UA497 San Francisco International SFO – San Diego Lindbergh Field SAN
Boeing 757-200 N511UA
Gate 88 Seat 1F
Having retrieved my bags from the conveyor, I proceed past customs and was waived through to re deposit my bags in another area. From here on, it was just downhill as the TSA agent today in SF was a pain. First they said my boarding pass had no premier access since I got it from Tokyo on ANA stock, then I went to the other side which said I had too much hand carry since I did have an extra duty free bag which I should have packed into my check-in luggage. I thus queued up to reprint my boarding pass and returned to the agent who waived me through. I just wonder how incompetent some TSA agents are, since even the check-in agent gave me a look of bewilderment when I asked for a United stock boarding pass.
The queue in the premium line was not too long fortunately and I headed to the United Club expecting access but only to be told it was only for arrivals on United as ANA apparently does not pay extra for connecting passengers access to the lounge. This seems weird since I did get access to United’s First Class lounge on the way out. Considering I was tired from the long flight, I just did not have the energy to argue and since I did not really need anything from the lounge, I didn’t miss much anyway. In the end, I just headed to the boarding gates where I got lucky to spot my arriving plane taxi out to the runway for its flight back to Japan.
Since there was not much else besides the usual United jets in the terminal, I just waited in the spot using the free wifi provided by the airport. Then I noticed that there was a gate change for my flight and it happened to be at the gate where I was waiting at!
Boarding started more or less on time and it was good to just stay around the gate since I do have lots of hand carry. Fortunately this was a 757 which meant more First Class seats and a larger plane in general. I got overhead space easily and just settled into the seat. Not much to see around the cabin anyway.
The crew offered me welcome drinks and as expected the First Class cabin was easily filled up. I got plain water for my beverage as I was just thirsty and had my fill of alcoholic drinks on my ANA first class. I doubt there’s anything interesting United can offer on their domestic routes anyway. Apparently my seat mate thinks so as well since he also got a cup of water.
Basically upon being seated, I just took a nap until it was time to take off. Upon reaching cruising altitude, I reclined my seat and continued to rest for this short flight to San Diego. Comparing the flight on the 757 versus the 737-800s, I might go for the newer planes which seems cleaner and in far better condition. However the 757 does have more sense of space and with the First Class cabin up-front, there is less disturbance during the boarding process.
The weather in southern California was indeed a huge difference with sunshine and clear skies which made for a very scenic descent into the San Diego bay. The beautiful descent into San Diego made the highlight of the flight.
Upon arrival in San Diego, it took some time before I got my snowboard bag from the odd-size baggage area. My experience with United has been far from perfect. While they are an acceptable way to travel, I think there are other better US-based airlines. For short haul flights, I do not mind taking United if their schedule and prices are the best but for long haul flights, I would go out of my way to not fly with them, even if it costs me more or takes more time.