Wait, I really circled around LAX for 52 minutes?
Yes, yes I did. In fact this happens quite often that like to call it a “groundflight”.
Groundflight- (Noun)- Part of a scheduled commercial airline flight that takes place on the ground, most likely on a runway. Extensive versions that exceed normal landing/takeoff allocations are common at Los Angeles International Airport where planes circle around the airport or stay idle on the runway.
My last American Airlines flight also had this “groundflight” delay, where the plane was stuck on the runway for an hour after landing. This is because LAX is over-capacity, and all the 3 legacy carriers have a hub. Why would any “share gates”, which leads to these delays due to the airlines maximizing their gate usage. Plus, even the the airlines wanted to “share” gates to help out, unlike airports like Dulles, Denver and Atlanta where all the terminals are connected, most of LAX’s terminals aren’t connected post security, so connections would be a problem! LAX and the airlines really needs to fix the delay problems.
Overall, the United flight was very acceptable for a 5 hour hop from DC to LA. The leather seats were comfortable and Econ Plus provided good legroom. Service was quite acceptable, but in-flight entertainment was severely lacking.