Tier Point Run to Hawaii in Dec 2022: Day 6 – New York (EWR) to London (LHR)
I walked around the terminal later in the afternoon when it was busier, I was quite taken with the whole terminal scene. It’s a very odd combination of Blade Runner-type street food (although much cleaner) with a sense that with these tablets being installed at EVERY table/seat that there’s almost a brain-washing thing going on. Appreciate the tablets are focused on advertising and the ability to order food to a specific location. But it’s that uniformity that’s almost scary!
My United Airlines (UA) flight home was due to depart from Gate C126. United Airlines (UA) advertise they start boarding 50 mins before departure time, so I headed down there early. Surprisingly, there was very little activity going on. That is until I noticed in small letters on the gate screen that the departure was delayed by 1 hour. Doh!
I kept myself busy close by for 45 mins. Then I headed to the Group 1 queue, where there were a few forming a queue. As it turns out, some of those passengers were queuing to sort issues with their tickets, so I ended up at the front of the queue on my first UA flight for a very long time.
Flight: UA0110 Equip: 767-300
Sched Depart: 20:15 Actual: 22:46
Sched Arrival: 08:22 Actual: 10:40
Takeoff: 23:01 Landing: 10:34
Ahead of boarding, the captain came out to the gate and gave a little speech to keep the troops happy: stuff was happening. Remember that we were already one hour behind schedule at this point.
I noted a couple of key things he said: firstly that he was on his third aircraft (I.e. the first two weren’t air-ready), and secondly that his objective was to get us out tonight. Not that he would get us to our destination safely, but simply to get us out. As if there was some doubt in his mind that we might not actually get out tonight, and he needed to gee himself up for a challenge!
Boarding started at around 8:45pm. I noticed that UA pre-boarding was really structured and transparent. There were 5 groups starting with (1) those with disabilities, (2) the military, (3) Global Services (whatever that means), (4) families with kids below 2 yrs old and finally (5) 1K members (equivalent of AA’s Concierge Key or perhaps BA’s GGL). Then they would start with Group 1, then Group 2 (also in its own queue). Groups 3, 4 and 5 were advised to remain seated. Seemed very clear and reasonable to me. There’s a lot that BA could learn from UA.
The 767-300 with the latest Polaris seat is configured as a 1-1-1 so 1 seat against each window with 1 in the middle. These are interlaced with the row in front and the row behind. I was stuck in the middle in 04D so not a great position to be in, but I was happy that I had a business class seat heading back home!
When I reached my seat, my seat was loaded with stuff: vanity bag, pillow, a cool memory foam pillow, a thin blanket, a thick blanket and a kitchen sink. Amazing! In fact, to be honest I didn’t know where I was going to put everything so that I could sit down!
After an hour of being on board but going nowhere, the captain came on the PA system highlighting that some work was still going on with the ground handling team. Fair enough – I appreciated the update. Another 20 mins later, he came out into the cabin and said the appearance of the captain in the cabin was never a good sign – that sounded ominous – I was thinking he was going to tell us the flight was going to be cancelled! However, what he proceeded to tell us was a new one for me: the wrong plane’s cargo had been loaded. Due to the earlier swaps of aircraft, the ground handlers had messed up which cargo was loaded onto which aircraft. Consequently, it all needed to be unloaded so that it could be reloaded correctly. Bizarre!
The cabin crew allowed passengers to use the restrooms, and they handed out water and juice. It wasn’t actually that much later when the reloading of cargo had been completed and we were ready to push back. By 11pm we were in the air.
A paper menu had been waiting for me at my seat when I boarded. A very friendly attendant asked me to highlight a meal as my first choice and a different one as my second choice. Clearly that meant they didn’t have enough to go around!
Within 15 mins of taking off, a drinks and warm nuts service started. This was immediately followed by the meal, and I was lucky enough to get my first choice: the flat iron steak, which was quite nice but wasn’t that flat! The veggies were well seasoned. This also came with a salad bowl, which didn’t look very appetising at all.
That was followed by ice cream with fudge and chocolate brownie. Although it was nice, it wasn’t as nice as an AA ice cream sundae with hot fudge sauce.
After reading a review of the UA 767 Polaris product, I knew to ask for a padded mattress, which was reluctantly provided by one of the attendants. I made up my bed and enjoyed about 4 hours sleep.
I woke around 60 mins to go and was offered breakfast. I went for the eggs, which were overdone. The croissant was anemically white but the yoghurt tasty. So overall I wouldn’t say that United have done that good a job with food on this flight.
The captain advised we would be arriving into Gate B46 at T2 (the Queen’s terminal). With my car being parked a T5 POD Parking, I decided I would try out the Passport eGates at T2 and then I could get the tube to T5.
Follow the whole story here: Tier Point Run to Hawaii in Dec 2022