UA1083 IAD SFO 1030 1328 739 2A I really don't like the F seats made to the Continental specification: it's hard to get quality sleep or even rest, and as I've said here before the merger, I preferred the physical product of United economy plus to Continental first. This plane of course was an ex-Con, and I was resigned to a sore butt and was not disappointed. The cabin crew were pretty good but quirky; the front cabin was served by a brunette woman with an intense, intense stare, which was a little disconcerting. She provided generally prompt and attentive service, though. Food choices were roast chicken, "salmon and quinoa salad," and "vegetarian paneer." We all know about airplane chicken, and we all know about airplane fish, and who knows what evil lurks in the guise of paneer. I was tempted to say nothing, please, but the prospect of some hungry hours in SFO didn't appeal much either, so I said, I'll take anything. The intense FA seemed personally affronted by this answer, so I tried again: okay, the fish, please. But first a Courvoisier, decent, and warm nuts, mixed - I got the bottom of the barrel, so the base of my dish was covered in salt; the cashews, being delicate, were assorted shards that were made soggy by the warming, but the almonds, being more robust, were crispy and whole, Then a green salad, Kraft Creamy French on the side, a big ounce packet. The salad needed all the help it could get, and a big ounce wasn't enough to mask its faults. Some of the lettuce (at best rather old) was stuck to the side of the bowl, having turned to slime and then dehydrated in storage. Red and yellow pepper strips that I thought had been pickled but that turned out to be merely old. Yum. Yes, Kraft Creamy French at 140 Calories the serving was the best part of this course. Oh, yes, there was some roast barley hidden underneath. Because I have new glasses, this was the first time I had ever seen roast barley in its true glory. It looks like bugs and tastes not much better. Oh, yes, the salad had cheese on it, best described as like Seymour Britchky's experience of Mamma Leone's cheese. [Note a week or two later: US Air offers this same barley in a spinach salad with beef or shrimp on the side. I wonder whose idea this was.] I had supposed that perhaps the caterer had run out of quinoa and substituted barley and perhaps had run out of fish and substituted nothing, or else a plate of naked fish might arrive later, but at this stage we saw a small piece, maybe the canonic 100 g serving, of pink stuff sided with what looked like boiled hairy veg and baby snakes coming out of their eggs. The pink stuff tasted like cotton batting soaked in fish oil. The veg were, in fact, hairy with mold - green and yellow squash and carrots. The other stuff was the quinoa and in fact the best thing on the plate, though I didn't try to eat much of it. Chocolate chip cookies came late in the flight. Decent. We landed way, way early, but there was the usual dance of musical gate personnel and guess the gate. We ended up in the 60s gates, and it was quite a hoof to the 100s gates. UA 903 SFO FRA 1515 1050 744 15J was 1445 1015 was 1400 0930 was926 SFO FRA 1900 1455 744 6B lili was scheduled at FRA at 1155, and 903 was delayed 45, so I decided to go for the earlier flight and meet her there. The friendly guy at the desk gave me a boarding pass in Y and told me to come back in five. Apparently they still adhere to the old way, and when you want to move to the earlier flight, they first confirm you in Y and then put you on the list for an upgrade, even if you were confirmed in biz on the flight you were abandoning. I got called up eventually and was handed 15J as in jackpot. A year ago I went through hoops to book a flight to Asia with upstairs availability, reporting afterward here on my last 747 flight. The mills of United grind slowly, and since then I've been on maybe a half dozen of them. Still, upstairs here is a treat, unlike on the 380, which feels more like two regular planes one atop the other.