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United Airlines – San Francisco, CA (SFO) to Chicago, O’Hare, IL (ORD) – Flight UA 158

Good Service and On Time; Can't Ask For Much More From United

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United Airlines - San Francisco, CA (SFO) to Chicago, O’Hare, IL (ORD) – Flight UA 158 One of the major airlines in the United States and one of the largest airlines in the world (in terms of passengers carried and revenues), United Airlines operates over 3,300 flights a day to 210 destinations in 30 countries. As with most American airlines, however, domestic travelers don’t get special treatment (whether first class or economy) the way international travelers do. (Click here to read our San Francisco hotel and restaurant reviews and click here to read our Chicago hotel and restaurant reviews.)

This flight is a red-eye flight, which leaves San Francisco at 11PM and arrives in Chicago the next morning at 4:30 AM

Check-In: As is the norm now with most American airlines, the kiosk has become the main mode of checking in even when flying First Class. If you are lucky, you can sometimes find an agent that is willing and actually interested in checking you in. In my case, I found an agent that was available; I can’t say she was all that willing (she directed me to a kiosk at first) but grudgingly she finally did my check-in. This is definitely not first class service in my eyes.

The Lounge: Again, as with most all American carriers, lounge access is restricted to just international passengers. Even though I was flying First Class, there wasn’t a lounge I could use prior to my flight.

First Impressions: Having flown United Airlines many times before the plane was pretty much what I expected: a bit dated, small, uninteresting. The flight attendant however was surprising pleasant, especially for an 11 o’clock at night flight.

The Cabin: Our cabin had a 2 x 2 configuration of six rows. United’s signature colors of dull gray and blue only amplified the mundane banality of flying domestic, and the cramped quarters did nothing, not an ounce, to make me feel that I was in a first class cabin.

While the seats reclined, they were far from flat, and the legroom (particularly in the 1st row where I sat) was how I imagined economy used to be in the past, just enough to make you somewhat comfortable, and no more. What a huge difference between international and domestic flights!

The Flight (Service/Food/Drink): Before take-off, the flight attendant came around with water or juice in a plastic cup, which was more in line with economy than first class, and small bags of mixed nuts and pretzels.

Our late night snack consisted of a fruit plate (grapes, melon, pineapple) which was surprisingly good, and cold cuts, cheese and crackers along with your choice of red or white wine—nothing worth remembering!

Service was quite attentive but I think a lot of that had to do with the fact the nine of the other eleven passengers were sound asleep leaving only three of us to keep the flight attendant busy.

Arrival: We arrived a few minutes early which only meant a longer layover before my connecting flight; at 4:30 in the morning, this is exactly when a lounge would really have been useful, but nada.

Overall Impression United’s flight from San Francisco to Chicago was between bombastic and not, at best. My expectations for domestic flights are so low that any bit of enjoyment or comfort that I experience goes a long way. Luckily, the service was attentive and we arrived on time. There really is not much more I hope for or expect from the American domestic carriers (especially on domestic routes).

Additional Information:
Flight Time: 4 Hours, 10 Minutes

Airline Partners:: ANA, Air Canada, Air New Zealand, Asiana Airlines, Austrian, BMI, Egyptair, Lot Polish Airlines, Lufthansa, SAS, South African Airways, Singapore Air, Spainair, Swiss Air, TAP Portugal, Thai Air, Turkish Airlines, US Airways, Air China, Shanghai Airlines. Other Airline Partners: Delta, Mexicana, SilkAir, Virgin

Airport Codes:
San Francisco – SFO
Chicago O’Hare - ORD

Be sure to read our San Francisco hotel and restaurant reviews and our Chicago hotel and restaurant reviews.

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