Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Blast From The Past: Flying United Shuttle Boeing 737-300

Welcome to my another trip report from the past! 




Introduction

This trip was taken during the 1990s and for some of you, United Shuttle may be unfamiliar with you. I flew on this subsidiary twice and I like to share my experience with you. Most photos are taken from Airliners.net and Jetphotos.net and of course these photos are credited to the respective photographers. 

It all started when I was asked whether would I like to go along to U.S, of course I can't say no! At that time, I was still in the secondary school so going on a holiday was a bonus. The airline was not picked by me, but it didn't matter because United Airlines was new to me as most of my flights before this was with Singapore Airlines. Always good to try something else for a change, but after flying Hong Kong to San Francisco, I wasn't looking forward to the upcoming flights then, it was that bad the service and not to mention the lack of entertainment on board United Airlines's Boeing 747-400. 

N196UA was one of the 2 aircraft I flew on (Singapore - Hong Kong- San Francisco and return) 

N196UA spotted at the desert waiting to be scrapped


During its golden days!


In additional to this U.S, I went to Canada with United's A319 and A320 and flew to Las Vegas before spending time in Los Angeles and then the last stop at San Francisco before heading home. It was a fun 3 weeks and time ended too quick for my liking. 

About Las Vegas 

Las Vegas is definitely one of my favourite cities, well known for its casino activities as slots machines and all that can be found almost everywhere even at the airport itself! I remember walking around, being underaged, was tempted to play with the slot machine but I was told many times that I was too young to play. So now that I am much older, perhaps I could try my luck when I return there one day. Las Vegas in the 1990s and now - 20 years difference, is a quite a while and of course its more modernise now with lots more buildings compared to the golden days. 

Photos of Las Vegas in the 1990s 

Photos are taken from the yahoo search are credited to the respective photographers. 











This city has left a good impression on me and its my current favourite U.S city among the ones I visited so far. 


Las Vegas - McCarren International Airport (LAS)

Before the existence of this airport, Anderson Field is the first airport to serve Las Vegas in 1920. It undergo some changes in names and then after world war, Alamo Field was established and after a change of ownership, this field was renamed to McCarren Field in 1948. This field allows other airlines to fly to this airport, before that it was dominated by Western Air Express. The Casino industry in the 1950s started booming and the airport was officially names as McCarren International Airport in 1968. During the 1970s, the airport was furthered expanded to meet the growth in traffic. Primary expansion is more gates so that more aircraft could fly to this airport. Terminal 1 and 2 were so busy that terminal 3 was built and was opened in 2012. Free Wifi was implemented in 2005 allowing the passengers to enjoy the airport even more. However, terminal 2 has been demolished, now leaving just terminal 1 and 3 to cater to the airlines and passengers. 

Airlines flying to this airport (July 2016 update)

Terminal 1 

Air Canada Rouge
Allegiant Air 
American Airlines
Omni Air (Charter to Honolulu)
Delta Airlines
Delta Connection
Frontier Airlines
Hawaiian Airlines
Southwest Airlines
Spirit Airlines
Sun Country Airlines
United Airlines
United Express

Terminal 3 

Aeromexico
Alaska Airlines
Horizon Air 
British Airways
Condor 
Copa Airlines 
Edelweiss
Interjet
Jetblue Airways
Korean Air 
Magnicharter
Norwegian Air Shuttle (long haul)
Sunwing Airlines
Thomas Cook Airlines
Virgin America 
Virgin Atlantic 
Volaris 
Westjet 

Map of the airport 


An overview of the airport 






Terminal 1 


Terminal 3 


Traffic I remember seeing at the airport that time (1999)

National Airlines Boeing 757-200 (Defunct)


Sun Country DC-10


American West Boeing 737-300 (Defunct)


I was lucky to see this special livery aircraft operating for Southwest Airlines


ATA's L-1011 (A common sight at the airport)


ATA's Boeing 727-200


United's Shuttle Boeing 737-300


Hawaiian Airlines DC-10


Frontier Boeing 737-200


United Shuttle

United Airlines operated this subsidiary from 1994 to 2001 at the west coast of United States. This airline was originally was Shuttle by United before it was renamed to United Shuttle. Operating a fleet of Boeing 737-300 and -500, it operated out of Los Angeles and San Francisco to numerous number of destinations such as Las Vegas, Denver, Burbank, Oakland, Ontario, Phoenix, Sacramento, San Diego, Santa Barbara and Seattle. This airline was set up to replicate the Low Cost type of service from Southwest. Meal service and only Economy Class seats were offered on this airline. With that, airfare was cheaper and this brought in more business. Unfortunately air travel in 2001 declined and especially after what happened that year, this subsidiary's operation was transferred back to the United mainline and the aircraft were repainted to its parent's livery. 

Boeing 737-300 (Shuttle by United) Photo: N94504


Boeing 737-500 (United Shuttle) Photo: Steve Brimley


About the trip 

Flying on the Boeing 737-300 was not exciting for me (at that time), I remember lamenting on why the aircraft was not the Airbus A320 (On hindsight, I am glad it is the 737-300). Flying from San Francisco to Las Vegas on my previous flight, it was a turbulent flight and my impression on the aircraft was not positive. I was dreading this flight and not to mention the possible turbulence on this flight. 

After spending the last hour or so touring around the terminal (air side), I joined the queue for the United Shuttle flight to Los Angeles. It was a short flight so I just had to bear it for a while. 

Here are some photos of the 737-300 and N395UA was one of the 2 aircraft I flew on. I forgot the registration of the 2nd 737-300 I flew on, but one thing for sure, it was a different aircraft. 

Flight route: LAS-LAX

Miles: 236 




My ride: N395UA 




The ride was not as turbulent as the previous one so I was relieved with how things went. At that time, I was quite a nervous flyer and couldn't stand a slight bit of turbulence. I remember the flight wasn't full and I had the middle seat vacant, window seat was a must for me. The flight lasted around an hour and we touched down safely at Los Angeles. We had another flight to go and that was to San Francisco but we would stay a couple of nights before heading there. 


Safety card of the Boeing 737-300 (Given by the crew) 


Cabin interior of United Shuttle Boeing 737-300

Same interior as the A319 and A320 aircraft at that time.



Los Angeles Airport 

This is one of the busiest and most popular airport in the world! 


LAX in the 1970s 


LAX in 2002 


Overview of the airport



Los Angeles isn't as glamorous as Las Vegas but it is still my preference over San Francisco Airport. This trip took place in 1999 so things have changed now. One thing for sure is the security checks isn't as strict as today so travelling back then is probably more pleasant. Some of you may be wondering when will I make the trip back to the U.S? I am not sure myself but I have plans to do so especially visiting cities such as Seattle, Washington and New York. I have always been intrigued by these cities. 

Conclusion 

United Shuttle is in the past and aviation is different now. The United Airlines (parent airline) you see now comes from the merger of Continental Airlines and the old United Airlines which made it one of the biggest airlines in the world. The reputation of this airline hasn't been positive among the frequent travellers as some of us prefer flying with the other major airlines due to various reasons. The common one is the mediocre customer service of both on ground and in-flight. My flight experience with this airline in the late 1990s was good only on the domestic flights, for the international flights (HKG-SFO-HKG), it was probably the worst experience I had at that time, no where near the standard of Singapore Airlines, that's for sure. I was pleasantly surprised with the service on the domestic flights though. Now that the airline is operating the newer Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner direct flight to Singapore from San Francisco, my chance of going to the U.S is higher but I have to find the right time for it. Not now, but in the near future. Singapore Airlines will launch direct flights to San Francisco, competing with its star alliance partner, let's see how this would work out for both airlines. 

Thanks for reading this trip report! Hope you enjoy this short review.

Cheers,
Charles 

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