Trip Reports

Miami, no vice: United A320 Economy IAH-MIA Review

United's domestic economy is everything you'd expect.

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Ah, the US domestic flight experience. The thing that reminds you how flying has gone from dress up event to Greyhound bus.

I survived the night at the Red Roof Inn and after checking my bag for cockroaches checked out and caught the shuttle bus to IAH. I surveyed my fellow shuttle bus passengers, wondering which ones had bed bugs and which ones just had fleas.

Most airlines in the States by and large have made check-in into a completely automated process. I checked in and printed my baggage tag all without human interference. The only time I had to make eye contact with someone was when I handed my bag over to the bag thrower handler behind the counter.

It was my first opportunity to test my TSA Precheck, which came along with my Global Entry registration. I found the experience entirely pleasant- you don’t need to remove your shoes, or your belt, or your coat, or your laptop from your bag. You still can’t bring water in, unfortunately, but the line moves a lot faster. You don’t do the full body scan, instead you walk through a single metal detector. Obviously if you only visit the States once a year it’s not worth getting, but otherwise you should really consider it.

I grabbed a quick breakfast in the United Club at IAH Terminal C. I’ve reviewed United Clubs before in other airports suffice to say they’re nothing special. I know the revamped United Clubs are going to offer hot food options but evidently I had one of the older ones because this was just bread, fruit and cereals.

Boarding started promptly 25 minutes before departure. Although I’m a Star Gold member, I was part of boarding group 2 because I was travelling in coach.

UA 1614 was operated today by an A320 aircraft with 3-3 seating in economy.

I had a middle seat near the rear because I booked this flight relatively last minute.

Zooming in on the seat didn’t improve things.

These seats are United’s new slimline models. Apparently, adopting the new slimline seating in economy allows United to operate the equivalent of 14 additional planes each year. And only at the expense of personal comfort! Who needs that, right.

I personally didn’t find the seats unduly punishing, but I can imagine on longer flights the lack of back support will get to you. I also need to note that everyone around me was impeccably polite on this flight and didn’t recline their seat (it’s a 2.5 hour morning flight, who needs full recline?)

Each seatback had built-in inflight entertainment. Unfortunately, I had already seen “Safety Card” before and I knew all the plot twists (spoiler alert: the nearest exit may be behind you!), so I didn’t think it was worth viewing again.




Takeoff was uneventful and the crew came around to start drinks service. Yes, you read that right. There were complimentary non-alcoholic drinks served on this flight. And contrary to popular belief, US airlines still offer free snacks. United Airlines even built a whole marketing campaign around their Stroopwafel offering

Because apparently people need instructions on how to Stroopwafel (and on turning nouns into verbs), United produced a commercial.

And got said Stroopwafel a spot on a daytime talk show. Seriously. I mean, nothing says slow news day…

This probably sums it up best.

Because I am not inclined to Stroopwafel, I amused myself by browsing the menu card to see what the finest in pre-packaged meals and shelf-stable snacks had to offer.

The hot skillet plates didn’t look half bad, actually.



But i’m pretty sure you can’t get french fries looking like that on an aircraft.

The loos at the back of the plane are spartan but clean. I’ve always wondered how people can stand to join the mile-high club in airplane loos. I mean, hygiene people.

 

I’m struggling to find anything else of note to write about. Ultimately it’s domestic economy. It doesn’t get more basic than this. You’re probably better off thinking of domestic flights in the US like a bus, only it flies. Like the magic schoolbus.

We landed on time in MIA and it was time for the vacation to well and truly begin.



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