I began my journey to India by flying United to Singapore via Tokyo. I got to the airport at 11:05 for my 12:45 flight to NRT. When I arrived at the airport I went to the International First Class/1K desk. There was no line, and I was helped within 30 seconds. I was called over by one of the premier check in agents. I handed over my itinerary and passport and was checked in very quickly. The efficiency was much appreciated because the airport was very crowded. I then proceeded to get on the train to the North Satellite. Once there I went to the Red Carpet Club. It is unusual that SEA's Red Carpet Club is downstairs next to the subway tram. Upon entering I was directed to the first class section. I was greeted by name as soon as I entered and had a seat because I had 30 minutes before boarding.
The Red Carpet Club agent (Helen) came by and took my ticket and passport. She later came back after taking the ticket and asked me when I wanted to board. She suggested 12:15 so that we could avoid the crowds. So at 12:10 she gathered the 10 other passengers waiting and we were privately escorted upstairs. Once we got to the gate (N9) she took us past the line and directly on board. None of the first class passengers ever had to talk to any of the gate agents. Helen showed me to my seat and made sure everything was good before she left the plane. It was very nice for her to escort the first class passengers because we avoided all of the lines and crowds.
Flight 875 SEA-NRT B777
First Class Seat 3J
Once on board the flight attendants offered orange juice or water along with a tray of newspapers and menus. Also we were given a decent amenity pack with expected items, but nothing exceptional. This particular 777 was looking a little shabby inside. There were scuff marks on the seats, and not as clean as one would expect in first class, but overall it was comfortable. The first suite was very nice with a good about of storage at the seat. At 12:38 (7 minutes early) we pushed back. We were into the air at 12:58pm on our 9:35 hour journey across the pacific.
The two flight attendants working the first class section were elderly women that seemed a little tired. Service was professional but not very personal. After take off the flight attendant came by taking orders for dinner. The choices were:
appetizers of Crab cakes and Mozzarella Cheese
Salad with croutons and fresh chicken
Filet Mignon with Shrimp
Japanese Obento Box
Cheese and fruit
Ice Cream sundaes or Peach Cobbler.
I had the Lamb chops, which were very good. The meal was served in 4 courses with new silverware for each course. The meals were not served on trays, but rather with plates, which was much appreciated. And the ice cream sundae was very good.
After about 2 hours the lights went out. I decided to use the IFE system. There is a tray of movie selections available for first class passengers and there is a tape player in the seat. The inseat IFE was very good. It was nice being able to watch movies at my own discretion. I watched Hidalgo, and a couple others on the flight. Overall the seat is very comfortable on the long haul, and the storage compartments were much appreciated. Also the feature of having the arm rests lower was very convenient. I think that the United First Suite is one of the best seats on the market now. During the flight they served warmed cookies, and then prior to arrival there were crepes and fruit available.
About 10 minutes prior to us beginning our decent, the captain came over the PA. The flight attendants quickly started preparing the cabin for arrival. The decent was smooth and we landed 20 minutes ahead of schedule. Unfortunately we arrived at a remote gate. As soon as we pulled up the first class passengers were let off first. To my surprise there was a dedicated bus for only the first class passengers, which arrived at the terminal first. It was nice to be able to avoid the lines at security at NRT.
After proceeding through security, I went to the first class lounge. It was quite large, and there were a fair number of people there. I took use of the massaging chairs, and then watched some CNN before the boarding announcement. Unfortunately there was no private escort for this flight.
Flight 881 NRT-SIN B747
First Class Seat 4E
I arrived at the gate (31) about 2 minutes before boarding. First class passengers and global service members were invited to board. I had a little trouble finding my seat on the 747, but the purser was able to show it to me. Although the same seat design, the seats on the 747 were not as nice as the 777. The suites were crammed together, and there was very little space. I seats 4E and 4F are very close together, and probably the worst of the first class section. But overall it is the same suite, which is a good product.
The flight attendants on this flight were all Tokyo based, which was a lot nicer. They were younger and friendlier that the 50+ year old women out of SEA. I was given a menu and newspaper prior to departure as well as socks for the flight. We left on time at 5:55 and were on our way to Singapore. Almost as soon as we took off, I reclined my seat to the bed mode. I went to sleep very quickly. I skipped the dinner service. I am 5'11'' and found the seat adequate and comfortable when fully reclined. The first suite is very good when flat as the whole seat moves into shape.
Again the captain awoke us 10 minutes prior to descent into SIN. I filled out my documentation forms for arrival to Singapore and then relaxed for a few minutes. As the flight attendant (nice gentleman from New Zealand) began to pass out hot towels prior to arrival, he fell in the aisle right next to me. A number of towels fell on me, which hurt because they were very hot. He apologized profusely, and continued about his business. Descent and landing were smooth. We taxied to the gate and again first class passengers were let off first and we arrived about 25 minutes ahead of schedule. I proceeded to immigration because I was spending the night in Singapore before an early flight to Bangalore India the next day. After immigration I made it out to a taxi for the trip to the Four Seasons Singapore.
Overall UA has a good international first class product. The seats are what make it so good. The US based flight attendants can be a bit old and crabby, and the planes aren't kept spotlessly clean, but the experience was very good. I would be happy to fly UA again, but I would prefer SQ if I had a choice.