With a surprise upgrade courtesy of my uncle, my brothers and I were able to enjoy a first class ride home from a weekend getaway to Los Angeles, California.

Flight Information:

Airline: United Airlines flight 1897

Aircraft: Boeing 737-900ER registration N38458

Times: UA1897 Los Angeles 1:42 p.m. departure -> Chicago O’Hare 7:58p.m. arrival    (4 hours, 16 minutes)

Route: Los Angeles International Airport (LAX/KLAX) to Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD/KORD)

Class/Seat: First / 5A

For this trip, we would be travelling onboard United Airlines flight 1897, operated by Boeing 737-900ER N38458, a 5-year-old aircraft that was delivered on September 27th, 2012. The 737-900ER fleet United operates have 20 “United First” seats with in-seat power and personal device entertainment options, and 159 United Economy seats, with 42 Economy Plus seats and 117 standard United Economy seats.

With a generous 70lb baggage allowance and premier access through security, my family and I breezed through an otherwise notoriously lengthy LAX check-in and security process. With time to spare, plane-spotting from the terminal was enjoyable, getting to see all kinds of airlines and aircraft not seen at O’Hare.

Thanks to priority boarding due to our first class seats, we were some of the first to board, and were kindly greeted by the flight attendants and offered a drink while the rest of the aircraft boarded.

The flight departed LAX runway 25R at 1:52 p.m., just 10 minutes behind schedule, and we made a circling departure to the northeast to begin our direct routing to O’Hare.

Upon take off, I was handed a glass of water and a cup of warm nuts, merely an appetizer for the meal I would be served a few minutes later. With options of an Asian Salad or a Chicken and Sausage Jambalaya, I opted for the chicken option. The food was quite tasty and I enjoyed the meal, however like all meals, the best part was dessert: a slice of raspberry cheesecake. The person beside me also clearly enjoyed the cheesecake as we both shared a laugh as to how quickly we ate it.

For the duration of the flight, there was complimentary DirecTV entertainment. This was great because the inflight internet was not available on the flight, keeping many passengers on the aircraft from the entertainment options available on the United App.

Copious amounts of legroom gave each seat two windows, and room to extend my legs even with a stowed bag underneath the seat in front of me. It’s a fantastic product that United offers, and I am grateful for the opportunity to experience it.

The flight was rather smooth, and during landing I was able to catch an amazing sunset, my school, and my house on approach. We landed at O’Hare about half an hour early at 7:25 p.m., and had to wait on the tarmac for our gate to free up, as is standard procedure for early arrivals into the huge airport that we call O’Hare. As our bags were marked priority, they were the first off the baggage carousel, and we were out of the airport in no time.

Featured photo from Layoverhub writer Max Trimm. All inflight photos by author.