The End of My Asia Trip, Los Angeles to DC on United

2:06 pm Los Angeles, CA (LAX) to Chicago (ORD)
United Flight 843 First Class Seats:3A, 3B
Duration: 4h 6m Airbus A320 1745 miles traveled

We were originally scheduled for the 4pm non-stop back to Dulles, United decided to no longer operate it on Saturdays. So we were changed to a connecting flight back through Denver, the last non-redeye non-stop of the day just missed the minimum connection time for international-domestic at LAX. No big deal, the Denver connection shortened the layover in LA and we were scheduled to get back within minutes of our original schedule. Another schedule change and we wound up on the 2pm Chicago flight, again arriving within minutes of the prior schedule.

The Airbus was full, plenty of folks on standby looking to get on the flight. We boarded and the pilot announced a ground stop for flights into Chicago, and a new departure time. My Chicago connection was looking unlikely, though it too could be delayed. Pilot invited those who wanted off to do so, but I figured it’s better to get closer to my destination so I’d stick it out.

I asked about Channel 9 and was told it would not be on for the flight. This pilot was not a happy camper. Came on the PA and told folks that they were running up against maximum duty hours, and if we got pushed back any more the flight would be cancelled.

Then I got an EasyUpdate that the flight time had been moved up. I was going to make my connection! Minutes later the pilot announced everyone back in their seats with seatbelts on, we were poised to go.

Then EasyUpdate strikes again – cancelled. I immediately get on the phone to United about re-booking, while gathering my stuff. Pilot comes out, he got another delay message, I told him about the EasyUpdate and he was angry. How could United tell me and not him? Minutes later he got the message and was scowling as all passengers were getting offloaded. He just get cursing United under his breath. I know I shouldn’t have, but instead of just deplaning on my way out I suggested he subscribe to EasyUpdate…

By the time we were out the jetway I had my flight options. The entire plane filtered out to the customer service counter, but my plans were handled. I didn’t even need to make a beeline for the lounge. Bottom-line was I could have first class seats on the redeye, but that didn’t really appeal to me. I was exhausted and the prospect of 7 more hours hanging around the airport just seemed miserable. They offered me the first flight in the morning, but that was too early. I’m baby bear – I like my flights to be just right. I asked about the morning 777. First was zeroed out, but we were confirmed in business. That’s fine, still better than the domestic first and connections we were going to be on.

On the way out of the airport I rang up Starwood, they offered the Category 2 Westin LAX (on a weekend night, so really cheap on points) or the Category 3 Sheraton. I should have spent 3000 points (minus 500 point Plat amenity) for the Westin, but I’m such not a fan of the hotel that I sprang for the Sheraton. Hopped on the shared airport shuttle bus, and when we arrived they had us assigned into what they called a suite but was really just a big room with no wall or divider between the bedroom and living room area. Bathroom was same, standard. Certainly fine, of course.

We managed to stay up long enough to hit the lounge, which was a rather sorry affair. Some cheese and fruit, an unappetizing cheesecake, and a meat dish that was indeterminate. Oh well, too tired to eat anyway. Went to sleep, woke up early and ordered some room service, then back to the shuttle over to the airport.

The flight was completely uneventful, I spent the entire time reclined dozing in and out of consciousness listening to Channel 9, and it was over before I knew it. Sure, it’s the old style business on the 777. And it’s amazing to me that I used to find these seats comfortable! And the meal has gotten pathetic compared to what it once was (I still have my first UnitedBusiness transcon lunch menu from about 10 years ago, the shrimp appetizer was delicious and so was the filet). But it works for a domestic hop at least, don’t cram me into this seat for a transpac though.

Bags arrived ahead of us at IAD, they were there waiting and we were home.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

More articles by Gary Leff »

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *