01: Introduction: Domestic United Airlines 747-400’s in Global First and economy class
02: United Airlines 737-900/ER Economy Plus (premium economy) San Diego to San Francisco
03: United Airlines 747-400 economy class San Francisco to Chicago
04: Hilton Chicago O’Hare airport
05: United Club, Concourse B, ORD
06: American Airlines Admirals Club, ORD
07: United Airlines 747-400 Global First (first class) Chicago to San Francisco
08: United Airlines A320 economy class San Francisco to San Diego
One of the problems about being a responsible adult is the lack of free time that usually associated with this phase in life. There’s the demanding job, the needy family, maybe a little hobby or two, and…well…that’s pretty much it. I never thought I’d ever get to the point where having spare time (any amount of it) would seem so precious, and I’m finding that any free time I manage to stumble into is instantly crammed full of silly little tasks that I create for myself. Like writing content for SANspotter.com for example…
So what does all of that have to do with travel and the trip reports I write for this blog? Quite a bit actually. Primarily, I don’t have the kind of time I’d like to be able to jet off around the world on a moments notice to try new-to-me premium cabins on world-class airlines. My vacation schedule is fixed, and I only get so much of it a year and I have to use it wisely. Therefore, I need to be creative in finding ways to continually add valuable and entertaining content to this blog while holding down a soul-crushing 9-5 job and spending time with friends and family. Of course I love the friends and family part, but I’d be a happy guy if I could find an alternative to grinding out a career working for someone else. Doing SANspotter full time would be fantastic, but I need the support of readers like you to make that dream a reality. 🙂
In an effort to put together a quick trip that I could do both quickly and cheaply, I came up with a few ideas: trying American Airlines 777-300 service from LAX to MIA (too expensive), trying WestJet for the first time from SAN to YYC (too cold), or trying jetBlue Mint between LAX and JFK (too repetitive, since I was just in New York several months ago). But then I started thinking about how United Airlines sends large and interesting aircraft between it’s major US hubs from time to time, so I spent a little time on ual.com trying to see what I could find. Long story short, I found a pretty cool itinerary for a decent prince that I couldn’t pass up.
Here’s the full schedule / routing for this trip:
04/23/16 UA400 737-900/ER Economy Plus (premium economy) SAN-SFO
04/23/16 UA620 747-400 economy class SFO-ORD
04/25/16 UA1213 747-400 Global First (first class) ORD-SFO
04/25/16 UA576 A320 economy class SFO-SAN
United Airlines 747’s aren’t the most comfortable, but they are on the endangered species list and I want to fly them as much as I can before they are gone for good. And I even though I started putting together this itinerary with full intention doing it all in economy class, United offered me an upgrade on the ORD-SFO segment (in Global First) for $199. A little pricey, yes, but I did check to see what it would cost if I purchased Global First outright and it was pricing out at about $2600 per segment. Way too rich for me, so $199 seemed like a bargain. And the truth is that I would have taken an upper deck business class upgrade over first class if they would have offered it. I’ve never been on the upper deck of a 747 before, and I really want to make that happen somehow.
I should mention that I have already tried Global First on the 747 before (from San Francisco to Beijing), and while I found the hard product (seats) to be phenomenal, the soft product (service) was lacking. So before this trip even began I couldn’t help to think about how watered down the service might be on a domestic US flight. I wasn’t expecting much to be honest, but it still sounded really fun.
I was also quite looking forward to visiting Chicago again. I think the last time I was in Chicago was January 2004, so it was good to get reunited with one of my favorite cities, if only very briefly. Hah…”re-UNITED“. See what I did there?