Flight Report: UA292

Well, I’ve returned home from California! I am absolutely exhausted, so the only thing you’re getting for now is a flight report of my return journey. But do expect oodles of tidbits from my trip throughout the coming weeks!
Boarding
Quick and easy, although it was difficult to understand the gate agent who was announcing. We boarded quick enough to push back a few minutes early, which would put us ahead of the clock when we landed. The overhead bins were ripe for the picking.
 
Plane
The Airbus A320 is a decent aircraft- it seemed to accelerate when we took off. Quite exhilarating, if I do say so myself. It was significantly shorter than the 757-300, and while the latter didn’t feel crowded to begin with, the former felt a lot less so. My seat was right behind the wing- my favorite place to be. The outfittings seemed modern enough- more than the 757-300, and I got a rare impression of pure cleanliness overall.
 
Seat
Once I boarded my heart leapt with joy when I saw the seats for the first time. I kid you not, it looked like they had just been manufactured and installed on the aircraft an hour before boarding. They seemed more up to date than even the First Class seats. I was thoroughly pleased. Two words: slimline seats. They’re all the rage in Economy these days, and boy do they deserve it. Soft leather with elegant-looking stitches provides the upholstery for a much thinner seat than the industry standard- giving the seats a more modern look and feel. But the real benefit is in the space- slimline seats give just that little bit of extra knee room that allows you to slip your feet completely under the seat in front of you and just stretch out. Even with a slightly sub-standard pitch of 30 inches, I was more comfortable than I was on the inbound flight (whose seats had a pitch of 32). Granted this does mean a compromise in padding- no plush cloth seats here- but on any flight less than 6 hours that won’t be a problem at all.
The adjustable headrest is comfortable with rigid wings to make sure your head doesn’t slowly fold them flat again. The tray tables are smaller than normal (my 11 inch laptop was the table’s sole resident, without any room for a drink) but in reality they’re perfectly fine. The recline was decent and the width was fine as well. Overall a very upgraded seat experience than I’m used to- one of the best in Economy class.
United's fancy new slimline seats.
United’s fancy new slimline seats.
 
On Board Entertainment
Nonexistent. No seatback TVs, streaming devices, or overhead screens. However, I actually didn’t miss it on this flight. It was mostly to do with the design of the seatbacks. The magazines and such are placed where a personal TV would be, so that area doesn’t seem completely naked. Unlike on my inbound flight (where a pay-for DirecTV service eliminated all hopes of in-flight entertainment), there was no blank screen staring at me. I guess where there’s no way, there’s no will. It still would’ve been nice to watch some 30 Rock episodes though. This plane did have WiFi, but as I’ve said before: if I’m buying, I’m not flying.
 
Crew
No complaints: no instances of ‘above and beyond’ actions but no rude encounters.
 
Food
I’ll just include an aside to what I’ve already said about food on medium-haul domestic flights:
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 dinner (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).
That being said, we stopped by a Boudin enclave in the terminal and bought a small loaf of sourdough and butter. It was a lovely dinner.
 
The Verdict
The seats alone made this return flight a significant improvement over an already solid inbound flight. Their modern style, comfort, and allowed space afford the flight an 8.3 in my book. I’d have liked there to be some on demand content and a meal, but my priority is feeling comfortable in that seat. And for these five hours, I absolutely did.
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