United Express Economy Review: LGA – CLE

Verdict: 8/10

LaGuardia. Arrayed out before in the setting sun, it looked precisely as it did during the Summer of Love. That image was of course, in true New York fashion, ruined by the traffic jam between the highway exit and the central terminal. After 35 minutes going up the ramp, I finally made it into the terminal and checked in. The check-in kiosks were post-modern invaders in the Kingdom of Fiorello. It went quickly, although I had to transfer four pounds out of my checked bag into my carry-on. The United attendants were polite, an unexpected bonus.


I walked past the lounge entrance without a second thought of the subdued glamour that surely awaits the anointed inside. I passed through security without problems, PreCheck once again did its job. The TSA agents didn’t give me too much faith in the process, though. I found my gate as was pleasantly surprised by the waiting area. The seats were new. No tears. Oh! How the gods had smiled upon my day.

The first half hour passed slowly. I thought about all the free drinks and food the titans of industry were enjoying in the lounge before remembering that I fly coach. I then thought about all the great drinks available at Hudson News for only $5 before an argument between two roommates broke me out of my daydream. I’m not quite sure what the full argument was about, but somebody was assuming that someone else slept with someone they weren’t supposed to. Just riveting stuff.

The Pillars of LaGuardia
The new kiosks and pillars are a curious juxtaposition.

The airplane was an Embraer ERJ 145 in the one-by-two seat configuration. For economy. First and business class do not exist on this configuration. It is a fine example of the legendary Brazilian regional jet industry.

To occupy myself further, I looked through the United app. It seems to function passably well. It will even tell you where your plane is coming from, and where it currently is. In most of my experiences with airlines, this would usually tell me that my plane was circling somewhere over Little Rock, but this time was different. My plane was already in New York. What a pleasant surprise.

 

United App Screenshot

United App Screenshot

I went back to staring at the strange Communist era shiny pillars in the terminal until boarding started.

The flight was overbooked, and they began with a solid offer of $300 and a hotel night, with a replacement flight at 5:59 AM the next morning. People were excited until they heard about the ungodly takeoff time. It took a while, but they drew one taker. Boarding finally began shortly thereafter. I boarded in Group 2, a perk afforded me by the mildly usable Chase Explorer card. Free baggage comes with the card too. Snacks not included.

The seats have substantially more padding than Spirit. I think United needs to run a shop like Procrustes to make people fit into the seats. I think I could stand to lose about four inches in height in order to fit comfortably.

Legroom on United
                              Very spacious, right?

 

Takeoff was only around 20 minutes late. Who cares though, I don’t have anywhere to be. It’s not like I have a connection. The sunset over the New York skyline was truly something to behold.

New York at Sunset

Snacks and drinks came about 15 minutes into the flight. “Zesty Ranch Snack Mix” is a little ambiguous. I felt it to be a bit like the Holy Roman Empire. They were not zesty, ranchy, nor very mixed. Oh well. At least the Diet Coke washed it down after a round of profuse coughing.

United in-flight Snack
     Zest Ranch Snack Mix…

The rest of the flight went smoothly. The landing was average, and deplaning was civil. I got my gate checked bag back and got my suitcase from the baggage claim.

Cleveland at night from above
                                 Approach into Cleveland

Conclusion: Overall, this United Express flight was a pleasant surprise. The staff was polite, the flight was fairly smooth, it wasn’t delayed substantially, the bump bribe was substantial, (Most Delta flights were delayed today due to computer outages), the snacks were half-edible and I ended up where I wanted to go. What more can one ask for in a domestic coach flight?

Disclaimer: United was in no way involved in this review. I was not compensated for my time, flight, or emotional distress in any way.

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