United Airlines had two scheduled flights this past week for San Francisco to Barcelona nonstop departing Feb 23 and Feb 27 in conjunction with Mobile World Congress. The aircraft was a B777-200 configured with a section of new Economy Premium Plus seats.
My cheap $209 one way ticket from Monterey to Barcelona as an Aegean Miles+Bonus Silver elite placed me in the bulkhead row of Economy Plus directly behind the Premium Plus section. I snapped some photos while deplaning in Barcelona.
The Points Guy article about United Economy Premium Plus routes, fare codes and upgrades.
This flight proved useful to me since I wanted a one way ticket to Europe. My trip plan for Europe is fly Ryanair Barcelona to Warsaw ($52), fly four Aegean/Olympic Air flight segments on a round trip ticket from Warsaw to Chania, Crete ($136), fly Wizz Air Warsaw to Stockholm ($16), then Scandinavian Airlines SAS round trip Stockholm to San Francisco ($510) in March to qualify for Aegean Miles+Bonus Gole elite with Star Alliance Gold benefits.
Olympic Air and SAS both have an 8kg carry-on bag weight limit on the cheap tickets. I packed light bringing only tennis shows and sandals with a prayer for no snowstorms in Warsaw or Stockholm.
United Airlines Flight UA5316 Monterey – San Francisco February 27 6:20am
An atmospheric river of rain was forecast this week. Record setting rainfall amounts fell in areas about 75 miles north of San Francisco. My concern was rain would delay or cancel the Monterey flight to SFO, but a 7.5 hour time gap between the Monterey departure and San Francisco departure for Barcelona meant that I could always drive if the Monterey flight was cancelled.
Turned out the atmospheric river storm pattern stayed north of Monterey, where we only had 0.10 of an inch rain. San Francisco had about 1 inch and Guerneville, 90 miles north of SFO, turned into an island community after as much as 20 inches of rain fell in the surrounding area.
The flight took off from Monterey about 6:40am and the normal 18 minute flight turned into a 23 minute flight when we had to fly north past the airport to make an approach heading south due to the weather conditions.
Pilot said he thought it unlikely anyone would see the Golden Gate Bridge.
The plane approached the SFO runway flying 194 degrees south.
San Francisco Airport looked very wet with puddles all around the airport grounds.
With 6 hours before Barcelona flight boarding, my plan was hang out at Air France Lounge at the A gates and then head to the G gates on the opposite side of the international terminal. This meant I had to go through security two times.
One Mile at a Time – Review: Air France Lounge San Francisco Airport.
Tried to work in the lounge, but ended up listening to the Michael Cohen testimony.
Feb 27, 2019 United Flight 884 San Francisco SFO – Barcelona nonstop
$209.20 one way Economy K class
Seat 31L (bulkhead window seat Economy Plus)
Scheduled flight time 11 hours 40 minutes (1:45pm-10:25am Feb 28)
My boarding group 2 assignment put me on the plane before most economy passengers. Turned out not to be a full flight in the 3-4-3 configuration. The middle seat next to me remained open for the flight.
The bulkhead monitor flight map labeled in German indicated this aircraft might normally be used for a Frankfurt route.
One advantage to the bulkhead seat individual monitor is I did not experience the frustration I had on my January British Airways flight when the passenger seated in front of me frequently changed his seat recline while I watched movies, requiring me to adjust my backseat monitor for viewing with each of his seat position changes.
Plus, getting out of the row for the toilet was convenient with more space to move compared to a window seat in regular rows.
I watched three movies in my typical long-haul economy airplane mode flight plan and even slept around three hours, which is a rarity for me on long-haul flights.
BlacKkKlansmen and Bohemian Rhapsody were my post Oscars viewing entertainment. After my nap I finished the flight with the cult classic This is Spinal Tap.
UA 884 Meal Service
After a spectacularly bad Hindu meal on my last United international flight, I figured I would opt for the regular menu. The chicken dish would have been more enjoyable if it were evenly heated. The lukewarm bits were a disappointment.
Lemon sorbet for dessert helped. Although I had to let the frozen solid sorbet sit for 30 minutes before I could scrape the plastic spoon across the surface to release any of it.
Midway in the flight there were turkey roll sandwiches passed around. The flight attendant nearly skipped me until I waved my arm to get her attention. That mini-sandwich was my meal during a 6-hour layover in Barcelona after learning the lounge in Terminal 2 was closed for remodeling.
Breakfast was served 90 minutes before the end of the flight. Those egg bits made me nauseous. A little blueberry muffin fed my hunger 10 hours later on the 3-hour Ryanair flight to Warsaw.
The cabin temperature on the flight was quite cold.
Premium Plus cabin seating includes headphones.
On time arrival in Barcelona hit a snag when the plane landed and parked in an area requiring bus shuttle to the terminal. One bus at a time arrived and departed. Passengers spent 10 minutes between buses waiting. I stood on the stairs outside the aircraft after the first bus departed. Passengers behind me on the aircraft took their turn on the stairs as our bus left before another bus had arrived.
All in all, I liked the look of the redesigned United aircraft cabin.
UA 884 special price for a special flight at $209 one way basic economy for Monterey to Barcelona was my kind of deal and worked out well for my travel plans.