After a less than amazing flight from LAX-HNL in first class I was connecting on towards Manila via Guam with a scheduled 1 hour and 37 minute layover. However like every flight I’ve had with United, my flight to Hawaii was delayed and now my flight to Guam was also delayed. This ment even with my inital flight delay I was still facing about a 90 minute lay over in Hawaii. This time, the delay was listed as 45 minutes and the reason was “awaiting aircraft”. However, after speaking with the gate agents I found out, it was not that our aircraft was not already in HNL ready to take us to Guam, it was that the gate was being blocked by an aircraft that was having a maintenance delay. I walked up to the United club, had a round of drinks and decided to get some work done.
Finally, the delayed boarding began so I waited a few more minutes after the gate monitors switched from delayed to boarding and headed downstairs. The gate area was a secured area, which really baffled me. I was flying to Guam, a US Territory! Flying internationally 100+ times in my life, I can never recall when I had to show my boarding pass and passport to enter a gate area while still within the US. A number of times I’ve had to have my carry-on bag, passport, and boarding pass checked to enter a gate area, but that is usually when returning to the United States from countries such as Colombia, NEVER when leaving the US. Other than the gate area being a secured area, the boarding process was uneventful and was in the standard United Order. Being that I was flying economy on a 7 hour + flight, I had no desire to board early and waited till the very last minute to board.
Once on board the plane it, I found myself in a state of disappointment. Already knowing the plane was going to be an old dumpy UA Domestic 777, I had prepared myself for the worst. However, seeing this old piece of rusting metal with my own eyes was completely different from hearing stories from friends and other bloggers who have previously flown on such a plane. The economy class is in a 2x5x2 configuration, making the middle seat in the middle of the plane probably one of the worst seats ever configured. However thankfully I was sitting in 19A, an Economy Plus window seat with only one seatmate, making my situation must better than some.
No IFE, but don’t worry, I’ll be the annoying guy on the phone the entire flight! Honestly UA? Who actually uses these?
To be frank, this flight was overall uneventful so I’m not going to waste your time talking about every detail. Shortly after takeoff, the flight attendants were in the aisle offering either a chicken or a beef dish to customers seated in economy. Like my previous flight, I had a vegetarian dinner, so I was provided my meal before anyone else.
The dish was a brown rice vegetable combination with warmed pineapple on the side. Ithonestly was very good and had more flavor and was more filling than my meal from LAX in 1st! Beverage service was at the same time as dinner and my only complaint is no alcohol, including beer and wine, is free on any United Flight, so I stuck with soda water (full can) and continued eating my dinner.
Shortly after dinner, I nodded off for a few hours of sleep as some movie played on tiny overhead monitors too far away to actually see. I woke up midway through the flight (I’d guess about 4 hours in) to the flight attendants passing through the cabin offering ice cream sandwiches. I decided to take advantage of the snack, then shortly afterwards my sleeping pill re-kicked in, and I was out cold in my uncomfortable small economy seat which provided padding that was overused and under stuffed. My head felt like it was resting on a boulder, my back had zero lumbar support, and my rump felt as though I was a carpenter sitting on a 2×4.
As we inched towards Guam I woke up again, stiff as a board, about 2 hours before landing. I entertained myself (thank god for tablets) and counted down the time until we would be on the ground again. Approximately 90 minutes before landing, the FAs passed through the cabin again. This time they offered turkey croissants with a fruit cup. They handed one to me, I realized what it was and asked them if they had a vegetarian choice onboard. The first FA I asked 100% ignored me, took the “meal” tray back from me (I assume they just thought I said something along the lines of no thanks), and he handed it to someone else instead. As the second FA passed, I asked her the same question. She told me she would check and continued handing out the snack. I watched as the FA continued to the back of the B777 handing out snacks as I patiently waited for her to come back with an answer. She never did. A 3rd FA passed through, and for a 3rd time I asked her if there was a vegetarian option, and explained to her that I had ordered a vegetarian meal. She walked into the galley, returned with the same snack tray (minus the sandwich) and informed me that United did not provide 2nd meals for those with “special meal requests”. My option: canned fruit or no fruit! Thank god I was going to be on the ground shortly!
We coasted into Guam, crossing the Island and I was able to snap a few decent pictures of the tiny archipelago as the sun began to set over the horizon. Never being to Guam, my face was glued to the window as we flew over; I gazed out my window, trying to take in everything I could about this tiny US territory in the middle of the Pacific. We landed without any incidents and the FAs announced that all planes had been held in Guam for connections, so although we were late and should have missed our connections to destinations such as Hong Kong, Manilia, Palua, and more, the planes were awaiting our arrivals and we were asked to hurry to our connecting gates.
Pictures of the Island from my Window
As I said before, the flight from HNL to GUM was nothing spectacular. It would have be $389 to upgrade from Economy to Business, but the ladies at the HNL United Club informed me that I would be stupid to pay that price for the upgrade, because the class of service wasn’t worth it (funny that they didn’t even attempt to upsell me when I inquired). With no other option to fly direct from Hawaii to Guam, I guess United is a decent option. However, if coming from the mainland, I would HIGHLY recommend flying Delta, JAL, or any other foreign airline serving Guam via NRT or another Asian destination than flying via HNL. For international service is ALWAYS more comfortable than Domestic service by a US airline.
Seat : 6/10 – Hard seat, lacking padding, leg room was sufficient (economy plus) and the seat had a head rest with “wings”. However my neck was extremely sore the next day
In Flight Entertainment: 3/10 – overhead, hard to see TVs. It’s 2012, airplanes should be updated with personal IFE, especially on flights of 7 hours+
Amenities: 0/10 – No pillows, blankets, amenity kits, no in seat power, etc. A pillow and blanket on such a long flight would have been nice
Meal: 7/10 – Honestly one of the best meals I’ve had on a US airline in Economy. However it would have been nice to been provided with a meal pre-arrival when the rest of the airplane was being served. Excuse me for being a pesco-lacto-oval-vegetarian!
This was my 4th flight ever on United, and am still fairly unimpressed. It was nice for UA to hold the planes in Guam for the connecting passengers (but then again 90 of us were continuing on to MNL, so that plane would have been ½ empty without us), yet that alone is not enough to convert me to a gung-ho United Flyer. This route is in dire need of a refurbished plane, and I honestly hope UA does it sooner than later. Word to the wise. Unisome, or some other sleeping pill; and a glass of wine (or alcoholic beverage of choice, mine was Jim on the rocks at the United Club) before boarding this flight, because 7 hours in economy on United is the last thing anyone wants to be awake for or remember!