Airports, Airlines, Aviation

United YYC-IAH Flight Review

Melinda GrossIn Melinda’s last blog, she reviewed the Calgary International Airport (YYC) – today she will review her United YYC-IAH flight and the Houston Airport. Melinda is a self-described epitome of the reality side of ‘expectation vs reality’ in business travel. You’ll find her taking steerage class cabins to exotic locales like Elliot Lake, ON and Elko, NV, chasing her company’s aerial survey aircraft! You can check out more about Melinda on LinkedIn or follow her on Twitter @melindadgross. She’ll have a follow-on blog on another flight experience and her visit to Lafayette Airport (LFT), so stay tuned!

United YYC-IAH Flight Review on an A320

First impression for this United YYC-IAH flight: I miss my usual United Express! Queuing up an Airbus worth of people was a little maddening. Several families lined up early but did not take advantage of pre-boarding, and the staff didn’t prompt them to. A small handful of volunteers checked their larger carry-ons to their final destinations after requests from the crew since our ‘fully booked flight won’t have enough room in the overheads’, but once on board there wasn’t any issue. I’m ever-confused as to the purpose of boarding zones, since they don’t seem to go either from back-to-front, or from outside-in which would make sense. Just crowded aisles as people stow their bags. Even more befuddling was the woman with a seat in row 18 – and our plane jumped from row 12 to 20 (as in row 20 was where row 13 should have been). Special kudos to the flight attendant who kept her cool when said lady essentially elbowed her out of the way pushing by to her seat!

The United YYC-IAH flight was your usual – beverage service and food for purchase, pay for internet, but with a rather wide variety of free* movies available with United’s new app/homepage (*sponsored by their new MileagePlus Explorer Visa card). I feel I should also brag that our head United YYC-IAH flight attendant was recognized as the top FA of United, or so our pilot lauded her. She did deal with the passengers elbowing her out of the way with dignity.

All in all, I give this United YYC-IAH flight a C. Not anything spectacular to set it above the rest, but nothing wrong either. Also, I feel something should be withheld until United makes good with their claims of Wi-Fi fleet-wide on the puddle-jumpers.

Houston George Bush International Airport (IAH)

My stay in IAH was quite short- we arrived at one far end of Terminal C and dashed over to the opposite end of Terminal B. What I did see was neat tilework in IAH’s Terminal C, however it’s so smooth that the slow walkers don’t hear you approaching from behind. The train areas were very white and bare, I’m sure I’ve seen art in these before, but C was empty with dirty walls while B felt almost sterile.

The screens to check to make our connections always seemed just a little bit farther than where it was intuitive to check them, but they were clear and up to date. Flying Express (or any short haul, ‘puddle-jumper’ route) you just know you’re subject to the cattle-herd like waiting areas, where everyone for ten gates is crammed into the space for two. But not here. The unsettlingly tunnel-like hallway leading out of the centre of Terminal B opened up into a modern, sweeping expanse with a vaulted ceiling (I guess everything really IS bigger in Texas!). Yes, it was still crowded, but there was room to breathe, with accessible washrooms and even a small spot to grab food and drinks while remaining in view of your gate. And the boarding process is much more pleasurable for an Express-sized plane than an Airbus 😉

So all in all my United YYC-IAH flight was a success, and my short layover at IAH gave me enough time to make my connecting flight, while getting a quick and dirty feel for the Houston International Airport. In my blog next time, I’ll finish up my journey with a final airline and airport review. Stay tuned!

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