Author Topic: Chicago and 2 United 777ís in 12 hours  (Read 2182 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 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, 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....

Offline brodes18

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Re: Chicago and 2 United 777ís in 12 hours
« Reply #2 on: May 28, 2018, 07:39:15 PM »
The gate agent scanned my boarding pass and as I hit the Jet bridge, I had this line waiting for me:

To me, one of the biggest perks of status is early boarding rights. Getting on without waiting around the terminal, settling into my seat, and having no issues with overhead bins is a huge perk. Passed a Polaris ad on the way to the plane. Iíd be taking my first international Polaris trip to Japan on the new 77W plane at the end of the month. I wondered how different it would be than what I was about to experience.

I boarded and headed to my seat at 6A. I got a peak at the Global First cabin in what seemed to be quite spacious and comfortable seats. I was able to move from the 4 middle seats to a premium bulkhead window seat shortly before the flight. I noted that these seats featured a built-in massage feature that felt pretty good. The seat was pretty comfortable, but I wonder how Iíd feel if this was my seat for 8 hours on a TPAC flight. As I settled in, I was offered a pre-departure beverage and asked for orange juice.

The doors were closed right on time and I got a perfect view of us pushing back from the gate. One thing I noted while pushing back was how high this plane was from the ground, much higher than the 737s Iím used to.

As a noob AV Geek, I love the plane spotting during taxi and takeoff. On this particular flight, there was a lot of traffic at EWR due to the 8AM flight time. I got a bunch of cool pics:
United 767-400:


Line of aircraft:

United 737 landing:

Port of Newark:

Our takeoff took about 25 minutes due to the traffic, but with clear skies, it was quite smooth. After we reached 10K feet, the FA came around to offer coffee and other drinks in preparation for Breakfast. As simple as coffee is, I quite like it in the mugs they offer in Business. Even though NYC Ė Chicago is about a 2-hour flight, full meals are offered as itís one of the exceptions. I find Unitedís dining rules very confusing and not customer friendly. Figuring out what you will get is up in the air. Now, I donít usually eat the meals since they donít offer a special meal on short flights (they changed this policy after my trip). For breakfast, I asked for the fruit and oatmeal option since Iíd at least be able to eat the fruit. It came with a small Chobani that I enjoyed as well. All in all, the presentation and quality of the meal was quite good for such a short flight.

After breakfast, I put my feet up and reclined the seat, which was quite spacious and comfortable:

I did some reading, some Torah learning, and enjoyed the views. As the weather was perfect after the storms that had come through earlier that week, I snapped some incredible photos of the views:

Lake Michigan:

Chicago coming into view:

After a smooth landing, I headed toward the exit. ORD had setup a very nice relaxing space. They had a Titos stand, Powermat charging station, and some cool lounge chairs. Quite relaxing and not very official airport like. In this space was the aircraft flown by Lieutenant Edward OíHare. I charged up my phone on the mat and headed out to an Uber.

At ORD as many airports do, they send you halfway across the airport if you want to use Uber/Lyft. Quite annoying, but surly by design to help the taxi situation.
I took the quick ride to Rogers park where I spent the day with my sister and kids.
Jogging at Lincolnwood Park:

After eating lunch, I headed out to Dunkin doughnuts with the kids. Then it was off to The sandwich club for (Shallots was closed for renovations :-( ) some food for my flight. I also had to make a stop over at Romanian for some excellent hot dogs and sausages to take home with me. Then it was back to ORD for my 4:05 flight to NY. I find ORD to always be crowded and not pleasant to get through. There are throngs of people all over the place.

Soon enough I made my way to C16 where I was greeted by this sight:

Instead of waiting on line, I simply went to the front and took a seat. I figured that Iíd just wait and group at the end of group 1. In the end, the flight got delayed when the plane developed an issue pulling into the gate. Glad I didnít stand on line for 1 hour!

The plane (which was coming from Rome) needed to be ferried over to our gate from the international terminal (where passengers go to the customer area). There was some trouble they had with the getting the plane to raise itself up or get the jet bridge over to the plane. I got some great photos of the plane and this cool shot:

My seat on the way home would be 6B in the aisle.

I settled in as we took off from ORD. My sandwich really hit the spot as I was starving by the time we were airborne as we were delayed by about 2 hours. I enjoyed some beer and a gin and tonic which hit the spot, and capped off a busy, but enjoyable trip to Chicago.

Offline Dan

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Re: Chicago and 2 United 777ís in 12 hours
« Reply #3 on: May 30, 2018, 05:52:22 PM »
Fun TR, loved the airplane pics.
Save your time, I don't answer PM. Post it in the forum and a dedicated DDF'er will get back to you as soon as possible.

Offline theyankel

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Re: Chicago and 2 United 777ís in 12 hours
« Reply #4 on: June 18, 2018, 11:13:04 PM »
i flew aa lga-ord and wn mdw-lga  back before lag bomer for a romanian and milts run. forgot i had free bags with cc on all others airlines. probably all the commercials and in your face marketing that southwest does. the whole wn expereince was disaster except the 5k or so points i used. early am aa flight ended up costing some $51. am out and a mid afternoon flight back. $500+ in meat later made it a successful trip. almost caught a cubs game but then decided the better of it. gonna do it again sometime soon. except no 777 on these flights