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Wednesday 2 October 2019

First Time On the Flying Pencil (Boeing 757-300) With United Airlines

Welcome to my flying trip report on the longest single-aisle aircraft with United Airlines!


I always wanted to fly on the Boeing 757 once again especially the -300 version. It was a decision between LAX-SFO on the airline's Boeing 737-800 and SFO-SIN direct on United's Boeing 787-9 or LAX-SFO Boeing 757-300 with an extra sector stopover at NRT before reaching home. The choice was clear because if I had gone with the former, I won't know when would I get the chance to fly on this aircraft type. 

A few months later, thankfully, the aircraft type remained as it is. What we, aviation lovers hate most for our desired aircraft type change to others. Thankfully, everything went to plan with this flight. 

Without further ado, let's begin this trip report.

Sadly, it was time to go home and my first stop was at San Francisco Airport where I would change for the long haul flight to Tokyo Narita, once again on the airline's Boeing 777-300ER. My original plan was to do the long haul direct flight to Singapore from this airport, but because the 757-300 aircraft type was only available on the LAX-SFO-NRT-SIN sector, I had no choice but to stick to this route, besides the airfare was cheap. 

History of the Boeing 757 family 

This is the Boeing 757-200

Photo: Mark Stevens

Boeing 757-300

Photo: Sascha Kretschmer

Boeing 757-200F

Photo: Hector Montes De Oca

Boeing 757 is a single-aisle, mid-range aircraft built in the 1980s, together with the Boeing 767, is designed to replace the Boeing 727 back then. The -300 version came about a decade later. This aircraft and 767 share common cockpit features which allow pilots to fly both types with a common type rating licence. The Boeing 757 consists of 4 types: Boeing 757-200 (Standard), 757-200 Combi, Boeing 757-200PF (Package Freighter) and Boeing 757-300 (Longer fuselage)

British Airways and Eastern Airlines (Defunct) were the launch customers for the Boeing 757-200 in 1983. The 757 families enjoyed about 20 years of production before the aircraft manufacturer decided to call it quits. 913 -200 versions were built while the remaining 100 plus 757 were the -300 version, which only a handful of operators operate it. The reason why Boeing decide to end operation is that the manufacturer preferred to focus on the 737 family which ended up a mistake as Airbus A321 type dominate the market.

For more information of this aircraft type, you can check out the link at Aircraft Recognition Guide 1: Airbus and Boeing over here.

About Los Angeles Airport 

Los Angeles Airport is the 4th busiest airport in the United States, consisting of many terminals, from terminal 1 to terminal 8 and that includes Tom Bradley International terminal. Walking is possible to connect from one terminal to other, otherwise, you can take the complimentary bus transport connecting one terminal to the other. For departure especially in peak hours, it is better for you to arrive early. 

The airport consists of 4 runways, making it busy most of the time. Dominated by domestic flights, there are plenty of flights to choose from with Alaska Airlines, Delta Airlines, American Airlines and United Airlines using this airport one of their major hubs in their network. This airport is one of the popular ones in the western part of United States for Asian and European airlines too, flying there with large aircraft, and with the American partners helping to feed some of the passengers to other cities of the United States.

On the day of departure 

Since the flight was at 0630 in the morning, I decided to stay overnight at the airport. My original plan was to book an Airbnb stay in the afternoon the day before departure to gain some rest but unfortunately it didn't work out and I spent the afternoon and evening hanging around town area before making my way to the airport at night.

Thanks to the airline's mobile app, I was able to find out which aircraft was flying me to SFO.

N57870 gets the honour to be my first Boeing 757-300 ride

I chose to sit near the rear of the aircraft to have a feel how is it like to fly a long flying tube! It is like flying the Boeing 777-300, the only thing that this aircraft is a single-aisle, making it a new experience for me.

I managed to check-in and got into the airside. I went around checking out the terminals, it is not difficult to with the signboards guiding you. 

This is El AL's Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft

This certainly caught my attention! Nice, isn't it?

Certainly more modern looking terminal than the others. (This is Tom Bradley International terminal)

Delta Airlines Boeing 777-200ER

American Airlines Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner

Qantas Airbus A380 being prepared for departure home

It was vacant at that time, not much traffic. 

There are plenty of spots for photography, so if you go there early, you can enjoy taking photos of the traffic depending on the time of the day.

American Airlines Boeing 777-300ER

Korean Air Airbus A380

About 8-10 hours later, I made my way to the departure gate. 

Shops open quite early, at 6 a.m, most of them have opened.

My flight route: LAX-SFO

Miles: 337

My ride: N57870

United Airlines Boeing 757-300

Past history: ATA Airlines and Continental

Engines: 2 X Roll Royce RB211 535E4C

Configuration: C24 Y189

Delivered to United Airlines 1 Oct 2010

Leased from BCC

1031st Boeing 757

Photo: Stabinsky y Geniz Spotters

Photo: Bruce Leibowitz

Date of departure: 22 July 2019
Airline: United Airlines
Flight: UA471
Route: LAX-SFO
Aircraft type: Boeing 757-300
Registration: N57870
Seat: 40F
Gate: 73
LAX Airport Terminal 7 
Load for Y class: 95%
Duration: 53 mins
Boarding time: 0538
Push back: 0623
Take off: 0637
Scheduled departure: 0630
Scheduled arrival: 0752
Actual arrival: 0728
Departure runway: 25R
Arrival runway:28L

I did a check on my flight status, thankfully, it was departing on schedule.

It turned out there were a lot of families on my flight, with many kids. I guess it was the holiday period for the children at that time.

The nose of the 757 to me looks lovely. 

Boarding started early, boarding first with the usual, top priority passengers, followed by families with kids and then boarding according to zones. I can imagine it would take a while to get everyone on board since this is such a long plane, a 200 plus seater aircraft with a long, single-aisle tube would take quite a while for boarding and disembarkment.

Welcome on board N57870! 

Economy Class

Configured in a 3-3 single-aisle seating configuration. Seat pitch is around 30-31 inch. Bearable for short-medium haul flights. 

Emergency row offers better legroom space 

The blue leather seat is quite comfortable 

Walking towards the rear of the aircraft, took a bit of time especially with passengers in the front settling down to their seats.

I am glad they had the window shade closed, as the cabin was very cooling.

The old Boeing cabin, quite nostalgic if you ask me.

Tight legroom space for me 

WiFi is also available on this aircraft, as indicated below.

The rear of the aircraft is reserved for the Basic Economy Class passengers, but for main cabin passengers, you can choose to sit there. 

The smaller size overhead compartment compared to the new cabin. 

Overhead aircon ventilation with light and crew help button

Flight experience 

It took a while before everyone got settled down but we departed on time and taxied to the runway which didn't take long. Take off was underwhelming as the pilot spooled up the engines before releasing the brakes, but still, you can't feel the 757 power kick on the -200 series on this aircraft.

In-flight service was average as the crew came and go. Not many happy faces on board my flight, I guess due to the timing of the flight and how full it was too.  

50 minutes went past fast and we landed smoothly at SFO airport. Disembarkment took about 15 minutes after the door was opened, not ideal for those with tight connecting flights. Still, it was a great experience for me to finally tick this aircraft type off my wish list. 

Goodbye Boeing 757-300! Time to leave the aircraft.

If you look at the above photos carefully, you can spot the good seats, of course, you have to pay more for them unless you have a status with the airline. 

What's inside the seat pocket? 

Credit card promotion

In-flight magazine 

Safety Card

Disposal Bag 

A complimentary drink was served

Window shot photos 

We parked beside the smaller 757

Engines started and we were on our way. I spotted this old livery of Air Canada's Airbus A320.

We were followed by an American Airlines Airbus A321 

United 471, clear for takeoff!

Allegiant Air- joyride for me probably next year? Stay tuned.

One advantage for me sitting on the right side of today's flight is the spectacular view of the airport

I am blessed with good weather! Can't ask for more.

It was smooth air all the way, comfortable flight it was

We were offered a beautiful view of the nearby mountains

Shortly after, it was time to prepare for arrival. 

Unfortunately, the sun was facing my direction.

We touched smoothly at my last destination in the U.S. 

It was hard to say goodbye, but I will be back at this airport. I have plans to fly on Delta's Boeing 767-400ER and United's Boeing 787-10 Dreamliner in my epic flying trip in summertime next year. 

My Flight Report

My rating: 

Airline's mobile app: 7/10
LAX Airport experience: 7/10
Seat comfort: 6/10
In-flight service: 5/10
Cabin interior: 7/10
Aircraft condition: 9/10
Punctuality: 10/10
In-flight drink: 7/10
Enjoyment of the flight: 10/10
Overall rating: 68/90


Flying on the Boeing 757-300 is a definite joy for me. Not many regular passengers would be happy especially being stuck at the rear of the aircraft. If you are in a hurry, do not sit near the rear as disembarkment takes a long time as I had experienced it for myself. I reckon it takes around 15-20 minutes at least after the door is opened, for the back cabin to depart the aircraft. As I had enough time, I was one of the last to leave. The flight duration was not enough to enjoy the 757 experience but I would be back next year to fly more 757, that is my primary goal.

The take-off of the Boeing 757-300 seems underwhelming, as the plane took a while to lift off (de-rated take off perhaps), cabin noise was expectedly noisy but still bearable. It was great to enjoy the noise from the Roll Royce RB211 engines, old technology from the 1990s. The short flight went past too fast for my liking. Even with the sleepy cabin crew, it didn't bother me at all as I thoroughly enjoyed the 757 flying experience. 

As for the Los Angeles airport, it is modern and pleasant to hang around at. If you are there early for departure, it is better to hang around at the airside. Personally, I will not hesitate to return to use this airport for joyrides to other cities. 

The experience 20 years ago and now is different, I can't compare as times during this interval has changed a lot, with better technology.
Hope you enjoy this trip report and stay tuned for my return flights with UA and NH, 2 more trip reports on my America Adventure for 2019.

Have a fantastic week!


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