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Saturday 3 August 2019

20 Years Later With United Airlines (Part 2: SFO-LAX)

Welcome to my part 2 of United Airlines Trip Report!


Just after landing at SFO airport, it was time to face a little challenge and that was to face the immigration officer! I was expecting all sorts of questions to be thrown at me to test whether I would crack up. Fortunately for me, the officer was a nice guy. He asked some easy questions and soon I heard the ’chop’ sound, I made my way to the Terminal 3 where my aircraft would be departing. I did a check on which aircraft I was flying on, it was N468UA, sadly, not the retro livery A320 aircraft. 

N415UA was my original scheduled aircraft

Later on, it was changed to N468UA

Confirmed by the airline's mobile app

My aircraft was located at terminal 3. To get to other terminals, just follow the signboard. 

For those arriving from other countries and need to transfer flight, are required to go through immigration to get your stamp of approval from the authorities. Once that is done, you are free to fly on your domestic flights. Flying on domestic flights do not require you to go through immigration. Just make sure you give yourself some time for TSA screening. For me, the procedure is normal like any other countries, I had no issue at all. So as long as you follow instructions, the process is smooth. 

At the departure hall 

Checking my flight status, all looking good

Interior looks normal. Free WiFi is available. 

It was quite packed at that time of the day 

Plane photography is very much possible at this terminal 

It is not a bad place to hang out for a while waiting for your flight

Plane spotting while waiting for my next flight 

United's Hub 

United's Boeing 757-200

Air India's Boeing 777-200LR

United's Airbus A320

United's Express CRJ-200

United's Boeing 757-200

I love the nose of the 757

United's Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner

United's Boeing 737-900ER

Delta's Boeing 757-200

Jetblue Airbus A320 and Aeromexico's Boeing 737-800

Jetblue's Airbus A321 

Southwest's Boeing 737-800

United's Boeing 737-800

I spent about 2 hours of plane spotting while trying hard to keep myself awake. It was a struggle! However, time passed quickly and soon it was time to board. 

My assigned gate 

Flight route: SFO-LAX 

Miles: 337

My ride: N468UA 

Photo: Sebastian Sowa

Photo: Jason Whitehead

Aircraft type: Airbus A320
Engines: 2 X IAE2527-A5
Configuration: C12 Y138
Delivered on 18 Dec 2000
1,363th Airbus A320 family member

Date of departure: 12 July 2019
Flight: UA1248 
Aircraft type: Airbus A320
Registration: N468UA
Terminal 3 (SFO)
Destination: Los Angeles (LAX)
Gate: 66
Seat: 32A
Scheduled departure: 1400
Boarding: 1325
Pushed back: 1355
Take off: 1417
Scheduled arrival: 1538
Arrival: 1515
Load: 100%
Departure runway: 1L
Arrival runway: 24L

Aircraft arrived early from Austin and the aircraft like many others, have a tight schedule to follow. Aircraft was cleaned and prepared for departure and it was done quickly. Boarding started by zones and soon I was on board the aircraft. Greeted by the local crew this time, they were pretty alright. 

The cabin interior is standardised with the other narrow-body types. 31-inch seat legroom space with a comfortable seat width, it was bearable, especially on this short sector. All Y class seats were filled up as some standby passengers were cleared for this flight according to the airline's app.

Business Class

3 rows of 2 J class seats available on this A320. The seat is slightly wider than Economy Class.

Economy Class seats 

Most of the windows were shut, allowing the passenger to enjoy some cool air. We were allowed to leave it to shut even for take off, but of course, I need the view to enjoy the flight.

More photos of the seat 

Free WiFi was available on this flight, you can enjoy the entertainment system on your electronic devices.

Legroom space is standard for narrow-body aircraft

View from my seat 

Emergency row offers very good legroom space

Finally, my 3 flights journey had come to an end 

My in-flight experience

The flight crew came online to update us on on our flight, it was enjoyable listening to them speak. We took off early and I got to view the whole airport of SFO, from the air. Great day for flying! As the flight was short, there wasn't much service from the crew. We were served a drink and snack (No photo due to tiredness), at that time, I was pretty much stoning away. I didn't sleep for this short flight, was looking out of the window most of the time. Before I know it, we started our descent and landed safely at LAX airport. The crew was at the seats to wish us as a great day ahead. So if you ask me, my 2nd flight with United Airlines was a nice experience as well. 

What's inside the seat pocket?

Airbus A320 safety card - still managing well after 2 flights! 

In-flight magazine 

Promotion to sign up for the airline's Visa card program

Window shot photos (From take-off to landing)

American Airlines Airbus A321 taxing past our aircraft 

The sad news is Air France will be retiring the A380 in 2022.

Emirates Airbus A380 is also waiting to depart 

Alaska Airlines Airbus A320 - I hope the airline retains the Airbus aircraft especially the A321NEO.

Nice to see Southwest at this airport 

I saw this particular aircraft at London Heathrow in March earlier this year

Off we go 

Sitting on the right side of the aircraft as I was able to catch sight of the airport


There are sure many runways at this airport 

Take off was smooth and it was clear skies all the way 

Thanks to the great weather, we were offered an excellent view of the surrounding

At this point, we started our descent 

Landed smoothly and we passed by some interesting traffic 

Singapore Airlines Boeing 777-300ER in sight! 

American Airlines' livery is growing on me

After 15 minutes of taxiing, we reached our assigned gate. As for this aircraft, it would be rested for a short while before continuing its journey. 

My flight report by Flightradar24 

My rating: 

United Airlines mobile app: 7/10
SFO Airport Experience: 7/10
Cabin interior: 8/10 
Cleanliness: 10/10
Seat comfort: 6/10
In-flight service: 6/10
Aircraft condition: 8/10
Punctuality: 10/10
In-flight snack and meal: 6/10
In-flight WIFI: 9/10
Overall rating:77/100


With the WiFi connection available even on an old UA’s 20 years old+ aircraft, I am amazed that the airline is squeezing as much life as possible with these airframes. What is important is the aircraft being well maintained. Not many travellers can tell the age of the aircraft, anyway.

I am fortunate at this point that my flights went well, and had no encounter of any issues such as missing the connecting flight and other common ones. However, if you can't afford to miss flights, it's better to fly with airlines with multiple flights to your destination of that day instead of airlines with one or two flights a day and even worse, no interline agreement with other airlines meaning, if your flight gets cancelled, there is a very low chance of the airline putting you on other carriers. Always travel with travel insurance which can be your best friend especially in long delays. 

I enjoyed my A320 experience with United and the old United will always be remembered for my first A320 experience, which took place 20 years ago.

After arrival

After the flight, the excitement was real. It was my first solo trip in the U.S as well, so this time around, I made my own decision. 

Checking the price of Uber, it was more expensive than I thought. After considering my options, I decided to take the train to my accommodation. 

This is Avalon/LAX train station 

Off I go to my accommodation. Unfortunately, some of the stations at the blue line was closed, I had to take the shuttle bus to one of the last stations of the blue line and changed for another train. Inconvenient it was but at least I had no baggage to worry about.

Hope you enjoy this trip report as much as I do. 

Have a fantastic week wherever you are!

For my previous flight sector (NRT-SFO), click here

For my next trip report (Frontier), click here


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