Review: United Airlines First Class A320, Chicago – Washington Dulles

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Our previous plans of flying to South Africa via Sao Paulo Brazil on United Airlines Business First were scuttled thanks to the cancellation of our Chicago – Sao Paulo flight. We were re-booked to travel to Johannesburg on South African Airways via Dakar Senegal. The downside of our re-booking, was that we had to get up early to take another positioning flight to get to our overseas one. The other passengers on the original routing to Sao Paulo were taking a 5 PM departure, whereas we had to get back to the airport for an 11 AM departure.


This post is one chapter on our trip to South Africa, a Safari in the Maasai Mara in Kenya and Mauritius. This trip was redeemed through Air Canada’s Aeroplan and through Starwood Preferred Guest (Marriott Bonvoy) and Hyatt Gold Passport. For more information on how this trip was booked, please see our trip introduction here. For other parts of the trip, please see this index.

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Review: United Airlines First Class A320, Chicago O’Hare – Washington Dulles

Leaving the InterContinental Chicago O’Hare, we found the free airport shuttle, which ran every 20 minutes. 

Checking Into United Airlines:

Taking a proactive approach in making sure our bags didn’t get left behind, we checked with United Airlines Chicago check in desks. There were no news on our bags or whether they had been re-tagged. Passing through security, we checked again with the customer service desks in Concourse B. “Sorry, can’t help you.”

We headed back through the tunnel again to Concourse C. Stopping by for our third visit in the last twenty four hours to the United Club Terminal One Concourse C, we re-checked at the counter where we were re-ticketed last night and were told “Both your bags are in IAD already”. 

We contacted Air Canada’s Aeroplan which is headquartered in Montreal Quebec to confirm continuation of original itinerary and non cancellation of remaining balance of the e-ticket based on missing the one segment. We also called and contacted South African Airlines USA office for seat assignments on the IAD-DAK-JNB legs. Maybe this was overkill re-confirming everything, but we decided to take a complete approach to avoid any more surprises.

We left the Chicago United Club for the last time on this trip, burned up the rest of our United Airlines free food vouchers on Starbucks take-aways and located the gate for our positioning flight to Washington Dulles. 

On Board United Airlines Domestic First Class:

We had separate seats on opposite sides of the cabin due to the last minute re-booking so we sat apart and didn’t bother to try any last minute negotiations on board to switch with other passengers. 

United Airlines.
Business Class
ORD – IAD (Chicago O’Hare – Washington Dulles)
UA778 – Business Class (D)
November 5, 2013
Booked: Airbus 320
Flown: Airbus 320

Pre-Departure drink service today was orange juice in the picnic glass. 

United Pre-Departure Plastic Picnic Cup

Food and Beverage: A light snack

Today’s Snack service was the warm scone presented in a similar format to the “freshly baked cookies”. The snack was okay but with a short seven hour sleep and a hustle back to the airport, I was really hungry for a decent breakfast by this time.

In flight Snack – Freshly Baked Cookies

I spent most of the flight sleeping as we’d only gotten 3 hours of sleep the night before by the time we had settled into the hotel and I figured I’d probably want to stay up a bit for the long haul. 

We had some interesting mountain terrain on the approach in. 

Light terrain on approach to Washington Dulles IAD

We landed on the ground at Washington Dulles and made our way to the departures hall to obtain boarding cards for our South African Airways international flight.

The iconic Washington Dulles Departure Hall

In closing:

Our Chicago to Washington Dulles short haul flight wasn’t all too exciting. It got us from end to end. It was a flight that I never expected to end up taking. At least, we were dropped off at the iconic Washington Dulles airport in reasonable shape to look forward to our next adventure.


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