A tale of two 737’s – one AA and one UA

In the space of two days I got to fly one of each airlines 737’s. The American flight from LAX to San Francisco was short, whilst the United flight was from San Francisco to Newark.

American Airlines

The plane, resplendent in AA’s new livery, was towed in to the gate at LAX due to the building works you can see in the background.

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First class had very nice black leather seats which I don’t remember seeing before.

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The entertainment system was live as we boarded and I was able to watch a few episodes of some sitcoms whilst people boarded and the carry on was stowed. The new Sky interior meant that the new style of Boeing bins were being used.

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Over Row 3, the bins are much smaller, due to the aircraft shape. Oh yes, there was WiFi.

The flight attendant brought earbuds around for those without headphones, and did a small pre-departure drink run of water or orange juice. After takeoff she did snack mix and a full range of drinks, coming through for a second pass before landing at SFO.

In fact the landing at SFO was a little eventful with a go around just before landing. There was quite a lot of turbulence and so the tower told the pilot to go around and we soared off over the cost to rejoin the landing planes. No big deal; I’ve done that before but it’s probably a year since it happened.

United Airlines

Well it started badly enough when the flight moved gates three times and was delayed leaving.

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This image from the United mobile app tells you everything you need to know about their 737-900.

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That’s right – everything resembling useful time spending or productivity devices – WiFi and entertainment – are coming later. Even the electrical power didn’t actually work on a 6 hour flight! The guy sitting next to me, who I suspect was a player in the NFL, couldn’t really believe it either. He plugged in his headphones and napped. I took out my iPad and used it until the battery died, which was pretty close to the end of the flight. I’d paid to sit up front as part of an international ticket, and was pretty unimpressed with the service. Originally, when I booked many months ago, this was an internationally configured 757 with lie flat beds, and United though this was an appropriate equipment change at some point. If I had control of a corporate spend, I wouldn’t be sending my executives on this airline.

So when faced with a choice of 737’s I’d certainly not choose the United one!


  1. I think you mis-booked the UA flight. As far as I can see from current and future schedules there are no 757s on this route, and particularly no internationally configured 757s. You must be confusing this with the dedicated PS service to/from JFK which flies 757s with business and economy, the former lie flat seats similar to those on UA’s international wide body aircraft. By flying to EWR, you got the standard narrow body 737 (or 319s and 320s).

  2. The UA plane you took had a temporary interior. Long story short, the plane you took was bought by legacy Continental Airlines. Their aircraft seat supplier (Koito) admitted to falsifying safety tests, so Boeing and CO refused to install them.

    Instead, they installed temporary seats while they looked for a new supplier that was compatible with their in-flight entertainment.

    No doubt it’s taking MUCH longer than anyone would have imagined.


  3. 739 incorporates improvements developed for 787 Dreamliner which is better than 737. Of course, it’s a small comfort for those experiencing subpar experience while bugs are worked out.

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