As usual, I left it to the last minute to get my tickets for this trip to SF. I called travel agencies as well as airlines in Paris to get the best fares. Most travel agents gave me the fare of 748 euros with Air France /Delta. A more business travel agency actually found me a good fare of 607 euros with NW. AF also gave me the same fare as the travel agents whilst UA actually was higher. I got on the UA website and was able to find an internet fare of 640 euros….non stop to SFO and coming back via ORD. The NW flight was via Detroit and the arrival time in SFO did not suit me too well. Besides I am a Mileage Plus member.
Got myself an aisle seat on the internet.
The day of the departure I arrived at CDG1 fairly early after an uneventful RER (suburban trains) ride from Gare du Nord to CDG1. Paris as usual was grey and rainy. Went through security check prior to checking in no problem and joined the Economy check in for the flight to SFO at 920 am. The other lines were for Chicago and Washington Dulles.
While waiting in line, an agent called me and led me to the first class check in which was empty. Not for upgrade unfortunately. I asked the agent if the exit seat was still open, after all I was there fully 3 hours before the flight and I know that these seats were not given out in advance (Except of 1k members I heard ?). My lucky day ! I got an EXIT seat 30A. Things are starting to look sunnier.
With three hours in my hand I went outside the terminal at the arrival level to check out the planes. Even though CDG1 is more drab and old looking that the new spanking CDG2 where AF and their partner airlines are housed, I find CDG1 more interesting in terms of variety of airlines and also for plane spotting.
I decided to go to the departure satellite before 1130am as on the boarding card boarding was supposed to commence at 11H30. A quick smoke in a pitiful smoking corner in the satellite to prepare myself for the 11 hours flight.
There was already a line to get to the boarding lounge where you have to pass the metal detector. The guy manning the detector was in a foul mood and the fact that many people forgot coins etc. in their pocket did not help matters. But boy was he unpleasant to people. I got my cabin bag went straight to the gate as boarding had already commenced (at 1135 am).
The UA 777 interior looks nice and clean and indeed after recently flying on EK777 with their 10 abreast seats the UA 9 abreast seating appear more spacious and the blueish color more serene. I still don’t like, however, the 2-5-2 seating arrangement and always try to avoid the middle rows of seats. Why not 3-3-3 ? I would hate to be stuck in the middle of the 5 seats row !
Still parked at the gate with doors already closed, the crew did a safety demonstration at 1225. This was done manually. As I was seating in the EXIT row, I had to read the safety leaflet related to EXIT row seating and was asked if I was willing to help in case of an emergency by the crew. Of course I said Yes. The crew members were all friendly though they were not young. Fine with me, they looked very experienced and know exactly what they are doing. The crew member stationed in near my exit brought me a glass of champagne from business class after the demonstration. Again, most of the crew were nice and friendly. At 1231 we left the gate and I glimpse from the window just behind my seat as EXIT row seat do not have windows a NW DC10, USAir A330, other UA777 SAS and KLM 737s Olympic A310 I think. Oh yeah, earlier if I remember correctly I saw a beautiful QF 747 parked off terminal I suppose waiting for the late departure to SYD. After a ten minute taxi we stopped just at the end of the runway and at 1249 take off roll began and this take off roll was fairly long. The flight was not full as there were quite a few seats open in my section of the cabin.
At 1303 (Paris time) service carts were out already and the crew handed out a bag of crackers with drinks (I had OJ). A half hour later, the crew member stationed in front of me returned with a glass of champagne from first class (real flute !!!!) and a bowl of peanuts. I thanked him and drank the champagne even though I don’t usually drinks in flights. At 14H05 lunch was served and we had a choice of chicken or tortellini. I took the chicken which was OK. I was a bit surprised and disappointed not to see a dessert bowl on the tray ! There was salad, bread roll, cheese, and crackers. My disappointment over dessert did not last long, however, as later on the crew returned with cups of icecream caramel ! It was excellent and eating icecream in this dry environment indeed felt really good.
At 15H45 we were over Ireland (or somewhere near according to the route map) with a headwind of 78 mph. I followed the progress of the flight on the route map flicking between it and the film Spiderman. On the map over which our plane flew I saw progressively London, Glasgow, Aberdeen, Ireland, Kevlafik and Greenland, and in Canada the province of Alberta.
The crew member spoiled me again by bringing me a plate of real cheese from first class with a glass of red wine in a real glass which I unfortunately spilled all over the door after taking just a few sips. I felt bad and tried to clean the mess with the towels I got from the toilet.
At 6 pm (Paris time) the crew passed again with snacks and chocolates and drinks. They passed regularly with water and orange juice between time, by the way. I fell asleep and woke up in time for another snack service about 1 hour 2O minutes prior to landing in SFO. This time we got a turkey cheese sandwich which was quite nice. Well, we won’t be hungry on this flight !
Descending into SFO I was able to see what I think is OAK airport at 1441 SF time on the right side. We landed at 1447 local time and six minutes later were at the gate. Immigration was pretty fast as we were the only international flight at that time. The bags certainly appeared much faster than in CDG1 !!! I walked out with my backpack into the sunny and warm San Francisco day.
All in all I had a very enjoyable flight, the crew was friendly and competent. By the way the reg number for the plane I got from a crew member and I never verified myself as I was busy talking to a new friend I met who was nice enough to give me a ride into the city of SF.
UA 810 SFO ORD September 1, 2002
Sked departure 11 AM
EQPT. B777 200 Reg number N786UA
As the song goes, I left my heart in SF and each time I come back to recuperate it I end up leaving another piece of my heart there.
The day of my departure I got up early to make sure that I will be at SFO early enough to get seats that I wanted. Indeed I had already aisle seats booked but I want to see if I can get exit rows again. Arrived at SFO 2 and a half hours before sked departure and the line for check in for all flights were quite thin. I guess we are in the middle of labor day weekend so domestic travel was light. The agent checked me all the way to CDG, connecting to flight 942 sked to depart ORD at 645 pm local time. I got the EXIT row seat to ORD but not from ORD to CDG as this was taken already. I did changed my seat from the aisle in the middle row to the aisle on the side and got assigned seat 20H . An agent actually told me that this was an E+ seat and she was wrong since the aircraft did not have E+ seats !!! (and the seat did not feel like E plus seat, by the way). Having a couple of hours I wondered over to the international terminal to check out the aviation shop there. It did not open until 930 am and when it did I was a bit disappointed that their Herpa collection is not as it used to be. Got myself an SF t shirt, went out of the terminal for a smoke and went to the gate.
Departure was from gate 86 in the domestic terminal.
Boarding for this flight commenced at 1025 am and doors were closed at 1105. We left the gate 3 minutes later and during the taxi the crew demonstrated the safety features, again manually and looking often in my direction as I was seated in the exit row section !
Flying time to Chicago was to be 3 hours 20 minutes. At 1116 take off roll started and lasted about 30 seconds. The city and the golden gate bridge was then visible on the left hand side of the aircraft. The films in the IFE have changed and no more Spiderman. Instead there were About a boy, the importance of being Ernst, Lucky break and A cat’s meow (?). I did not see any of the film and read the united magazine instead. In the pocket next to my seat on the panel I found both the September and the august copies of the magazine. Beverage service commenced at 1140 ! I am impressed by the speed of the service, so soon after taking off compared to other airlines I have travelled on (e.g., EK). The snack served on this flight consisted of a sandwich of roasted chicken and cheese, carrots and dip (so healthy!), and an excellent dessert of swiss miss vanilla chocolate pudding (can we get this dessert in France ?). The route map on my private screen showed places flown over (or nearby where we flew) as Salt Lake City, Omaha, and Chicago.
At 1 hour 39 minutes from destination, we were somewhere over Chayenne with a ground speed of 1046 km/h and a tail wind of 154 km/h. Our cruising altitude was 37000 feet (sorry for mixing feet and meters and kms !).
There was again a second drink service and I noticed that we were offered wine, both red and white in glasses. I thought I heard earlier that alcoholic drink was not free as this is a domestic flight. At 236pm SF time we prepared for landing into the very cloudy Chicago. Touched down was at 241 pm SF time or 441 pm Chicago time and four minutes later we were at the gate already. This time at gate B16.
I got out of the plane and checked the screen for the gate of my connecting flight. Well, would not you know it : gate number B16 !!! I think this means that I will be flying on the same aircraft from SFO !
Eqpt. B777 2000 reg. UA786 UA
Sked dep. 645 pm.
Gate B16 and there it was the plane I took from SFO (I rechecked the reg number too).
Boarding was at 6 pm and this flight was chock a block full they were asking for volunteers to take ‘alternative’ routes to Paris ! I noticed as I got on the plane that even the crew rest area seats were opened for pax ! Lucky pax as these seats were nicer with foot rest and more pitch even though located in the Y cabin. I found my 21H aisle seat on the right hand side of the aircraft. At 629 doors were closed and the crew were trying to go for an early departure. The plane apparently was full with only 1 seat in Y open (why would they ask for volunteers if there was still 1 seat open ? This could be because there are people travelling together and indeed I talked to pax who were seated in different sections of the cabin).
Flying time to Paris will be 7 hours 50 minutes. We left the gate at 641 local time and I tuned in to channel 9 to hear the pilot-tower conversation. We were identified as 942 heavy and we were to take off after a Midland heavy. I suppose that means bmi to Manchester, maybe ?
From the window I glimpsed an Aer Lingus A330. We were to take off from runway 32 right and at 651 pm we began the 30 seconds take off roll.
By the way, row 20 on the right side of this aircraft has NO window ! just a panel…..
The crew on this flight I noticed displayed flag pins indicating the language that they speak; The male crew member in my section speaks French and display the French flag pin.
At 720 pm savoury mix and drinks were served. This was followed by dinner at 820 pm consisting of chicken rice carrot which were OK (forgot what the other choice) salad that was quite good and a cheesecake dessert that was just excellent !
Flicking between the route map and the movie the Crocodile hunter, I noticed the places that we flew over or situated near the regions we flew over : over the big lake, northern part of Michigan, Georgian bay, Stephenville (St Johns), atlantic, and Shannon. We were in a more southerly route compared to the CDG SFO flight I took.
I managed to cat nap in the cramped environment in the dimmed cabin. UA seat pitch I guess is standard and of course now I longed for the E plus and 5 inches more leg room sounds a lot ! The crew on this flight also are very friendly and efficient and the average age must be younger than the crew in my CDG-SFO flight.
As we approached Paris, Eiffel tower was visible on the right side. At 931 am paris time I heard what I think were gears out and we landed in grey and rainy paris at 934 am. At 940 we were already at gate. I got out of the aircraft and had time to admire the beautiful airplane whilst smoking a cigarette with other smoking pax in the satellite of CDG1. Passport check was rapid and soon we were at the baggage claim area and waited forever as is apt to happen in CDG1 for our bags. At CDG I saw South African 747 300 (love the livery) towed to an off terminal parking from the same satellite, and more UA 777s, among others.
I am quite happy with these flights on UA as all of them were on time or early and the crew were friendly.
Let me just say: I LOVE 777s !! and San Francisco !!
Cmk10 From United States of America, joined Feb 2004, 513 posts, RR: 4 Reply 1, posted (10 years 9 months 2 weeks 3 days 17 hours ago) and read 3423 times:
Very nice report. Although I have not been to San Francisco in 8 years I remember it as an excellent city. I might be seeing it this year though ! Did they mention what the alternate routes to Paris were? Also, did you take in a Giants game?
"Traveling light is the only way to fly" - Eric Clapton
Parisien From France, joined Dec 2000, 819 posts, RR: 2 Reply 2, posted (10 years 9 months 2 weeks 3 days 3 hours ago) and read 3084 times:
Hi DC-10's Forever,
I did not check what the alternative flight for Paris is...but I heard an agent telling passengers who volunteered to take alternative flight to London that the alternative flight is UA the next day as all flights that go to London or connect to London are full.
I did not take in a Giants game but I did go to the desert and watched cactus and birds which were wonderful.
I guess you would have taken the NW flight if you were to do this route since it is operated by DC10s ! Unfortunately with the later dep time and connection in Detroit their flight arrives late in SF. Some NW flights are operated with KL however and thus not DC10s !
Flyua From United States of America, joined Mar 2001, 300 posts, RR: 6 Reply 3, posted (10 years 9 months 2 weeks 2 days 20 hours ago) and read 3033 times:
Thank you for the fine trip report! I'm glad you enjoyed the three United flights!
Yes, the ice cream service on our Europe-US flights is new and very well-received. I expect it will be around for a long time!
How lucky you were to receive all the extra in-flight goodies from the Flight Attendant on your CDG-SFO flight! I haven't done little extras like that in a while... getting too lazy! Your trip report has encouraged me to go the extra step on my next flight!
Yes, alcohol isn't free on our domestic flights. The glasses of wine served on your SFO-ORD flight were free samples from First or Business, I imagine. Good of that crew to do that!
The Economy Plus seats have yet to make it onboard our entire B777 fleet. Hopefully, on your next trans-Atlantic United run (!), you'll find the extra legroom.
Parisien From France, joined Dec 2000, 819 posts, RR: 2 Reply 4, posted (10 years 9 months 2 weeks 1 day 23 hours ago) and read 2978 times:
thanks for your response. i am glad I was able to motivate you ! Yes, a nice crew member can make all the difference in the experience of pax in a flight.
What routes get the B777 equiped with E+ , or is it just the luck of the draw ?
Flyua From United States of America, joined Mar 2001, 300 posts, RR: 6 Reply 5, posted (10 years 9 months 2 weeks 1 day 22 hours ago) and read 2982 times:
Yes, it's pretty much the luck of the draw. Our B777 fleet is constantly moved around!
FYI: look for the aircraft with nose numbers 23--. Those have been reconfigured to add more room in Business, as well as 10 rows of Economy Plus. Nose numbers 24-- and 27-- are still in the "traditional" configuration. Aircraft with nose numbers 28-- have one less lavatory at Door 3; there's a below-deck crew rest area accessed by stairs near Door 3R. Our last configuration, 25--, is our 2-class jumbo that holds 348 passengers. This model does have Economy Plus, and is used primarily on our Hawaii runs.
Keep your eyes out for the 23-- aircraft! You know you'll be a little more comfortable!