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A Few Notes from Today’s Flight to LA

I’m on my way to Australia (JFK-LAX on United in business; LAX-Auckland-Sydney on Air New Zealand in Premium Economy SpaceSeat; Sydney – Gold Coast on Jetstar in scrunchy class), and I thought I’d share a few thoughts from the first leg of the trip:

- The actor who played Mr. Chow from The Hangover was on my flight with his family. That will probably be the highlight of this trip.

- No, wait, back it up. The highlight of this trip will be the guy who sat in front of my on the train from Penn Station to JFK (well, to Jamaica) and was yapping at full volume to someone about attending (or not attending, in this case) Narcotics Anonymous meetings. Also, he was rather upset about the mooching habits of someone he knows. To wit, “I’m-a make it clear she can’t come to my house and eat my fish every day. Cost me like $80.” That begs more questions than it answers.

- A flight attendant did one of the smallest nicest things for me: I was waiting to use the bathroom, and he called up to the First Class flight attendant and told her to let me come up and use that lavatory. That sounds kinda pathetic when I write it, but at the time it was a very nice small gesture.

- The in-seat power did not work with my MacBook. The purser told me this was a common problem with Macs. I’ve never had this problem with a Mac. Anyone?

- Bloggers can take all the pictures they want of the food they are served on an airplane, but it is still airplane food. The beef, chicken or ravioli were all on par with food that we were served at my Little League Banquet when I was 9. I brought a sandwich from Lenny’s on 84th and Columbus. It was awesome.

- United’s P.S. service is fascinating. It was, if not revolutionary, quite a leap forward when they rolled it out in 2004. Today, it seems very, very dated. The idea is still fantastic, but the seats are old and they hand out DigiPlayers (DigiPlayers!) like it’s, what, 2004? They do have Internet, but I don’t do anything important enough to warrant spending $18 for Internet access (shouldn’t that be free up front?) The staff was great, though. But I’d be pained if I spent $4,000 (?) on a first class ticket and ended up with that seat. It’s like the world has blown by P.S. and they never noticed (or it’s exactly what it’s like to fly American).

- I will not share photos of the Air New Zealand lounge with you, but do know that it’s in LAX Terminal 2, which has virtually nothing to eat in it. The lounge, which is perfectly fine (all lounges are perfectly fine — even schmancy first class lounges in Asia are still just lounges, even if they offer you a massage), does have some really good crab salad.

Apologies for the Larry King USA Today column format today…just wanted to share a few thoughts.

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  1. I considered United p.s. a downgrade from the previous 767-200 product flying between JFK-LAX/SFO, marketing notwithstanding.

    The food, though, in p.s. used to be much better than it is today.

    The only thing that struck me as a step forward with p.s. was all E+ in back, which they’re getting rid of.

    And of course internet…

    • The all-Econ Plus in the back was a gigantic leap for those of us who fly coach on transcons. The difference between sitting in Continental’s squished coach product and the 34″ of pitch on United is significant. And since I never ever get upgraded on CO to LAX or SFO PS was the best option.

      I bring my own food – its as good as it ever was :)

      • Having flown transcon this week in UA economy+ (my 1K status was inadequate for any upgrades) the best thing I can say about the product is that it’s better than economy-. Walking to the back for the bathroom (what happened to the forward lav they were putting in on the 737-800s), I couldn’t help but feel sorry for the sardines (I mean pax) trapped back there.

        I disagree about the food, though. I don’t like having to think about what I’m going to eat when I fly. And airport food often seems ridiculously expensive and largely inappropriate for on-board consumption. I really wish high-level elites were just given a sandwich from the “new and improved” buy-on-board offerings — kind of the booby prize for not getting the upgrade. I guess I should just get in the habit of buying the $10 sandwiches when I haven’t eaten.

        • I’d WAY prefer a sandwich to an airline meal concoction. Simple is just better. On my flight last night, we departed at 945pm. Dinner was served around 1115pm. One of the options was short ribs. Seriously, do people eat short ribs in the middle of the night prior to lying down for 12 hours? I’d love if United would just give me one of the buy-on-board sandwiches. Or better yet, I’ll just keep bringing my own :)

  2. have to say, I really appreciate the perspective you provide about what business class and first class provides. Also nice to know that Lenny’s provides a step up from normal food for a u.s. based carrier.

  3. Paul Robichaux

    The Mac power adapter can draw more current than the in-seat power system can provide when you’re trying to charge the battery at max speed. In my experience, unplugging and replugging the charger is often enough to fix the problem; a few times I’ve had to move the charger to a different outlet. On one memorable occasion, I couldn’t get any charge at all and had to abandon the effort after shutting down all the power ports in my row and the one in front of me.

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