I don’t typically blog about my boring business travel. Every now and then there’s something surprising like an emotional support dog or WiFi on a United filght, but today I just felt that not only was the service really great on the United (Continental) flight from Phoenix to Houston, but the food was also great as well. Combine that with the fact that the Continental 737-900 is my favorite domestic plane in the post-merger fleet. That makes for a bloggable flight.
It’s been a long 24 hours. I got to my Hyatt Place (trying to max out that promo) after midnight last night, and I was up early to do an all day meeting with some customers in the area. I finished up around 2:45 to get on my 4:31PM flight to Houston.
The boarding process on Continental operated flights is now just as broken as the process on United. Once again, the Premier Access line was backed up twenty people deep, and there was not a single person queued up in the Economy line. When the gate agent called for uniformed military and first class, they were forced to board through through the general boarding line as the other one was too full. Seriously, this is laughably bad.
In any case, once I was on the flight, the crew was immediately friendly. One of the flight attendants asked me what I wanted to drink. After being trained to accept the binary choice between water and orange juice, it’s nice to pick. I went with water anyways. Not only were the flight attendants friendly to me, but they were also very accommodating to many of the elderly passengers (this IS Phoenix), helping them with their bags and teasing them about having double scotches. Everyone just seemed to be in a good mood.
I love the first class seats on Continental’s 737-900s. There’s plenty of leg room. There’s a widescreen DirecTV set mounted on the seatback in front of me. There’s laptop power. The tray table stabilizes nicely and doesn’t droop when you put weight on it. Once we can get some freaking WiFi on these things, it will be an even better flying experience!
Once we were in the air, they promptly came and took drink orders. I went with my work-week standard: a diet coke with NO lime. You don’t fruit the beer. You shouldn’t fruit the soda. Just sayin’ :-). I was pleasantly surprised to be served hot nuts with my beverage.
The nuts went quickly, and I played a few games of Where’s My Water on my iPhone. I’m trying to beat this darn game before my fiance beats me to it. The flight attendant soon came and informed me of the meal on our flight: a chicken calzone with tomato bisque. I was pretty surprised. PHX-IAH is just slightly more than 1000 miles, and we’re getting hot nuts and a hot meal? Sweet! Also, I had never had a calzone on United / Continental before. The food came out, and the calzone looked pretty darn good!
The calzone and soup came with a small bowl of fruit. One thing to note is that there were no linens served with the meal. On a flight earlier this year, I overheard a flight attendant say that they were no longer included with domestic service. To be honest, I don’t miss them too much.
Everything served was really delicious! If I had to be picky, I’d say that I prefer my calzone to be a bit crispier, but I’m used to the hot “chicken” sandwiches that United typically serves, and I thought this was unique and tasty! It actually went really well with the tomato bisque. While I didn’t dip my calzone in the bisque, I’m sure many will. The fruit cup was a bit too citrus-packed for me, but that’s just my personal preference.
The meal was cleared quickly after I finished, and I opened up my MacBook Air to get some work done. I love using my laptop on these 737s. I’ve got a DirecTV above and my computer below.
After some time working, the flight attendant came by to drop off a warm cookie. United doesn’t make cookies like they used to, but I’m a sucker for warm cookies, and this one didn’t disappoint.
Between the nuts, the calzone, the soup, and the cookie, I was quite satisfied. Not only was it one of the better meals I had ever had on a United domestic flight, but it was all served within the confines of a 2 hour flight. To the flight attendants in First Class on UA1191 PHX-IAH on February 14, 2012, thanks so much for making it a great flight!