01. Introduction: To Taipei with Star Alliance and SkyTeam business class awards
02. United Airlines 737-900/ER first class San Diego to Los Angeles
03. Asiana A380-800 business class Los Angeles to Seoul
04. Incheon Transit Hotel
05. Eva Air A321 regional business class Seoul to Taipei
06. Grand Hyatt Taipei
07. The quiet serenity of Taipei during Chinese New Year
08. China Airlines Dynasty Lounge, TPE, Terminal 1
09. China Airlines 777-300/ER business class Taipei to Seoul
10. KAL Prestige Class Lounge, ICN
11. Korean Air A380-800 Prestige Class (business class) Seoul to Los Angeles
12. Delta Connection CRJ-700 first class Los Angeles to San Diego
Yeah, I couldn’t believe it either. A 737-900/ER on the short 25-minute hop from SAN to LAX? I know that there used to be 747’s and DC-10’s flying this route (as tag-on’s) in the 70’s and 80’s – but I haven’t seen an aircraft this size operate this segment in quite a long time. I flew SAN-LAX on a United A320 back in May of 1998, but that was the biggest I’ve personally experienced and ever since then it’s been an assortment of prop aircraft and regional jets. I quite like this up-sizing, and I really hope it sticks.
So yeah. Here we go! Kicking off another adventure from SAN, this time something a bit more interesting than the yawn-worthy domestic trips I’ve been doing over the past few months. This was something I was definitely looking forward to, and I was getting pretty excited about it all as the Uber driver dropped me off in front of terminal 2 well before the sun was scheduled to peek over the horizon. Tired and weak from having to roll out of bed at 3:30am, but still thinking positive and looking forward to what was sure to be a great day of flying.
San Diego, CA (SAN) – Los Angeles, CA (LAX)
Friday, January 27, 2017
Duration: 56 minutes (gate-to-gate time)
Seat: 5A (first class)
I’ve finally reached an age where I need food first thing in the morning or I’ll feel like I’m gonna pass out at any moment, so the first order of business after clearing security was finding a toasted bagel and a banana to recharge my batteries. Long gone are the days when I could skip meals if necessary and still have the energy to run a marathon! I felt much better after stuffing breakfast into my face, so then I set off to do a little wandering to find a quiet spot to sit and relax until boarding began.
Boarding was right on time, and even though I felt like I was jumping ahead of everyone else with my priority boarding pass, I ended up being the last first class passenger onboard this morning. Also, I was so excited about the trip in general that I didn’t really give much thought (until now) about the fact that this was my first time trying out the first class cabin on the United 737-900/ER.
Long story short, I guess I was expecting more from first class on the 737-900/ER. These first class seats seemed really old to me – large and thick, kind of drab looking, and pretty much on par with what Delta has in their old domestic 767-300 first class cabins (and that is not a compliment). These are fairly new aircraft, so I was definitely a bit disappointed right off the bat. UA has a long way to go to catch up to the Delta and American first class products on the 737-900 IMHO.
Service started really well though. The flight attendants were friendly and chipper despite the ungodly early hour, and they happily worked the cabin serving drinks during the entire boarding process.
The night sky was turning brighter as we pushed off the gate, and despite a quick taxi out to the runway (part of which required us crossing the runway and taxiing along the north side of the airfield) we still had about 10 minutes to go until the 6:30am airport curfew was lifted.
Despite the crystal clear skies this morning, the air was choppy and too rough for the flight attendants to be up and about the cabin at any time during the flight. The captain ordered all FA’s to remain seated for the entire duration, which was perfectly acceptable for such a short segment such as this. These SAN-LAX flights are always a bit funny though. Not 2 minutes after departure, the captain comes over the PA and tells the flight attendants to prepare the cabin for landing.
The short flying time on this route also means a very low cruising altitude, so if the skies are clear like they were this morning, it’s really fun to put your nose to the window and watch as San Diego morphs into Los Angeles in a matter of minutes.
We landed on 25L at LAX just as the sun was rising, and from there it was a beautiful and scenic taxi over to terminal 7. I love everything about LAX – especially getting an up close look at all the interesting aircraft and airlines as we roll around the airport.
With a three and a half hour layover in front of me, I wasted no time in heading over to the Tom Bradley International terminal to begin my business class adventure to Taipei…