Trip Report IAD-BCN: United Economy Plus Boeing 767-300
The early morning flights and redeyes the last week and a half were starting to take their toll, and I found myself craving rest and a hot bowl of chicken soup.
So while I had a nice time at the Washington-Dulles (IAD) Turkish Airlines lounge on my inbound flight, I felt I would just take it easy and head to one of the United Clubs instead to rest. Despite the fact that the United Clubs at IAD can get quite crowded before the afternoon Europe-bound flights depart, and that they’re always kind of gloomy since they’re on the ground floor…
… I was counting on the big possibility that they would have some variation of cold-busting chicken soup, since soup is one of the key components of their afternoon/evening buffet.
And indeed, today I was lucky that they were serving their “Tequila Chicken Soup” which has a surprisingly level of spice! I had a few bows of this, and several helpings of these delicious savory plantain chips, which I hadn’t seen before in United Clubs. They tasted just like potato chips, but I pretended that they were “healthy” because plantains are fruit, right??
The soup, the chips, and super fast internet were quite restorative, and then it was off to board my flight to Barcelona (BCN). This flight was on a Boeing 767-300, but unlike my magical inbound flight where I was upgraded to “real” Polaris seats, this was an old-Continental aircraft, and there was no surprise upgrade in store.
Still, I am always thankful for the 2-3-2 Economy class seating on the 767-300s.
Note to self: across the aisle from me in seats 16AB and 17AB, was the crew rest. This flight was long enough that they were indeed used as crew rest, but on shorter flights these would be really sweet seats since they had leg rests like business class and tons of leg room. And on a flight of any length, seats 18AB right behind also have lots of leg room (though no leg rest), I suppose to accommodate the extra recline of the crew rest seats. Those are “regular” Economy Plus seats.
Meal service started out with pretzels and a drink.
Then we had a choice of “chicken,” “pasta,” or “Indian vegetarian.” Sitting next to the aisle, I was able to peek at the pile of mains and suss out that “chicken” meant the good ol’ Butter Chicken with pea pilaf and lentils which seems to ALWAYS be one of the choices on my transatlantic flights departing the US. I am not complaining, because I quite enjoy this dish and have found that I’ve regretted not ordering in favor of other meals in the past. I think that United Economy catering has been quite good the last few years, and a big part of that is that their chicken is often a curry dish like this Indian chicken korma from Barcelona to Newark, or this Thai chicken from Frankfurt to Newark.
What has changed in the last couple of years is that the side dish had been a much-touted upgrade of a grain salad, like quinoa or wheatberry. This year, I’ve been served a simple lettuce salad with single slices of tomato and cucumber. This seems to be a step down in cost, but it does come with dressing. I always though that the mixed green salad served with the previous grain salad was often a bit dry and flavorless, in need of some dressing. Well now it looks like with the cost-saving downgrade of the salad, they were able to reinvest in little tubs of dressing.
Dessert were tubs of mango sorbet, my favorite sorbet flavor, but mine was unfortunately all melty :(
After some sleep on this short transatlantic flight, they served breakfast. Unlike the West Coast to Europe flights, where there is a full tray service with a choice of (usually) eggs or pancakes/French toast, the East Cost to Europe flights have the small tray with yogurt and warm croissant. I was delighted that the yogurt has been upgraded to Chobani, from the horrible “Upstate Farms,” which was always filled with tons of strange ingredients and had a sharp, unnatural taste.
With this little upgrade in breakfast, and the usual solid main course for dinner, I have to say that I do prefer United’s transatlantic Economy meal service over my previous experience on SWISS from Newark to Zurich over Easter. On that flight, the breakfast was just about identical, but the dinner service was a cut below in terms of both quantity (even tinier salad and just 2 Oreos for dessert) and quality (a few chicken strips swimming in BBQ sauce was the main).
Finally, it was time to land in Barcelona. While waiting for my bags, I took this picture at baggage claim, with a Chinese-language advertisement for a travel service.
While I took this picture to show the rise in (mainland) Chinese tourists in Spain, this picture of the conveyer belt now represents to me my lost bag! I checked in two bags in San Francisco, but only one of them made it. According to the tracking data that the baggage office had and that I could also see within the United app, there was no record of my second bag even leaving SFO. Where could it be?!