A Last Star Fling? Part III – UA923 London Heathrow – Washington Dulles

A Last Star Alliance Fling? To Chicago with United Airlines and Air Canada

UA923 London Heathrow – Washington Dulles

Chicago from the Hyatt Regency O'Hare (c) Muggins


UA923 London Heathrow Airport – Washington Dulles International
United Airlines, Boeing 767-300ER in Classic Blue Tulilp, Seat 36k, Economy Class
3667 miles flown, 3667 earned.

The Photos

I was welcomed aboard and headed past business class and to my home near the back of the plane. Carefully stowing the luggage I noted at the gate it looked pretty full and that United were going to get a full load today to Washington Dulles. The beauty of course with a Priority Boarding option is simple: you get first pick of the luggage bins – and on a North American carrier that is key if you want 1) somewhere to stow it and 2) not wanting to check it at the gate later when the bins are solid.

Retrieving what I needed for the flight (camera, iPhone, other random bits), I settled down, and I got a seatmate. Thankfully whilst he was a talker – he was an “interesting talker”.

Which is nice.

Soon enough loading was complete, and whilst the back of the plane wasn’t solid, it was a very good show, with a fair few families aboard too.

It was then time for the “Safety Video” which I’m sorry to say still does not impress me in the least with its “easy listening” version of Rhapsody in Blue, the lovely CGI renders of the plane and cuts from various Continental safety videos.  I suppose the video does the job, but surely someone could had come up with a slightly better video?  Ho hum. I’ll file that in the Jeff Semisek excuse bucket (“Changes that we think you might like”)

A short taxi to 9R past the terminal 5 complex and the engines spooled up, ready to take the 767 into the sky

Possibly my new home after I leave Star? A line up of BA Tailfins at T5B

Take off was swift with the plane turning after take off tracking north, then across the Irish sea, then the Atlantic.

Leaving the Heathrow complex

Thorpe Park

Clearing the coast

It was a nice and gentle climb into the sky, with the usual breaking the cloud layer, and then setting a course across the pond.

Of course, I had quick flick through the IFE (which if you’re in the back of the plane of a 767 is awful), and with Channel 9 off, there was only one thing to do.

You may find my lack of faith in United’s IFE disturbing (Family Guy presents Blue Harvest installed in a GhettoIFE system)…

Soon enough as we cleared the coast, and begun tracking towards Ireland, food was served. And… oh dear. It seems United’s caterers have been at it again.

I find it amazing that food caterers can’t get it right, and those who use the ovens sometimes have so much trouble.

So lets examine the savoury breakfast

Yoghart, Orange Juice and breads.

Sealed Cutlery with Chinese Diet Coke in the background

Ok, I know its near impossibility for decent food for Economy class… but seriously… burnt food in this state? Sorry… not impressed here at all. I know catering budgets are squeezed, but a little more effort could have resulted in a better meal.  Not impressed.

Once that disaster of a meal was cleared down, I did what I normally do for these runs after breakfast and being up half of the night – I crashed out for a bit.

As I didn’t seem to wake up until near the Labrador coast, the flight itself. Which is nice for these TATL runs.

The crew were out every now and again to do drinks and water runs – always a good thing to see on these long flights.

Mid flight drink

Meanwhile, I was honestly feeling like a number sitting in the back today.

Patrick McGoogan is The Prisoner. Shame I’m not sat in row Number 6… (Installed in a GhettoIFE system)

As the plane tracked over Canada, and closing in on Washington Dulles, the crew came around to do a 2nd service run.  As usual for United, it was the usual snack in a bag thing

Sandwich with 3 circular slices of meat. How… yes. Well.

Hmm. This is getting more cost cutting by the day. The sandwich was a lot smaller than the pretzel bread in the past, and we’re down to a single finger of Twix (and still using KP crisps… sigh…)

Still, it filled a hole after what starting to drag on for the flight to Dulles. Speaking of Dulles, soon it was time to clear the plane down and prepare for landing.

The crew seemed to be a reasonably friendly bunch that weren’t there just for your safety – a good sign in my book.

Soon enough, the seatbelt signs dinged, and the plane begun its descent. On our descent we took the weirdest path into Dulles, literally flying past the airport, then looping around to land at a lowish altitude.

Errm. We’re meant to be landing there…

Deep turn.


Thankfully the pilot made a skilful landing as we landed in a sunny Dulles morning in Virginia.

It was a quick taxi over to the C/D Concourses, where the plane docked reasonably quickly and we were allowed to disembark.

Overall: The flight itself was a good effort… however, the catering seems to swing one way or another (from good to bad). This time it swung to the bad side, and I’m honestly not impressed in the least at all United on that front. The crew made up for it a bit, but there was definitely something missing compared to previous flights I’ve had with UA.


  1. Levy Flight says

    Nice to read a blog from someone in the back of the plane. More meaningful to most of us. Thanks.

    • says

      Thanks [b]Levy Flight[/b]. Whilst I know a lot of the readers love to read about the premium experiences, alas for a lot of us, flight isn’t like that – it’s the cramp seat, down the back of the plane and trying to make the best of a situation.

      I try to document it – least of all it reminds me what I have to go back to when I pay the economy class ticket again…

  2. mdr says

    It’s not uncommon to land to the north at IAD. If you land on 1R and are on the left side of the plane, you get a nice view of the Udvar-Hazy Center [part of the Smithsonian Air & Space museum].

    • says

      Thanks [b]mdr[/b], I’m just used to southern approaches into IAD… without passing by the airport first!

  3. NB says

    Strangely, my last UA economy flight from LHR had unusually good food – it was lunch rather than breakfast but the pasta choice was tasty and hot. Also, the cold mystery meat snack had been replaced by a hot sandwich, with melted cheese.

    • says

      Are we sure this is United? 😉

      Admittedly, pmCO food was a lot better accross the pond (East-bound) than going west bound – I had put that to the caterers doing their job correctly in Dublin. Who knows – the new food standards may have set in at last.

      It’s the one thing that AA has/had over UA….