United Airlines #837 San Francisco (SFO
) to Tokyo (NRT
11:28AM Arrive: NRT
2:10PM Arrives next day
10h 42m -- 5,124 miles
thoughts, feeback, questions welcome
I was anxious to experience United's "new" International Business Class Seats. They have been installed on all 767's, 92% of their 747 fleet and United is about to start installation on their 777 fleet: http://www.suitedreams.united.com/
I was careful in choosing UA
's 1st flight of the day from SFO
on the 747 as opposed to the 2nd flight of the day, operated with a 777 (old styles business class seats). Keep in mind that half the seats in United's new international business class face forward and the other half face towards the back of the plane. Apparently, this allows for more space for all business class passengers. The bizarre part is that if you are sitting in an aisle seat and turn your head 20 degrees, you are basically staring straight at someone. This can be good or bad depending, of course, who is in that seat. I don't know about you, but the thought of travelling backwards for 10 hours is not appealing to me, although I realize this does not bother many passengers. I was careful to select and re-confirm a forward facing seat. The seat I chose happened to be on the aisle, in the middle section of a 2-4-2 configuration; seat 7H.
My arrival at SFO
's International Terminal came 3 hours before departure. To my amazement, all of United's First and Business class dedicated check in counters were closed.
I stood in line at the economy check in desk and was issued my boarding pass. I did casually inquire as to why there were no dedicated check in lines for premium customers. Both agents looked at each other, baffled, spun around to look at the premium check in desks and then explained to me that those desk agents were still in a management briefing meeting. Sounds like any typical large corporation; focus on the trees and forget about the forest.
Other airlines operating from SFO
's International Terminal:
After breezing through security and checking out the Red Carpet Club (report on planereality.com), I made my way to the gate.
Passengers, including me, were somewhat confused by the boarding process. We simply could not understand the attendant's announcements. I have no idea if it was the quality of the p.a. system, her accent or something else, but passengers were asking questions of their fellow passengers to clarify what was going on. Nevertheless, boarding was quick, through two separate doors, one for economy class passengers and one for first and business passengers as well as Star Alliance Gold members. Both doors led to the same hallway and then split again into 2 separate jet bridges.
I noticed two things, as soon as I got to my seat. There was no storage to speak of except for a small shelf on the partition in front of me. There was a small hook on the partition where I could hang my amenity kit. I noticed a small footrest cut into the partition which I did not think much of at first, but it made the seat that much more comfortable throughout the flight. Simply being able to stretch my legs out while sitting upright was clutch.
4 abreast, rear facing seats; this was the row in front of me:
Shortly after I took my seat, water, orange juice and champagne were offered in plastic cups. Menus were distributed and I was asked for my first and second choice of entrée.
I truly enjoy being able to listen to Air Traffic Control through the headphones during takeoff and landing. United is the only airline I have flown on that provides this, although whether to enable this function is up to the pilot’s discretion. As soon as we reached cruising altitude, hot towels, warmed gourmet nuts (refills offered) and cocktails were served.
Shortly following, appetizers and then main courses were served. My beef stroganoff was tender and hearty and the noodles were cooked perfectly.
The flight attendants were professional, efficient and very diligent about refilling drinks. I noticed that the flight attendants were in the aisles every 30 minutes offering bottled water throughout the entire flight.
There is a traditional overhead light, but it lights up the whole row when turned on and could potentially bother the other passengers. There was also a personal light over my left shoulder, however, I found this only useful when I was reclined. If I had the light on when sitting upright, it illuminated the backward facing passenger across from me. Maybe I was just being too considerate.
Amenity kit (wound up with 2 somehow)
These new business class seat have awesome full recline, making for a fully flat bed, but they are fairly narrow. If I was lying on my back I could not have my arms by my sides, there was simply not enough space. I needed to rest my arms above my head. Instead of lying on my back, I laid on my side and was good to go. The beauty of these seats is that you will not slide down them when sleeping, like some of the other airlines’ “lie-flat” seats. There are no privacy screens between the seats, so I did feel a little too close to the passenger next to me, particularly when lying on my side. A standard airline pillow and an oversized, ultra comfortable blanket were also at each seat.
Mid flights snacks were listed in the menu, but these were not served, the snacks (cheese, fruit and pretzels) were simply available adjacent to the galley. There was a hand written note above the snacks that said:
“Hot sandwiches available, ask f.a.” I declined to that, but did grab a few snacks.
I opened the window shade on the door and saw these 2 beauties:
The size of the personal television at each business class seat was impressive, as was the quantity and variety of movies, games and television programs. There could be a few more choices added to the music selection. There is an outlet in the center console to plug in your ipod, although I there is a special cord required and I did not inquire as to whether the flight attendants had these cords available. There must be some type of technology issue as to why these outlets were not made to fit standard cords.
nice size PTV:
My second meal, about 90 minutes before landing, was the pastrami sandwich (I am health nut). When you compare every sandwich you eat to a sandwich from Katz’s Delicatessen, you are a tough customer to please. When it comes to pastrami or corned beef sandwiches, they are either flavorful and tender or bland and fatty, there is nothing in between. United produced the former and I was impressed!
I experinecd a very comfortable, relaxing flight with United. Professional, prompt and courteous service along with great food. United has stepped it up by installing new International Business Class seats and in the process enabled themselves to better compete with some of the foreign airlines. Thanks for reading!
OBW-(oh by the way)-I will be on AF
A380 on 11/21 and should have a bunch of pics