Tim Foolery

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UAL: 928: ORD-LHR (Economy Plus)

Headed to the #airport after my office closed early on Friday before Memorial Day.  Departing the office at 15h00, taking a taxi to a train in the loop then the Blue Line to the Airport had me arriving at ORD at approximately 16h20.  The traffic to the train was a bit much and then I just missed one train and the next was completely full of people with luggage.  The next train was almost empty, so I was able to sit, with my suitcase and relax for the 40 minute ride to the airport.

Upon arrival, since I wasn’t  checking a bag, I headed right to the security checkpoint.  Since I recently obtained Global Entry (thank you American Express Platinum Card for reimbursing this expense) I’ve been consistently getting the triple beep indicating TSA PreCheck has been approved, thus allowing me to blow through security without taking my belt or shoes off, removing my laptop, tablet or my 3-1-1 baggie from my carry on. I didn’t realize until  today that PreCheck worked for International travel too. I thought it was only for domestic or if you were flying international it would only work for you domestic portion, if you had one that is.  Not so.  I heard the triple beep and was elated.  I blew through security in a matter of minutes and was off to the UnitedClub to get some Milano cookies and a mediocre red wine.

30 minutes passed and we headed to the C Concourse for our 18h20 departure for LHR.  In the past, United would start boarding 30 minutes before departure on most planes (20 minutes for lawn darts) and 40 minutes for larger (777 and 747) planes.  I’ve noticed recently they’ve really increased their boarding window.  To London we boarded 50 minutes before hand.  This is good and bad – who wants to be on the plane that much longer, but at least now people will be on board and ready to fly when it is time to depart.

Carrier: United (ORD-LHR)
Flight #: 928
Seat: 20B
Departure: May 24, 2013 – 18h20 / 18h20
Arrival: May 25, 2013 –  08h35 / 07h35
Travel Time:  8 hours 20 minutes / 7 hours 15 minutes
Flight Miles: 3,953

We were in our standard exit row seats – the second row, so you get all the benefits of extra legroom, full recline for your seat and very limited recline of the seat in front of you. Who could ask for anything more?

We boarded and were ready for pushback 20 minutes before departure, so we sat. And sat.  And sat.  We had an on time departure, obviously and after a quick taxi we were airborne.

As usual, the meal was a shade below adequate, but the service was stellar.  The stew working our row (Tom) was great. He was very personable and kept our water cups full and when he saw we were out of sparkling wine (yes, United does carry sparkling wine again – for sale – in Economy) he would be proactive in asking if we wanted a refill.  At the end of the meal, I even ask him if they had port in his little cart – he said they didn’t (which I knew all along), but he did say BusinessFirst has some – and after about 15 minutes he came back with some very fully airline cups of port.  What a great way to finish our a meal.

The rest of the flight was uneventful.  We landed 50 minutes early, which in some instances can be great, but when you are now arriving before 08h00 in London, you know there is no way you are going to be able to check-in early and you’ll have to be travel gross all day.

Customs and immigration were an utter breeze – we were from plane to the Heathrow Express in less than 30 minutes, which is fantastic considering where United parks at LHR – that walk can be a killer.

All in all, it was a pretty stellar flight considering: We flew a domestic carrier on an international route, in economy AND considering our last international trip include flights on Thai’s A380 in First Class and both Asiana and Lufthansa in Business..

Beautiful Arrival in London

What do you think of the flights to London? Too long? Too Short? Just right?  Do you find yourself able to get the stews to throw in a freebie cocktail or glass of wine from time to time?  Do you think the food in Coach is just a small step above dog food on international routes run by domestic carriers?

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