as a recent ex-United employee (based in london), i have been fortunate in having unlimited free travel on all of United's classes.
From what i have experienced, the meals they offer vary depending on length of the flight and time of day. Last month i flew a morning flight from SEA
and was delighted to be served a full english breakfast with hot apple danishes, fruit etc. On lunch time/ early evening it hasnt been so good...a choice of chefs salad (with rubbery chicken) or a deli plate. However these flights were short (less than 2 hrs) so for ur return you should get a hot meal. A new feature they have is a warm cookie with a glass of milk...nice!
aircraft wise the 757 isnt one of my favourites (but is widely used by United). The a320 is newer and more comfortable as you have the LCD
screens, but the seat itself is the same as the 757. the 777 is far better. since it is a 3 cabin a/c on the ORD
sector, it'll be an international business class seat so u will get a personal TV
, ample leg room and 160 deg recline (and more!).
On red eye flights, unless its a wide body (74,76,77) i prefer flying economy (provided its empty - rare nowadays!) - if u can get a set of 3 seats to yourself then u can comfortably lie down and sleep! If you have time to spare and can bare any delays (expected in ORD
) then stick to your EWR
routing...it'll be far more comfortable!
i personally rarely eat on any US carrier domestic flight...i always expect the worse (esp after 9/11)...thats why i fork out a few dollars on a 'Subway' sandwich and bring it with me in case hunger strikes! I do not see much of a difference in First and Economy domestically (except for a bit more space and free alcohol!)
United's international service is a totally different matter....my recommendation is you save your miles next time and treat yourself to one of United's intl flights that have the United First Suite!
Hope that helped!