Flight Report: UA1161

It’s been 6 hours since I deplaned United Airlines Flight 1161 (service from Orlando MCO to San Francisco SFO). I’ve been busy visiting Stanford University and checking into my hotel on Market Street, but I’ll give you the breakdown of my journey here.

Boarding began at around 6:20, and I was in my seat by 6:35 or so. The boarding process was smooth, uneventful, and my mom and I were able to get first pick of the overhead bins above our row: 27 D, E, and F.
Today we flew on a Boeing 757-300, an extra-long version of the more common 757-200. I was warned by Routehappy that the cabin would feel more crowded with more economy seats, but truthfully I found it no different than any other domestic flight. The interior seemed worn yet relatively modern, with United’s all-blue color scheme. It wasn’t unpleasant, but nothing to write home about (even though that’s exactly what I’m doing right now).
I was in seat 27F, a window seat on the plane’s right side, at the middle of the wing. I enjoyed a view of the sparkling aluminum (which looked brand new), although I found that the window was in an awkward position- I had to duck slightly to look out of it when sitting upright, and had to lean forwards to see through when the seat was reclined. The legroom was slightly above average- 32 inches versus the standard 31, which made my legs decently comfortable. With around 17 inches of width, I found the seat a little too narrow for my liking (18 inches would have been perfect) but still manageable and comfortable to sit in. The seat was plush enough for a medium-haul flight, but I’m not sure I’d be able to say the same if the flight were double that length. The armrests were, well, armrests, and it’s always a competition between who gets to rest their elbows- you or your seat mate. The recline was generous enough, and I liked the adjustable headrest which could be lifted and folded on the sides. Overall, a comfortable 5 and a half hours sitting down- no real complaints.
On Board Entertainment
At first I was pleased to find personal TVs at every seat, but after takeoff I discovered that all programming was DirecTV, and therefore nothing would be available without a fee. So for the remainder of the flight I could hear that screen mocking me. I mean really- you’re going to charge me to look at the flight’s route map? Not cool. There wasn’t any WiFi either, but it wasn’t a bother. Until they make it free, I don’t care if it’s there or not.
Courteous, helpful when needed, and out of the way for the most part. Perfectly fine for a medium-haul flight.
Disappointingly, no food (not even peanuts or cookies!) was provided at all. Just the typical drink service. I’d normally shrug it off on a 2 or 3 hour flight, but being in the air upwards of six hours, it only makes sense that they’d serve lunch (especially because of the time change). The way I see it, if your flight is longer than 5 hours, you should get some kind of meal (even if it’s just a piece of fruit and a sandwich).
The Verdict
Routehappy rated flight 1161 at an 8.0, and I’d have to take that down a notch to a 7.0. I’ll give them seat, plane, boarding, disembarkation, and crew, but the fact that you have to pay for both food and entertainment held this flight back from that 8.0. But United seems to want to catch up to top-rated international airlines in passenger comfort- and I could definitely tell.

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