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  • My PIT-ORD-SFO-SYD trip

    We boarded UA flight 471 from PIT-ORD at around 3:05pm on the 2nd of April. Our aircraft was an Airbus 319-122. My wife and I had seats 15 E and F (of course I had the window!) We pushed back from the gate at 3:20 as per schedule. We taxied out to 28L to take off. It was my first time to see my spotting position in the US Mail parking lot from the other side of the fence. We were first in line and took off on 28L. We climbed and took a slow left hand turn toward Chicago. We enjoyed smooth, cloudless skies all the way into ORD. We descended over downtown (which was pretty spectacular) and then into ORD. Total flight time was 1 hour and 7 minutes, with our arrival several minutes ahead of schedule. We were given approximately 6 pretzels each and a free drink, but that’s not worth writing about.

    UA flight 153 was our connection to SFO. Unfortunately, we arrived in ORD at around 3:30 local time and weren’t due to depart until 7:00. Fortunately Starbucks are plenteous and also good eating places.
    Finally, we boarded our A320-200 (seats 16A and B) for the flight to SFO. We had a short taxi and wait until our turn to take off. We climbed through some low level cloud on our way up to our cruising altitude of 33 000 feet. Unfortunately, there was no sunlight left for any pictures. This flight did, however, have a cool feature, the pilot broadcast his conversation with the various control towers and other aircraft over one of the audio channels. It was cool to hear all the chatter between aircraft and the ground.
    We had a smooth flight until we were over Cheyenne, Wyoming where we encountered some moderate turbulence for about 10 or 15 minutes. From there on we had smooth sailing until our early arrival into SFO at around 9:40 local time. During the 4 hour 38 minute flight we were given a “meal” that consisted of a sandwich and a small bag of chips. Again, I’m spoiled by being used to Quantas food!

    After a long walk around to the international terminal, we reached our gate for UA flight 863 non-stop to Sydney. Over my 4 years of coming back and forth to the US for college, I have begun to dread the 14-hour flight from SYD-LAX or SFO. Thankfully this time we were going one way to SYD.
    We boarded and headed to seats 54J and K for the long haul. The plane was loaded rather quickly and we realized that it at best was only half full. We spotted empty seats further up so we moved to seats 33 J and K (much better!) We pushed back at about 10:50 pm local time and proceeded to the active runway.
    After takeoff we climbed up to our cruising altitude of 37 000 feet. About 30 minutes into the flight, the flight attendants came through with the appropriate immigration documents for our arrival in Sydney. When that was completed, they again came through the cabin with our evening meal. The choice was either “something” beef or a cold chicken sandwich (not unlike on the ORD-SFO flight!) I chose the chicken, which turned out to be quite tasty. Along with the sandwich came some chips and I think some cookies. After that it was lights out for the next 6 or 7 hours (thanks to the Sleep-aid pills).
    I woke up approximately 7 hours later when we had about 5 1/2 or 6 hours to go. Of course it was still dark outside, but we were about a layer of cloud and could see many of the stars. For the next 3 hours or so it was intermittent snoozes and stints of watching incredibly boring movies such as “Tuck Everlasting” and something about a kid who went to college to play a drum for the marching band. Thankfully I was much more alert when it came time for “2 Weeks Notice”, which I thought was very good even for the second time.
    The sun rose when we were a little over 2 hours out from SYD. I was able to walk up and down the plane and get several shots of the sunrise. Unfortunately people took advantage of the room and were sprawled out over entire rows, which made getting to a window for a shot just a little difficult.
    Breakfast was the next event that I recall. Admittedly I was hungry, but the food was actually quite tasty! My wife and I both opted for the apple pancakes with sausage links and fruit. Mix that with some fresh Starbucks coffee and the fact that I was almost home and I was a happy camper!
    We began our descent into SYD about 35 minutes before our scheduled arrival. The weather in SYD was overcast, so we encountered a few bumps on our way down. We approached the airport from over the city and landed on 16R. Overall, I have to say that this was one of the best flights between Australia and America that I have ever had. All our flights were early, the flights were smooth, and I got window seats for each leg! Thanks also to the UAL crews for the pleasant journey.

  • #2
    Great report! It seems UAL gave you a good trip. I hope they'll survive!

    BTW: Are there PTV's in UAL's economy class on the 744 flight?


    • #3
      No, unfortunately there were no PTV's on this UAL aircraft, they only had the old standard projection screen. I'm not sure about the rest of UAL's 747 fleet, but this one seemed a little outdated in styling/facilities/equipment compared to the Quantas and Air New Zealand 747's that I have been on.


      • #4
        great report!!!
        Click Here to view my aircraft photos at JetPhotos.Net!


        • #5
          Excellent! - The Article Made me feel like I was there.
          Compañia Mexicana De Aviación S.A. De C.V. - "La Primera Siempre Será La Primera"