We are United guys. If we can’t fly United we’ll do what we can to fly a Star Alliance carrier. Luckily United flies to Lima – from Newark and Houston, not Chicago. We figured the airfare would cost about $1,500 each, but were shocked to find it was going for only $700 per person round trip — on the dates we were looking at, no less. The flight down to Lima would eat up an entire day – leaving at 09h00 (from ORD) and landing at 21h15, while the return is a redeye, leaving at 22h30 and arriving the following day at 07h30 (arriving in Newark, not Chicago). I wasn’t too keen on flying coach all night so I decided to check the cost of going Business. Low and behold – the actual cost of Business was around the price I originally expected to fly coach. I decided to pull the trigger and fly in United’s BusinessFirst for this trip. Not only would I have a better opportunity for sleep on the return redeye, I’d get double elite qualifying miles for this trip.
Our flight out of Chicago to Newark left at 09h05 on Saturday morning. The news was full of warnings of horrific TSA delays for a couple weeks leading up to this trip. Leaving early Saturday morning in May didn’t cause me much concern regarding either vehicle or people traffic. I was right – no traffic en route to O’Hare and once there, we had checked our bags and made it through Pre-Check within about 20 minutes and made it to the newly opened United Club near gate B14 in Terminal One.
The flight to Newark was completely uneventful. I like that United is now serving sparkling wine onboard, but their selection is utter turpentine — but I still drink it. In general I’m not a breakfast guy and really not an airplane breakfast guy. United has upped their food game and the French Toast they served was surprisingly tasty – and at the advice of the Stew I started drinking mimosas. The mediocre OJ really cut the awful sparkling wine and made it a quite enjoyable cocktail. Who knew?
We had a couple hour layover in Newark and spent a little bit of time in the United Club there as well, then headed off to board our Boeing 757-200 to Lima.
Flight: United Airlines 1095 (BusinessFirst)
Aircraft: Boeing 757-200
Departure: 14h15 (14h15)
Arrival: 21h10 (21h05)
The plane we were on was a bit beat up. My IFE screen seemed to have a pretty big dent in it — like someone smashed their head into it (accidentally?) – it worked pretty well, but the touch screen was a little finicky.
Once we were seated the Stew, who was quite sassy — in a very good way, mind you — served us some more of that awful sparkling wine. I know, if it is so awful, why do I keep drinking it? I don’t have an answer for you, honestly. I like the idea of bubbles onboard and the other wines were just marginally better. I figured after a couple glasses my taste buds would be ruined and I could enjoy the alcohol and bubbles. Menus and amenity kits were distributed. We were given the standard BusinessFirst amenity kit with XXXX products. I was hoping we’d get the new Rio Olympics kit, but those weren’t being rolled out until June 1.
I’ve mentioned it before, but United has indeed upped their food game and I find that the items served in BusinessFirst are actually quite edible. Here are the options from our flight down to Lima.
I opted for the pasta. I’ve had both the chicken and the short rib before and both were pretty good. For some reason I didn’t snap pictures of any of the food on this flight – I’m not sure what I was thinking, perhaps I was too engrossed in a classic James Bond film I was watching. I do love watching Bond while in the air.
Our flight was quick, quiet and unlike almost every other flight I’ve had with a lie flat seat, the cabin temperature wasn’t sweltering, so I was able to take a little cat nap while en route.
We landed in Lima just a few minutes later than scheduled. We made it through immigration and customs to baggage claims pretty quickly, where we waited for about 20 minutes for our luggage to arrive. Lima airport personnel were at each baggage claim area checking your luggage claim checks to ensure you picked up the proper bag. In all my travels, this has happened only one other time for me – at Heathrow in January 2000. It’s a nice thought that someone is looking out for you, but at this point, I just wanted to run my bags through the last x-ray machine and officially be in Peru.
We were greeted by dozens of taxi drivers offering to take us anywhere we wanted. It was a little overwhelming at first. We went to a stand in the airport, told them where we were going and asked for a price quote. To the Westin, they said it would cost 90. We asked 90 what – dollars or soles…and their response was “Either one, which ever you prefer”. So we could pay in either currency and according to the taxi starter, we could pay $90USD or 90 soles – the equivalent of $30USD if we paid in local currency. We went off to find another ride, which was quick and ended up costing and equivalent of $30USD.
Traffic was quite intense from the Airport to the San Isidro neighborhood – taking us nearly an hour to make the journey. Next up: Our experience at the Westin Lima Convention Center – where we spent our first night and our last two nights of the trip.
Have you been to Lima? What airline did you fly? Would you have paid for the BusinessFirst airfare or would have saved the money and flown in coach? What do you end up drinking when you fly United — do you ever get use to that awful sparkling wine?