This trip report is for my most recent flight with United Express/Skywest from Kansas City to San Francisco for my baby cousin's first birthday party. This trip was sort of like an extended winter break to me, because I left to go to SF the day my school started back up. I went to my first two classes, then headed to the airport!
The drive to the airport wasn't anything special, until we got closer to the airport, and I noticed a large cloud of smoke that appeared to be coming from the airport. (It was darker before I took this pic)
I later found out that it wasn't coming from the airport, but a field just north of it. But when I saw the smoke I was kind of worried about a plane crash/excited to see if the firefighters were doing a training exercise.
I then pulled up to Terminal A to check in for my flight with United.
The line was not too long, but was held up by a woman who showed up late for her flight and was arguing with the employees.
Here is a picture of the UA counters at MCI, I was really happy to see that they kept the "old" UA branding. I will definitely miss it when it is gone!
After paying $75 for our three bags for the trip, we made the short walk to security. While my mom complained about the baggage fees, I understood the reasoning behind them. Even with the baggage fees, the flight with UA was cheaper than any other option. We got the tickets for around $150 all in.
I then headed to security, and it didn't take more than 3 minutes. The TSA agents seemed bored and tired, which is a great contrast from when I flew this past summer and the TSA agents were actually getting people to smile at 5 am.
When I went through the metal detector, it beeped at me, and I was asked to grab my things and step aside. I apparently must have given a questionable "what the heck is going on?" look to the agent, because she then told me not to worry, and just to step aside. After grabbing my items and waiting for her to come back after a minute, she told me that it was a random selection and she had to wipe my hands to test for explosive materials.
After that I headed to the gate area to wait for my flight. The aircraft that was going to take me to SF was running a bit late, so I watched this Air Canada Jazz flight prepare to go to Toronto.
While watching this flight depart, I got a nice surprise. I received a visit from Justin Meyer, the manager of air service development at MCI. He also does a lot of marketing work for the airport, and is the voice of the airport's twitter account, @kciairport
. We had a pretty quick, but good discussion on some of the new carriers coming to MCI, as well as why not certain airlines don't serve Kansas City.
I appreciated him taking the time out of his day to meet with me, and it created a very enjoyable start to my trip!
Not long after Justin had to leave, my aircraft N782SK arrived from San Francisco, and was getting ready to head back.
Here is a photo of N782SK taxiing in, along with one of my two stalkers, N382SW arriving on 1L. (N382SW was the aircraft I had my first Southwest flight on 4 years ago on MCI-OAK, and I have since seen this aircraft at LAX, MEM, MCO, and again at MCI. My other stalker aircraft is N484WN, but I did not see it on this trip)
Southwest seemed to have a rush around 4pm this day, because in the span of about 15 minutes, I saw quite a few Southwest birds arriving/departing. Including this one taking off from 1L.
N782SK Pulling into gate 14. It seems like this aircraft had a fun day planned on Jan 4th, running MCI-SFO-MCI-SFO-SLC-ORD.
I joined this bird on it's second run to SFO of the day, as United/Skywest flight 5481.
The packed UA gates at MCI
After the pax from SFO deplaned, and a short wait while they cleaned the aircraft, boarding for flight 5481 began. I was happily one of the first groups of people on the aircraft, in Zone 2 of the boarding process.
Prior to entering the jet bridge to the aircraft, I saw this piece of aviation history. An old TWA cart!
Once aboard, I was greeted by a very energetic flight attendant, who seemed happy to be working on this flight. I found my way to seat 11D on this CR7, and got a pic of 2 WN birds out of the window.
The aircraft was 100% full, so it was kind of cramped, but bearable for 3.5 hours.
We made our way to Runway 1L, for a smooth takeoff for my journey to SFO.
We made a turn westward and were on our way! On our climb to 38,000 feet I got this blurry picture of a DL 738 I saw out of my window.
A picture from the climb.
Soon we hit the 10,000 foot mark, and the flight attendants began working their way through the cabin. Both flight attendants showed enthusiasm and passion for the job, and maintained a positive attitude when working with the passengers.
The service on the flight consisted of beverages and BoB snack boxes. I just had a coke and settled back for the flight.
We were flying over layers of clouds, and the sun was setting, so the window IFE was getting a little bit boring. I decided to read one of my new favorite reading genre, airline management books.
I brought the books An Airline Without a Pilot
, From Worst to First
, and Blue Streak
. I decided to read Blue Streak
, a book about JetBlue, and how it started up. It provided great insight into the entrepreneurial side of the airline industry, and discussed how JetBlue got off of the ground and competed with DL's Song product to become a dominant player in the Northeast. Overall it is a great read, and I would recommend it to anyone wanting to learn about entrepreneurship.
A view out the window as the sun was setting.
A picture taken focusing on the other side of the cabin.
After a while, the flight attendants did something I wasn't expecting on this flight, and did a sort of mini-beverage service. They came around carrying water bottles and cups, asking all the pax if they wanted water. They did the same with coffee and tea. (without a cart!) They came around carrying trays of 4-5 cups of coffee/tea at a time, asking pax if they wanted some. Then headed back to the galley to restock once they passed all their coffees out. It seems like all that running back and forth would get annoying, but the crew continued to display a positive demeanor throughout the flight.
Pretty soon we began our descent into the San Francisco area. It was a peaceful approach, and it was fun to watch all the lights as we came closer to the ground.
Here is a pic that includes a unique window shade that was located at the bottom of the window. I think it is because I was sitting near the exit row, and this design was to help in the event of an emergency.
We were soon on short final. Here is a pic of the San Mateo bridge, as we lined up with 28R. (unfortunately no parallel approach!)
Our touchdown was smoother than expected, and we made our way to gate 76B (I was kind of hoping that it would be somewhat thrilling, considering it was a smaller plane!)
The aircraft parked at the gate next to us.
After the flight, I thanked the flight crew for their amazing service they provided on this flight, and had a brief discussion with them about working at SkyWest. They showed a great amount of pride when discussing their company, citing how OO is well positioned for the future, and has some of the most exciting opportunities out of all the regional airlines.
I was honestly very surprised to see their pride for the company. When I think of regional airlines, I tend to think of overworked/underpaid flight crews who hate their jobs. While I do not know about how OO pays and schedules their flight crews, this crew did a great job presenting a professional and positive image to the pax on the flight.
I was then allowed to take a few pictures of the cabin and flight deck. My flight deck shots came out a bit underexposed, but here is a shot of the Y cabin.
A shot of N782SK after deplaning.
The central part of the UA terminal at SFO.
A pic of a UA 752 in "old" colors. I will definitely miss this UA branding when it is gone! I would have gotten more/better pics if the lighting was better.
Anyways, I hope that you enjoyed reading this trip report!
Overall, I thought this was an enjoyable flight with a great flight crew. I was glad to see the flight full, and hope that it is an indicator that UA's MCI-SFO service is doing well.
This flight also changed my perspective on regional airlines, more specifically SkyWest. I went from thinking of regional carriers to be as bad as the media makes them out to be (cramped seating, no overhead space, unhappy employees, etc.), to witnessing the complete opposite. (well, I will admit that the seating was cramped for me, and sort of the same deal with the overhead space, but the employees' attitude, professionalism, and pride made this trip an enjoyable one.)
I definitely think I will have no problem/hesitancy in booking another flight on a SkyWest operated flight in the future. Although the avgeek in me will try my hardest to book a mainline flight, this trip has shown me that the regionals can offer a similar travel experience)