This mileage run started off similar to the first one of the year to Orlando, I woke up around 03:30 in the morning and my dad was nice enough to take me to the airport, we arrived around 04:10.
Seattle’s Airport is fairly new and has a very nice design, both internally and externally.
Once inside, I proceeded to the Premier Access check-in lane. I had already checked in online and had the boarding passes on my iPhone, however I always like to have a paper copy just in case.
There are several Premier Access lanes for United’s check-in:
- Global Services/Global First
- Premier 1K/BusinessFirst
- Premier Platinum
- Premier Gold/Silver, First, Business, Star Alliance Gold/Silver, MP Club Card
Interestingly enough, there were queues at each line, not something you’d expect at 4 in the morning! I headed to the First/Star Alliance Gold lane which had a couple travelling in front of me and turns out they didn’t know how to use the kiosk. I offered my help and they were grateful in the end.
The security queues were massive for 4 in the morning. The TSA Pre-check lane had about 10 people, the Premium lane had 25 and the normal had around a hundred; last time there was barely anybody there. This wasn’t a friday or anything, so I am surprised to have seen so many people.
Of course I opted for the pat down, I’d rather not get cancer! 😀 By the time I made it airside, I had about 10 minutes before my flight began boarding, I headed to the United Club by gate A9 to grab a snack and take some pictures.
Now here’s an interesting observation: I had a non-status frequent flyer number on my boarding pass and I was travelling in United First class, I scanned my mobile boarding pass and this is how the conversation went between me and the lounge receptionist:
- Lounge receptionist: Sir, are you a member of the club?
- Me (puzzled): I am travelling in First class.
- Lounge receptionist: Sir, I am aware of that but United does not allow First class travellers into the lounge unless flying internationally.
- Me: really? I thought that only your Premier Gold and higher members don’t have access unless flying internationally.
- Lounge receptionist: We are first and foremost a member only club, neither our Premier members nor our First or Business class passengers have access unless flying internationally. The Star Alliance Gold lounge perk included to non-UA flyers is just something we have implemented to be nice.
At this point, I just handed her my Star Alliance Gold card and she promptly let me in. I knew United’s own elites were not allowed to use the United Clubs unless travelling internationally but I had no idea that United First and Business didn’t have access either. I find this strange and ridiculous. I mean what airline doesn’t let its own First and Business class passengers into its own lounge?
Then the part of we implemented to be nice (lounge access for non-UA *G), pissed me off. To be nice? Seriously? Really? Is that the whole point of an alliance? To be nice? Anyway, I pondered her judgement for a while, then I realised my flight was already boarding and snapped a couple of pictures of the lounge and headed to the gate.
The flight down to San Francisco was boarding from A14, the last gate all the way at the end of the A concourse. I got there and they were already boarding group 3, which was strange as I was only there about 5 minutes after the scheduled boarding time. I proceeded to the Group 1 lane and promptly boarded. The day before United had a world-wide computer outage and none of their systems were working, which has happened before; I was unable to use the boarding pass and instead the gate agent was writing down everyone’s Sequence numbers (boarding numbers) on paper.