abrelosojos
Topic Author
Posts: 4050
Joined: Sun May 29, 2005 6:48 am

United UA 893: 10/2010: SFO-ICN: << First >>

Sat Mar 19, 2011 9:50 pm

Feedback always appreciated.




I > Background:
A friend of mine has been working in Korea as part of an ambitious airline project and I decided to visit him and make sure he is not creating a disastrous network (hehe). Since I was in California, the fastest way was to take the United nonstop to Incheon from SFO. J class tickets were cheap, and I decided to “pamper” myself by using one of my never used system-wide upgrades to try for First. After all, it was my new way of rolling  .

I did a search on A.Net and this seems like the first report on United’s new reconfigured First Class. I find this highly surprising and since I am not an expert on using A.Net’s “search” function, please correct me if there are other reports. It also covers a very unused route of SFO to ICN.

II > Pre-Flight:

a) Before Airport:
United Air Lines, Inc., is one of the major U.S. airlines and operates from hubs at ORD, IAD, DEN, SFO, and LAX. It is a founding member of Star Alliance and has a network spanning across the U.S., extensively into Far East/Oceania, with limited service to Europe, Latin America, and the Middle East. After a struggling decade, things are finally looking up for United, and the merger with Continental is poised to make it a stronger carrier facing the future.

United’s website at www.ual.com is referred by many in the aviation community as the “.bomb” due to several technical glitches. I actually find the website pretty intuitive and easy to use. In a matter of minutes, I was able to book and pay tickets which arrived electronically in less than 5 minutes. I was able to book seats and request an upgrade, which surprisingly cleared immediately. I love UAL’s higher J buckets and I have plenty of SWU’s to last a lifetime. Even more impressive is that UAL’s site gives you access to modify your reservation and change seats as many times as one wish. Many brownie points .

b) At Airport:
San Francisco’s international terminal is (in my opinion) the best terminal in the entire U.S. It is clean, modern, airy, and does not have nasty 1980s carpeting which seem to prevail through most other major U.S. gateways. Ok, the rental car counters are in a different planet, but I will overlook that. Anyways, UAL has a very premium experience at SFO - starting from the dedicated drop-off area, to a very empty check-in area. Here, a wonderful agent greeted me by name and asked how I was doing. She saw my SWU request and said, "Mr. AM, I can help you not play gate roulette ... here is the F boarding pass". Nice! She then made sure I knew where the UA FCL lounge was, looked me in the eye, and thanked me sincerely for flying United. Awesome stuff!

United has a special security process for international F and it is like this "uber secret" door. It made the process smooth, and within minutes I was entering UAL's F-lounge. Now, as most know, lounges in the U.S. are slightly glorified holding rooms ... the SFO UAL FCL is not one of those. In fact, I remain convinced, it is the best U.S. lounge by an American carrier. While the meal offerings and other perks were still lacking, the decor and the serenity of it were significantly better than the usual RCC. Quick security later, I was airside and went to the RCC and had the “matron” welcome me in with 2 drink vouchers. Like most lounges in the U.S., UAL’s SFO RCC is nothing special and the quality of offerings is below average by any international standard. An assortment of cookies, some fresh fruits, a vegetable platter, a fancy coffee machine, and some juices was all that was on offer. Besides that, you got sushi and some Chinese noodles - which were surprisingly good ... and unhealthy.

Boarding call was announced an hour before, and by the time I went to the gate, it was a mess. One interesting thing was the sheer amount of people who had to have their “DOCS OK” check done by the agent at the gate. There really needs to be a better system for those who do online check-in.

Boarding was quick and efficient and I was welcomed on-board by a very senior all-female UAL crew. After entering, I turned left, and made my way to seat 4K. A senior Korean purser was to look after our section and she came in a few minutes to take my coat and offer me some water. Sadly, she did not have much of a smile and looked the part of those much "hated" and often discussed UAL senior crew who work the trans-Pacific flight.

F load was 100%.

Airport - External:

(San Francisco Airport)


Check-in:

(First Class Check-In Area)


Airport - Internal:



(FIDS)


(Post Security @ SFO)


Scenes of the tarmac:
NONE


Lounge

(United's First Class Lounge)

*
(Much better than a RCC)

*
(Showers in an U.S. lounge!)

*

*

Boarding:


(Chaotic Gate area)


(Boarding)
NONE


III> In-Flight:

a) Service Schedule + Impressions:
Prior to take-off, hot towels, drinks service, menus and order taking. Amenity kits on seats upon arrival. Immediately post take-off, customary warm nuts with beverage run, followed by a light meal. Throughout the flight, snacks available either at snack counter or via crew for something more substantial. Lunch 120 minutes prior to arrival. Interestingly, no pajama service in F. Perhaps Asian airlines have just spoilt me?!

b) Aircraft + Seats:
The 744 is my favourite wide-body aircraft - and the United’s 744’s have come a long way indeed. While the new F seats are good, I don't think they are as much of an evolution than the older generation 744 F-seats. It is unlike the paradigm difference in United's J class. However, no one can fault the new seat for not allowing a good night's rest. While storage is very good around, the one thing that the seats lack is a level of privacy and intimacy that should be the hallmark of any First Class lounge. Perhaps because row 4 had 4 across, it felt very intrusive and the person next to me very close. There is ample legroom during seated position, the distance to the TV monitor is just right, it is comfortable to eat and work from, and MOST importantly, it is a true flat bed. There are definitely better true-flat seats out there, but United's can hold its own. What is the most amazing part is that in flat position, it is remarkably flat. There is only one major “fold” (or, “break”) ensuring that you get a seat without too many crazy angles. Truly, a joy to sleep in. And, sleep I did … I think a full 8 hours! Finally, the bathrooms were remarkably clean and I did like the products being offered.

Aircraft:
(744 @ SFO - undoubtedly, the classiest aircraft in the world)


Views from Aircraft:


*

General Seat Views + Seat Legroom

(Seat)

*
(Front of seat)

*
(Seat controls)

*
(Legroom)

Seat Recline + Angle View:


*
(Way too close - and NO privacy)

Cabin:

(A little too cramped)


(Blanket ++)


(Bathroom: Showing her age)


c) Meal + Beverage:
First class should be significantly above Business. In United's case, meal and beverage service were not that much better than J. Perhaps, this is why most people in UA's FCL cabin were upgrades. It's offering were industry average for the meal part; below industry for the beverage part.

The first course started with an excellent crisp jumbo crab cake. This was followed by a lentil soup that looked orphaned and out of place to the rest of the meal. I mean, a lentil soup was fine as part of an Indian culinary experience - but just felt random alongside the other course. Thankfully, the salad was fresh. For the main course, we had 4 options ... and I went with my usual "strategy" of asking which was the one course not offered in J. (Side bar: UAL usually offers the same product in JCL with one additional entreé). It turned out to be the stir fried shrimps and scallops over egg noodles ... and left me very unimpressed. The noodles were extremely soggy and the bok choy stale. Furthermore, presentation could have been improved. I stay away from the cheese tray, but treated myself to a nice ice-cream sundae. They are not as decadent as those on American ... but nevertheless nicely done ... and washed down well with a Graham's 2003 LBV.

Interestingly, lunch was a simple affair ... and included a choice of 2 mains and nothing to accompany. I chose the rather bland chicken and shrimp jambalaya. Again, nothing much to write home about. Overall, United would be much better served focusing on quality, than quantity. I know they are capable of excellent catering ... but increasingly convinced that UAL's catering shines on few select routes (NRT, KWI, DXB, etc.) While accompanying meals were rather generous beverage runs, the quality of the wine and champagne could definitely be improved.

Mid-flight, one could go to the snack bar, order a sandwich (honey roasted turkey), or have some noodles.

(Menu)

*

*

*

*

*

*

*
(Perhaps this cup is not befitting International First?)

*
(1st Meal Service)

*

*

*

*

*

*

*
(2nd Meal Service)


d) Inflight Entertainment:
United’s inflight entertainment system has come a long way. The screens are big and the quality of the video is very good. However, the headphones need to be improved, and I think UA should give out Bose headphones like American does, and differentiate between the two premium cabins. One thing … while a vast improvement, I thought the AVOD movie offerings were rather limited. As a frequent UAL flyer, it seems like their movies rarely get updated. Outside movies, I did like their TV offerings, and their music collection was solid with good intuitive ways to build your own playlist.

(Controls + Headset - come on, you can do better in FCL!)

*
(IFE System)

*

*

*

*

*

*

*

(“In-flight magazines”, Boarding Passes, etc.)


e) Crew:
I have always thought United's crew in general are above industry standard and display a genuine sense of warmth. In my last report of United (http://www.airliners.net/aviation-forums/trip_reports/read.main/149491/), I was blown away by an industry veteran who demonstrated true service from the heart, and an exemplary commitment to her job. Sadly, this flight was very different, and it reinforced my belief that there must be a balance between "seniority" and "good service". It was clear that the Korean FA who served us was a United veteran. I have seen her personally a few times before, and this was the first time when she worked my part of the cabin. Everything about her was dour. I did not see a single smile from her, and could feel her frown with every request. My polite "thank you's" were met with an indifference that made me question if she was human. Utterly disappointing. I spoke to a few regulars on the ICN flight and it seems that the senior crew who bid on the flights have forgotten what customer service is. Shame really, as she should probably spend some time with her cohorts on the SYD flights to get reacquainted with what makes United a great airline.

IV> Post-Flight:
Arrival at ICN was remarkably smooth and as usual the processing was top notch and I was soon outside giving my friend a hug.

(ICN Arrival - view of ICN - you get to truly appreciate it)


V> Impressions + Scores:
A First Class experience must be exclusive and distinct enough from Business. Otherwise, I strongly believe in getting rid of the whole thing. On the ground, United has been able to create an International First product that is uniquely different from Business - separate check/in, separate security, and a lounge that is far more impressive than the average U.S. RCC's. In the air, United fails miserably to create this segmentation. While the seats are flat and relatively nice, the rather open layout meant that I felt a little too close to the man across the aisle. Moreover, I did not feel that the seat was distinct enough from the JCL product to command a price premium. Similarly, while the meal was OK, it was nothing spectacular, and I would have been OK sitting in JCL. Both beverage quality AVOD depth could also be improved. However, all this pales in comparison to the senior crew who just did not belong in the premium cabin of a top airline. If you don't like your job, do something about it.

Before the reconfiguration, there was a strong incentive to book UA F vs. UA J. I just don't see it now. If United cannot make its First more exclusive, it should just get rid of it, and focus on J. While at it, it can also spend some time retraining its crew. Overall, a rather "blah" experience -
since I fly United a lot, I know this is not the norm and so would fly them again. On the basis of this flight alone, a single thumbs down.


VI> Other Trip Reports:

PREMIUM:
9.27: THAI AIRWAYS **FIRST** (108): BKK-LHR: 07/2010
8.66: Brussels Airlines (93): FIH-BRU: 01/2010
8.64: Turkish Airlines (59): JFK-IST: 11/2008
8.63: Jet Airways (88): JFK-BRU: 10/2009
8.61: Air Canada (49): YYZ-SCL: 06/2008
8.54: Turkish Airlines (77): GRU-DKR-IST: 04/2009
8.36: Kingfisher (98): BOM-HKG: 01/2010
8.30: Jet Airways (74): KWI-BOM: 04/2009
8.23: United Airlines (72): SFO-SYD: 03/2009
8.11: Aeroflot (33): MOW-DEL: 09/2007
8.05: Air India (80): CCU-JFK: 06/2009
8.04: Korean Air (40): NRT-ICN: 10/2007
8.02: Delta Airlines (24): JFK-CDG: 08/2007
7.66: Sri Lankan (104): DEL-CMB: 07/2010
7.64: Royal Jordanian (91): AMM-YUL: 12/2009
7.61: China Southern (103): LOS-DXB: 04/2010
7.57: Pakistan Airlines (102): ORD-BCN: 06/2010
7.46: LAN (55): YYZ-JFK: 09/2008
7.82: UNITED ** FIRST ** (110): SFO-ICN: 10/2010
7.82: Singapore Airlines (06): EWR-SIN: 09/2006
7.38: CATHAY PACIFIC **FIRST** (109): HKG-LHR: 10/2010
7.25: Iran Air (88): BOM-IKA: 12/2009
7.23: Virgin Atlantic (81): BOS-LHR: 07/2009
7.14: Swiss (52): SCL-GRU: 06/2008
7.11: Aer Lingus (105): MAD-IAD: 05/2010
7.11: Austrian (79): VIE-JFK: 06/2009
7.07: Privatair (84): BOM-FRA: 08/2009
7.02: Qatar (68): DOH-JFK: 01/2009
6.96: Etihad (61): JFK-AUH: 12/2008
6.93: Delta Airlines (18): SEA-JFK: 11/2006
6.84: ConViasa (65): CCS-DAM: 01/2009
6.82: Air Burkina (106): BKO-OUA: 06/2010
6.81: Air Canada (17): ICN-YYZ: 10/2006
6.70: KLM (32): EBB-AMS: 08/2007
6.52: Emirates (99): LHR-DXB: 02/2010
6.39: South African (97): EZE-JNB: 01/2010
6.36: Privatair (60): MUC-BOS: 12/2008
6.29: TAM Brasil (96): POA-EZE: 02/2010
6.25: Korean Air (45): NAN-ICN: 10/2007
6.21: Iberia (87): BOS-MAD: 10/2009
6.11: A SKY (107): OUA-COO: 06/2010
6.11: TAP Portugal (53): GRU-OPO: 06/2008
6.00: Gulf Air (75): BOM-BAH: 04/2009
5.88: African Express (89): DXB-NBO: 11/2009
5.75: Singapore Airlines (16): CCU-SIN: 10/2006
5.64: SATA Azores (101): BOS-PDL: 04/2010
5.64: NorthWest (46): ICN-NRT-SEA: 10/2007
5.54: Ethiopian Airlines (95): ADD-BOM: 01/2010
5.46: Icelandair (83): KEF-BOS: 08/2009
5.39: LOT (54): WAW-JFK: 06/2008
5.21: Egypt Air (73): CAI-IST: 02/2009
5.07: TACA (66): JFK-SAP: 01/2009
4.42: Air France: CDG-JNB (25): 08/2007

ECONOMY: Long + Medium:
9.26: Air India (48): JFK-DEL: 02/2008
7.38: Avianca (01): BOG-LIM: 07/2006
7.07: Sri Lankan (62): KWI-CMB: 12/2008
7.00: LAN (94): IPC-SCL: 01/2010
6.41: Avianca (78): JFK-BOG: 05/2009
6.41: American Airlines (58): LHR-BOS: 11/2008
6.39: Condor (85): SEZ-FRA: 09/2009
6.26: Jet Blue (21): CUN-JFK: 02/2007
6.06: Air Canada (04): YYZ-YVR: 09/2006
5.89: USA 3000 (19): PUJ-BDL: 01/2007
5.85: Spanair (69): MAD-LPA: 02/2009
5.79: Air New Zealand (42): RAR-NAN: 10/2007
5.52: Aerolineas (86): USH-AEP: 10/2009
5.46: TAP Air Portugal (23): OSL-LIS: 05/2007
5.19: Air Europa (70): LPA-MAD: 02/2009
5.16: Iberia (71): MAD-BOS: 02/2009
5.11: Air China (82): FRA-PEK: 08/2009

ECONOMY: Short
8.56: Paramount Airways (38): BLR-MAA: 09/2007
8.56: Kingfisher (64): HYD-CCU: 12/2008
8.24: Kingfisher (14): IXA-GAU: 10/2006
7.87: Indian (34): BOM-MAA: 09/2007
7.72: Alliance Air (13): CCU-IXA: 10/2006
7.57: Indian Airlines (10): DEL-CCU: 09/2006
7.23: West Jet (03): YYC-YVR: 09/2006
7.15: JetLite (37): BOM-GOI: 09/2007
6.98: Air Koryo (100): PEK-FNJ: 04/2010
6.70: Spice Jet (09): CCU-DEL: 09/2006
6.63: Air Fiji (44): NAN-SUV: 10/2007
6.63: Jazeera (67): DAM-KWI: 01/2009
6.58: Air Tran (02): EWR-MDW: 08/2006
6.48: Air India Express (63): CMB-MAA: 12/2008
6.44: CO Micronesia (39): ROR-YAP: 10/2007
6.41: Pacific Sun (43): NAN-SUV: 10/2007
6.37: Skybus (47): SWF-CMH: 02/2008
6.33: Kenya Airways (29): NBO-BJM: 08/2007
6.33: Sky Europe (56): LTN-BTS: 10/2008
6.31: Indigo (15): GAU-CCU: 10/2006
6.31: easyJet (57): BUD-LTN: 11/2008
6.22: Air Link Swazi (28): MTS-JNB: 08/2007
6.22: Air India (36): HYD-BOM: 09/2007
6.13: Adam Air (07): SIN-CGK: 09/2006
6.13: Air Rarotonga (41): RAR-AIT: 10/2007
6.00: Transairways (27): INH-MPM: 08/2007
5.95: Air Canada (05): ALB-YYZ: 09/2006
5.85: SAS Norge (22): OSL-AES: 05/2007
5.81: LAM Mozambique (26): JNB-MPM: 08/2007
5.69: Air Deccan (12): IXZ-CCU: 10/2006
5.67: Rwanda Air Exp (30): KGL-NBO: 08/2007
5.37: Felix Airways (92): SCT-SAH: 12/2009
5.11: Aero Republica (76): BOG-CCS: 04/2009
5.07: Go Air (35): MAA-HYD: 09/2007
5.00: Sky Airline (51): IQQ-SCL: 06/2008
4.96: Valuair (08): CGK-SIN: 09/2006
4.78: Air Comet Chile (50): SCL-IQQ: 06/2008
4.74: Fly 540 (31): MYD-LAU: 08/2007
4.33: Viva Aerobus (20): ELP-MTY: 02/2007
4.11: Air Sahara (11): CCU-BOM: 09/2006

(Note on Codes: Y – Economy, J – Business, F – First :: I/D – International/Domestic :: SR/MR/LR – Short/Medium/Long Haul)
(Note on Date: Dates are modified to be +/- 3 days from actual flight date to not reveal actual flight pattern)

VII> Other Pictures:

(Amenity Kit – United First)
Live, and let live.
 
robso2
Posts: 158
Joined: Wed Jun 23, 2010 9:12 pm

RE: United UA 893: 10/2010: SFO-ICN: << First >>

Sat Mar 19, 2011 11:08 pm

Good to have the UA F product in this forum. Great report, thanks for sharing and as always a pleasure to read.

Quoting abrelosojos (Thread starter):
I know they are capable of excellent catering ... but increasingly convinced that UAL's catering shines on few select routes (NRT, KWI, DXB, etc.)

DXB? Since when do UA fly there?!

Quoting abrelosojos (Thread starter):
It turned out to be the stir fried shrimps and scallops over egg noodles ... and left me very unimpressed. The noodles were extremely soggy and the bok choy stale. Furthermore, presentation could have been improved.

Looks awful! Terrible presentation and too much as well.
733/4/5/6/7/8/9, 319/20/21, 752, 744, 772/W, 332/3, 343/6, E70/90, AT43, AR85/1, D38, D10, M82
 
chiawei
Posts: 927
Joined: Wed Nov 01, 2000 9:07 am

RE: United UA 893: 10/2010: SFO-ICN: << First >>

Sun Mar 20, 2011 12:24 am

You know. I would rather take the slightly later SQ 15/16 flight from SFO to ICN.

Privacy, service, and catering is significantly better.
 
Milesdependent
Posts: 581
Joined: Sat Sep 08, 2001 5:27 pm

RE: United UA 893: 10/2010: SFO-ICN: << First >>

Sun Mar 20, 2011 1:17 am

Hi and welcome back. It's been a while since we've had the pleasure of your trip reports here on A.Net. And I log on today and notice there are two.

You may give a thumbs down to the flight, but two thumbs up for a wonderful report.

Again, welcome back  

md
 
ipodguy7
Posts: 456
Joined: Tue Aug 19, 2008 10:44 pm

RE: United UA 893: 10/2010: SFO-ICN: << First >>

Sun Mar 20, 2011 2:48 am

As always, a great TR abrelosojos! I have been eagerly waiting your TR's! Keep up the good work! If you don't mind me asking, what type of business are you in that affords you the great leisure of travel all around the world. If you ask me, you have the perfect job! Thanks again

Matt
ipodguy7
Nashville, TN, USA
AA/DL/NW/CO/UA/US/B6/AS/AC/FI/NY/EI/BD/BA/AF/AZ/DY/SK/QF/JQ/JL
 
Indio66
Posts: 403
Joined: Sat Mar 06, 2004 10:22 am

RE: United UA 893: 10/2010: SFO-ICN: << First >>

Sun Mar 20, 2011 2:56 am

Nice report - I agree that UAL's first should go - do it right or not at all. They simply have not created a product that is a step change from business. AA's first to London is also pretty weak, but at least its an improvement of the sloped business seats.
 
toobz
Posts: 634
Joined: Mon Jan 18, 2010 6:33 am

RE: United UA 893: 10/2010: SFO-ICN: << First >>

Sun Mar 20, 2011 3:04 am

Awesome report as always!!

You know it's true for me, that a crew makes or breaks a flight. All the nice big screens and seats are nice, sure. But if the crew is not on the ball, that kinda ruins the whole experience for me.
 
abrelosojos
Topic Author
Posts: 4050
Joined: Sun May 29, 2005 6:48 am

RE: United UA 893: 10/2010: SFO-ICN: << First >>

Sun Mar 20, 2011 3:22 am

Quoting robso2 (Reply 1):
Good to have the UA F product in this forum. Great report, thanks for sharing and as always a pleasure to read.

= Thanks. I am glad I could be of service  . Actually, I have been surprised that there had been no UAL FCL report for a while. But then again, as I gave my disclaimer - my skills with A.Net "search" is kinda sucky.

Quoting robso2 (Reply 1):

DXB? Since when do UA fly there?!

= They have been flying to DXB for a while ... and, the flight does well.

Quoting robso2 (Reply 1):

Looks awful! Terrible presentation and too much as well.

= Yup.

Quoting chiawei (Reply 2):
You know. I would rather take the slightly later SQ 15/16 flight from SFO to ICN.

Privacy, service, and catering is significantly better.

= I would too ... but it costs a LOT more.

Quoting MilesDependent (Reply 3):
Hi and welcome back. It's been a while since we've had the pleasure of your trip reports here on A.Net. And I log on today and notice there are two.

You may give a thumbs down to the flight, but two thumbs up for a wonderful report.

Again, welcome back

md

= Thanks MD. Good to be back ... got quite a backlog.

Quoting ipodguy7 (Reply 4):
As always, a great TR abrelosojos! I have been eagerly waiting your TR's! Keep up the good work! If you don't mind me asking, what type of business are you in that affords you the great leisure of travel all around the world. If you ask me, you have the perfect job! Thanks again

Matt
ipodguy7
Nashville, TN, USA

= Matt, haha - I get a lot of questions about my job - but most of my travels posted online are strict personal. I don't think it would be good professionally to review flights of clients/business trip.

Quoting indio66 (Reply 5):
Nice report - I agree that UAL's first should go - do it right or not at all. They simply have not created a product that is a step change from business. AA's first to London is also pretty weak, but at least its an improvement of the sloped business seats.

= Hmmm ... maybe, I just have to fly the AA product and make my own AAssement  .

Quoting toobz (Reply 6):

You know it's true for me, that a crew makes or breaks a flight. All the nice big screens and seats are nice, sure. But if the crew is not on the ball, that kinda ruins the whole experience for me.

= Agreed.

Thanks a lot everyone for all the emails and everything. I have been fine - as I have mentioned, was locked up merging two carriers and with strict gag orders.

Saludos,
A.
Live, and let live.
 
fbgdavidson
Posts: 3563
Joined: Thu Oct 14, 2004 6:25 am

RE: United UA 893: 10/2010: SFO-ICN: << First >>

Sun Mar 20, 2011 3:46 am

Quoting abrelosojos (Thread starter):
I did a search on A.Net and this seems like the first report on United’s new reconfigured First Class. I find this highly surprising and since I am not an expert on using A.Net’s “search” function, please correct me if there are other reports. It also covers a very unused route of SFO to ICN.

Sorry to disappoint  United New First/Economy: LHR-IAD-RIC (w/pics) (by Fbgdavidson Sep 23 2009 in Trip Reports)

I've only done UA F a handful of times and I get off at the end feeling like I was left wanting, even with the new seat to be honest is actually pretty excellent! I do agree with you about the privacy aspect, I'm not sure why the seats are angled into the aisle when on most other carriers in a similar config they face to the windows...in the nose of the 747 this is amplified yet further!

The UA branded lounges are poor (although I've not used the SFO IFL) even the IFLs, and I won't mention the RCCs! The food is frankly far below even what BA offer and it's not like BA's catering is 3 Michelin stars!

In my mind a flight in longhaul F should be special regardless of the airline in question and UA First seems to be a slightly step up from business. Frankly it wouldn't take a whole lot to really elevate the game, some investment in decent food and beverage could be quickly implemented.

Quoting abrelosojos (Thread starter):
After entering, I turned left, and made my way to seat 4K

I wonder why the window seats on the starboard side became 'K' seats after the reconfguration, they were always 'J' before...
"My first job was selling doors, door to door, that's a tough job innit" - Bill Bailey
 
Burj
Posts: 745
Joined: Sun Nov 18, 2007 6:46 am

RE: United UA 893: 10/2010: SFO-ICN: << First >>

Sun Mar 20, 2011 4:56 am

Great trip report as always!

I wonder if the lack of privacy was an issue of seat density or just layout?

The old F cabin on SQ's 747s seems to be similar in size..but the cabin layout is more staggered so that the people in your row are not exactly lined up. If UA had done something similar, by say offsetting the center pair of seats...that would create a better sense of privacy!
 
nethkt
Posts: 1014
Joined: Thu Apr 19, 2001 10:27 am

RE: United UA 893: 10/2010: SFO-ICN: << First >>

Sun Mar 20, 2011 6:27 am

Afternoon from Phuket, Thailand, Mister A.

Another fabulous First class trip report from you. Always love the way you present your trip report.
Of course, the very best one out there  

Just wondering how come you ended up check-in at Terminal 3? Or did UA just merged the international check-in with domestic? Or maybe you came from LAX and arriving at T3?

The UA first lounge is probably the best US carrier lounge I've seen so far! But for sure, nothing compared to THAI F class lounge at BKK!

Food look large, not sure about the taste.

The turn down part is that it's always full on United First class! Non-revs are entitled to fly first class, so chances are, non-revs will fill all F seats. Many people (including me) have said that if they were a full-fare first class pax, they'd rather see the cabin empty for more privacy. At least, with same amount of cabin crew, less people means more individual attention for service. But I'm ok with non-revs, used to be one of them, life was so beautiful!!  

I don't care how private and luxury SQ F is on the 77W.
Flying First class trans-pacific in the small section in the nose of boeing 747 is still the coolest thing in aviation history!

Long live 747!!

Many thanks once again!!
Let's just blame it on yields.
 
Carfield
Posts: 2035
Joined: Fri Dec 19, 2003 5:49 pm

RE: United UA 893: 10/2010: SFO-ICN: << First >>

Sun Mar 20, 2011 8:14 am

I really agree with you on all aspects of analysis of United First Class service. If you can't do it, just get rid of it and focus on bring a real business class product. United Business really lacks in every aspects - catering is simply below standard.

Continental will have lots of work and difficult decision to make, and as of now, I don't think United crew is even ready to handle the demanding catering on Continental's BusinessFirst.

However one thing really bothers all these years is the pre-arrival meal. They are not only small but often just poor microwave meal thrown together. Reference other airlines, even your own partner, Continental and other US competition, Delta, United really does a poor job. The meals lack substance and just a poor premium meal. The hot entree or fruit plate thing is no longer acceptable, while other airlines offer at least two entree choices and one substantial cold platter with a proper appetizer and dessert service. Most airlines on those flights offer a three course pre-arrival meal on these flights in first class, and even Delta offers an one-tray but very substantial meal with proper fruit appetizer, choice of bread, choice of hot entrees and dessert. I am still buffered by some of the choices of meals - chicken and shrimp jambalaya is not something I will serve on an Asian routes, but a large Asian population, which is not familiar with the dish, and is not used to that taste. Why not served a choice of a simple pasta or an Asian noodle dish, or even a warmed sandwich and soup served on those domestic flights, accompanied with a fresh fruit bowl, and a proper slice of cake for dessert (even they are offered freshly baked cookie). American used to serve a nice bowl of Japanese noodles prior to arrival with a proper starter, and for dessert, they always feature freshly baked cookies and fruit bowl on their pre-arrival meal in first class. What United serves is just unacceptable.

For Seoul flights, I am surprised not a single Korean dish is offered - like Korean style BBQ short rib or Bi Bim Bap - look rather simple dishes to serve and most Americans who are familiar with Asian cuisine, will be familiar with it. They are rather cheap items to serve... just need to warm rice and pour soup.

Sad to hear about your crew situation!

Thanks for sharing again and look forward to your next report!

Carfield
 
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airbuseric
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RE: United UA 893: 10/2010: SFO-ICN: << First >>

Sun Mar 20, 2011 9:47 am

Hi Alex,
great report, thanks! I must agree with you about the personal space in the nose section, for F is way too small. It looks more like a J-class setting. Sorry to hear about the crew, it's really a hit or miss these days.

Regards
Eric
"The whole world steps aside for the man who knows where he is going"
 
The777Man
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RE: United UA 893: 10/2010: SFO-ICN: << First >>

Sun Mar 20, 2011 9:49 am

Hi Alex!

Great to see another report from you, it's been too long! This is one is excellent as usual.

Too bad with the not so nice purser. Flight attendants are the most important factor to a good flight for me. I agree that the meals should be more differentiwated between F and C. Bring back the caviar and Dom Perignon! I haven't had a chance to try this new F seat myself yet. It looks very comfortable !

The777Man
Boeing 777s flown: UA, TG, KE, BA, CX, NH, JD, JL, CZ, SQ, EK, NG, CO, AF, SV, KU, DL, AA, MH, OZ, CA, MS, SU, LY, RG, PE, AZ, KL, VN, PK, EY, NZ, AM, BR, AC, DT, UU, OS, AI, 9W, KQ, QR, VA, JJ, ET, TK, PR, BG, T5, CI, MU and LX.. Further to fly.. LH 777
 
AA737-823
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RE: United UA 893: 10/2010: SFO-ICN: << First >>

Sun Mar 20, 2011 10:10 am

I agree with 777man that it's been TOO LONG since I've read one of your reports!

Regarding UA's product, I've had more appealing, better-presented meals in Continental domestic first class.
Having read your report, I'm unlikely to spend additional money or miles to upgrade to UA F.
Especially if the meal service is basically the same as J, plus one lackluster main choice.


Also, there are SHOWERS in the IAH President's Club, terminal E. And they're wonderful...!
 
CO58
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RE: United UA 893: 10/2010: SFO-ICN: << First >>

Sun Mar 20, 2011 11:19 am

I rarely reply to trip reports myself, but I just had to stop by and say how much I enjoy yours. Your reports are really informative, I almost feel like I am reading a school essay. The United F product does not look like much, especially the catering. Shame about the crew, they can always make or break the experience. Like you said though, you have have had great crew before on UA so you know they are capable.

Quoting abrelosojos (Thread starter):
(Showers in an U.S. lounge!)
Quoting AA737-823 (Reply 14):

Also, there are SHOWERS in the IAH President's Club, terminal E.

Not as uncommon as you make it sound. Continental has had them for a few years in Houston and Newark. Like AA737-823 said, they are fantastic after a long flight from HKG or AMS!

Here are few off the top of my head:

UA also offers shower at their Arrivals Suites in ORD.
DL: ATL, JFK, LAX and DTW (thanks to NW!).
AA: DFW, JFK, LAX, MIA, and ORD.

Not sure why you make it sound so rare, its fairly common practice. Maybe you have been visiting too many Red Carpet Clubs! Time to diversify  
 
bananaboy
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RE: United UA 893: 10/2010: SFO-ICN: << First >>

Sun Mar 20, 2011 12:43 pm

I love your trip reports. Thanks for posting.

Quoting abrelosojos (Thread starter):
I did a search on A.Net and this seems like the first report on United’s new reconfigured First Class. I find this highly surprising and since I am not an expert on using A.Net’s “search” function, please correct me if there are other reports. It also covers a very unused route of SFO to ICN.

Was looking forward to reading up on their new International First.

Quoting abrelosojos (Thread starter):
(A little too cramped)

Looks..erm.. cosy. I wonder if it's the same feeling on their 767's and 777's.

Quoting abrelosojos (Thread starter):
(Perhaps this cup is not befitting International First?)

Absolutely. Much of their F&B offering also is not befitting of International First class, at least if you're serious about expecting a premium to be paid, and if you want to compete with the best.

Quoting abrelosojos (Thread starter):
Utterly disappointing. I spoke to a few regulars on the ICN flight and it seems that the senior crew who bid on the flights have forgotten what customer service is. Shame really, as she should probably spend some time with her cohorts on the SYD flights to get reacquainted with what makes United a great airline.

Such a shame. I've worked in customer facing positions (years ago) and never had the disconnect with the overall company goal in satisfying a customer that these employees have. It's sad - they've had so much taken during bankruptcy and the job has changed so much that they just become embittered and resentful of the very customers that keep them in business. I've known a couple of (non-UA) FA's who are a little like this - too senior and well-paid to want to give up the perks and flexibility and leave, but too jaded to want to really look after the customer.

Back on to UA, my experiences have been the generally very positive, including one excellent FA that I remember in particular. Of course, I remember one very bad one too, but overall more good than bad.

Anyway, rant over. Thanks for the great report.

Mark
All my life, I've been kissing, your top lip 'cause your bottom one's missing
 
palmjet
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RE: United UA 893: 10/2010: SFO-ICN: << First >>

Sun Mar 20, 2011 12:58 pm

Nice report and pics - thanks for posting this trip report, which as you say, was on a rarely reported route.

Why does it seem that all US airlines offer the same dessert no matter what route - the standard ice cream sundae? Are tastes originating in the US so bland that this is all they can come up with? I've seen a few reports where something other than a sundae has been offered on a US carrier, but this seems to be incredibly rare!

Thanks again. Palmjet
Eastern - Number One To The Sun
 
globalflyer
Posts: 724
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RE: United UA 893: 10/2010: SFO-ICN: << First >>

Sun Mar 20, 2011 1:05 pm

Hi Alex. Another fantastic report and it's great to see you back! I always take KE to Korea as the service is always prompt and with a smile. Looking forward to more adventures. Cheers!
Landing on every Continent almost on an annual basis!
 
LH4116
Posts: 1183
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RE: United UA 893: 10/2010: SFO-ICN: << First >>

Sun Mar 20, 2011 7:08 pm

Hey Alex, another great report from you!

I find it very amusing to read your reports, mainly due to the fact that you tend to look at things in a very critical way.

To me UA's F product doesn't look that nice. When it comes to the Lounge, it looked more like a sub-par J Lounge rather than an F Lounge. Offerings didn't seem too good, but I guess that's the US standard. Also, why did they give you drink vouchers? I thought booze was unlimited in F.

The seat looked pretty nice, not that much nicer from J though. Meal service seemed pretty okay, but as you say the food offerings seemed very similar to J.

Is there really a point to call this International First Class, honestly they'd be better off calling it Business Plus or something.

Thanks for sharing!
//Jonas
SAS Plus is Business Class made faux!
 
abrelosojos
Topic Author
Posts: 4050
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RE: United UA 893: 10/2010: SFO-ICN: << First >>

Sun Mar 20, 2011 8:08 pm

Quoting fbgdavidson (Reply 8):
Sorry to disappoint United New First/Economy: LHR-IAD-RIC (w/pics) (by Fbgdavidson Sep 23 2009 in Trip Reports)

= See! I gave you the disclaimer that I don't understand A.Net's search! Anyways, re-read your report, and as usual, fantastic writing. BTW, have you flown them on any other route? UAL FCL that is.

Quoting fbgdavidson (Reply 8):

In my mind a flight in longhaul F should be special regardless of the airline in question and UA First seems to be a slightly step up from business. Frankly it wouldn't take a whole lot to really elevate the game, some investment in decent food and beverage could be quickly implemented.

= Agreed.

Quoting Burj (Reply 9):
I wonder if the lack of privacy was an issue of seat density or just layout?

= It must be something with the layout as I did not feel the same on either CX or TG sitting at the "nose". Heck, even IR's 747's feel spacious!

Quoting nethkt (Reply 10):
Afternoon from Phuket, Thailand, Mister A.

= Wish I was there. What do you do there?

Quoting nethkt (Reply 10):

Another fabulous First class trip report from you. Always love the way you present your trip report.
Of course, the very best one out there

= Thanks a lot. Very kind  .

Quoting nethkt (Reply 10):
Just wondering how come you ended up check-in at Terminal 3? Or did UA just merged the international check-in with domestic? Or maybe you came from LAX and arriving at T3?

= Great catch - and it seems like you are a regular. Yes, I arrived from LAX on the 7am flight to connect at SFO.

Quoting nethkt (Reply 10):

The UA first lounge is probably the best US carrier lounge I've seen so far! But for sure, nothing compared to THAI F class lounge at BKK!

= Yup. Everything has to be compared alongside relevant benchmarks  .

Quoting nethkt (Reply 10):

The turn down part is that it's always full on United First class! Non-revs are entitled to fly first class, so chances are, non-revs will fill all F seats. Many people (including me) have said that if they were a full-fare first class pax, they'd rather see the cabin empty for more privacy. At least, with same amount of cabin crew, less people means more individual attention for service. But I'm ok with non-revs, used to be one of them, life was so beautiful!!

= A lot of airlines (CX, 9W, SQ) are pretty content to the 40-60-80 rule - selling 40% of F, 60% of C, and 80% of Y at stronger yields to maintain that private feeling.

Quoting nethkt (Reply 10):
Flying First class trans-pacific in the small section in the nose of boeing 747 is still the coolest thing in aviation history!

= Completely agreed!

Quoting nethkt (Reply 10):
Long live 747!!

= AMEN!

Quoting Carfield (Reply 11):
I really agree with you on all aspects of analysis of United First Class service. If you can't do it, just get rid of it and focus on bring a real business class product

= Yup. Do you have any idea if FCL is basically JCL upgrades?

Quoting Carfield (Reply 11):
chicken and shrimp jambalaya is not something I will serve on an Asian routes, but a large Asian population, which is not familiar with the dish, and is not used to that taste. Why not served a choice of a simple pasta or an Asian noodle dish, or even a warmed sandwich and soup served on those domestic flights, accompanied with a fresh fruit bowl, and a proper slice of cake for dessert (even they are offered freshly baked cookie). American used to serve a nice bowl of Japanese noodles prior to arrival with a proper starter, and for dessert, they always feature freshly baked cookies and fruit bowl on their pre-arrival meal in first class. What United serves is just unacceptable.

= Haha - funny - I thought the Jambalaya option was slightly weird as well - and the timing of the meal was also kind of strange.

Quoting airbuseric (Reply 12):
It looks more like a J-class setting. Sorry to hear about the crew, it's really a hit or miss these days.

Regards
Eric

= Eric, the strange part is that I have usually had VERY good crews.

Quoting The777Man (Reply 13):

Too bad with the not so nice purser. Flight attendants are the most important factor to a good flight for me. I agree that the meals should be more differentiwated between F and C. Bring back the caviar and Dom Perignon! I haven't had a chance to try this new F seat myself yet. It looks very comfortable !

= Hey! If I wasn't in a rush, I would have stopped and contacted you. Next time for sure  . Well, for the caviar and the DP, you will have to fly in Asia I guess. Ya - unless UAL can improve F, they should just focus on J.

Quoting AA737-823 (Reply 14):
I agree with 777man that it's been TOO LONG since I've read one of your reports!
Quoting The777Man (Reply 13):

Great to see another report from you, it's been too long! This is one is excellent as usual.

= Thanks mates. I have quite the backlog to clear.

Quoting CO58 (Reply 15):
I rarely reply to trip reports myself, but I just had to stop by and say how much I enjoy yours. Your reports are really informative, I almost feel like I am reading a school essay.

= Thanks. School essay eh  ?

Quoting CO58 (Reply 15):
Shame about the crew, they can always make or break the experience. Like you said though, you have have had great crew before on UA so you know they are capable.

= Not only have UAL crew been fantastic, but UAL senior crew have also been fantastic. I just don't know what was up with the crew on this flight.

Quoting CO58 (Reply 15):

Not as uncommon as you make it sound. Continental has had them for a few years in Houston and Newark. Like AA737-823 said, they are fantastic after a long flight from HKG or AMS!

Here are few off the top of my head:

UA also offers shower at their Arrivals Suites in ORD.
DL: ATL, JFK, LAX and DTW (thanks to NW!).
AA: DFW, JFK, LAX, MIA, and ORD.

Not sure why you make it sound so rare, its fairly common practice. Maybe you have been visiting too many Red Carpet Clubs! Time to diversify

= I have used the DL ones at DTW (ex-NW), but don't travel in the U.S. as much to be a connoisseur like you. But, I have noted these ones and will use it the next time I am there. What is your favorite?


Quoting bananaboy (Reply 16):

Looks..erm.. cosy. I wonder if it's the same feeling on their 767's and 777's.

= Weirdly, I think it is better managed in the 777's and 763's because the decreasing size at the nose is not an issue.

Quoting Palmjet (Reply 17):
Why does it seem that all US airlines offer the same dessert no matter what route - the standard ice cream sundae? Are tastes originating in the US so bland that this is all they can come up with? I've seen a few reports where something other than a sundae has been offered on a US carrier, but this seems to be incredibly rare!

= Haha. You know, I was just thinking of that!

Quoting globalflyer (Reply 18):
Hi Alex. Another fantastic report and it's great to see you back! I always take KE to Korea as the service is always prompt and with a smile. Looking forward to more adventures. Cheers!

= KE has also upped its game the last few years.

Quoting LH4116 (Reply 19):
Hey Alex, another great report from you!

= Thanks Jonas.

Quoting LH4116 (Reply 19):

I find it very amusing to read your reports, mainly due to the fact that you tend to look at things in a very critical way.

= Haha. Thanks. The way I see it - if you are willing to part USD 5,000+ for a plane ticket - an amount of money that can sustain quite a few families in many countries, you should get something back. When a crew is good, I complement. When a crew is bad, I make it a point to mention the same  .

Quoting LH4116 (Reply 19):

Is there really a point to call this International First Class, honestly they'd be better off calling it Business Plus or something.

Thanks for sharing!
//Jonas

= Agreed.

Thanks all for the comments and feedback.

Saludos,
A.
Live, and let live.
 
lychemsa
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RE: United UA 893: 10/2010: SFO-ICN: << First >>

Sun Mar 20, 2011 8:15 pm

I would have chosen Asiana over UA.
 
767747
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RE: United UA 893: 10/2010: SFO-ICN: << First >>

Sun Mar 20, 2011 9:51 pm

Good report! Interesting to read about your flight with United in F. I've flown United a few times recently, and had some good flights with them.

I am pretty underwhelmed however, with your meal in F to ICN. It didn't like the quantity, or quality was up to par for an International flight of this stage.

Looking forward to your next trip!

Matthew (767747)
I love to fly!
 
ORDnHKG
Posts: 105
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RE: United UA 893: 10/2010: SFO-ICN: << First >>

Sun Mar 20, 2011 11:35 pm

Quoting lychemsa (Reply 21):
I would have chosen Asiana over UA.

It maybe more expensive, besides, UA SWU cannot use on OZ, and C seats on OZ's 777 it could be 50/50 chance of angle seats, very hard to sleep.
 
abrelosojos
Topic Author
Posts: 4050
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RE: United UA 893: 10/2010: SFO-ICN: << First >>

Mon Mar 21, 2011 1:08 am

Quoting lychemsa (Reply 21):
I would have chosen Asiana over UA.

= On a last minute trip, I didn't get OZ to price at a decent level.

Quoting 767747 (Reply 22):
Good report! Interesting to read about your flight with United in F. I've flown United a few times recently, and had some good flights with them.

= Usually, UA does not disappoint ... this flight was different.

Quoting 767747 (Reply 22):

I am pretty underwhelmed however, with your meal in F to ICN. It didn't like the quantity, or quality was up to par for an International flight of this stage.

= Nope. Every time I look at the Jambalaya, I am reminded how poor the presentation was.

Quoting ORDnHKG (Reply 23):
It maybe more expensive, besides, UA SWU cannot use on OZ, and C seats on OZ's 777 it could be 50/50 chance of angle seats, very hard to sleep.

= Yup. Do you know if UA's FCL are mostly upgrades?

Thanks all for reading,

Saludos,
A.
Live, and let live.
 
caleb1
Posts: 491
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RE: United UA 893: 10/2010: SFO-ICN: << First >>

Mon Mar 21, 2011 1:23 am

As always, I truly enjoy reading your TRs and look forward to your next installment. As for United, well what can I say? I always expect them to improve when I fly them, but in most areas they are exceedingly average at best. Nothing about them shines head and shoulders above the rest. While I can't say they are a terrible airline, whenever I fly their premium cabins, I am always underwhelmed by the experience...but perhaps it's just me. In any event, thanks again for your TR.
 
vietsky
Posts: 66
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RE: United UA 893: 10/2010: SFO-ICN: << First >>

Mon Mar 21, 2011 2:24 am

Hi Abrelosojos,

I have been waiting your trip report for a while and I would like you to do t/r more often  

I must say the UA First Class does not impressed me. I am guessing that the FC Price must be much more expensive compare to J Class. However, if flying UA, J Class will do the job as good as F Class (in my opinion). Lie flat seat, same food, same entertainment, and same crew behavior  . Don't you agree?

Looking forward for more great t/r

Vietsky
 
wheretonext
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RE: United UA 893: 10/2010: SFO-ICN: << First >>

Mon Mar 21, 2011 8:06 am

Alex,

Thanks for writing a great trip report! Sorry the crew turned out to be lackluster, though my experiences with United have usually been good so this came to me as a slight surprise (being in F no less). I can't wait for the day when I've flown in enough F classes to be able to critique their externalities. One day... One day... lol

Thanks again!

-Matt
WhereToNext
Next Adventure: TBD
 
RJtraveller
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RE: United UA 893: 10/2010: SFO-ICN: << First >>

Mon Mar 21, 2011 9:19 am

Hi !!

Really enjoy reading your trip report the UA seat in first seems not bad for me , only there is a lack of privacy , flying with UA from the US to Asia wouldn't be the best way for me, some better airlines in terms of services like Asiana and Korean Air would be a better choice for me.
Thanks for sharing the wonderful TR.!

Cheers,
RJtraveller
 
CO58
Posts: 18
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RE: United UA 893: 10/2010: SFO-ICN: << First >>

Mon Mar 21, 2011 9:59 am

Quoting abrelosojos (Reply 20):
I have used the DL ones at DTW (ex-NW), but don't travel in the U.S. as much to be a connoisseur like you. But, I have noted these ones and will use it the next time I am there. What is your favorite?

I have to give the nod to Continental here, especially the ones in IAH. Though AA is pretty good too. Maybe you should try them out and report back to us which one you like the best.  
 
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Coal
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RE: United UA 893: 10/2010: SFO-ICN: << First >>

Mon Mar 21, 2011 10:33 am

Hi Alex

Yet another great report from you. Thanks for sharing your F experience on UA. To be honest, after reading this I am more and more convinced that paying for F on an American carrier is just not worth it. I had a similar experience on AA (PVG - ORD and LAX - NRT), although the food was much better (and the service on LAX - NRT by the Japanese purser was fantastic).

I also don't understand why they use those horrible pastic cups on the ground. Additionally, a lack of a dedicated F check in area (a la SQ in SIN or QF in SYD) just doesn't cut it. I guess it makes sense that those seats are only there for upgrades and non-rev.

Cheers
Coal
Nxt Flts: MI RGN-SIN | SQ SIN-RGN-SIN | CX SIN-HKG-PVG | SQ PVG-SIN
 
ba319-131
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RE: United UA 893: 10/2010: SFO-ICN: << First >>

Mon Mar 21, 2011 1:23 pm

Hi Alex,

Good to be reading another of your trip reports, been a while my friend.

The check-in experience and the improved lounge is a great plus, however the onboard F cabin looks far too cozy for comfort, looks like UA forgot what F was about!?

The F & B offerings don't look that impressive, the plastic cup of water, I assume the pre-departure drink, is just pathetic for a longhaul F offering.

The ammenity kit looks nothing special either, I got a nicer on from AV on an overnight BOG-SCL flight recently.

Thanks for the reminder of how unimpresive the overall UA product is.

Cheers

Mark
111,732,3,4,5,7,8,BBJ,741,742,743,744,752,762,763,764,772,77L,773,77W,L15,D10,30,40,AB3,AB6,A312.313,319,320,321,332,333
 
The777Man
Posts: 5926
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RE: United UA 893: 10/2010: SFO-ICN: << First >>

Mon Mar 21, 2011 7:22 pm

Quoting abrelosojos (Reply 20):
= Hey! If I wasn't in a rush, I would have stopped and contacted you. Next time for sure



Yes, let me know, would be great to meet up sometime.

Quoting abrelosojos (Reply 20):
. Well, for the caviar and the DP, you will have to fly in Asia I guess



UA used to have DP and caviar in F but stopped that in early 1998 
Quoting abrelosojos (Reply 20):
Ya - unless UAL can improve F, they should just focus on J.

UA has not made a decision yet if the new combined UA will be a two or a three class airline. We will see.

The777Man
Boeing 777s flown: UA, TG, KE, BA, CX, NH, JD, JL, CZ, SQ, EK, NG, CO, AF, SV, KU, DL, AA, MH, OZ, CA, MS, SU, LY, RG, PE, AZ, KL, VN, PK, EY, NZ, AM, BR, AC, DT, UU, OS, AI, 9W, KQ, QR, VA, JJ, ET, TK, PR, BG, T5, CI, MU and LX.. Further to fly.. LH 777
 
chiawei
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RE: United UA 893: 10/2010: SFO-ICN: << First >>

Mon Mar 21, 2011 8:28 pm

How much was for the United F flight?

I would think even J in SQ would be better option than UA F on this route.
 
kfitz
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RE: United UA 893: 10/2010: SFO-ICN: << First >>

Tue Mar 22, 2011 1:18 am

Honestly I don't agree with the assessments of this review. I've done ORD-CDG-ORD (763), IAD-SFO (744), ORD-SFO (763), SFO-NRT (744), and NRT-SEA (772) all in the new United First Suite. And yes, I've also sat in J, JFK-SFO (763) and SFO-LAX (772).

Hard product wise, it's a great product. It is clearly superior to any business class product from Delta, Continental, or American. You just don't get the amount of space and privacy of that you do up in First, especially in the nose of a 747. I can't really put this into words, as you just have to experience it firsthand. The largest difference with F to C is that in C, foot room in the well is very limited. Not to mention, privacy, personal space, and the width of the actual bed/seat is in a lesser league than up front.

The hard product is solid and fully competitive with what their customers want. I understand there are those that complain of the angle of the seats, and the lack of privacy (though in the 777 they are arranged inward), but United did this for a reason, as their market research concluded that their customers did not want the closed off nature of a true suite (SQ/EK). And yes, I've spoken with Graham Atkinson himself (SVP), who I had the pleasure sitting next to back from Chicago. This was pre-merger, but at that point he told me that there was a major initiative underway to improve soft product and catering, starting on select Asian routes. United didn't just spend hundreds of millions of dollars on the new IPTE to not give a care about the soft product.

I notice most of the replies in this thread calling for United to divest themselves of United First are from posters who have likely base that decision not off of first hand flying experiences, but rather reviews like this, or pictures they find online. Honestly, that can only tell you so much. I actually enjoy the new product immensely. The seat is wonderful, the IFE is nice, and the catering isn't bad, but could definitely stand improvement. In my opinion, if the catering is improved, it would make a huge impact. For hoards of loyal 1K/UGS/*G flyers who have grown accustomed to the United First Suite on those long haul routes over the last decade, the new United Business product simply doesn't deliver. United First serves it's purpose - all one has to do is look at the loads. It's catering very well to what the customer wants and is willing to pay for. United isn't after the same SQ/EK type super-premium customer, and their product epitomizes that reality.
 
abrelosojos
Topic Author
Posts: 4050
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RE: United UA 893: 10/2010: SFO-ICN: << First >>

Tue Mar 22, 2011 3:57 am

Quoting caleb1 (Reply 25):
As always, I truly enjoy reading your TRs and look forward to your next installment. As for United, well what can I say? I always expect them to improve when I fly them, but in most areas they are exceedingly average at best. Nothing about them shines head and shoulders above the rest. While I can't say they are a terrible airline, whenever I fly their premium cabins, I am always underwhelmed by the experience...but perhaps it's just me. In any event, thanks again for your TR.

= You are welcome. Ya - I got a feeling that the whole *wow* factor was missing from it.

Quoting vietsky (Reply 26):
I must say the UA First Class does not impressed me. I am guessing that the FC Price must be much more expensive compare to J Class. However, if flying UA, J Class will do the job as good as F Class (in my opinion). Lie flat seat, same food, same entertainment, and same crew behavior . Don't you agree?

= I never checked the F revenue ticket, but a quick check online shows F to be significantly more expensive.

Quoting WhereToNext (Reply 27):
I can't wait for the day when I've flown in enough F classes to be able to critique their externalities. One day... One day... lol

Thanks again!

-Matt

= Matt, trust me ... you'll have the experiences sooner than you think ... if you want.

Quoting RJtraveller (Reply 28):

Really enjoy reading your trip report the UA seat in first seems not bad for me , only there is a lack of privacy , flying with UA from the US to Asia wouldn't be the best way for me, some better airlines in terms of services like Asiana and Korean Air would be a better choice for me.
Thanks for sharing the wonderful TR.!

= I have never flown KE or OZ in F. Are they nice?

Quoting CO58 (Reply 29):

I have to give the nod to Continental here, especially the ones in IAH. Though AA is pretty good too. Maybe you should try them out and report back to us which one you like the best.

= Maybe, I will   ...

Quoting Coal (Reply 30):
To be honest, after reading this I am more and more convinced that paying for F on an American carrier is just not worth it. I had a similar experience on AA (PVG - ORD and LAX - NRT), although the food was much better (and the service on LAX - NRT by the Japanese purser was fantastic).

= Sorry to hear of this. Ya, I have done quite a few NRT flights and the Japanese pursers are usually very good.

Quoting ba319-131 (Reply 31):

The F & B offerings don't look that impressive, the plastic cup of water, I assume the pre-departure drink, is just pathetic for a longhaul F offering.

= Could this be a US law? Though, why would it only be applicable to US carriers?

Quoting chiawei (Reply 33):

I would think even J in SQ would be better option than UA F on this route.

= I would tend to agree.

Quoting KFitz (Reply 34):
Hard product wise, it's a great product. It is clearly superior to any business class product from Delta, Continental, or American.

= But the point is why would we compare it to a J class product? Personally, I prefer AA's F-seats MUCH more than UA's.

Quoting KFitz (Reply 34):
but United did this for a reason, as their market research concluded that their customers did not want the closed off nature of a true suite (SQ/EK). And yes, I've spoken with Graham Atkinson himself (SVP), who I had the pleasure sitting next to back from Chicago.

= Well, I don't think the SVP would be telling you anything otherwise  . I find it a tad hard to believe that customers did not want the suite.

Quoting KFitz (Reply 34):
For hoards of loyal 1K/UGS/*G flyers who have grown accustomed to the United First Suite on those long haul routes over the last decade, the new United Business product simply doesn't deliver. United First serves it's purpose - all one has to do is look at the loads.

= Right. But, perhaps this is where the problem lies. Are the loads strong because they are revenue passengers? Or, are they upgrades?

Quoting KFitz (Reply 34):
United isn't after the same SQ/EK type super-premium customer, and their product epitomizes that reality.

= This I agree with. UA's F may be only dedicated to its premium flyers ... but as someone who is a UA premium flyer ... but fly others a lot as well ... and one benchmarking this report to other F-class products out there, UA just does not cut it.

Thanks a lot all for the comments.

Saludos,
A.
Live, and let live.
 
TravelsUK
Posts: 113
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RE: United UA 893: 10/2010: SFO-ICN: << First >>

Tue Mar 22, 2011 7:01 am

Thanks for a great read - as always!

Why Oh Why is there advertisements all over the (paper) napkins in First, unforgiveable IMHO.
 
User avatar
Coal
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RE: United UA 893: 10/2010: SFO-ICN: << First >>

Tue Mar 22, 2011 7:11 am

Quoting abrelosojos (Reply 35):
= But the point is why would we compare it to a J class product? Personally, I prefer AA's F-seats MUCH more than UA's.

Do the UA F seats turn 90 degrees like the AA F seats do? That is one feature I really liked.

Cheers
Coal
Nxt Flts: MI RGN-SIN | SQ SIN-RGN-SIN | CX SIN-HKG-PVG | SQ PVG-SIN
 
ag92
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RE: United UA 893: 10/2010: SFO-ICN: << First >>

Tue Mar 22, 2011 11:05 pm

Good TR as always, but can't believe they still serve those napkins in F as well. I mean, remove the adverts!
 
chiawei
Posts: 927
Joined: Wed Nov 01, 2000 9:07 am

RE: United UA 893: 10/2010: SFO-ICN: << First >>

Wed Mar 23, 2011 6:15 am

I am a frequent flyer from SFO to Asia in business. My company's prefer carrier is United.

But i have always went all out to avoid United J as much as i can. Even going to Shanghai, I would route myself on SQ thru ICN and connect to PVG with OZ.

This shows that I absolutely hates United premium class. Hardware is no where close to what SQ offers. On long distance trips, I like my privacy in a semi suite. To say that customer does not like suite is really BS to me.

I had a colleague that never fly international airlines because she had no experience. I convinced her to try SQ once to ICN. From that point forward, she is like me willing to take extra time flying from SFO to PVG vis ICN on SQ/OZ rather than faster direct UA flight.
 
abrelosojos
Topic Author
Posts: 4050
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RE: United UA 893: 10/2010: SFO-ICN: << First >>

Wed Mar 23, 2011 6:19 am

Quoting TravelsUK (Reply 36):

Why Oh Why is there advertisements all over the (paper) napkins in First, unforgiveable IMHO.

= Ya. Kinda tacky isn't it?

Quoting Coal (Reply 37):

Do the UA F seats turn 90 degrees like the AA F seats do? That is one feature I really liked.

Cheers
Coal

= No. I really like that part of AA's F. One can stare out of the window .... nothing of that sort on UAL.

Quoting ag92 (Reply 38):
Good TR as always, but can't believe they still serve those napkins in F as well. I mean, remove the adverts!


= Can't believe you all have found that to comment on  .

Quoting chiawei (Reply 39):
I am a frequent flyer from SFO to Asia in business. My company's prefer carrier is United.

But i have always went all out to avoid United J as much as i can. Even going to Shanghai, I would route myself on SQ thru ICN and connect to PVG with OZ.

This shows that I absolutely hates United premium class. Hardware is no where close to what SQ offers. On long distance trips, I like my privacy in a semi suite. To say that customer does not like suite is really BS to me.

I had a colleague that never fly international airlines because she had no experience. I convinced her to try SQ once to ICN. From that point forward, she is like me willing to take extra time flying from SFO to PVG vis ICN on SQ/OZ rather than faster direct UA flight.

= Haha. You have zeroed out research ad QSI modeling of all these years who say a consumer prefers the shortest route.

Saludos,
A.
Live, and let live.
 
kfitz
Posts: 140
Joined: Wed Jan 26, 2011 12:47 am

RE: United UA 893: 10/2010: SFO-ICN: << First >>

Wed Mar 23, 2011 8:22 pm

Quoting chiawei (Reply 39):

I am a frequent flyer from SFO to Asia in business. My company's prefer carrier is United.

But i have always went all out to avoid United J as much as i can. Even going to Shanghai, I would route myself on SQ thru ICN and connect to PVG with OZ.

This shows that I absolutely hates United premium class. Hardware is no where close to what SQ offers. On long distance trips, I like my privacy in a semi suite. To say that customer does not like suite is really BS to me.

I had a colleague that never fly international airlines because she had no experience. I convinced her to try SQ once to ICN. From that point forward, she is like me willing to take extra time flying from SFO to PVG vis ICN on SQ/OZ rather than faster direct UA flight.

I'm sorry, but you are the same poster who sits here and retorts ridiculous, unsubstantiated, and embarrassing comments insinuating that all US-based carriers are unsafe to fly on.

I don't take anything you have have to say with any sort of objectivity. I doubt you've ever sat in UA premium F or J - rather you like to sit on the side and throw grenades on websites like this, trolling in trip report threads like a child that have something positive to say about UA premium. For anybody who wants to see more, I suggest they go look at your posting history; I've already found a few gems.
 
stipica
Posts: 419
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RE: United UA 893: 10/2010: SFO-ICN: << First >>

Thu Mar 24, 2011 2:30 pm

Hi abrelosojos !
Your experience,curiosity and systematic approach produced a range of factually and excellent itineraries... I learned a lot from them ... I liked your human notes and social sensitivity, which extends through your work ...Thank you for opening my eyes ...   ... Stipica
Open your eyes and think
 
chiawei
Posts: 927
Joined: Wed Nov 01, 2000 9:07 am

RE: United UA 893: 10/2010: SFO-ICN: << First >>

Thu Mar 24, 2011 8:25 pm


KFitz 2011-02-24 01:45:35
you should be ashamed of yourself for your
nonsense you peddle here on this webpage.

I suggest you first go learn how to type coherent
english. But after you do that, you should
consider 1) not thread crapping with some of the
most asinine logic i have ever seen utilized on my
time of ten years at this website and 2) sound like
you are not some 13 year old fool peddling
straight nonsense.

Goodbye


I guess this is how UA hires internet thugs to bully customer around. Nice job.

Rather than taking effort to win customers, using internet thugs to throw mud. Nicely done.

Tell UA, please have useable wifi in SFO first class lounge. Last time i was there in 9/2010. There was no working wifi and i had to out to the terminal to use SFO free wifi. Nice way to treat premium passenger. Also i guess 2 drink voucher is a nice touch too.

I got to say though. UA lounge in Icheon is pretty good. UA asia operation put US operation far far behind. Its a shame though. I got much better service at ICN than i did in SFO.

[Edited 2011-03-24 13:27:14]
 
AKLDELNonstop
Posts: 320
Joined: Sat Apr 15, 2006 5:04 pm

RE: United UA 893: 10/2010: SFO-ICN: << First >>

Sat Mar 26, 2011 4:31 am

Very nice report as always! Really appreciate the time and effort you take to write these.

I flew UA to LHR from ORD during Thanksgiving last year in F (using miles). And my first reaction was that its okay, decent, but I certainly wouldn't pay 5 to 10k for that seat (or service). Also on that particular flight (763) there were 6 F seats - one of which was converted to crew rest area - and all of them were either mileage seats (like me) or family members of UA employees. On that particular flight (and this may well be an exception), there wasn't a single paid F passenger!

So I agree with the comments that UA really needs to re-think its F class. Perhaps a CO style Business First is more appropriate. Really if there aren't people who are going to pay to use F, what's the point in keeping it!

Another odd thing about that flight was that the FA did not let me take any pictures. He said the airline has no disallowed it - which is clearly not true!
 
abrelosojos
Topic Author
Posts: 4050
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RE: United UA 893: 10/2010: SFO-ICN: << First >>

Sun Mar 27, 2011 8:10 pm

Quoting stipica (Reply 42):
Hi abrelosojos !
Your experience,curiosity and systematic approach produced a range of factually and excellent itineraries... I learned a lot from them ... I liked your human notes and social sensitivity, which extends through your work ...Thank you for opening my eyes ... ... Stipica

= Aaw. That really made my day! Thanks so much. Very sweet  .

Quoting AKLDELNonstop (Reply 45):
On that particular flight (and this may well be an exception), there wasn't a single paid F passenger!

= Ya - the very old chicken or egg problem. If UAL's F is for upgrades, then the product is fine.

Quoting AKLDELNonstop (Reply 45):

Another odd thing about that flight was that the FA did not let me take any pictures. He said the airline has no disallowed it - which is clearly not true!

= Strange. I have never had an issue on UAL.

Saludos,
A.
Live, and let live.
 
sfotraveler
Posts: 57
Joined: Wed Nov 02, 2005 10:45 am

RE: United UA 893: 10/2010: SFO-ICN: << First >>

Wed Mar 30, 2011 4:05 am

I really enjoyed your trip report and think you basically nailed what is wrong with United's premium cabins. I flew them a few weeks ago in J class from SFO to Frankfurt. The outbound flight was awesome. Great crew..very senior and very professional. Better than any crew I have encountered on a foreign carrier. They were exceedingly attentive and classy..also, the catering out of San Francisco was actually pretty good.. On the return it was the exact opposite - a really gruff flight attendant was working the upper deck and all the service was rushed and unfriendly. She did not crack a smile the whole flight. Entire meal service was finished within 90 minutes of taking off..no offer to top off my wine even once although she was right there when it came time to clear off the trays. On arrival she was reading a magazine and did not even look at the passengers deplaning. Reminds me of the service I have had on Delta sometimes in the past ..the rest of the crew seemed much better though. The bad part is I remember the unpleasant flight more than the good one and it makes me want to book Lufthansa or anyone else next time.

I don't understand the economics on their first class cabin and you made some great observations. It is definitely passable since the cabin upgrade but I don't understand why they don't spend a few extra bucks to ramp up the soft product a bit so it is at least closer to what competitors like BA offer. BA's food offerings in First don't seem all that rarified or expensive but the whole thing is a bit more elegant. It seems a few extra dollars to upgrade the wine selection and food just a bit along with a better screened cabin staff and they could maybe capture a few more premium passengers that would more than offset the added costs but apparently they know something we don't...there must be some truth to the assertion that the cabin mostly populated by employees and upgrades and therefore they don't pay much attention to that service.. I fear the UA's 1st class cabin's days are numbered. .
 
kfitz
Posts: 140
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RE: United UA 893: 10/2010: SFO-ICN: << First >>

Thu Mar 31, 2011 5:34 am

Quoting sfotraveler (Reply 46):
there must be some truth to the assertion that the cabin mostly populated by employees and upgrades and therefore they don't pay much attention to that service.

Unfortunately this is a myth perpetuated by the internet. If it were true, United wouldn't have spent ten sof millions of dollars on their new IPTE intl. United First cabins, a product which still ultimately amounts to a solid hard product. Most of the complaints in this thread regard catering and FA attitude. I don't think anybody could argue the physical suite is a bad one. It's comfortable, there is lots of room, many storage cubbies, it's built well (metal touch points), has a world class 15.4" AVOD IFE system, and turns into a wonderful flat bed. So what if it doesn't turn 90 degrees like the AA flagship suite, a product which is rather uncomfortable (too many seams), not to mention hopelessly dated.

Yes, of course there are some PMUA intl. markets which probably don't dictate a First cabin as completely necessary (Moscow for example), but up until the merger, 100% of United's intl. route network was flown by wide body aircraft configured in 3-cabin service. This made them alone among all of their network peers. Of course this makes more sense at United, since their intl. route structure consisted of serving large tier one business destinations vs. PMCO's intl. makeup for example, which focused heavily on smaller secondary markets where a true F cabin, let alone wide body service, wasn't demanded. That's the beauty of the merger. I have no doubt some current PMCO routes could sustain First as well. Just because some at PMUA don't perform well in F doesn't make that a network wide trend, much less a reason to get rid of the product entirely.

The reality is, the First class product made sense for PMUA and will make sense going forward given the large exposure to the premium markets UA plays ball in. But the idea that UA competes tit for tat with the offerings from CX/SQ/EK etc. isn't realistic. They aren't after the super-premium walk up fare, but even so, the load factors speak form themselves.

The United First Suite is truly the best international premium product offering from any US carrier, mainly because no other US carrier sans AA offers First Class. It fulfills it's intended mission, and even if the new Business product is almost as good, the First Suite is better. I think the load factors speak for themselves. First isn't the loss maker it's made out to be on this website. If it were, again, it would have been axed entirely.

[Edited 2011-03-30 22:36:23]
 
abrelosojos
Topic Author
Posts: 4050
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RE: United UA 893: 10/2010: SFO-ICN: << First >>

Fri Apr 01, 2011 5:33 am

Quoting KFitz (Reply 47):
The United First Suite is truly the best international premium product offering from any US carrier, mainly because no other US carrier sans AA offers First Class. It fulfills it's intended mission, and even if the new Business product is almost as good, the First Suite is better. I think the load factors speak for themselves. First isn't the loss maker it's made out to be on this website. If it were, again, it would have been axed entirely.

= I know you like UA, but you don't like the AA FCL product?

Saludos,
A.
Live, and let live.
 
kfitz
Posts: 140
Joined: Wed Jan 26, 2011 12:47 am

RE: United UA 893: 10/2010: SFO-ICN: << First >>

Fri Apr 01, 2011 5:44 am

Perfectly acceptable, and actually innovative, but it's a decade old product. IFE is dated to say the very least.

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