Review: United Airlines A319-100 Economy Santa Ana to Denver

Review: United Airlines A319-100 Economy Santa Ana to Denver
Review: Southwest Airlines 737-700 Economy Denver to Milwaukee
Trip Photos: Colorado and Milwaukee
Review: Southwest Airlines 737-800 Economy Milwaukee to Las Vegas
Review: Southwest Airlines 737-700 Economy Las Vegas to Los Angeles

YOUTUBE: United Airlines: Santa Ana to Denver
YOUTUBE: Southwest Airlines: Denver to Milwaukee
YOUTUBE: Southwest Airlines: Milwaukee to Las Vegas
YOUTUBE: Southwest Airlines: Las Vegas to Los Angeles


Hello and welcome back to another trip report, this time, we are flying within the country and with mainly Southwest, but not this flight.

Today we will be flying out of a smaller airport in Los Angeles, but a very convenient one for sure: John Wayne Airport. This airport is located in Orange County and very close to the ocean, just like LAX. So when departing the right way, it makes for some lovely departure views and today’s flight is no exception to that! The cool thing about John Wayne Airport is that ON AVERAGE, check-in and security always take around 10 minutes to the max, and since it’s a smaller airport, it’s easier to find your gate and the lounges that are there. Tha catch is that flights out of SNA usually are more expensive. With that out of the way let’s get right to it!

United is located at Terminal B at John Wayne Airport and them recently re-did their check-in counters and I think they look much slicker than what they used to look like.

After clearing security, we went to airside since that’s where all the fun is. Do be sure to have some form of official ID as that is a requirement at SNA airport to proceed through security, as per all of my experiences there. Once crossing through, I got right to spotting.

American Airlines 737-800W to Dallas
United A319-100 to Denver
Alaska 737-800 split scimitar to Seattle


With some small spotting out of the way, it was time to board our plane for the short 1.5-hour hop to Denver. Let’s get to it!

United Airlines

SNA-DEN Airbus A319-100

Upon getting on board, I immediately noted that we had a retrofitted aircraft. This means that First Class had the new granite cocktail stands between the seats, and the seats had the new leather, but economy class looked so bad. This is a picture from United Airlines, but you can already see how slim it is. The seat padding was good, but the leather on the back was definitely too thin. The old seat would sink into the shape of your back kind of like memory foam, but this leather was too hard.The “headrest”, meaning the black part of the seat, was also too hard and it felt as if my head was resting on a softer version of hardwood, which most certainly would not do. All of this made the seat ok for this flight, but definitely not feasible for a long(er) flight.  Thankfully this flight was only 1.5 hours because anything more would have broken my back and put a dent in my skull.

United’s new (worse) economy class

Anyways, here’s a nice look out our window.  Overlooking the rest of the airport. There are just a few gates to the left of this plane, while most of the other gates are what you see below.


Push back was on time and our engine start was as normal for a narrow body Airbus. Another good thing about John Wayne airport is that the runway is so close that the taxi time is usually under two minutes without any traffic, and even less if you are at Terminal A.

Alaska and American 737-800W

After a brief taxi, we took off and had a very steep climb out of SNA, which is actually quite normal. The airport is located around many different residential areas, and quite a while back there were noise complaints filed. So what happens is that airlines perform an almost max to max power takeoff. Then as soon as they are past a certain altitude (I forgot the exact amount), the engine power is immediately reduced, and that reduction has to be kept until the aircraft is at least one mile offshore. Once there, the freedom is to the pilot.

After takeoff, we made a right turn to the west to come back around and head east to Denver, and the views were amazing!


I have a telephoto lens that I attached to my phone and took this next photo of John Wayne Airport with:

John Wayne Airport
Chino Hills Airport

Soon after, beverage service began. I just had some coke and water. They also offer United’s signature “zesty ranch mix” for those that know what I am talking about. The strange thing about the service was that they served the drinks first, then took another full round just to hand out bags of the snack to everyone. You’d think it would be more efficient to hand out the drink and the snack at the same time. I forgot to take a picture of the zesty snack.


After the drink service, the views started getting better and better until it got dark and that is basically what the rest of this short flight consists of, so I’ll let the pictures do the rest of the speaking:




At this point, we had begun our descent into Denver, and as we descended, the light went away faster since we were moving further towards the ground relative to the sun.


I certainly enjoyed the views of the city on our descent, but there would be more to see during the day, which you can see later in this trip (I’ve devoted an entire post to my photos). We had a smooth touchdown shortly after 9 PM local Denver time.  Whenever I come to Denver, I always amuse myself over the fact that if you look at the airport from a top-down view, it basically looks like the German swastika. The runway and terminal layout is as such. But the airport is very spread out, so depending on where you land and the amount of traffic, it can take anywhere from 5 minutes to 30 minutes to taxi to your gate. Thankfully we got the better end of that and it took only 10 minutes for us.


I just love Denver airport’s unique mountain design:

Overall, this was a decent flight, and I certainly appreciate that on this 1.5-hour flight, we were served drinks and actual food items, which Air Canada apparently couldn’t do on a 5+ hour flight on two different occasions. The crew was very friendly, which on US carriers is a gamble, So I’m glad to have gotten the better end of the stick this time. My only complaint is the seat which I think has a good surface pad, but the back support is not sufficient for me at least. The leather was too thin, so the seat “back” was overall hard for me. But I still enjoyed the service overall. I would definitely have no problem flying them again on this route if I had to, though I’d prefer Southwest 😉

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