I flew to New York for a personal trip, which means I could fly to JFK on the United p.s. flights. United will be changing out the equipment over the next several months from a 3-class airplane to a two-class configuration. In all the times I have flown on p.s., I had never been in the first class cabin. I was hoping to get a chance to do so before the change in equipment. These days, the only real difference is the seat hardware, as the menu and video services are exactly the same in business class. Currently, if you are seated in first, you have an angled flatbed seat. On my outbound flight, I was lucky enough to be moved up to first class.
While it was nice to be in a smaller cabin, I can see why the seats need to be replaced. They felt pretty narrow when using the flatbed mode. The new seats will definitely be better. While the food was the same, I thought the presentation was just a little nicer than what is typically done for business class.
My Chicago trip was my first since becoming Global Services, so I was looking forward to seeing what service would be like at United's flagship location.
I arrived in Chicago later in the evening. Normally, I would take the "L" into the city as it's very inexpensive. But it does take time, and I didn't want to ride on the train for an hour (with a train change), so opted for an airport express van. Instead of paying $2.50 for the train, I paid $32 for the van, but it only took half an hour, so it was kind of worth it.
While in Chicago, I stayed at the relatively new Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. It's located near the Magnificent Mile area, which was perfect for a non-business stay. It was very nice, especially since the weather was unseasonably cool and I had a fireplace in my suite.
I had a big dinner planned, but I knew I wouldn't make it until then without another meal, so I managed to get an afternoon tea reservation at The Drake Hotel. While it seemed a little pricey when they brought out the food, they do offer refills on anything you want. I could have really stocked up, but I needed to make sure that I had a good appetite for dinner.
Dinner was planned at a "guestaurant" north of downtown Chicago. I had read about this place, called SousRising, in an article on this trend of gourmet dining. Since the style of food was the kind I am always in search of, I signed up for a slot when they became available. The food was both visually attractive and tasty.
I had not been to Seattle in several years, and even then, it was only for work. This trip gave me a chance to tour around a little to see more of the city. One new addition since my last visit is a light rail line running from the airport to downtown. It's pretty inexpensive ($2.75), but a little slow (45 minutes). It's also a little bit of a walk between the terminal and the train station at the airport. But it is easy to use.
Even though the weather in Seattle was also unseasonably cold, I saw evidence of spring warmth that had been in the area earlier.
Of course, I managed to find some very interesting and good food in Seattle, where there is an emphasis on local sourcing for ingredients. I dined at The Jewel Box at Mistral Kitchen and Spur Gastropub.
|Dessert at Mistral Kitchen|
|Dessert at Spur Gastropub|
|Tuna at Mistral Kitchen|
|Smoked Hamachi at Spur Gastropub|