I needed a return flight from Hawaii and I wanted to continue flying on the 777-300ER with Polaris seats. There’s only one a day in each direction currently for Los Angeles to Honolulu which I flew on last week. But the flight back from Honolulu to Los Angeles was quite expensive. Yet, I found that I could fly Honolulu to San Francisco in the 777-300ER with Polaris Seats, and then a quick hop on an E175 in Domestic First to Orange County (SNA) for about $630. I decided to book that, as anything to Los Angeles (LAX) was a couple hundred dollars more, or had extremely long connections.
First Day Without Mask Mandate:
It just so happens I flew yesterday, April 18th. On my flight from Honolulu to San Francisco, the mask mandate was still in effect. During my connection, it seems that a federal judge voided the two week extension to May 3rd, and thus many airlines announced that the masks would no longer be required.
Once I boarded this flight, 95% of the people had masks on, and then right as the boarding door closed, the pilots announced that United would not be enforcing the mask mandate anymore and masks would be optional. One flight attendant cheered and quickly tore off her mask.
In the first class cabin, I would say about 1/2 of the passengers decided to remove their masks after that announcement, and I took a quick peek at the coach cabin and it seemed like the same percentage in the coach cabin as well. It would be interesting to see if it changes a lot more in the coming days.
United Express Flight 4734 operated by SkyWest
San Francisco (SFO) to Santa Ana (SNA)
Aircraft: Embraer 175
I’ve never flown specifically on United Express’ E175 in First but I have on Alaska Airlines. Both United and Alaska E175’s were operated by SkyWest, and the plane interiors looked almost the same, minus the logo/branding.
There are 12 seats in a 1-2 configuration on the E175. I chose 2A on the single side. First Class has a pitch of 37 inches and a width of 20 inches.
I had plenty of legroom to put my backpack underneath the seat and still have ample room leftover. The tray table is located inside the armrest, and has a full setting, as well as a half setting for drinks/snacks.
Since it was a super short hop, I wasn’t expecting much for a drink service. Quickly after takeoff, the flight attendant serving the First Class took drink orders, and then handed each of us an all-in-one snack bag that contained pretzels, Stroopwafel and a small bottle of water.
I thought that was pretty solid for a short hop, I didn’t even get a small water bottle on the first class flight from Honolulu (HNL) to San Francisco (SFO). The attendant for First Class was friendly and greeted everyone by last name and even refilled my drink for me.
There’s no personal IFE on an E175, but there is WiFi and you can stream TV shows and movies to your device as well as using Messaging apps such as iMessage, Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp for free. WiFi was also available for surfing the web for $8 for the duration of the flight, which is a bit steep given the short flight. The Honolulu to San Francisco flight was charging $8 for Mileage Plus members and $10 for non members for the full 5 hour flight. It did take a while for the WiFi to start working, maybe 20 minutes after takeoff.
There were power outlets beneath the seat if you needed to charge your devices.
Shortly after I finished snacking, we were preparing for landing.
While passing Palos Verdes, we hit some clouds and turbulence but it slowly went away. United blocks 1hr 41min for this flight, which is quite long if you ask me since it’s only about 400 miles. We literally flew over the airport and went in a circle, passed Disneyland twice, then landed which wasted 20 minutes right there. Perhaps they only have so many landing slots at Santa Ana due to it being a smaller airport. We ended up parking at the gate right on time.
The E175 is one of my favorite commuter planes, and with the 1-2 configuration in First Class, it’s perfect if you’re traveling with a companion or by yourself. It was really interesting to be flying on the first day without mask mandate in about two years. For now, I’ll be keeping my mask on during my flights. It doesn’t really bother me too much, and any chance at lowering any type of sickness during a trip or vacation sounds good to me, as well as protecting others when I’ve interacted with so many people on my travels.
Are you going to be keeping your mask on during flights? Comment below!