Monday, May 23, 2016

Flight Review: United Airlines SFO to OGG on a B737-800SFP

I've been traveling to Hawaii for many years, but recently I took my very first flight to the islands on a United Airlines sCO (a former Continental plane using Continental crew) Boeing 737-800SFP (Short Field Performance).

Our plane taking off from SFO.  View more of my photos on my Instagram.
The flight used N76514 -- equipped with split scimitar winglets.  The flight time was 4 hours and 50 minutes.  It was a windy day in San Francisco and we took off with a high angle of attack to get over the clouds quickly.  That departure provided a really awesome view on our way out of the city.  And it wasn't long before we said aloha of the main land.

United's Upgraded Meals
One of my favorite parts of the flight was experiencing United's new approach to food.  In years past when I would be on a 757 from DEN to LIH, we would get the equivalent of a gas station burrito.  But now we got to experience an amazing three course meal.  Let's start with the salad:

Now, I'm not a true foodie, but I love food, so here it goes... The salad was a Kale base with some noodles.  The flavors were very rich, and I didn't even use the salad dressing.  One of the things I loved about the salad was its presentation.  The little details go a long way.  Also, note the AMAZING pretzel roll.

Next was the main course:

If you notice the chuck missing, I got too excited to eat this before taking the picture.  The flavor of this roast was so vivid in my mouth.  The dirty rice rivaled that of my favorite restaurant (Jazmo'z Bourbon Street Cafe).  And the veggies weren't a frozen, watered-down mess.  This was the kind of meal I would expect in New York City.

Dessert was the best part:

I Love the Ice-Cream Sundae cart on long flights, but this sorbet was to die for!  The bitterness of the lemon-lime was a wonderful pairing with the sweetness of the roast.

The one negative thing
One of the big cons to the trip was being on a sCO aircraft that has Thales InFlyt product (formally LiveTV owned by JetBlue).  This service currently only works over the contiguous 48 states, so there's no DirectTV or wifi on the five-hour flight.  I know that United is working on getting that corrected for the wifi (eventually DirectTV will be replaced with Personal Device Entertainment on all UA fleet).  I would have preferred to be connected to the interwebs the whole flight, but it allowed me to get caught up on some movies on my iPad (if you fly a 737 to the Islands, be sure to bring your own entertainment).

United's Flyer Friendly Service
The crew was amazing. The Flight Service Coordinator, Dan, went above and beyond to make sure the flight was everything I wanted it to be.  As Oscar talks about the new spirit of United, I believe that spirit has been there in a lot of people for a long time.  The spirit was just being squished from the top.

Overall, this was a wonderful trip and there's nothing better than seeing this:

But, hey, I'm just some guy who likes to look at airplanes, so what do I know?