Recently, when United opened up some last-minute premium cabin saver level award seats, I had the opportunity to fly United’s business class on a flight from San Francisco to Chicago. Even though it was a domestic flight, the plane in use was United’s 777-200, one of their flagship long-haul international planes. Since View From the Wing wrote in their July 22 post “United CEO Admits They’re Getting Rid of International First Class…” I thought this was a golden opportunity to review what ultimately will be the highest class of United travel, and a great way to spend the first 3 1/2 hours of a journey from the West coast to New England.
Upon boarding, they immediately took our drink orders, which were brought out prior to the coach passengers boarding. The prosecco was light and bubbly and not too sweet:
The entertainment system was very good for a US-based airline, with dozens of movies and TV shows on demand. Shortly after takeoff, they came through with another beverage service, as well as a cup of warm roasted nuts:
This was an afternoon flight, so lunch was served. There was no menu handed out and no options as to the meal. We were served the one option they had available, which was chicken and sausage jambalaya with rice, a pretzel roll and side salad:
While not outstanding (and not even as good as coach meals that I’ve had on Air New Zealand or Turkish Airlines), it certainly was edible, and far better than paying $9 for a stale sandwich in coach.
Dessert came last, which was a refreshing cup of lemon sorbet:
After the meal service, I laid down to relax and finish my movie. The seats in business class are in a 2-4-2 configuration, and are full lie-flat seats. There is an easy-to-use control panel that you can use to adjust your seat to sit up, lie flat, or any place in between. The pillow was fluffy, and the blanket was comfortable and not scratchy:
After my movie ended, I dozed off for a few minutes before our descent in to Chicago. My traveling companion found the seats to be comfortable enough that she slept for about three-quarters of the flight!
If View From the Wing’s report comes to fruition, this class will ultimately be United’s highest class of international travel. It certainly would say a lot about United (and other US-based airlines) if their highest class of travel is equal (at best) to the second-best class of travel with most other airlines. Nonetheless, while this would be a somewhat disappointing first class product, I was very satisfied with it as a business class product.
So, if this does end up being the highest class of international travel for United, it still will be well worthwhile for a saver level award redemption if they leave it at the current business class redemption level, and either way, it is an infinitely better travel experience than flying coach!
Michael Prodanovich is a contributor to Point Me to the Plane, and author of The Ultimate Guide to Free Travel.