United Airlines 737-900/ER Economy Plus San Diego to San Francisco

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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

I don’t want to sound too much like a Negative Nancy, but I find it a bit disappointing that the Boeing 737 is becoming the predominant aircraft type in the fleets of all the major US airlines. Don’t get me wrong – it’s a fine aircraft in every way shape and form, but…there seems to be increasingly less and less variety in aircraft types these days and quite frankly I’m finding that air travel isn’t as interesting as it used to be. Flying from San Diego to San Francisco? 737. Newark to Los Angeles? 737? San Francisco to Hawaii? 737. Of course there are exceptions (which this trip report is all about), but the decreasing lack of commercial aircraft variety here in the US is kind of sad to this airline nerd.

Disappointment aside, starting a new adventure is always fun and I look forward to each and every one of them no matter what type of aircraft takes me to my destination. I also don’t mind kicking off a trip before the sun rises – the anticipation and excitement of hitting the road (and the skies) trumps any grogginess I may be feeling from waking at such an early hour.

This particular flight up to San Francisco this morning was scheduled to depart at 6:15am, which is the earliest possible time at SAN due to the airport curfew that lifts at 6:30am. I was at the airport by 4:30, which was perfect because it gave me plenty of time to take pics and video for this trip report. Hey…writing this blog is a lot of work!

san diego airport departures level

Standing curbside at the departures level at terminal 2. It may be early but I’m ready to go!

San diego airport arrivals level

Ever wonder what the arrivals level at SAN looks like at 4:30am? Not much action down there.

san diego airport terminal 2 entrance

Enough with the exterior pics – let’s go inside.

united airlines check in san diego airport

United Airlines check in to the left.

UA400
San Diego, CA (SAN) – San Francisco, CA (SFO)
Saturday, April 23, 2016
Aircraft: 737-900/ER
Registration: N75428
Seat: 10A (Economy Plus / premium economy)

United Airlines 737-900/ER (N75428) side view

United Airlines 737-900/ER (N75428) side view illustration by Norebbo.com

san-sfo route map

Our route to SFO this morning: PEBLE6 SXC VTU RZS SERFR SERFR2

terminal 2 west san diego airport

Walking through terminal 2 west on the way to the gate.

gate 44 san diego airport

Gate 44: the departure point for this flight up to SFO.

737-900 N75428 united

N75428 sitting at the gate and getting loaded up and ready to go.

It was very important that this flight leave on time this morning, as I only had a 45 minute connection time in San Francisco and I did not want to miss that 747 to ORD! But as any experienced traveler should, I had already expected that I was going to miss that flight. Planning for the worst (but hoping for the best) tends to make things go much smoother when it comes to travel, so I was feeling pretty good when they started the boarding process right on time. Maybe I’ll be able to catch that 747 after all…

Walking down the jet bridge

Walking down the jet bridge here at gate 44.

To be honest I didn’t even realize that I had an Economy Plus seat reserved until I boarded the aircraft. I sat down, had a look around, then noticed the sticker on the seat back in front of me that said “Reserved for United Economy Plus”. Score! I did purchase Premier Access (for priority checkpoint screening and early boarding) when I made the reservation, but I guess I was unaware that an Economy Plus seat came as part of that package. All I really wanted was a seat towards the front of the plane so that I could have time to make my connection in SFO. If you really want my opinion though, I didn’t even notice the extra leg room in this seat. If I didn’t know any better, I would have said that it felt exactly the same as the UA 737-900/ER I experienced in economy class from ORD to SAN last fall.

united economy plus seats

Economy Plus seats 10A, B, and C on this 737-900.

united economy plus leg room

Here’s a better view of the leg room in these Economy Plus seats.

united economy plus leg room

I’m 5′-10″, and as you can see, I’ve got plenty of leg room in these seats.

united economy plus seats

These slimline seats may not be the most comfortable, but they do look nice.

united economy in seat video screen

The large video screen is nice, but annoying during boarding when it’s looping advertisements and you can’t turn it off.

Reserved for United Economy Plus

Reserved for United Economy Plus badge.

united airlines 737-900 interior

Let’s go already – I’ve got a 747 to catch!

The captain made an announcement that we would be arriving a few minutes early into SFO as we pushed back from the gate (woo hoo!), and the sun was rising as we made our way out to the threshold of runway 27. It turns out that we were the number 1 departure out of SAN that morning, with a long line of aircraft waiting behind us for the 6:30am curfew to lift. Here’s a video I shot of the full taxi and departure sequence:

And here’s the full taxi and takeoff sequence in pics:

san diego airport runway 27

Rolling out to runway 27 on a gloomy morning here in San Diego.

san diego airport 6:30am curfew

We had to hold short for a few minutes as we waited for the 6:30am curfew to lift.

6:30am departures san diego airport

Luckily we were first in line for departure this morning, so there was no waiting once the curfew was lifted.

departing san diego

Up up and away!

737-900 winglets

This aircraft had the split scimitar winglets, but they were hard to see from my angle.

Point Loma and Sunset Cliffs

Climbing out over Point Loma and Sunset Cliffs.

early morning san diego departure

I love early morning departures out of San Diego! So scenic…

Once in the air, the flight attendants made their way through the cabin offering drinks and complimentary snacks. I wasn’t expecting a snack due to the fact that US airlines are notoriously cheap when it comes to this sort of thing, so it was a welcome thing to see. I didn’t eat it though, as I’m not much of a fan of sugary / sweet snacks. I’m a peanut and pretzel guy all the way.

United Airlines Stroopwafel

The signature United Airlines Stroopwafel.

United Airlines Stroopwafel

I’m not even sure why I took one this morning – sugary snacks aren’t really my thing.

Economy Plus cabin

Economy Plus section on this 737-900

flying over central California Coast

Making our way up the central California Coast towards San Francisco.

The weather was absolutely fantastic all the way up to San Francisco this morning, and we had an amazing view of the Bay Area as we made our approach to runway 28L at SFO. Clouds were low and thin, and combined with the rising sun to the east, it was a beautiful sight to see. I shot a full landing video as well:

For those of you who prefer pics, your wish is my command:

descending into SFO

Descending over the rugged coastal terrain of northern California.

san francisco approach

It’s always a shock to me to arrive in San Francisco under clear and sunny skies!

san francisco fog

It wasn’t totally clear though – low lying clouds made for some stunning scenery!

san francisco 28L approach

All lined up and set for 28L.

SFO airport

Welcome to SFO!

taxiing at SFO

Taxiing over to our arrival gate.

san francisco airport united airlines 737-900

Pulling up to the gate – I’ve got 45 minutes to make my connection, so the faster we dock the better!

All I could think about on touchdown was getting off this airplane as fast as I could in order to make my way over to the departure gate for my 747-400 flight to ORD. I assumed it would be leaving from the international terminal, so with that assumption came the realization that I’d have to walk quite a distance to catch that flight. No matter though – we had arrived into SFO a bit early and I was in no danger of misconnecting – but time was tight, and I would have to walk fast. The teenage girl who was sitting next to me in 10B didn’t get up when it was time for our row to go though – she was waiting for the rest of her family who was seated towards the back of the plane, so I had to politely ask her to step aside so I could get out. Of course in my mind I was thinking “freaking mooove!!” (lol) but I promise my words were gentle and polite. 😃

N75428 united 737-900

One last look at N75428. Thanks for a great flight, United.

new united terminal SFO

Inside the newer section of the United terminal at SFO.

Now…Let’s go get that 747!

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