Flying from San Francisco to New York with United Airlines

Helen van Berkel flies United Airlines flight UA2044 from San Francisco to New York.

The airport experience:

I really do not understand how having to check out our bags and check them in again makes flying safer. It’ s a great way to eat up waiting time — and bring on a heart attack when your layover is cut short by a late plane.

Class: Economy.

The plane: 777-300.

My seat: 27A.

On time: Slow cleaners were blamed for a slight delay.

Fellow passengers: United Airlines calls its passengers on board in zones — out-of-zoners are sternly sent to the back of the queue. A fellow queuer was unable to enlighten me — pointing out instead that I was at the wrong gate. After a torrent of horrified swear words from me, she decided no, I was at the right gate, she had been looking at my seat number. She was still laughing hysterically when I boarded and turned to give her the finger.

The food: Small packet of mini pretzels and juice. My seatmate brought a delicious smelling subway-type roll that I hankered after.

How full: Jam-packed.

The toilets: Seated by the window meant too much of a clamber so I waited.

The entertainment: My seatmate enjoyed her movie, laughing hysterically as a man struggled with diarrhoea. My screen died then returned, but only showed the flight graphic — with Dutch subtitles. So I watched America unfold below the wing as we flew westward into the dark.

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