Flight from SFO to SIN      Last Updated: 26-Oct-01 

Check-in at the SFO International terminal was not that different from prior experiences. The terminal was relatively empty. The x-ray machine procedures were similar; we expected to have to make the computer and cameras wiggle, but were not asked to. There were more identity checks. And, just like prior travel, we did not get an upgrade. Because we got there early, we had more than 2 hours to kill in the lounge.

The combatants In the Red Carpet Club, we ran into Jim Reynolds, who was off to eat some kimchee.
Both being experienced travelers, Jim and Scott started comparing travel kits. Scott proudly displayed his efficient on-board kit with Laguna Seca earplugs and cool clip earphones. Jim showed off his mobile office, containing a bubble level of questionable purpose, and mundane paper clips and things. His Cambridge Instruments Chipcheck (the actual tool) is an impressive relic. Jim then flashed his inflatable pillow, so Scott countered with his, and upped the ante with compact slippers which keep his feet warm and dry. While Jim pooh-poohed these, it is likely that he steps out of the airplane bathrooms with soggy socks. Jim then pulled out his pocket-sized Sony noise-cancelling earphones; Scott was impressed. In the end, it must be declared a draw.   Jim's original Chipcheck

What is it with United? Do the people who design the economy cabin never actually fly in it? There are several goofy details. No, this is not a "I did not get upgraded again" rant, but observations on the absurd details.

What is the purpose of this bulge? For many years, United has served their food on stooopid trays - each item has its own (inflexible) place, and it is poorly laid out for both right- and left-handed people. The tray has feet on the right and left sides, forcing it to be oriented only one way, yet the placement of the main event (rubber chicken, leather mignon, or desiccated rice) would prompt the victim to want to rotate it 90 degrees, placing it in front. But, if that is done, then the tray becomes instable, amplifying the required mid-meal turbulence. You will place your food to the right rear!

A few years ago, United redesigned their seats throughout the planes. The First (I saw them once) and Business class seats are a dream, and an incentive to trade first-born children, or (gasp!) chiles for an upgrade. Even the cheap seats have been significantly improved.
However, there is one modification, in particular, which is especially goofy. The underside of the armrest has a pregnant bulge (see picture), which, after careful examination, has no purpose whatsoever. Probing shows it to be empty, and it bears no weight when the armrests are lowered. But, when the armrest is raised, this lump prevents the victim from comfortably laying down - it is impossible to rest up against the seats. It seems to be United's way of saying "OK, so you got this great fare, and we're losing money because the plane is empty enough to give you a row to yourself, but there is no way in hell that we will let you be comfortable about it." Well, at least they do allow the armrests to be raised. Sigh.

Note from the editor: The second plane from Narita to Singapore still had the same stoopid type of food trays, but the armrests did not have the pregnant bulge.

taking off from SFO  We felt reassured by the plastic knife 
Over the Pacific  Tokyo/Narita Airport  What to do in Singapore? 

  Back to Home Page                On to Singapore