01. Introduction: The glorious ridiculousness that is Dubai
02. United Club, SAN
03. United Express CRJ-200 economy class San Diego to Los Angeles
04. Emirates A380-800 business class Los Angeles to Dubai
05. Sheraton Grand Dubai
06. Setting reasonable expectations for your first trip to Dubai
07. Emirates A380-800 economy class Dubai to Los Angeles
08. United Airlines 737–800 economy class Los Angeles to San Diego
Remember back in the intro to my Emirates LAX-DXB trip report when I wrote that it was hard for me not to giggle at all those pour souls who were standing in line for a United Express flight to Fresno (while I was on my way to be wined and dined all the way to Dubai in EK business class)? Well, as I stood there in line waiting to check in for this short little hop down to San Diego, I swear that I saw a pompous dude with an Emirates boarding pass snicker at me as he walked by.
I’m a firm believer of the saying “what goes around comes around”, so I guess that I totally deserved being looked down upon as a mere mortal in the unfortunate situation of being just 2 hours away from getting shoehorned into the rear end of a crusty old UA 737.
Los Angeles, CA (LAX) – San Diego, CA (SAN)
Wednesday, May 30, 2018
Duration: 28 minutes
Seat: 27F (economy class)
United Airlines 737-800 (N77542) side view illustration by norebbo.com. As luck would have it, there was absolutely nothing “old” and “crusty” about this particular 737 – she was just a pup still, having been delivered to United in September of last year!
Seat map of this United Airlines 737-800 (courtesy of seatguru.com) showing my seat (27F) for this flight to SAN.
The usual route from Los Angeles to San Diego this evening (I could do it with my eyes closed).
The walk is long from the Tom Bradley all the way down to terminal 7, but it’s a really good way of getting the blood flowing through your legs again after flying 16 hours from Dubai. I didn’t even fall once!
United Airlines economy class baggage drop counters here at LAX. Oh, and the snickering dude holding the Emirates business class ticket to DXB is out of the frame just to the right…
The fact that I was able to check in and clear security with over an hour and a half to go before departure was a bit unexpected and very much appreciated. The LAX international arrivals procedure usually takes quite a bit of time, and I thought for sure that I would be cutting it close in order to catch my UA flight down to San Diego this evening.
As luck would have it, I managed to get through passport control, customs, and the domestic security checkpoint at terminal 7 all within the span of 45 minutes. That’s got to be a record of some sort – I’m sure of it. Does Guinness not keep track of international to domestic connection times at LAX? If they don’t, I think they should because I do believe that what I achieved on this day was noteworthy and significant enough to be documented in the history books.
Holy crap! That was the fastest I’ve ever transferred to another terminal after arriving on an international flight here at LAX. On a side note, do you know how much fun it would be to run up and down this hallway with a crayon in my hand? I had an itch to add some color to these walls…
Finding yourself stuck in terminal 7 at LAX with a lot of time to kill isn’t so bad actually if you’ve got access to the really nice and recently-renovated United Club. This is the same lounge that I said so many good things about last fall before my trip to New York, so it was nice to go back and get reacquainted with it for a while and catch up on some work. I should note that the food selection was slightly better this time compared to last, but sorry, I didn’t take pics of any of it because I was in no mood to write another review of this place even though it’s one of my favorite domestic airline lounges at the moment. Besides, my iPhone was still smoking from all the pictures and video that I took during the past 16 hours on that Emirates A380 flight from Dubai. It needed a break.
Things just kept getting better the closer it got to flight time. As I was pacing around waiting for boarding to commence, I realized that there weren’t many people in the gate area and that it was going to be a very light load down to San Diego this evening. Not that it matters all that much for just a 25 minute flight, but having room to spread out a little bit on the final segment of a very long and exhausting trip is always very much appreciated.
Here comes my ride home to San Diego pulling up to the gate from…actually…I can’t remember. Considering that United sends their 737’s to pretty much every single one of their long list of destinations, it could’ve been from anywhere. Tulsa? Buffalo? Kalamazoo? I don’t know.
The nice thing about these LAX to San Diego flights is that I have zero tolerance for delays, and I’m totally willing to hop in a rental car and drive if the alternative is sitting at the airport waiting for a delay to unfold. If traffic is relatively light on the 405, throw me the keys baby, because I’m hittin’ the road!
Thankfully there were no delays so I didn’t have to dig my driving gloves out of my bag (you travel with your driving gloves too, right?). Oh – and a quick question for any LAX employees who read my blog: are you guys opposed to hanging things on the walls or something?
Dull jet bridge walls or not, I’m just really happy about being about 30 minutes away from home!
I’ve worked my poor iPhone much too hard on this trip already, so I will spare her from the struggles of trying to connect to that fancy United Airlines Wi-Fi.
The look on his face is like “Oh God am I going to have to sit here and listen to that guy complain about flying economy class the entire way? I’ve heard about that ***hole!“
United Airlines 737–800 economy class seats. This is a totally random thought, I know, but if we ditch into the ocean on the way down to SAN tonight, they are never going to find our bodies if we are strapped to seats that match the color of the water. The things I think about as I board an airplane…
Good looking seats they are, but quite frankly I’d rather not leave this world strapped to the innards of a United 737. I can think of much more honorable and impressive ways to go!
“Bob, I told you that we should have booked an Emirates A380 for this flight down to SAN this evening!”
Nabbing a quick UA economy class selfie before anyone else sits down near me and thinks I’m a total narcissistic weirdo. They would have every reason to believe that of course, but I’d rather not give them the opportunity.
As you can see, it’s a very light load this evening. Let’s get out of here before they change their mind and put us on a CRJ-200 instead!
Nothing has changed since the last time I was on a UA 737-800, which is good because I never had the chance to memorize this safety card. Pay extra attention to the last picture with the lemon wedges floating beside the plane in the water, because 95% of this flight will be over the ocean!
Once boarding was finalized and the forward boarding door was shut, the person sitting next to me (there’s always someone sitting next to me) bolted for a better seat. I also took a moment to wish that the guy with the Emirates boarding pass who snickered at me several hours earlier could see me now. The space between me and the seat in front of me wasn’t much to brag about, but I could spread my wings (and legs) like a Pterodactyl and not be able to touch anybody or anything! Economy class travel isn’t always glamorous, but sometimes it all works out and I was really quite comfortable all alone way back here in seat 27F.
Taking a brief moment to ponder the reasons why the person sitting next to me was in such a hurry to escape to another empty seat. Yeah, I’ve been wearing the same clothes for the past 32 hours, but come on…
I can only imagine the frustration of starting a really good movie on the short 25 minute flight down to San Diego, only to have it cut out just as the plot thickens.
My iPhone had just stopped smoking by the time I pulled her out again and started ripping off photos of the departure sequence (sorry buddy!). Window seats on the left-hand side of the aircraft are the best when departing runway 25R at LAX, and I was super stoked to have a window that was crystal clear and free of scratches and dirt. Unfortunately, May Gray was in full effect, so even though I would have a really good view of the terminals as we took off, Mother Nature would not be providing much in terms of beautiful evening sunlight.
I guess I never noticed how sharp and pointy those split scimitar winglets really are. You could poke an eye out (or stab yourself through the chest) on of those things!
Continental United could have one of the best liveries out there if only they painted all of their aircraft like that. I think that looks pretty sharp!
Here’s a smattering of pics showing our departure out of LAX this evening. And before you blast me for not showing you more detailed pics of the view, keep scrolling…
I do feel that my brain contains an impressively nerdly amount of knowledge about LAX, but I didn’t know that both Korean Air and Asiana have A380s that sit on the ground during the day here. I always assumed that they “turned ‘n burned” each of their multiple daily flights!
Crossing the beach and headed out over the ocean, trying really hard not to think about the fact that I’m sitting in a seat that is the exact same color as the water and that rescuers would never find me in the event of a crash. 10 bucks says you’re going to think about that next time you depart out of LAX on a United airlines 737.
The flight attendants working this evening‘s flight down to San Diego must’ve been really happy about the light load, because they came through the aisles several times with drinks and snacks – which I’m guessing wouldn’t have been possible if every seat was occupied. Just for the record, I was pretty much sick and tired of airplane snacks at that point (having just flown all the way from Dubai), so I passed and simply enjoyed the view out the window instead.
Making the turn south towards San Diego.
Thankfully, my pasty white skin just might be the amount of contrast needed to save my butt if we do go down and hit the water. Who came up the idea of “Pacific Ocean blue” seats anyway?
I really want to use the term “sky porn” to describe this series of pics showing what the view was like down to San Diego this evening, but I’d hate to have Google think that my website is about some kind of kinky airplane fetish or something. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but I’m just trying to play it safe.
Even though the marine layer was hanging really low and heavy over Southern California this evening, it was bright and sunny above the clouds and seeing the sunshine for just a few minutes was very refreshing. But then – it was back to reality as we made the approach into San Diego and had to dip beneath that gloomy layer of clouds.
It does look really gorgeous out there though doesn’t it? Take in as much of this beautiful sunset as you can, because we’re about to dip below the clouds…
I am really good at arriving into San Diego under gloomy overcast conditions. It’s an unfortunate habit that needs to be broken!
Welcome to San Diego! Looks like we’ve got a Delta 757 out there who refuses to return to ATL or DTW. For those that don’t know, that’s usually where they park broken aircraft, so I wonder what her deal was (other than not wanting to leave San Diego)?
He’s got his eyes on those pointy bits – and understandably so. Do those winglets look lethal or what?
So this is it! The very end of an insanely long journey to Dubai and back. It’s good to be home.
But before I go, let’s take a moment to appreciate the fact that United Airlines uses mainline aircraft such as this 737 between San Diego and Los Angeles. This has historically been a route served by smaller (uncomfortable) regional aircraft, so put down whatever it is that you’re holding and give them a big round of applause for giving us some comfortable alternatives to the dreaded CRJ!
However, I don’t deny how entertaining it can be to watch other passengers try to find room for all their oversized carry-ons in a CRJ-200. Sorry, but that’s the only redeeming quality of little regional jets to and from LAX!
The cloudy skies hanging low over San Diego upon arrival couldn’t put a damper on my mood at all, because this trip to Dubai had been an amazing experience that went much better than I ever could have expected. I always feel a sense of achievement and proudness (is that a word?) after really big trips like this, and it’s hard not to walk off the airplane and out of the airport feeling like I have successfully crossed a major life goal off my list.
What about other travelers? I would imagine that some feel a bit of disappointment and sadness upon returning home after such an epic adventure, but I’ve never been one to feel that way. If anything, homecomings like this just add fuel to the fire which causes my wanderlust to burn in a rage much more intense than before.
Someone call the fire department, because the next trip report series begins in just a few days…
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