Flying LAX to HNL In united 1st class
Flying from LAX to Honolulu in route to the Philippines was an interesting experience, but it allowed to me try out all of United’s more Premium products. I was flying on an Elite upgrade from LAX to HNL and am a Star Alliance Gold member, which allowed me to access not only Premier check in, but also the United Club at LAX.
First, arriving at LAX I parked my motorcycle and headed to the Premier check-in within Terminal 6. Since I had parked at T7, my plan was to walk through the bustling lobby of T7 to T6, however, upon attempting to do this, I was stopped by “security” because the two terminals do not connect on the pre-security side (or so they claimed), so I had to turn around and walk back outside. When I attempted to enter T6, a man stopped me and demanded my boarding pass. I informed him I did not have it and I was here to check in. He told me without a boarding pass I could not enter! I looked at him, laughed and said, I’m sorry sir, I’m flying 1st class to Hawaii and am a Premier Platinum, I assure you I can check in here. He again demanded proof of my credentials. Since I did not have anything on me, I pulled out my phone, showed him my United app, and then he allowed me to enter (Overkill Much!?!) Since I was flying an international route, I did not have a boarding pass yet, for United.com does not allow boarding passes to be printed out until verification of one’s passport is completed. I would suggest that United needs to work on a new process here!
Upon entering T6 the check in area was a ghost town in comparison to the “no-status” check-in next door. I met up with my partner’s family, grabbed two large boxes for them that they wanted me to take to family and friends in the Philippines and I got in line to check in. A woman called me over and instructed me to use the machine to check in. There was no one behind the counter to assist and the lady then walked off and started conversing with another United employee.
The machine I was instructed to use could not read my passport. For whatever reason it kept saying there was no reservation found for Mr. Joran, my passport actually reads. R. Horan! Due to the reading error, I had to manually enter all my information. I didn’t think much of this, but then once entering all my information it required a manual override by an United Employee. I looked to my left and right, and not a single United employee could be found. Finally, after a quick minute, I found the woman who initially told me to use the machine for check-in. I walked over to her and asked her for help, and she told me to wait 1 minute, for I was interrupting her conversation with a co-worker! WOW I thought to myself, a conversation about hair and makeup is more important than customer service, what does United pay you for?!
I walked back to the machine and waited and the woman came over, let out a heavy sigh, and then asked me why I didn’t just scan my passport. I told her why, and then she said, “Well you clearly misspelled your name on your reservation then!” I assured her the name on the reservation matched my passport. She then compared the two, realized that it did and said, “odd”. She then took my bags and told me I was complete with check-in and I could now head to the gate.
I headed to security and was through the TSA check within 10 minutes. I opted for the line that only had metal detectors vs. the nude-o-scope. Although, like most trips through security, I received the double-beep after passing through the metal detector, which meant I get to enjoy a “randomly” selected additional screening. Odd I thought, this is the 3rd time this month I was “randomly” selected. Meanwhile, as I was held up by the TSA, I was not allowed to move or gather my belongings, at the same time a man had picked up my carryon bag and started to walk away with it! By the time the additional agent came over and the TSA allowed me to gather my belongings for testing, the gentleman had already left the security area! The entire time I was trying to get both the man’s attention and the agent kept telling me to be quiet. FINALLY, the agent stopped and listened to me and they went after the man who grabbed my bag! The man apologized and said, OMG it looks just like mine! I was beyond frustrated by this point for the lack of the TSA security and almost allowing a thief to walk off with my bag! Yet the TSA was allowing all of this to happen while they held me for a “secondary screening!”
After such a joyful time with the TSA, I headed towards my gate, but I wanted to stop by the United Club first. Check out the United Club review at LAX here. I needed a drink after my experience with the TSA and the United Club was a perfect place to find a Bloody Mary!
After a short stop by the Club, the monitors had said my plane was boarding, so I headed down to the gate. Upon arriving at the gate, I found out the plane was not boarding yet, because they said the catering truck had not arrived. Despite this announcement, I could see the catering truck at the planeside and I could see people loading items onto the plane. Odd I thought, the United Gate agents just flat out lied about why the boarding was delayed. I decided to hang out by the gate because I wanted to see what would happen. It was now 9:35 and our schedule departure time was 9:43, yet the plane status still read “on-time”. Shortly after, the gate agents announced they were going to begin boarding, however they were going to start with ONLY those in economy. Those sitting in the Premium cabin would have to wait because the catering truck/carts were blocking the 1st class cabin. After the econ cabin was boarded around 10am, the first class cabin was able to board the plane.
After the backwards boarding process, everyone in first class found their way quickly to their seats. The FAs were hidden in the forward galley. One finally ventured out to collect jackets and to hang them. After only a few minutes, the cabin doors closed and we thought we would push back and be on our way, yet we waited and waited. After 10 minutes of waiting, the pilot announced that due to traffic, we had to wait to push back and it would be another 10 minutes or so. Meanwhile, there were no preflight service and the FAs spent their time gossiping amongst each other.
We finally took off, about an hour delayed, and were on our way to Hawaii! The first class FA came through the cabin, taking everyone’s drink order and lunch order. The options were either a pasta or chicken noodle dish. She informed me that they had a Vegan mean for me (I ordered a vegetarian, but that this option was alright) so I did not have a choice for meals that day. I was happy to see that United had honored my special meal request, for I was told on a previous flight that there were no special meal requests for domestic flights.
Drinks and mix nuts were served about 40 minutes into the flight. The nuts were room temperature, not warmed, but needless to say, still better than peanuts (warm nuts are standard). I found if funny that the table cloths aka Napkins displayed Continental, but the paper napkins displayed United. Furthermore, the glasses also had contradicting names, with some reading United with the new logo and others reading Continental with the new logo.
Shortly afterwards, lunch was served. My lunch, since it was vegan meal, consisted of white rice, steamed vegies, a bowl of fruit and wheat bread. The meal was very sparse and hardly filling! Upon finishing my meal, the FA came by and asked me if I would like anything else. Still being hungry, I asked the FA if I could ask her a question, she responded, “if you must”, I was somewhat taken aback by her response, but asked anyway, my question was simple: were there any sources of protein on board for the meal I was provided was highly lacking a protein option. She looked at me and said “NO”. I then asked her if there were any extra nuts available, or anything that could supplement my meal.
She again said, “No, we only have enough nuts for each person to have one serving and we do not have any other proteins onboard.” She then proceeded to tell me that I should have brought my own meal aboard if I was not satisfied with what was provided!
The mean old hag walked away and I honestly was shocked by the conversation I just had with the FA. My seatmate, who I had barely spoken to looked over at me and said, your meal was tiny; I would still be hungry if I was you! We then proceeded to have a conversation about the rude Flight Attendant, and how she didn’t even try to offer a solution. Then the nice stranger reached into her purse, and pulled out an all-natural, gluten-free protein bar with 30 grams of Protein and offered it to me! What an awesome seatmate, I thought! And honestly the Quest Protein bar was Delicious!
About 30 minutes later, the same FA came through the cabin and started offering dessert. The option today was an Ice cream Sunday with your choice of toppings: Caramel, Strawberries, Chocolate, and Nuts. I opted for Chocolates and Nuts. The response from the FA was: “I thought you’d opt for the Nuts” She then walked away and brought me my Sunday with Chocolate and a whopping 3 walnuts on top.
Shortly after desert, I fell asleep watching a movie on my tablet. The overhead movie was the same movie I had watch previously from IAH-SAN a week ago, and I had no desire to watch the movie again. Thankfully, for this 5 hour flight, I had brought plenty of entertainment options, including my tablet, my laptop, and my smart phone. For the plane had no power ports and did not offer individual TVs/In Flight Entertainment.
About 2 hours before landing I woke up and got up to use the bathroom. While waiting for the bathroom I asked for a refill on my drinks, because both my Jim Bean on the Rocks and my Club soda had been cleared from my tray table. The older FA who I had not seen in the aisle at all, but was instead busy working the galley smiled and offered to prepare those for me while I was in the bathroom. After using the bathroom, I had noticed that the snack basket was sitting out in the galley. I helped myself to 2 100 calorie nut packs (I thought she told me earlier there were no more nuts on the plane?!?!), 2 mini cliff bars, and a bag of pop chips. Since my meal was so small, I thought to myself I better grab a few extra snacks for my next flight (HNL-GUM) for I would be sitting in coach.
I returned to my seat and less than a minute later, the same haughty FA from before followed me to my seat with my drinks. She placed both my drinks down, looked at me said, “Did you get enough snacks? You look like a hoarder!”
I stopped, looked at her and said, “Excuse me?”
She looked back and said, “Did you take enough?” You took two of almost everything!”
I kept my composure and said, “Yes thank you, I need to make sure I have a protein source for later”
She turned and walked back to the galley but before leaving said: “Well you’ve had more than your fair share!”
I was still sitting there in awe by the conversation that I had just exchanged with the FA when my neighbor looked at me in disbelief as well. We joked around about how she made it seem as though the snack was coming out of her paycheck, and then we both returned to our own entertainment devices for the rest of the flight.
The last two hours of the flight was uneventful and we landed in Hawaii just about 30 minutes behind schedule. I had 45 minutes still before my next flight, so I disembarked and headed towards flight that would take me onwards to Guam.
Over all I would rate this flight 3/10. Here is my breakdown:
Check-in 6/10 – Staff were not very helpful, made it difficult to not only access check-in but then had a difficult time having someone verify my passport information. Thankfully the Premier check in was nearly empty and more organized then T7.
Boarding Process 1/10 – Staff lied about the delay, made up an excuse, then acted rush to get us on the plane. No extra services for those seated in the Premium cabin
Seat comfort: 7/10 – Standard domestic first class seat, plenty of leg room
In Flight amenities: 3/10 – No inflight power, no individual IFE, Overhead TVs are better than nothing, but this is 2012 and I had plenty to keep myself entertained with.
Meal: 4/10 – small, lacking protein, only real good part of it was the fruit salad and desert
Service: 3/10 – FA was rude, arrogant, and not helpful. Given my initial request for protein, she should have at least offered the snack basket, which had packets of nuts in it and cliff bars, but instead she said No and did not offer a resolution. Furthermore, when getting food from the snack basket she referred to me as a hoarder and greedy!
Overall opinion of United? After this flight and my last flight, I’m starting to wonder why anyone would fly United. I had to convince both people at Check-in and the United Club that I had access to such areas, FA were rude, the reason for delay was a lie (at first), departure time/status remained “on-time” despite the clear delay, and IFE is lacking.