modesto2 From United States of America, joined Jul 2000, 2636 posts, RR: 6 Posted (3 years 1 month 1 week 3 days 1 hour ago) and read 24241 times:
With nearly three weeks for vacation, it was time for another non-revenue trip with my parents! We made ambitious plans for our first visit to mainland China (traveled to Hong Kong in 2004) and split 11 days between Shanghai and Beijing. The loads on Continental were particularly challenging for this trip, and the only way I could make it work involved a later-than-expected departure (late April) coupled with a return in early May. Thankfully, CO flies to both Shanghai and Beijing from its EWR hub. Based on the loads, we flew into PVG and departed from PEK. I was slightly nervous about departing from PEK because the flight is often weight-restricted with substantial cargo. However, on our departure day, the flight had nearly 80 open seats, so I assumed that we would be "safe."
The most noteworthy aspect of both flights EWR-PVG and PEK-EWR involved CO's new flat bed seating arrangement in BusinessFirst. CO first started installation of these new seats near the end of 2009, and by the time of our trip, eight of the airline's fleet of 20 777s had been reconfigured with the new seats. It was pure luck that we managed to ride in newly reconfigured aircraft for BOTH flights! I anxiously watched the aircraft assignments in the days preceding each flight and threw a party when I discovered that aircraft #16 would take us to PVG and aircraft #13 would bring us home. Anyways, as luck would have it, we were treated to the new seats, so here's my report regarding this new and exciting experience!
CO87, EWR-PVG, 777-224ER ship #16
As non-revenue travelers, we flew in the night before from our hometown of San Francisco. It was quite the scenic route for our journey to PVG, especially considering how UA offers a non-stop from SFO to PVG. However, the benefits of have three passengers travel for free in BusinessFirst far outweighed the minor inconvenience of flying to EWR first and spending the night.
We arrived in EWR with plenty of time and checked in at a self-service kiosk. Interestingly, as travelers to Shanghai, we needed assistance from the agents who were responsible for verifying our Chinese visas. We seamlessly joined the employee security line and escaped the wrath of EWR's TSA after what seemed like an eternity. Our aircraft was resting at gate C102. On that day, the flight was fairly full with just 30 available seats in economy and about 10 available seats in BusinessFirst. Based on the non-revenue standby list, I was quite confident that my parents and I would be upgraded.
Approximately one hour prior to departure, the gate agents cleared the non-revenue customers, and my parents and I received our seats assignments in the last row of BusinessFirst, seats 11A, 11B, and 11D. With still one hour remaining, we ran to the Presidents Club and enjoyed some refreshments before boarding.
I took this photo from the Presidents Club. Our aircraft, ship #16, rests prior to operating CO87 to PVG. Ramp personnel are loading LD-3 containers into the cargo bays.
Approximately 30 minutes prior to departure, we departed the Presidents Club and returned to gate C102 and boarded the 777. I was anxiously awaiting that first moment when I laid eyes on the new seats. They were awesome! CO's old BusinessFirst seats leave much to be desired in an increasingly competitive in-flight product environment that now demands flat-bed seating and many amenities. The seats are still arranged in a 2 - 2 - 2 configuration, but the two seats on the left of the aircraft are angled left while the remaining four seats in each row and angled to the right. While some people may prefer the herringbone design (like DL and AC), I prefer the more traditional layout where seats are directly adjacent to each other. I find this design more conducive to talking and socializing when I travel with friends and family. However, I can certainly understand why many business people probably prefer the herringbone design that allows direct-aisle access for each customer.
Here's a photo of my seat, 11B.
Another photo from the front, looking back towards economy.
The seats offer 6 feet, 6 inches of "bedding" and a 15 inch screen with audio and video on-demand.
The hard shells that protect each seat offer ample privacy. However, one flight attendant on the flight expressed her desire to have even more privacy with higher "walls." A small divider rests between each pair of seat - maybe it'd be nice if it was adjustable?
Looking across row 11 at the middle seats.
The seats even came with instructions!
Behind each seat, passengers can find a little storage area. This was one of my favorite features! I stuffed anything and everything in there! This photo shows the power port and other connecting options.
Below the TV screen, a shelf has enough space to store books, magazines, toiletry kits, and more. Just be careful, and don't store anything during the take-off roll. If you do, it's sliding back right at you!
The individual remote is well-designed and allows users to make entertainment selections from the comfort of a reclined position.
The menu cover:
Appetizers and main courses:
The pilots dealt with a maintenance issue that resulted in nearly a one hour delay. However, considering how such long international flights are "over blocked," we only arrived about 30 minutes behind schedule. We pushed from the gate and taxied to runway 22R for departure. The departure was uneventful, and we quickly turned northwest and started our track over Canada and the Pole.
The flight attendants started with warm nuts, followed by the corn soup, coconut shrimp, and egg roll. All were very tasty and well-prepared. I absolutely love CO's BusinessFirst food and never hesitate to eat it all!
Next up was the salad:
Finally, I was ready for my noodle bowl with scallops and lobster - delicious!
As always, dinner ended with CO's fantastic ice cream sundae service!
This was my dad's sundae:
After some wine and a lots of food, I fell into a deep sleep. However, I still managed a photo of the moving map display:
The flat bed design was very conducive to sleeping. In fact, at some points, I was sleeping on my stomach. With 6 feet, 6 inches of bed, my height of 5 feet, 10 inches fit very well. In the fully reclined position, feet have just enough room to fit beneath the shelf and heads are "protected" by the hard shell. The arm rest adjacent to the aisle is also adjustable. With the push of a button, it can be raised or lowered.
Mid-flight, I took the opportunity to take some photos as we overflew Russia:
The flight attendants served a fantastic soup noodle bowl as the mid-flight refreshment:
After more eating, it was time for more sleeping! I took another nap and also took some time to read up on my Lonely Planet tour book.
Here's the view in my mostly reclined position. So comfortable
Nearing the end of the 13 hour 57 minute flight, the flight attendants served a pre-arrival meal - basically breakfast. It started with fruit, and then I ordered the omelet.
After another tasty meal, I washed up and prepared for our arrival to Shanghai Pudong.
Overall, it was an awesome flight. This was my very first flight with any kind of flat bed seats, nevertheless CO's new seats. For an American business class product, I'm confident that it will be competitive, at least against other U.S. carriers. As an industry enthusiast, it's so exciting to see how air travel has evolved, even in just the past 10 years. I can't even imagine what air travel will be like in another 10 years.
As always, comments are welcomed and greatly appreciated!
767747 From United States of America, joined Jan 2005, 1761 posts, RR: 25 Reply 1, posted (3 years 1 month 1 week 3 days 1 hour ago) and read 24175 times:
Great report on Continental's Business First's new lie flat seats. They look very nice, and the cabin seems so open in one of your pictures! I also really enjoy Continental's food; as I remember when we traveled to MAN from EWR in Business First a few years back we had really good meals.
B707forever From United States of America, joined Dec 2007, 459 posts, RR: 0 Reply 3, posted (3 years 1 month 1 week 2 days 23 hours ago) and read 23479 times:
Thanks for the report. The difference between the older BusinessFirst and the flat bed is huge. Makes the gap between Y and J like the idfference between Y and P. I wonder if CO should consider, and perhaps now as UA will consider, a mid-product between Y and J, a Y+ on these long haul 777s.
I wonder which seat the new UA will settle on. If the outside of the aircraft will reflect CO cabins on the 777s, will the interiors also?
EL-AL From Israel, joined Oct 2001, 1132 posts, RR: 5 Reply 6, posted (3 years 1 month 1 week 2 days 20 hours ago) and read 22632 times:
Thx for the report. I was wondering how CO's new B/F class looks like, I think the new class will help CO compeating LY on the EWR-TLV route, a market that El Al had the upper hand so far when it come to C class.
"In our country, those who do not believe in miracles are irrational" - David Ben Gurion.
LYChemsa From United States of America, joined Oct 2009, 906 posts, RR: 3 Reply 7, posted (3 years 1 month 1 week 2 days 11 hours ago) and read 20568 times:
CO food in C looks excellent.
Just flew to London CO in Y class and the food / lunch was "awful as usual." It seems that Weight Watchers is doing their catering for under 4 dollars a meal, while airlines such as AF probably spend double.
In addition they are now charging 100 dollars for a 2nd suitcase to Europe (roundtrip) while many non US airlines still do not.
Fly2YYZ From Canada, joined Jan 2006, 972 posts, RR: 2 Reply 8, posted (3 years 1 month 1 week 2 days 5 hours ago) and read 19201 times:
Awesome trip report! The seats look really comfortable! I would much prefer these type of seats rather than what AC has, as you mentioned, Herringbone! Blah! It feels really constraining and claustraphobic. Hope you had a great time in China!
Fiveholer From United States of America, joined Jun 1999, 1009 posts, RR: 12 Reply 11, posted (3 years 1 month 1 week 2 days 2 hours ago) and read 18591 times:
Sweet! My wife and I did IAH-NRT-IAH a month or so ago to try the new seats. We also had 11A/B on the outbound. I didn't sleep as much of the flight over due to the daylight for 13 hours but I did sleep for several hours. On the way back, I did sleep for about 7 of the 11 1/2 hour flight home! Amazing comfort to me and I am 6'1". I really enjoyed them and I hope to try them to Europe at some point on the smaller 757. Nice report.
CODC10 From United States of America, joined Jul 2000, 2175 posts, RR: 7 Reply 14, posted (3 years 1 month 1 week 1 day 21 hours ago) and read 17796 times:
Quoting lucky777 (Reply 13): Ouch...2-2-2 configuration? DAL offers a 1-2-1 configuration on their 777LR (the ER's will soon be) Seems CAL may be at a competitive disadvantage compared to their rival.
Since when was 2-2-2 on a 777 "ouch"-worthy? At any rate, CO's bed is longer and wider than DL's herringbone configuration, angles toward the window, has a bigger PTV screen, iPod integration, and has 4 aisle seats per row. On the 777, DL has 43 aisle seats (out of 43) vs. 34 (of 50) on CO. Furthermore, CO now has more flat-bed equipped airplanes than DL. I'm not so sure CO is at such a competitive disadvantage.
If 2-2-2 is a problem, what about 2-4-2 on UA's 747/777? Or BA? I don't see many people complaining about those configurations.
LH4116 From Sweden, joined Aug 2007, 1673 posts, RR: 15 Reply 16, posted (3 years 1 month 1 week 1 day 16 hours ago) and read 17185 times:
I was very impressed with CO's new J product, it looks like a huge improvment from the old recliners they had in the past, and if I recon, they're been around since the 90's?
The food looked great as usual, IMHO CO seem to have a rather superior meal service in J, compared to the other US majors. Though the tableware seems a bit old, I think they should've put in some new plates with the introduction of the new seats...
Thanks for sharing!
I won't stop complaining until SAS reintroduces free service in Economy Class!
modesto2 From United States of America, joined Jul 2000, 2636 posts, RR: 6 Reply 18, posted (3 years 1 month 1 week 1 day 12 hours ago) and read 16589 times:
Quoting ualcsr (Reply 4): I really do hope the new United keeps CO's caterer; the food does seem miles ahead of what you get on UA.
Yes, CO's food has always been superior. Well, I don't know what UA serves in international first but when compared with UA's international business, CO's BusinessFirst catering is always a step ahead.
Quoting Fly2YYZ (Reply 8): I would much prefer these type of seats rather than what AC has, as you mentioned, Herringbone! Blah! It feels really constraining and claustraphobic.
I'd like to try the herringbone design, but I'd imagine that it could be quite isolating and confining. I'm sure it's nice for the aisle access, but especially when traveling with others, I doubt I'd like it as much.
Haha, I suppose I should post some of those pics. I really didn't take as many pics on the PEK-EWR flight, but just for you, I'll post 'em
Quoting IAHFLYR (Reply 10): Another excellent TR Modesto.....can't wait to see if I get the new seats on an upcoming trip. Thanks for the pictures along the way and of the continued nice sampling of food.
Hope all is well, long time no see!!
Where you going? How are things in IAH? I'm actually leaving ExpressJet in July to pursue an MBA, so this is one of my last non-revenue trip reports. I still have a few more international trips in the next couple months (Europe and India), so I'll make sure to report! You been working a lot lately? What's the latest and greatest from the IAH TRACON?
Quoting Fiveholer (Reply 11): My wife and I did IAH-NRT-IAH a month or so ago to try the new seats. We also had 11A/B on the outbound. I didn't sleep as much of the flight over due to the daylight for 13 hours but I did sleep for several hours. On the way back, I did sleep for about 7 of the 11 1/2 hour flight home! Amazing comfort to me and I am 6'1". I really enjoyed them and I hope to try them to Europe at some point on the smaller 757.
Ahhh, the life of a non-rev. I love it! Glad you enjoyed the new seats.
Quoting lucky777 (Reply 13): Ouch...2-2-2 configuration? DAL offers a 1-2-1 configuration on their 777LR (the ER's will soon be) Seems CAL may be at a competitive disadvantage compared to their rival.
Not much to "ouch" about. The seats were very comfortable and spacious. Well, unless a 300 lb guy was trying to sleep...
Quoting Fiveholer (Reply 15): Delta is also squeezing 2-2-2 BizElite seating on their 764 where CO is 2-1-2.
Good point. I always appreciated CO's decision to operate their 767 fleet with the 2 - 1 - 2 configuration instead of DL's more cramped 2 - 2 - 2 config.
lucky777 From United States of America, joined Oct 2008, 467 posts, RR: 0 Reply 19, posted (3 years 1 month 1 week 1 day 9 hours ago) and read 16239 times:
Quoting CODC10 (Reply 14): Since when was 2-2-2 on a 777 "ouch"-worthy? At any rate, CO's bed is longer and wider than DL's herringbone configuration, angles toward the window, has a bigger PTV screen, iPod integration, and has 4 aisle seats per row. On the 777, DL has 43 aisle seats (out of 43) vs. 34 (of 50) on CO. Furthermore, CO now has more flat-bed equipped airplanes than DL. I'm not so sure CO is at such a competitive disadvantage.
Let's not fool ourselves here. Your clearly at a distinct disadvantage when you've crammed 6 seats across versus 4 like DAL. Simple mathematics would dictate as much. And DAL's seats have Ipod integration as well. Check out any youtube videos of CAL's new Business class seat and you'll notice that if your over 5'7, or 150 pounds, your shouders will be absolutely crushed when the seat is in the lie-flat position, hence, the reason you only see small ladies in the videos, not so with DAL's new seats, as the privacy walls flare out around the shoulder area. As for seat length, the CAL seat is an impressive 2 inches longer. And on a DAL 777, EVERYBODY has unfettered aisle access, unlike on CAL's offering. And DAL's entertainment offerings in Business class are second to none,
Our new 777-200LR ultra-long range aircraft feature 10.6” screens in BusinessElite. 200 movie choices are offered across a broad range of genres. The 777LR fleet also features 100 hours of HBO on Demand; more than 150 TV and short subject programs; more than 4,000 mp3s; 40 music videos, including 20 from Bollywood artists; a dedicated children’s area called “FlyKids;” and a suite of 12 video games and language tools. Additionally, BusinessElite customers have access to exclusive games not available in the Economy cabin.
Quoting Fiveholer (Reply 15): Delta is also squeezing 2-2-2 BizElite seating on their 764 where CO is 2-1-2. So, mileage may vary.
Actually, DAL is moving to the 1-2-1 lie-flat configuration on all of the 767's.
CODC10 From United States of America, joined Jul 2000, 2175 posts, RR: 7 Reply 20, posted (3 years 1 month 1 week 1 day 8 hours ago) and read 16048 times:
Quoting lucky777 (Reply 19): Check out any youtube videos of CAL's new Business class seat and you'll notice that if your over 5'7, or 150 pounds, your shouders will be absolutely crushed when the seat is in the lie-flat position, hence, the reason you only see small ladies in the videos
You must be talking about the DL 767-400ER BE flat beds, you know, the narrow ones with fixed armrests that measure 21.5" across at the seat cushion, but are clearly narrower at shoulder level.
I don't need a video, I've sat in CO's newest product and both of DL's flat beds, and all are very comfortable, but CO's new seat is outstanding. FYI, I'm not a woman, but a 6'2" 230lb guy. Furthermore, I wear a size 48L jacket, and my shoulders are most certainly not crushed in the bed position, even on the narrower 757 seat. I can't knock the DL seat at all (I'm not), in fact, I like it a lot, but CO has done an excellent job with its new product, and I have experience in both.
You're absolutely right, the numbers don't lie... CO's 777 seat is 25" wide with armrests down, compared to 23.5" on DL, with no adjustable headrest. Perhaps insignificant, but wider is wider, and CO's dimensions win.
Which incidentally provide a somewhat claustrophobic experience when the seat is fully reclined, and preclude conversation with a traveling partner, unless both seats are nearly upright.
Quoting lucky777 (Reply 19): And DAL's entertainment offerings in Business class are second to none
Both are the same Panasonic eX2 system. Absolutely identical,
I can copy and paste with the best of 'em...
"Our 777 aircraft feature Audio Video On Demand entertainment systems in BusinessFirst and Economy. You can start, stop, pause or rewind your movies and music. The new BusinessFirst in-flight entertainment system features a choice of 250 movies, 300 TV shows, 3,000 songs, 25 interactive video games and the Berlitz Word Traveller Program, which allows you to learn languages in more than 20 languages. The system also provides a juke box feature that will allow you to make your own song list."
Also, the BF screen on flat bed equipped airplanes is 15.5" diagonal.
ps76 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR: Reply 22, posted (3 years 1 month 1 week 1 day 7 hours ago) and read 15863 times:
Just to say many thanks for the report/pics etc. Flying Continental in Business for medium and long-haul definitely looks like the way to go(!) Nice food, nice bed, what more can you ask for(!) When I fly longer routes I'm normally stuck in economy watching movies and feeling very not rested. The only chance I get to lie down is when I'm flying on Ryanair in Europe and I have two free seats next to me(!) But this is definitely inspiring me to maybe spend the extra cash one day and really enjoy flying(!)
ATLflyer From United States of America, joined Jan 2006, 720 posts, RR: 0 Reply 23, posted (3 years 1 month 1 week 1 day 6 hours ago) and read 15756 times:
Is Continental continuing installation of this new seat since the merger or have they halted things until they make a decision on what product they will use? I'm thinking they probably will offer a mixture of 2 and 3 class aircraft. Use UA's product for 3 class and CO's for 2 class until they do a complete cabin refit in 5-10 years.
BA747400 From United States of America, joined Feb 2004, 427 posts, RR: 3 Reply 24, posted (3 years 1 month 1 week 11 hours ago) and read 14575 times:
Thanks for the TR. I just did this trip a few weeks ago (though in Y) and chose CO exclusively due to their international product (including the essential PTV's)...so glad i did. I wasn't able to get as much sleep as you did for obvious reasons, and gate to gate we were closer to 15hrs., but i would fly it again with CO in a heartbeat.
I think you may have the first TR on this route! I looked quickly before I left on my own flight, and didn't see anything.
Thanks again, glad you had a great time.
25 klkla: Great trip report and great photos. The seats look very wide and comfy and the food presentation looked excellent. I can't help but think after the me
26 MaverickM11: No it's not; the "1-2-1" is marketing to make you think that it's wider than a similar cabin that is 2-2-2, when in reality that may not be the case.
27 klkla: Again I have to call BS. I have flown in these seats obviously you haven't. They are not 2-2-2. They are 1-2-1. #1 - Every seat has direct aisle acce
28 MaverickM11: Fine. I think it's mostly PR since a good portion of the seat behind you is actually *next* to you but it doesn't matter. That's news to me, as I ver
29 The777Man: Very nice report with great pictures! The new BusinessFirst seats look very similiar to UA's new Business Class seats. The777Man
30 jbbmonster7: Thanks for the TR. I just did this trip a few weeks ago (though in Y) and chose CO exclusively due to their international product (including the essen