Author Topic: Chicago and 2 United 777ís in 12 hours  (Read 414 times)

Offline brodes18

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Chicago and 2 United 777ís in 12 hours
« on: August 10, 2017, 10:14:55 PM »
Who wouldnít spend 4 hours on 2 flights to Chicago for just 7.5 hours on the ground? Most people I asked this said they would not. Here is my story:
I was originally scheduled to be in Chicago for a day of meetings on Tuesday (8/8). I was planning on going to Chicago on Monday (8/7) for some prep, visit my sister and her fam Monday night, and fly home Tuesday night after work.

I have United 1K status and therefore qualify for free upgrades on domestic flights. However, I have been finding from experience that upgrades are far and few between. There are very few seats on most domestic planes to start. On corporate heavy flights (NY, Boston, Chicago, DC, etc,), its almost impossible to get upgraded even with 1K status. This is usually due to other 1Ks on higher fare classes snagging the few remaining seats. Therefore, when booking, I try to find flights with as many business seats as possible. Additionally, I love big widebody jets. I find them more comfortable and roomy aside from the cool factor they seem to have. I also find that WB flights are usually not delayed as much as others since they are needed for the longhaul flights and cannot easily be swapped. For my trip, I booked the outbound on a internationally configured 777-200 that makes a daily trip from the EWR to ORD hub in E fare class (4th to highest UA class) and the return on the standard 737-800 in V fare class. I figured that Iíd have good chances on the outbound and might get lucky on the return. Thursday morning I got the notification that I had been upgraded to Business Class. I quickly went to select my seat as I did not want to get stuck with the middle seat in Business!

As life would have it, last Friday I got news of a critical meeting in Philly on Tuesday morning. The meeting could not be moved and I was getting strong indications from the important folk (whose opinions matter) that I needed to be in Philly Tuesday morning. I was quite disappointed. Not only was I excited about flying in J on the 777, I had been looking forward to the meetings and spending time with my sis. Oh well. As Dan has pointed out many times in the past, you never cancel your ticket until the last minute. There are always travel waivers and cancellations that can work in your favor. Little did I know that this was my case.

On Sunday afternoon, less than 24 hours before my original flight, the United travel waiver came through. There was bad thunderstorms predicted on the northeast and United was gearing up for the upcoming issues. My flight was scheduled to take place before the issues, but this didnít matter to me. In fact, my original flight had no issues in the end. Regardless, I hit United.com to see what my options were. I could not cancel my flight for a refund unless the flight was cancelled or delayed. I could rebook my flights for anytime during this week (before 8/12) in any fare class of the original cabin. I checked my schedule and Wed was looking like a super light day. Being that I was not traveling for work, I did not want to leave my DW and kids for an overnight if I didnít have to. If I would go, Iíd have to do the round trip in 1 day. Right then I found the perfect set of flights. Iíd take UA 977 a 777-200 at 8:30 AM and catch the return on UA 1995 another 777-200 at 4:05 PM. Iíd have enough time in Chicago to visit my sister and maybe visit Shallots or Milts for some good Chicago food! Checked with the DW and while she thought it was crazy, she was on board. I went about changing my flight.

Being that it was just two days before the flight, there were not too many open seats in business. I had just recently come across an article that discussed using the travel waiver to boost chances of an upgrade. The method uses the travel waiver to jump from whatever class you booked in to any available class (even Y, or B). With those classes, I could get an instant upgrade! The article even recommending using this method to change the class without changing your flight at all. I tried to do this on United.com, but it kept offering up W even when I specifically requested Y,B,M. I decided to call the 1K line and ask for help. The agent was confused and told me that I would be rebooked into my original class. (Being that I had originally booked this with my companyís corporate travel company, I could have called them and have them rebook me. I only realized this later on.) I told the agent no thanks and went back to the web site determined to work it out. By using the flexible fare option, I got the system to offer me E class for both ways. E class is right under Y,B,M fares and as a 1K in E class, there are few others that would beat me to an upgrade. I got the upgrade for ORD-EWR that night and EWR-ORD Tuesday morning. Time to pack, I was going to Chicago!



I packed a really small bag with some exercise clothes, reading material, Daf Yomi Gemora, and some work material (big benefit to the day trip). Left my house at 6:30 for the quick early morning trip to Newark. With my company no longer paying for the trip, I was more careful about transpo costs. No Verrazano bridge or short term parking here!  I went for the daily parking option at EWR $34 since Iíd get access to the Airtrain. There are cheaper options, but I was short on time here. Whisked my way through security with Precheck and I was at gate C125 before long. By the time I arrived, boarding had just started. While the standard lines for boarding usually do the job, they are no match for the 777 which had lines snaking out right into the terminal. Group 1 was just finishing up, so right on I went. I was pretty excited. I donít do much travel outside of the US, the last 777 Iíd been on was an El Al flight many, many years ago. I was taking pictures of everything!

Private first class suite aboard the Airtrain: :-)



Long boarding lines:




Part 2 and a bunch more pics coming soon...

Offline Proisrael

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Re: Chicago and 2 United 777ís in 12 hours
« Reply #1 on: August 13, 2017, 02:02:55 AM »
I get the same crazy stare when I ask if anyone is interested in a round trip flight in one day....