After deplaning from flight UA3400, we walked through the corridors to get from our current location, the E concourse to the B concourse so that we could relax and have some food at the United Club near gate B6 before our next and final flight of this trip, to Los Angeles. Back in 2015, my parents and I did this exact same walk from the E concourse to the B concourses to get to the United Club near gate B6 but neither one of them remember anything of our current airport surroundings from that trip.
After dodging passengers through the crowded terminal, we finally arrived at the United Club near gate B6. This United Club was renovated since our last visit in 2015 so I was excited to have this opportunity to report back on the changes. The check-in area of of Club is on the lower level and the main Club is on the second level. I handed my boarding pass over to one of the United Club Agents checking people in and after scanning my boarding pass, she asked me if I was guesting anyone in. I told her that my parents were with me and then she said that she needed to see their boarding passes as well. This confused me at first but I followed through with the agents process. From what I gathered, the United Club Agent scanned my parents and I in under my United Club Membership instead of our entitlement to use the United Club when flying on a international itinerary in premium cabin. It really did not matter either way, but I can see this causing issues in certain situations when there are bigger groups traveling together. The United Club Agent that helped my parents and I was pleasant but I did notice that the two agents working on either side of her were exhibiting behaviors which on some travel forums call a “lounge dragon.”I thanked the United Club Agent that scanned us in and we promptly got out of the way of others trying to check-in and went up to the main Club via the escalators. Once we were up in the main area, the club seemed busy but not anywhere near capacity. We were able to find ourselves seating at one of the low level tables with swivel chairs around it. We stacked our stuff on one of the empty chairs before heading off to the buffet section to make ourselves a plate. Unlike our last visit in 2015, there are now two separate buffet stations post renovation. Both have the exact same food items. The bar has been moved from its previous location and setup in the center of one half of the Club. Very similar to the bar inside the new LAX United Club except that this one does not have 360 wrap around seating. The bar was very busy and when I showed up to order two glasses of wine for my dad and myself, all of the barstools were occupied. I had to squeeze in between the beer tap and barstool next to it to try and get the bartenders attention. One immediate difference since the renovation is that now, hot food main course is being served in the United Club. Creamy chicken fettuccine was on offer along with the standard salad bar, soup, assorted bread and brownie bites for dessert. At the LAX United Club, two soups, chicken noodle and roasted red pepper and smoked gouda bisque were offered but only one, a tomato bisque was offered at this United Club. Coffee, and soda machines were located and the end of the each buffet area and both flavored and unflavored water dispensers were placed at specific sections of the Club. Dispensers containing Cinnamon Splendor Trail Mix were also available for self service.
The food staff members were constantly refilling the buffet at the same time collecting and cleaning any mess. The bathroom was clean and big enough that I don’t think would cause lines or crowding during busy times at the United Club. There are no showers in the Club and from what I remember, I don’t think this United Club had one in 2015. All in all I think the renovation helped the Club. It does feel brighter and more welcoming than the dark bank like atmosphere it had during our visit in 2015. And finally, including hot food is a MAJOR PLUS! I will admit that the pasta was way too overcooked for my liking but my mom liked the dish. Considering no hot foods were offered before, the hot food addition is definitely an improvement not matter what the item on offer tastes like.
Both my mom and dad were running out of battery on their phones so we moved to the armchairs with power source from where we were sitting. There were both electric sockets and USB ports but most of the USB ports seemed to be not working. I had to take out the Apple charging cube to charge the phones via the socket. I’m sure the broken USB ports can be quite annoying to Club guests especially for the ones that are paying a hefty annual membership fee. We tried three different USB ports on three different seats, and they all had the same problem. We lounged around for a while in our new seats, but as soon as the United App notified me that our aircraft had landed, we gathered up our stuff and headed out of the United Club for gate C9, which is where our flight to Los Angeles would be boarding from.We took the connector between the underground connector between B and C Concourse, the same underground connector that my parents and I were running through last Thursday, to try and catch our UA476 to Toronto. Once we got up into the C Concourse, we passed by the new Polaris Lounge on our walk to gate C9. I explained to my parents that this was the lounge that I showed them pictures of last week and that it is only for United Airlines Polaris First/Business Class Passengers and select Star Alliance First/Business Class passengers. While walking to our gate, I was able to take some great shots of our Boeing 757-300 aircraft from the concourse window. I was surprised at how clean the windows were! Dirty windows at airports have always been the bane of Aviation Geeks like myself but Chicago O’hare seems to like keeping their windows clean!
Our aircraft was still de-boarding passengers from San Francisco when we arrived at the gate. I left my parents with my backpack and went around the other gates around C9 to try and capture more pictures. Unfortunately, there were not many aircrafts for me to take pictures of. I went back to where my parents were and grabbed them along with our belongings to get in line in Group 1, since people were already getting in line. It did not take long for boarding to commence, I would estimate about 15 minutes after we got in line, pre boarding was called. Shortly after pre boarding finished, Group 1 boarding was called and after having our boarding passes scanned, we were walking down the jet bridge to our aircraft. Unlike our flight from LAX last Wednesday, there was no traffic jam and a long wait in the jet bridge. We walked right onboard, turned left and found our first class seats at row 1.The seats aboard this Boeing 757-300 aircraft was exactly the same as the ones aboard the Boeing 757-300 aircraft we flew from LAX on flight UA660 last Wednesday night. The seats made the same creaking noise every time I moved and the seat bottom felt really worn with no padding left. At seats 1A and 1B, there is small storage in the bulkhead in front of us but not at 1E and 1F. The purser aboard todays flight was Tony who also came through the cabin to take our pre-departure drink orders. I went with a vodka and cranberry while my mom ordered water.
Once all of the safety demonstrations and the usual pre-departure procedures completed, we pushed back from the gate 5 minutes ahead of time. The two Rolls Royce engines on our aircraft powered up and we taxied to the runway for departure to LAX. I was surprised that we were not stuck in a long line of aircraft for departure since Chicago is a major hub airport for two airlines and all. We powered down the runway and up up and away to LAX we went. Once the 10,000 feet chime went off, announcements regarding todays flight and the service offered onboard was made. Shortly afterwards, one of the female flight attendants came to the first class galley to prep for the dinner service in first class.Tony came through the cabin starting with my mom and I taking dinner and drink orders. The two options today was a pasta dish and the cheeseburger. My mom chose the pasta and my dad and I went with the cheeseburger. Since I’ve already had quite a bit to drink since morning, I ordered ginger ale to go with my dinner. Hot towels were distributed by the female flight attendant while Tony was finishing taking dinner orders. Warmed nuts followed in the new Polaris ramekins with our drinks following close behind. While Tony was serving the drinks, the female flight attendant began distributing the meal trays by hand two at a time. Both the pasta and the cheeseburger came with spinach salad with cherry tomatoes and mozzarella balls served with a container of honey dijon dressing. Dessert was a slice of strawberry cheesecake. The pasta dish came with a dinner roll while the cheeseburger came with a plate of cheese slice, tomato, pickles and lettuce. All of the plates and service items were the new ones rolled out for Polaris Business Class. I thought the cheeseburger was actually good but my dad did not like his and ate about a quarter of it. My mom said the pasta dish, which was ravioli was meh. She offered me some of the pasta but I passed. Once the meal trays and drinks were distributed, Tony came through the cabin with both bottles of red and white wine offering them to passengers who wanted wine. I had a little bit of the white wine to finish off the meal. Once my mom and I were finished with our meal, it did not take long before the female flight attendant came over to clear our trays away. Service was good and prompt but without too much social interaction with the first class passengers. Refills were offered and if you asked for something the two flight attendants would promptly bring it.
Once the meal service was concluded, I tried to play around with the inflight BYOD WiFi system but the system aboard our aircraft was having issues. I heard Tony talking to one of the passengers who was sitting behind us saying that the system has been having issues since San Francisco. The system kept coming and going throughout the flight so I wasn’t able to get flight time or the flight progress map for most of the flight. I even tried to get some sleep but just like on flight UA660, the first class seats aboard United Airlines Boeing 757-300 are painful for sleeping.
Eventually, after killing time trying to get some sleep and flipping through the Inflight Hemispheres Magazine, we started our descent into Los Angeles. While Tony was doing his Purser related duties, the female flight attendant who earlier helped prepare and serve the meals in first class, jumped into action securing the first class galley for landing. She obviously has done this many times before because I kid you not, she was able to put everything away and latch up all of the carts and storage in less than 10 minutes. All of the flight attendants took their seats and shortly afterwards we landed on one of the southern runways at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). Our aircraft taxied to Terminal 7 and parked at gate 72A at which point, we were 7 minutes earlier than scheduled time.
We went down to the baggage carousel where our three bags were second, third and fourth to come out onto the belt. During this trip, I was really surprised at how well the priority tags have worked in getting our luggage out to the belt. In Toronto, our bags were the first three on the belt so either we were really lucky this trip or United has upped their game in making the priority luggage tags really matter. With our bags collected, we immediately headed outside to the FlyAway Bus area since it was just about time for the bus to arrive. If we missed the bus, we would have to wait another 30+ minutes for the next one to Van Nuys to arrive. We concluded this trip with a FlyAway Bus ride in 405 freeway traffic crawl back to Van Nuys where we parked our car before departing.