After half a year of planning and researching, the time had finally arrived for our trip to Peru. Since I had to be in class yesterday night, by the time I arrived at my parents house after finishing class, it was about 2:30 AM in the morning. My parents and I left their house after getting ready to get some EARLY EARLY breakfast before catching the Van Nuys FlyAway bus to LAX. Before we arrived at the Van Nuys FlyAway terminal, we assumed the terminal and the bus would be empty at 3:30 AM but my mom and I were quite surprised at the number of people heading to LAX Airport so early in the morning. Our FlyAway bus departed from Van Nuys FlyAway Terminal nearly full.
Our FlyAway Bus arrived at LAX Airport without any traffic or delay, but since United Airlines is located at terminal 7, we had to drop off all other passengers at terminals 1-6 before it was our turn to disembark. Once we entered Terminal 7 through the Premier Access entrance, we were directed to a empty check-in counter by one of the staff members walking around the Premier Access check-in hall greeting and directing passengers.
Terminal 7 is currently going through a major remodel so there are lots of noise, construction activity, and plastic sheeting throughout the terminal. In May, when we came through Terminal 7 on our way to Texas, we had to go outside to get to the part of the terminal where security is located, but the corridor connecting check-in to security was open today. The connecting corridor is no where near finished with construction but it does beat having to go back outside and line up outside breathing in diesel fumes from the shuttle buses circling the ring road.
My parents and I were down in San Diego for our Global Entry interview couple of weeks ago and this would be our first chance to try out the TSA Pre benefit of having Global Entry. The TSA Pre security line was open and we were through security within 5 minutes. I tired to take some pictures of the security area but one of the TSA agents came over and told be pictures were not allowed of the security area. This one picture was all I was able to get of LAX terminal 7’s TSA Pre security area. I have to say so far, Global Entry is well worth the $100.00 fee we paid per person.
After all three of us were through security, we headed upstairs to the main United Club. When we arrived at the club, it was not open yet, but a crowd was already forming at the door. Construction of the new United Club is currently in full swing and the deafening noise of construction was echoing throughout the terminal. I can not wait to see and try out the new club when it opens. United Airlines is building a whole new building around the existing terminal for the new United Club. This will not be another “lipstick on a pig” kind of remodel.
Exactly at 4:30AM, the club opened and we were inside after having our boarding passes scanned. Since we are flying on a international segment in United’s Business First Cabin, United Club access is allowed without membership.
This United Club has definitely seen better days. There were water damages to the ceiling and the general space just felt as if it was overdue for a remodel. Thankfully United is currently building the new club from the ground up and we can hear the pounding jackhammer noise resonating into the club. The noise lasted for about an hour after the club opened before it stopped. By the end of the year, all of these inconveniences are in theory going to be worth it when the new United Club opens.
For food, the United Club had United’s enhanced breakfast buffet setup, which United Airlines implemented throughout all the United Clubs last year. Definitely the enhancements are nothing to complain about and all food items were edible and fresh. Coffee, tea, juice, milk, and espresso were plentiful but the bar opened after 6:00AM due to State law. Except for cold beverage cups, United Clubs use real dishes and metal cutlery.
After running around the United Club snapping pictures of everything and anything, I grabbed myself some food and headed back to where my parents were sitting and enjoyed my second breakfast of the day. By this point in the morning my parents were already starting to doze off from the lack of sleep. Both had already helped themselves to the breakfast buffet while I was taking pictures. The mixed fruits were fresh cut fruit and NOT frozen. The croissant was soft and the coffee from the expresso machine was not bad at all.
After spending couple of hours in the United Club, we headed out to our gate so I could snap some pictures of our aircraft before boarding commenced. Our aircraft, a Boeing 737 900 was parked at the gate and being serviced. Luckily, the windows were clean on the other side so I was able to take some pretty clear pictures of our aircraft without too much glare or smudges.
United Airlines uses these terrible boarding group system to board their aircraft. It seems to invite utter chaos with everyone trying to be first in their group to board so they can get space up in the overhead bins. Even the lines for Group 1, which is reserved for First and Business class passengers are not immune to this problem since people flying in the main cabin who have Premiere Status also get assigned to Group 1 or Group 2 depending on their status level. It is not uncommon to see half of the aircraft board in Group 1 or 2.
We got in line in Group 1 behind couple others who were already waiting in line. We did not have to wait too long before the boarding process began for our flight to Houston. There was one Global Service passenger who boarded when GS boarding was called, and no one for family pre-boarding. The majority of people in line to board looked to be going somewhere for work or business. Not too many leisure type people onboard except for my parents and myself.
Group 1 boarding was called and we headed down the jet bridge to our aircraft. Our aircraft today was equipped with Wi-Fi and BYOD entertainment system. We were greeted at the door by a United Airlines Flight Attendant who I am not sure was the purser or not for this flight. The two United Airlines Flight Attendants you see in the picture above were the ones who worked the first class cabin on this morning flight to Houston Texas. Both United Airlines Flight Attendants were friendly, efficient and seemed to really enjoy their job.
In May on our trip to Texas, we were on another one of United’s Boeing 737 900 and the seats were really rough on our lower backs. I can not say that we were 100% thrilled to see these same seats again after that redeye flight in May. Each first class seat had a blanket sealed in plastic on the seat cushion. I never use these blankets on domestic flights, but my mom bundles up in them. I gave her mine blanket to use as well which she did use.
The female United Airlines Flight Attendant working first class came by to ask for our pre-departure beverage order. I ordered a gin and tonic, and my mom gave me a dirty look as usual for drinking so early in the morning. I told my mom, I am on vacation and I will drink whatever I please. The flight attendant taking our drink order laughed at the little exchange between my mom and myself, and came back in a short while with my gin and tonic.
After everyone was boarded and the usual pre-flight routines were finished, we pushed back from the gate around 7:30 AM. We would be using the southern runways today for our flight. During our taxiing to the runway, we passed both the American Airlines “Eagles Nest” and United Airlines hanger area which had one of their 787 parked outside.
Not many aircraft were ahead of us this morning and in no time we were rolling down the runway. These Boeing 737 900’s love to use the full length of the runway during takeoff and as soon as the aircraft was off the ground and wheels up, we were flying over the Pacific Ocean. As typical of flights out of LAX to destinations east, we headed over the ocean for a while before we began our turn back onto land and to Houston Texas.
Once the seatbelt signs were turned off, the two United Airlines Flight Attendants working first class jumped into action. Orders were taken for breakfast by the female United Airlines Flight Attendant while the male United Airlines Flight Attendant was prepping meal trays in the galley. The choice for breakfast today was between cheese and herb omelette or oatmeal. We were asked for our first and second choice. My parents and I all chose the omelette for first choice and in the end, we got two omelettes and one oatmeal. I took the oatmeal and let my parents have the omelettes. Breakfast started with hot towels and another round of beverage. This time I chose to have a screwdriver with breakfast.
After the hot towels were collected and all the drinks passed out, breakfast meal tray were distributed. My oatmeal came with brown sugar, greek yogurt, and a fresh assorted fruit plate. White cloth napkins with real metal cutlery were also on the tray. Wine glasses were on the tray but I did not partake in any wine with breakfast this morning.
After the whole first class cabin was served, the female United Airlines Flight Attendant came through with the bread basket. The choice was between warm cinnamon rolls or warmed up croissants. I chose the cinnamon roll and my mom went with the croissant. Butter and jam were also available in the basket for anyone who wanted them.
My mom only tasted her omelette and gave it to me to finish. She was not really hungry after eating at the United Club earlier. I ended up not eating the oatmeal and the yogurt and sent them back untouched. The omelette stuffed with cheese and herb filling was really good! The eggs were not overcooked and the breakfast sausage was tasty as well.
Once all the breakfast meal trays were collected, my parents fell asleep and I just dozed in and out for most of the flight. About an hour or so before landing, I asked the male United Airlines Flight Attendant for one of the Stroopwafels served in coach. He brought me 2 from the rear galley. I visited the restroom before landing and I stuck up a conversation with the two United Airlines Flight Attendants and mentioned that it was a shame the Stroopwafels were only served in coach and not first class.
The female United Airlines Flight Attendant asked me where I was going on vacation, and when I told her Peru, she said she would get me more Stroopwafels to enjoy on the flight down to Peru. She came back from the back gallery before landing and handed me a big stack of Stroopwafels. My mom and I were both like OMG! I thanked the flight attendant as my mom was trying to make room for the Stroopwafels in her purse.
We landed in Houston and after a short taxi to the gate, another flight on United Airlines came to and end. After thanking the two United Airlines Flight Attendants for a wonderful flight, my parents and I were the first ones off of the aircraft. We walked to the United Club located in Terminal E, which is the closest club to the international departure gates.