Trip Report: United Airlines (A319) Domestic First SAN-IAH

The Details

  • Flight: UA2298
  • Aircraft: A319
  • Class: Domestic First
  • Seat: 1B
  • Route: San Diego International (SAN)-Houston George Bush Intercontinental (IAH)
  • Distance: 1,360miles
  • Flight Time: 2hrs 44min
  • Departure: 10:44AM
  • Arrival: 3:34PM

The Preflight

After my disastrous attempt to fly home with Alaska Airlines through Seattle that was having a historic snow storm, I managed to book a last minute United flight two hours prior to departure. I made my way from Terminal 2 East to Terminal 2 West where the United check-in counters were. Check-in was a breeze and there was no line for TSA PreCheck. I was airside within five minutes of dropping my bags off.

Unfortunately, United (along with Delta) has closed their lounge at SAN due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The only lounge that is open at San Diego is the Airspace Lounge which I had visited earlier this morning. Because it was quiet a long walk away, I decided to just relax in the boarding area for an hour or so. All of the other passengers remained socially distanced as we waited.

Our A319 was leased by China Southern Airlines and delivered in November 2007 with the original registration of B-6242. After flying with CZ for a decade, she was then transferred to United in December 2017 and given the registration N898UA.

Boarding was scheduled to begin at 10:10AM but was delayed because the incoming flight from San Francisco was late. The passengers deplaned at 10:12 and five minutes later the boarding process began. I somehow doubt United managed to sanitize this aircraft before we boarded…

The Flight

United Airlines offers a total of 12 first class seats onboard their A319s arranged in a 2-2 configuration between rows 1-3. These seat are the new recliner seats designed in conjunction with PriestmanGoode. This will be the first class seat offered by United for the foreseeable future and can be found on the United A319s, A320s, B737s, and B757s.

Since I had booked this ticket last minute, the only available seat was 1B. Each seat was 21.1″ wide and offered 37″ of pitch.

There was no bulkhead cutout for the seat and legroom was restricted by the wall. I would not pick this seat again if I had the choice to.

There was a literature pocket on the bulkhead which further restricted the leg space.

The recline button was located in the right armrest. Each seat offers an “articulating” bottom which slides forward to give a sense of reclining. United advertises four inches of total recline in this seat. The armrest could be lifted up and there was a storage space below.

In between the two seats was a granite cocktail table which was showing its age with scratches.

There was an additional tray that popped out from below the tabletop.

Below the center armrest was another storage space.

The power outlet was also located below the center armrest. United has opted not to install USB ports in their newest first class seat…

The large bi-fold tray table was stored below the left armrest.

When fully folded out the tray table was very sturdy. There was also a small tablet mount built in which I appreciated.

At 10:37AM the boarding doors were closed and the captain came directly to the first class cabin to give a personal welcome and description of the flight. He then went on the thank all the first class passengers for choosing United as well. We pushed back seven minutes later at 10:44 and had a long taxi to runway 9. I really wish I had been able to choose a window seat as the takeoff from runway 9 is a rare occurrence.

The ride out was a bit bumpy but we soon found smooth air. I loaded up the flight map on my own tablet using the United Wi-Fi.

Service began with a round of drinks served from the front to the back of the aircraft. Unlike Delta and Alaska Airlines, United (along with American Airlines) continues to offer a full beverage service including hard liquor. I had a Bloody Mary.

Due to COVID-19, United has significantly modified their inflight food service. The details are below.

Since we were not departing from one of the hubs listed above, the only choice of food was either a Tapas or Select Snackbox. The boxes were served from back to front of the aircraft and unfortunately when it was my turn, only the Tapas box was left. Only three Select boxes had been available it seems.

Contents included flatbread, almonds, breadsticks, hummus, bruschetta, olives, and a chocolate. I had the Tapas box a month ago and that box had a ginger candy which was not in this box today.

30 minutes after serving the snackboxes, the flight attendant handed out snack bags.

Contents included a water bottle, sanitizing wipe, pretzels, and Stroopwafel.

Every 20 minutes or so, the single flight attendant serving the first class cabin would make a pass through the cabin, collecting trash and passing out water.

As we neared Houston, I used to single first class lavatory at the front of the aircraft.

The only amenity inside was a United branded hand soap.

We began our initial descent into Houston at around 3:00PM and had a smooth landing on runway 26L at 3:34PM local time. The taxi to the gate took nine minutes and soon I was on my way to the next flight to Chicago. Thanks for the ride N898UA!

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