Trip Report: United Airlines (B737-800) Domestic First SAN-SFO

The Details

  • Flight: UA2480
  • Aircraft: B737-800
  • Class: Domestic First
  • Seat: 4F (switched into 4A)
  • Route: San Diego International (SAN)-San Francisco International (SFO)
  • Distance: 466 miles
  • Duration: 1hr 17min
  • Departure: 7:28AM
  • Arrival: 8:45AM

The Preflight

I was dropped off at Terminal West 2 at San Diego International Airport at 6:00AM for my 7:49AM departure flight to San Francisco. United and Delta operate from the newer (west) side of Terminal 2 while American and Alaska Airlines operate from the older (east) portion of T2.

There was quite a few people checking in this morning and both Premier check-in counters were busy. Luckily, there was no one in the PreCheck lane and I was airside within five minutes of dropping my checked bag off.

United Check-in SAN

I made my way to my favorite lounge at SAN, the Airspace Lounge, located between the East and West parts of Terminal 2. I had access due to my AMEX Platinum card.

Airspace Lounge

The lounge was pretty empty with only four other passengers. Due to local COVID-19 restrictions, all of the food was delivered to you and not self-serve. Seating was spaced out to maintain social distancing.

Airspace COVID-19 Precautions

I ordered an excellent Americano which was brought out in a to-go cup. One perk of using the AMEX Platinum card to access this lounge is the fact that each guest is given a $10 food voucher. I used my $10 to order a hot bacon, egg, and cheese breakfast sandwich ($6.50) and a large bottle of water ($3).

Breakfast Airspace

Ten minutes before boarding was scheduled to begin I made my way towards the gate. I passed by a gorgeous Delta 757 headed to Atlanta.

Delta 757

The gate area was not crowded and seats on the benches were blocked off for social distancing.

Gate area

Our plane was a B737-800, registration N12218, that was delivered to Continental Airlines in 1998.

B737-800 N12218

Boarding began exactly at 6:59AM with Global Services, Premier elites, and First Class passengers. United’s 737-800s feature 16 first class seats in a 2-2 configuration. These first class seats are the ex-Continental Airlines seats which have been around for almost two decades. In my opinion, the newer Slimline seats are more comfortable.

Each seat features 37 inches of pitch with 20.5 inches of width. The seats definitely felt very worn and well-sat in.

There was also a small seatback IFE screen at each seat. The screen was definitely outdated but I still appreciated having a screen at all. Live DIRECTV was available on this flight.

I loved that I was able to watch the flight map unlike on other competitors 737s…

Flight map

There was large literature pocket behind each seat as well which easily fit my laptop.

Literature pocket

The legroom was not bad despite the presence of a medium sized-box.


The right armrest had the IFE controls as well as a small storage space.

The left sided armrest was where the tray table was located as well as the recline button. Each seat has a very generous five inches of recline. Despite being in the last row I had more than enough space to recline.

Recline button

The tray table folded in half and had an indented cup holder.

Tray table

When fully folded open the tray table was fairly massive.

Tray table

Upon boarding each passenger was handed a small sanitizing wipe.

We pushed back 10 minutes early at 7:39AM. Next to us was a fellow United 737.

United 737

After a very brief taxi to the runway we blasted off for San Francisco. There was a lovely view of Terminal East 2 with an assortment of United, Delta, and Alaska planes.

Terminal 2

The view of San Diego Harbor and the beaches was magnificent.

I connected my laptop to the United Wi-Fi and loaded up a very detailed flight map.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, United has cutback on their inflight service. For domestic flights under two hours and 20 minute, United offers each first class passenger a small snack bag. On flights over two hours and 20 minutes, United offers either a snackbox or sandwich.

Once we reached 10,000 feet the flight attendants came through the cabin offering each passenger a pre-packaged snack bag. In it were a sanitizing wipe, water bottle, and two snacks.

United snack bag

Next was a beverage service and I had a Bloody Mary.

Bloody Mary

There was a fairly thick marine layer over much of the Southern California coast today.

It cleared up as we passed over the Northern California coast and Big Sur.

There were clear skies in San Francisco for our landing approach.

After landing we had a brief ten minute taxi to the gate. Thanks for the ride!

This was a perfectly fine short intra-California flight. I appreciated the small snack bag and drinks for a early morning departure. However, when compared to American Airlines newer B737-800 I would have to say United comes in second.

3 thoughts on “Trip Report: United Airlines (B737-800) Domestic First SAN-SFO

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