Saturday, June 4, 2016

2016Mar.Barcelona 4 - United 120 EWR-BCN

Boarded United flight 120 for Barcelona El Plat airport.
No upgrade for this segment, so I was remaining in Economy Plus® seat.

The 2nd front seat, center island is my favorite position if the equipment is B767-400. If it's B767-300, then seat 18A is my favorite because in front of that seat are crew rests, therefore much wider legrooms are given.
But the flight to BCN has been assigned B767-400, so I reserved seat 17F.

Fortunately, due to the seat map, nobody else in the center island...
So I sat 17E until departure and occupied three seats for making my Economy Plus SuiteSM.

Departed EWR about 10 minutes late.
This transatlantic flight takes 7 hrs 45 mn. In fact, this flight has arrived 15 mn early so the actual flight time was 7.5 hrs.

...and this is the first time I experienced the "course service" in United's main cabin.
The meal service has started with cheese & crackers plus beverage. Alcohol drinks are not free, but I have 20 drink vouchers this year so I asked Gin and Tonick. I don't know the exact reason but Mr. Attendant (not George-san this time, who is stocky built large CA, taking care of Hispanic destinations and I saw him every year) kindly gave me two sets of White Cheddar + Crackers.

well... I also brought my "cold nuts but better than BusinessFirst®.”
As a result, good amount of snacks with full can of tonic water plus Bombay Sapphire, I became a happy camper.

When they collected the garbage, we were around here.
Until last year, this transatlantic route is covered by Boeing 757. I'm glad United replace the equipment to heavy (wide body) aircraft.

Now the "Main Course" has been served. The selections are: Beef, Chicken or Vegetarian.
I have learned if vegetarian meal is available w/o advanced notice, it's usually Indian curry so I chose the curry.

IT was around my expectation but the spinach curry was not my taste... unfortunately.
I ate this chick pea curry with basmati rice. For me, as a rice eater, this is better than overcooked pot roast beef or horribly herb and spiced chicken for sure.

And this part is the improvement of United main cabin.
Though it's tiny, they served ice cream or sorbet with a bottle of water. After all, starting with light snack with beverage, main dish then cold dessert with water. This is not bad at all as a U.S. air carrier.

I could successfully lay down with sharing 3 seats and napped.
About hour or two prior to the arrival, main cabin became bright.

The really shabby second meal has been served...
Croissant with jam, coffee and orange juice.  That's it. Yes, this is it! well... better serving the barely edible things rather, in my opinion.

Then we arrived Barcelona El Plat airport a bit earlier than expected arrival.

Friday, June 3, 2016

2016Mar.Barcelona 3 - United Club EWR (near 90)

I killed my time at United Club near C90 gate.
It's located on mezzanine level and I have carry-on roller bag, so I took elevator to upstairs.

Reception looks like this.
This shot is a miracle. Usually, people making line in front of the receptionists and some of them are even declined entering this poor lounge.

The inside of the "poor lounge" looks like this.
The place is weirdly ring-shaped, and the upholstery is old and tired, not enough AC power outlets, etc... this place really needs renovation.

Bar corner is a zoo.
Bunch of animals are begging alcoholic beverages... even waiting for a vacancy? ugly.

The center of the lounge is an atrium, the downstairs looks like this...
This place used to be a food court but now it's a shop selling worthless cr@p... pity. All the restaurants in Terminal 3 have been replaced with strange, iPad equipped, overpriced but serving average-taste meals. Bad modification, IMHO.

Snacks are the same. Trail mix and chocolate crunches are shown.
Otherwise, guests can enjoy lukewarm and oxidized soup, if lounge staffs are working right and refill it, but it's empty quite often.

The zookeepers don't forget refill some fruits for gorillas, rabbits, gerbils or mice visiting around...
Banana is okay but otherwise are considering the cleanliness, as always. Some of United Lounges wrap them up.

So, I stopped by here because nature called me, then took several pictures for blog, left and heading to the departure gate.
There is another, larger United Club close to gate 120 but no significant difference of the qualities & services. I'm glad I don't pay annual fee personally. (My bank buys it for me, and free entrance as lifetime Premier Platinum for international travel anyway.)

From the concourse, the outside is after sunset, getting darker...
The closest airplane, Boeing 737-800? has modified winglets.
I was slowly walking to gate C110 where UA120 to BCN departs.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

2016Mar.Barcelona 2 - United 1689 p.s. SFO-EWR

The first segment to Barcelona is a coast-to-coast flight: SFO to EWR, Newark, NJ.
Under the ceiling of the intersection of T3F gates, there are mockups of classic air fighters.

Boarded as Group 1. It's Boeing 757-200 p.s. version.
The equipment was newly assigned United's p.s. service which was moved from JFK to EWR. I got seat 2E, BusinessFirst® cabin. This was my first time boarding 2-class p.s. flight. My previous experience with p.s. was in October 2012 to JFK, which was still former UA 3-class flight and we were in United First cabin.

Actually, the BusinessFirst® cabin of p.s. flight was same as former CO international BusinessFirst® cabins.
Power supplies are the same: universal AC connector at 110VAC, Apple device compliant USB charger and noise cancelling headphone connector. On this day, I used my Bose QC20i which gave the quietest noise cancelling result so I didn't use United's one. But I replaced it to QC20 for Apple Devices in white, the modified version later. Surprisingly, the difference wasn't just a color but a quality of noise cancellation. I am a happy camper I decided to replace my earbuds.

Now the flight was about 4.5 hrs to Newark.
Personal LCD screen and the air show are the same as International equipment too.

Unexpectedly, the English Tan colored amenity kit was provided. This is a good surprise.
However, the kit was smaller than International version... well, from Spring 2016, even the International version of amenity was shrunk pitifully.

Another pitiful service on p.s. only is; Go Go Inflight Internet service.
American Express Platinum or Centurion cardmembers receive 10 passes of Go Go Inflight Internet annually. This advantage was only available on p.s. flights and not applicable on other United flights, which is quite pity.

Well... the actual connection speed was disappointingly slow too.
Ping response, connecting speeds are incredibly slow, feels like using acoustic coupler. (I'm still in an old school)

Another difference here. The p.s. flight has slightly better meal selections compare to domestic United First.
In breakfast time, three options are available for the main course.

...and actually, they serve the starters, followed by the main course, which is different from other domestic flights too.
Fruit and Yogurt have been served. well... in other United First cabins, they just serve everything at the same time. The amount of the fruits are a little larger, but no significant difference can bee seen.

Breads are served like this. (Thanks to Ms. cabin attendant accepting my request taking picture of bread basket)
Lukewarm steamy and smashed croissants, or hot sugary icing cinnamon rolls. You definitely don't need strawberry jam if you chose a cinnamon roll. This part counts over 300 kcal easy, I suppose...

...and this is the unique main course I never seen in United First.
Apple Blintz: grilled pineapples, ham, vanilla sauce.

If I try to explain instantaneously, the apple blintz is a rolled crape with apple-pie filling. United version was so-so. Not too shabby but not super tasty either. However, it was fun having something different – not an omelette, nor a bowlful of serials with milk. The sides, combination of ham and pineapple feels like Hawaiian but not bad at all actually.

Then flight continues... nothing special, but United's lie-flat seat was comfortable. Maybe my body has been adjusted for United cabins.

After passing by Illinois, as usual, hot baked cookie has been offered.
Ms. attendant asked me "Anything would you like to have with your cookie, sir?" then I replied "A glass of milk, of course." ...yes, I still have baby palate, I think. I do like this hot cookie service prior to arrival, with cold milk, of course. ☺

This flight departed 5 minutes early, arrived EWR about 15 minutes early. Good Job.
Another on time arrival by United!  ←several years ago, we had to listen this announcement quite often, when United was proud of #1 on time service... sigh.  After disembark the p.s. plane, I went into United Club for taking a break...

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

2016Mar.Barcelona 1 - Centurion Lounge SFO

In June, I will post a trip to Barcelona, Catalonia where I visited with Dr. S.A., so this series of posts are dedicated to Dr.S.A.

In March, I started this trip in the early morning.
San Mateo station is still under darkness, but I took a bus.

SamTrans Bus route 292 stops two blocks away from my home, then directly goes around SFO terminals. Very convenient.
Before 6 am, there are some passengers. Some of them are working at SFO or hotels around there.

I got out the bus at Terminal 3.
My first segment was coast-to-coast flight to Newark, NJ. Then connecting to Barcelona.

As usual, took the CLEAR + TSA Pre as a fast track, then entered Amex Centurion Lounge.
The wall of the reception is decorated like this. Receptionists are hiding voluntarily. Sorry guys...

It's around 6:30 am. Bar counter was emplty...
However, mixologist (they call 'bartender' with respects) is ready and if you wish, he/she will do his/her best to offer a glass or two of nice cocktail.

I didn't ask Mimosa or Bellini in this morning, just eat a little.
I sat this table, located just behind the glass elevator.

What I got was only this much. Because I knew I would be served another breakfast in United's BusinessFirst® cabin.
Freshly baked croissant with butter and jam, mushroom quiche and scrambled eggs, turkey sausage and some berries.

Once my stomach has been filled, I went to the Apple's altar for worships.
As a former MacMaster certified engineer (until MacOS 8), I prayed for guru of Apple sect...

Then I started recharging my Apple gadgets on the big table.
Sipping double espresso here is my routine as well.

About 10-15 minutes before boarding starts, I greeted the receptionists and left the lounge.
The Centurion Lounge SFO became my "Home Lounge." I'm so delighted American Express decided to open it in SFO.