On our way to Korea, we flew United Airlines for a change. It was a very uncomfortable experience and we will not be flying with them again.
We paid for first-class tickets for the first leg of the trip (why not) and received no end of grief.
While trying to board, the very unpleasant woman manning the gate refused us entry until we “consolidated” our luggage. Why one rolling duffel, a camera bag, a purse, and a backpack carried across two people needed to be consolidated is anybody’s guess, as we were entitled to two carry-ons each. But lo and behold, we missed early boarding while trying to shove bags into bags at the side of the gate. I’m sure she also expected us to get back in line behind everybody boarding for coach but we weren’t having that. Money buys privilege in this country, dammit. We shoved our way back to the front and waltzed past the agent with our bags “consolidated” and our noses upturned.
Drink service was pretty speedy in first class, and everything is served in proper porcelain and glass, with metal utensils. If there was ever living testament as to how much of a joke the TSA is, after taking off your shoes, your belt, your laptop, your coat, your wallet, your phone and your dignity while passing through security, it’s the fact that passengers with money are handed everything necessary to make improvised weapons and given privacy to do it. Because of course, hijackers backed by Saudi oil sheikhs will just ride coach with the rest of the plebes and plastic utensils for those people keeps everybody safe (so sayeth the 9/11 Commission).
The first-class steward was also more than a bit of a dick, as he would constantly be swiping my wife’s half-consumed drinks without notice (yet he’d leave mine alone, go figure) and when she got confused as to which way the bathrooms were went to use the lavatory he made a snide comment about not doing so in the coat closet. Fuck you, idiot.
Then there was the plane itself. It was a very uncomfortable ride, and my ears have never popped so much on an airplane since the early 90s. I thought pressurization discomfort was a thing of the past, but apparently not so with United Airlines’ fleet. I went to sleep as quickly as possible and tried to stay there for most of the trip.
The food was decent at least, and the in-flight entertainment was ok, at least for the domestic leg.
On the 747-400 we boarded to get to Seoul, we were riding Economy Plus or whatever United calls their premium coach seating. Apparently that buys you 4 extra inches of leg room and not much else.
They didn’t even have copies of Sky Mall. I suppose United believes that if you’re flying with them, they think you’re too much of a plebe to be able to afford anything in it. Fuck you, United Airlines. When we finally buy our dream trailer, we’re furnishing the entire thing with things we buy from Sky Mall.
There were no seatback consoles (it was amusing watching my wife tear apart the upholstery in the vain hope that perhaps the personal screens were just really well-hidden), so the in-flight entertainment consisted of a string of garbage played on the overhead screen including:
- Some movie about an aging Michael Douglas discovering he had a granddaughter and accidentally sleeping with his neighbor,
- Some hipster nonsense featuring that queen from Maroon 5 doing what he does best– pretending to be a musician (or a leather daddy– I couldn’t tell),
- A godawful Ellie Goulding concert where she stands around for an hour and a half moaning into a microphone. I’ve never seen a musician with so little energy or showmanship. She looked like she was strung out on heroin and was going to die the minute she walked off the stage.
- An equally. Godawful, Diana. Krall. Concert (seriously, where, are we? Air: Starbucks? Who the hell can stand Diana Krall besides people who enjoy motion sickness?)
- The new Godzilla movie.
- Random episodes of Two and a Half Men (ugh).
We suffered through quite a few of these by making up bad lip readings and/or listening to the 80s station while watching the concerts.
There was also the option of watching a proprietary Netflix-type deal on your Android or Apple device, but it’s a 16-hour flight, and the batteries of all of my devices combined wouldn’t come close to lasting the entirety of that. So we entertained ourselves by acting like mature adults and defacing the duty-free catalog with a Sharpie.
I spent most of this flight asleep, or trying to be.
It was atrocious.