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United Airlines
by Haas Mroue

ual
PHOTO: MICHAEL J CHEW

Flight: UA 1177
Route: Portland, Oregon (IATA: PDX/ICAO: KPDX)-Los Angeles (LAX/KLAX)
Date: June 5, 2006
Aircraft: Boeing 757-200
Seat: 6A
Departure time: 1607
Arrival time: 1826
Passenger: Haas Mroue


Check-in

I checked in for this flight online the night before and caught my connecting flight (a SkyWest/UA Express Brasília from Seattle) that arrived at 1520 into Portland. Therefore, I really had time for only a quick stroll in the PDX terminal before the first class cabin was boarding for this flight, on time at 1545.

Boarding

Quick and efficient, first class lived up to its name and was called first for boarding. Only half of the 24 seats were occupied, which meant I had ample space with the adjacent 6B vacant.

Juice or water was offered before take off. UA no longer offers alcoholic drinks while on the ground on shorter flights.

In Flight

Departure was right on time and the captain made Channel 9 (live ATC) available.

As soon as we climbed through 10,000 feet, the very senior and very efficient female FAs took our dinner order and brought our choice of drinks, accompanied by heated nuts in a ramekin. Hot towels were passed at 1700, immediately before the linens were brought out for the dinner service.

The choice of the light dinner was either a Tuscan chicken wrap or warm salmon on a bed of greens. I ordered the fish, which reposed on a crunchy green mattress. Although slightly overcooked (it has to be for health department regulations) the salmon was tasty. The choice of wine choice was either a light and grassy Sauvignon Blanc from Chile or an Australian merlot (with a dark, deep berry and maple syrup finish with light vanilla oak). A bland white roll and butter accompanied the salmon, but there was no cheese to round out the meal. A freshly baked chocolate chip cookie was served, along with coffee or tea, after the meal. The FAs worked hard, refilling wine glasses as soon as they were empty.

Barely 30 minutes after the dinner tray was cleared we began our descent into a sunny Los Angeles, where we landed on schedule at 1807.

Overall Impression

UA’s first class product is still one of the best in the USA (which may not mean much to travellers in other parts of the world). Service is very professional, catering is edible, and there is a thoughtful wine selection, even on West Coast hops. The wide leather seats on the 757 are comfortable, if a bit dated, but the efficient service by the flight attendants makes up for the lack of ultra-modern equipment.


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