Monday, September 2, 2013

United Debacle to our Nation's Capital

On August 8, 2013, we had a flight from LAX to Washington DC National Airport through Chicago O'hare on United Airlines. When I fly out of LAX I usually rent a car one way from a local Avis location, which is cheaper than paying for a shuttle for even one person to LAX. Our flight was scheduled to leave LAX at 12:15pm. I had returned the rental by 11:00am which I thought was plenty of time to get the shuttle to the terminal, check in, and make our flight. United is the last shuttle stop at the airport and this made us a little late. We were able to check in at the Premier desk at Terminal 7. The kiosk would not allow us to check our luggage because we were within 45 minutes of departure time. They would not budge and they had to rebook us on the next flight. They could not find 2 seats to DCA for the rest of the day so we suggested they try to get us to Washington Dulles. They actually had nonstop flights to Dulles but considering our hotel and rental car were at Washington National, getting us to the wrong airport in the right city wasn't all that helpful. They gave us confirmed seats on a flight that left at 5:00p over 5 hours later. We were able to try to standby on a flight that left at 1:15p. So the entire rebooking process took over 40 minutes because the agent didn't know how to do it. She had to get help from 2 other people. I don't see how that is a better alternative to just letting us go on the original. We didn't end up making the standby flight because we were too low on the standby list. So we spent about 2 hours at the United Club in Terminal 7 while I cancelled and rebooked hotels and rental car from National to Dulles. Around 3:00p we grabbed a bite to eat at B Grill. Our flight was scheduled to leave out of Terminal 6 so we made our way over there and waited at the United Club, which was right next to our gate. 

The United Club in Terminal 6 is the old Continental President's Club. 

Our flight was supposed to leave at 5:10p but was delayed. It came in late from Denver and set us back almost an hour. 

This is the 757-200 that would take us to Washington Dulles.

It parked right outside the window where I was sitting.

I was able to sit in the exit row bulkhead seat with tons of room, but no window. 

We arrived at Dulles around 1:30am to a terminal that had not a single person in it. The inter-terminal train wasn't even running and it took forever for it to come get us to and take us to the main terminal to get our bags. This is a look at the really modern undercarriage of the main terminal and above the train station.

After arriving incredibly early in the morning, we finally got to sleep at the Embassy Suites Dulles around 3:00am.

Our last night in DC was spent at the Capital Hilton that is about 3 blocks from the White House. This is the plaque as you enter the building. 

The hotel lobby is quite nice and bright. The hotel feels old, but the rooms are nice and modern.

This is the valet area right along the street. 

The next morning we got an early start before we had to get our flight out of DCA. We walked from the Hilton past the White House and the Washington Mounument, which is being refurbished. We walked across the Mall past the WWII memorial and made our way to the MLK memorial, which is also being refurbished. I really like this monument and it is right along the water of the Tidal Basin. 

There are a bunch of MLK quotes lining the walls of the monument.

After seeing the MLK memorial we walked along the Tidal Basin to the FDR memorial, which I had never seen before. It's also a really great one to see and you can't see any of it from the street. Perhaps it's a metaphor for FDR's presidency since many people didn't know about his health condition, yet he was president for 4 terms. It's a really impressive memorial with some wonderful quotes. 

From there we walked to the Jefferson Memorial that is also along the Tidal Basin. The view from the Jefferson is my favorite and at nighttime it is even better. It's my favorite because it was the very first monument I visited the very first time I went to DC when my dad first took me when I was in high school. 

It took about 3 hours or so to walk around to those monuments and back to the Hilton. Our flight didn't leave until 5:45p so we requested a late checkout. They gave us until 2:00p. Even then we would have a long wait at the airport until the flight left. We returned the car and found our terminal eventually. The United Club at DCA is not easy to find and it's not located on any terminal map. It's right at the very end of the B terminal and up a level. It's not a very large lounge but it's totally retro and awesome. It's right out of a scene of the movie "The Aviator." The views are awesome and I enjoyed watching TV and planes come and go for about 3 hours. This was the A320 that would take us to Chicago O'hare. 

This was the view from my seat. 

Here's a shot of a retro US Airways plane in the Piedmont livery.

The bulkhead seats are great because the wall doesn't go all the way down and you can put your bag down there and not up in overhead bin.

The flight to O'hare was about 2 hours long and this is the 777 that was parked next to my window at the United Club.

The connecting flight back to Orange County was on a 757 and once again I had a seat in the front bulkhead exit row with no view. I only had a view of the first class cabin and the wall in front of me with my Jim Abbott book. The inflight movie was Iron Man 3. This was a late evening flight and we arrived at almost 10:00p.

Then it was back to work the very next morning.