So this story begins on a beautiful morning at Birmingham Airport with what should dhave been a simple flight into Frankfurt, with a connection onward to Seattle.
The flight was relatively routine, but as we started our approach to Frankfurt we started to hold with a few other aircraft, before the pilot made an announcement. Frankfurt Airport had just closed for an unknown reason and we would be diverting to Nuremberg to refuel before proceeding onward to Frankfurt. This was bad news for my connection.
As Nuremberg soon filled up with other diverting aircraft, Lufthansa laid on taxis to take us all on the 2 1/2 hour drive to Frankfurt. Flights had been diverted all over Germany, and I dread to think how much the taxis alone would have cost Lufthansa.
My onward flight to Seattle was booked on a separate ticket, with another airline – Condor.
As I walked into the terminal at Frankfurt it was clear to see the chaos these three plastic toys had done. The board was full of cancelled and delayed flights.
I headed to the Condor desk to join the queue of disrupted passengers, to see if there was anything they could do to get me rebooked.
The check in desk for United was absolutely rammed. It should have closed 40 minutes before departure, but in reality at 40 minutes out I hadn’t even made any progress in the queue. The drone disruption had led to dozens of people from the Condor flight being rebooked onto United, many of whom hadn’t been ticketed yet and were waiting for tickets.
20 minutes before departure we still hadn’t made any progress in the queue, and they announced that they would be holding the flight until everyone was checked in.
Finally, 5 minutes before departure I got to the front of the queue.
Success – and I was boarding my £2,000 last second flight to the states.
I hate being the last one on the plane when you’ve held up a flight – I did the walk of shame past the waiting passengers to the Premium Plus cabin, just behind Polaris Business Class.
On the seat were bedding, headphones and a menu.
Once I’d buckled in we started our pushback to get underway for our long flight to San Francisco.
Our route this evening then took us north out of Germany and up the North Sea off the coast of Norway. We flew north of Iceland and across northern Greenland before entering northern Canada and flying south into the US towards Callifornia. Flight time tonight was 10 hours 58 minutes at a cruising altitude of 34,36 and 38,000ft.
I was impressed at the menu in United Premium Plus. Dinner was a choice of lemon grass chicken or pasta, I took the chicken which took me by surprise at how welll it was presented for premium economy. This meal would count as a business class meal on some airlines.
I decided to have a look through the IFE options. United have a great selection of TV and movies, and I was pleased that their fantastic Channel 9 service was working on this flight, allowing me to listen in on air traffic control as we headed towards the states.
The sky got started to get lighter again, and the sun startedd to rise for the second time today as we flew overhead Greenland.
There was a goody bag of snacks bought around as we flew over Canada, which filled a little gap before the second meal service.
The amenity kits in United Airlines Premium Plus are a more basic version of their Polaris business class amenity kit. There’s an eye mask and some basic toiletries, which is more than adequate for premium economy.
Soon there was the second meal service of pizza with some fruit. Again it was presented very nicely, considering it’s just a slice of pizza, although the food itself didn’t taste that great.
Before long we were on approach too a dark San Francisco, where despite the delay out of Frankfurt we touched down around 10 minutes ahead of schedule.
I headed to the United Club lounge to rest for a couple of hours ahead of my flight on to Seattle.
My ride up too Seeattle was an Airbus A320, delivered new to United in 1999.
It was soon time to board and I made my way down to the A320 for hte last leg of ths crazy day.
The front row of United Premium Economy on the A320 has a tonne of leg room, and I was very comfortable for the short flight up the west coast.
A couple sat down next to me and proceeded to eat an entire hot meal they’d bought in the terminal, which smelt very strong and a few passengers were not too impressed at the plane now smelling like a fast food restaurant.
Soon we pushed back and taxied out to the runway for tonight’s flight.
My route up to Seattle took us on an slmost direct route north out of San Francisco, crossing Oregon and descending into Seattle. Flight time tonight was 1 hour 41 minutes, cruising at 36,000ft.
To be honest the order of this flight was to sleep, and I dosed off just after takeoff to wake up to the fasten seatbelt sign coming on for landing.
We touched down 16 minutes ahead of schedule into Seattle’s Tacoma International Airport.
Overall despite the rough start to this trip, I arrived into Seattle pleased at the way Lufthansa handled the situation and pleased at how United were able to accommodate me at the last second. There is always a risk to booking separate flights and occasionally it comes back to bite you just like today – which is why I make sure I have a top of the line insurance policy, and a comfortable credt limit to allow for last minute emergencies like this. The insurance company agreed to pay out the full amount within days – and I even got extra from them to compensate for the delay.