Date: Thursday August 4
Seat: 9J BusinessFirst
Scheduled Push Back: 3:59 PM
Actual Push Back: 4:38 PM
As a corporate traveler you’re pretty much guaranteed to be flying the same routes consistently for a set period of time. Not only are the routes the same but even the departure time, and flight numbers are the same. Pretty exciting, right?
I arrived at the gate 15 minutes ahead of boarding. I was expecting to see long lines stretching into the concourse. However, there was no line and even more odd there were no gate agents. I checked the departure screen and as I looked up United has delayed our departure to 4:10 PM (then to 4:15 PM, then 4:30 PM). I don’t think I’ve ever had an on time departure from Newark. Why start today.
The United app mentioned the flight was delayed 11 minutes due to aircraft maintenance. This makes me nervous. United doesn’t have the greatest operations and still basically operates as two companies even after the merger years ago. Additionally, the app is showing an on time arrival. Classic United, pad your schedules to cover up frequent minor delays. Better than fixing the underlying problem, right?
Even being on 777 which is normally used for international routes and has a much larger capacity than then typical 757, it was announced the flight was oversold. The agent was looking volunteers to take later flight. The agent clarified that the later flight would be … tomorrow. This does show how busy this route is. United almost runs hourly service between EWR and SFO and still needs people to travel tomorrow.
Boarding finally started and I found my way to my seat. This is United old BusinessFirst product which has an awful layout of 2-4-2. Luckily I had an asile on one of the ends. At my seat was a blanket, pillow, and amenity kit. United is giving out Olympic team USA themed tins which contain ear plugs, eye shades, and toothpaste. Shortly after being seated I was offered a pre-departure beverage. I decided to really indulge and get a Diet Coke. If EWR had proper air-conditioning in the terminal and I wasn’t sweating when I boarded, I may of got a cup of illy coffee.
Before takeoff, menus were distributed. To start there was a smoked duck, with potato salad and a edamame seaweed salad. The main course choices where a flat iron steak, chicken breast, or an Amazon cod. Normally the classic United selection is beef, chicken, or pasta. The pasta was now been swamped out for fish.
I chose the flat iron steak. It came with a chimichurri sauce, sweet potatoes, and a white bean salad.
The appetizer salad wasn’t bad, it came with a lemon olive oil on the side. I’m not a big fan of duck (especially airplane food duck) so I passed on that.
The steak was cooked through like most beef served on airplanes but was seasoned well. The sweet potatoes weren’t bad but it seemed like it was sweetened with fake brown sugar. The white bean salad was pretty standard.
After the dinner service everything was cleared away and a coffee/tea service was offered. Since I wasn’t sweating from being in the concourse anymore I had a cup of illy coffee. The flight crew then came through offering a sundae service if vanilla gelato with various toppings. Doing the healthy thing I passed on that.
An hour before landing warm chocolate chip cookies were offered as well.
Upon landing our gate was occupied and had to wait to taxi in. Nothing like a delayed flight then waiting at your destination for the gate to open up. One of these days United will close out this merger.
This was a typical PS flight. It’s unfortunate that “typical” includes delays with United, but it is what it is. The food wasn’t bad and I can tell United in trying in that regard.