Trip Report: United Airlines (B757-300) Domestic First BOS-ORD

The Details

  • Flight: UA289
  • Aircraft: B757-300
  • Class: Domestic First
  • Seat: 1A
  • Route: Boston Logan (BOS)-Chicago O’Hare (ORD)
  • Distance: 947miles
  • Flight Time: 2hrs 12min
  • Departure: 6:00PM (EST)
  • Arrival: 7:12PM (CST)

After arriving from Frankfurt on board the Lufthansa A340-300, we had a few hours before our final flight home to Chicago. Just as we landed in Boston, I got a push alert from United that our flight had been delayed. The originally scheduled departure time of 4:55PM had been pushed back to 6PM.

We collected our bags from Terminal E, passed through customs quickly thanks to Global Entry, and made our way to Terminal B landside which took about 10 minutes via walkways. Once we dropped our bags off we made our way to the Clear lane with TSA Precheck and we cleared security in just five minutes.

Although we had landed in international business class and we were departing in Domestic First, we did not have lounge access thanks to heavily restricted Star Alliance and United rules. United is probably one of the worst airlines when it comes to lounge access for premium customs in the United States when compared to Delta or American.

Luckily, we were allowed in thanks to a few United Club passes I still had from my United credit cards.

There were a fair amount of comfortable sofas arranged along the window overlooking the apron.

A few high tables and dining tables were arranged near the bar area.

Individual seats arranged along the windows at the far end of the lounge also had great views of the apron.

Beverage options within the lounge included self-serve espresso coffee as well as regular coffee.

Food options included cheese and salami cups, cheesecake, and clam chowder.

Cold food choices included salad, hummus, quinoa, and pita bread.

There were also chips and fruit throughout the lounge.

Ten minutes after our original scheduled departure time, our B757-300 pulled into the gate area from Denver.

Registration N78866, she was originally delivered to American Trans Air back in March 2002. After that, she was transferred to Continental Airlines in January 2006 and then to United Airlines after the merger in 2011.

Due to the delay, the United gate staff had set up a small snack area with Goldfish and water. Boarding finally began at 5:32PM.

As usual for B757s, we boarded through the second door on the left side of the aircraft.

The Flight

United offers 24 Domestic First class seats onboard their B757-300s arranged in a 2-2 configuration between the first and second set of doors.

My fiance and I were seated in 1A and 1B. Each seat had 38 inches of pitch and was 20.4 inches wide.

Seats 1A and 1B are my favorites since they feature footwells. Add on the fact that no one was in front of us meant we had a large amount of space in the first row.

There was a small tray table in between the seats for drinks.

The tray table was stored in the armrest on the center and below the armrest was a small storage space.

Each seat also had a 110V outlet. United did not install USB power on their seats.

For the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began, we were served predeparture drinks on a domestic flight. Options on a tray included water, orange juice, or sparkling wine.

The doors were closed at 5:48PM and we pushed back three minutes later. Our taxi took eight minutes to runway 33L and an hour late, we finally took off for Chicago.

We had incredible views of downtown Boston on the climb out.

Once we reached cruising altitude, the service began with drinks. I had my usual Bloody Mary which was served pre-mixed.

Dinner was the standard hot sandwich which I’ve had multiple times. The two options were either chicken or tomato basil.

The rest of the flight was uneventful as we cruised westward.

As we neared Chicago, I went to use the forward lavatory. It was fairly generic but clean.

The approach into O’Hare from the east provided some cloudy views of downtown Chicago. We landed at 7:12PM on runway 27L and taxied quickly to the gate. Thanks for the ride!

Trip Report: Lufthansa (A340-300) Business FRA-BOS

The Details

  • Flight: LH422
  • Aircraft: A340-300
  • Class: Business
  • Seat: 4A and 4C
  • Route: Frankfurt Main (FRA)-Boston Logan (BOS)
  • Distance: 3,810 miles
  • Duration: 8hrs 27min
  • Departure: 11:52AM
  • Arrival 2:19PM

The Preflight

After arriving from our connecting flight from Prague, we had a three-hour layover in Frankfurt. We quickly made our way from the Schengen area to the border checkpoint for flights to Non-Schengen countries. There were different lanes marked for Economy, Business, and First class passengers. However, there was no enforcement and simply a mass of people trying to get into any line that was open. It took us about 20 minutes before passing this line.

Once we got to the non-Schengen area, we headed towards the Lufthansa Business Lounge Z gates. There was again another line for COVID documents (negative COVID-19 test or vaccination card)

We were directed upstairs to the Business Lounge. Immediately upon getting off the escalator was the buffet area.

Cold food options included oats, fruit, and pretzels. The cheese pretzels were amazing…

There were a few espresso machines spread throughout the lounge.

Snacks included nuts, dried fruit, and chips.

Hot options included scrambled eggs and baked beans.

Carb options included warmed croissants and cold bread.

A selection of cold cuts and cheese was also offered.

Drinks included water, Coke Zero, beer, and juice. There was also beer on tap along with a few wines.

There was a bundt cake for dessert.

The lounge was incredibly packed with very few couches available for seating. It took us a while to find two sofas next to each over.

Views of the apron were restricted by bars on the window. There was a great lineup of Lufthansa heavies prior to the morning bank to the United States including A340s and B747s.

90 minutes prior to our scheduled boarding time of 10:30AM, lounge staff made announcements that the COVID document check line for departure was getting long and we should make our way to that line. My fiance and I decided to wait another 10 minutes before leaving the lounge which turned out to be a good idea. There was a snaking line of a few hundred passengers trying to get past the COVID document check. It took us nearly an hour to get through the document check and got to the gate area just a few minutes before boarding was scheduled to begin.

Our aircraft was a beautiful A340-300, registration D-AIGT, which was delivered brand new to Lufthansa in December of 1999. She was 22 years old but sporting the new Lufthansa livery.

I had never flown aboard the A340-300 before and I was excited to check off a new aircraft. Rather than fly directly home to Chicago, we elected to fly through Boston and then on to Chicago to fly this plane.

Boarding began at exactly 10:30AM. Business-class and Star Alliance Gold passengers were invited to board first.

The Flight

There were a total of 30 business class seats in a single cabin between the first and second set of doors. This version of the A340-300 also had 28 Premium Economy and 221 Economy seats.

Seats were arranged in a 2-2-2 configuration. The seats in the window side were arranged facing outward while the seats in the middle faced one another.

We were seated in 4A and 4C in the second to last row of the cabin. Each seat offered a standard 20.5 inches of width and 64 inches of pitch.

There was a fairly average-sized entertainment screen which was not a touch screen. I had to use the IFE remote to move the target reticle over the options I wanted to select… very annoying.

There was a good inflight map.

Below the entertainment screen was a literature pocket with a safety card.

There was also a small storage bin which was where the water bottle and amenity kit were stored.

The one nice feature of these seats was that the footwell was unrestricted. I could sleep sideways without having my feet limited to a cubby. This was also much nicer than the B747-8I business seats where the feet were angled toward each other.

Each seat also had a coat hook and even a glasses hook which I appreciated.

The center console had individual spaces to place drinks. Seat controls were also built into the armrest. Options included the ability to adjust the firmness of the seat in addition to basic functions such as recline and lumbar support.

Underneath the armrest was where the tray table and IFE remote was stored.

The tray table could be folded outwards length-wise.

Below the center console were two USB ports. One did not work… Surprisingly, there were no power outlets.

On the window side of the seat were an adjustable armrest and a small storage bin where the headphones were bolted into the seat.

A large comfortable pillow was waiting for us at the seat along with a thick but fluffy blanket.

The headphones were noise-reducing but not very comfortable around the ears.

The amenities came in a re-usable bag. Contents included a toothbrush, toothpaste, mint, socks, hand cream, and lip balm.

Once we were seated, flight attendants came by with pre-departure beverages. Choices were sparking wine, still water, or orange juice.

A nice large bottle of water was also provided at the seat.

Menus were also passed out.

At 10:53AM boarding was completed and the doors closed. Unfortunately, there was a cargo delay and we eventually pushed back 26 minutes after our scheduled departure around 11:36AM.

Our taxi took about 20 minutes due to the heavy traffic. On our way, I had a great view of a majestic B747-400.

Finally, at 11:51AM we took off from runway 7C bound for Boston.

We had a great view of both Frankfurt Airport and downtown Frankfurt.

Once we reached cruising altitude, the purser came to introduce herself to my fiance and me. She also asked what we would like to drink.

I had a glass of the Duval Leroy Brut champagne along with still water. A ramekin of almonds was also served.

We soon crossed over the English Channel.

Lunch was served forty minutes after take-off. Both the appetizer and the main course were served on one tray. My fiance had the marinated beef appetizer along with the corn-fed chicken. The chicken was flavorful and the side of creamy barley was delicious as well.

The marinated beef came with pickled mango and celery which were very tasty.

I had the spiced salmon with avocado mousse which was OK. My main of cod was cooked perfectly and also delicious.

For dessert, my fiance got the vanilla ice cream with delicious chocolate pebbles.

I had an excellent cheese plate with sesame honey chutney along with an espresso. Perfect.

Chocolate truffles were handed out at the conclusion of the main lunch service.

Most passengers napped after the lunch service however I stayed up for a bit to watch the new James Bond movie No Time to Die.

I eventually try the bedding onboard which was comfortable enough for a trans-Atlantic business class during the daytime. My fiance managed to nap the majority of the flight. Because there were no individual air vents, the cabin was also uncomfortably hot.

The business class lavatory was incredibly sparse. Besides the hand lotion, it was indistinguishable from an economy lavatory.

Most of our journey across the Atlantic was with thick clouds covering the ocean.

An hour and twenty minutes before arrival, another warm meal was served. This time, the breadbasket included hot pretzels. My fiance had the German roast beef with potato salad which was excellent.

I had the palak paneer with chana masala as well as a piece of roti. This Indian dish was incredibly tasty and one of the best curries I’ve had in the air. I had a great amount of heat and flavor all packed together. Dessert consisted of roasted almond cream with caramel sauce.

Flight attendants came through to prep the cabin 35 minutes prior to landing.

It was a beautiful day in Boston with clear skies and expansive views of Marblehead and Fort Seawall.

We landed at 2:19PM EST on runway 22L with the engine thrust reversers open.

It was a short six-minute taxi to our gate E10 and soon we were on our way to the Global Entry kiosks. Thanks for the ride!

Trip Report: United Airlines (B777-200ER) Business DEN-ORD

The Details

  • Flight: UA477
  • Aircraft: B777-200ER
  • Class: Polaris Business
  • Seat: 3A
  • Route: Denver International (DEN)-Chicago O’Hare International (ORD)
  • Distance: 914miles
  • Flight Time: 1hr 47min
  • Departure: 5:45PM
  • Arrival: 8:46PM

The Preflight

I was fairly excited for my flight back to Chicago as the B777-200 taking us there was a Polaris equipped aircraft. The old B777-200 with 2-4-2 business class seating usually flying this hub-hub route had been taken out of service due to the engine fan blades issues.

As I made my way over to the B gates, I passed by a beautiful B787. I just love how open the windows are at Denver International.

Our B777-200ER today, registration N78017, was originally delivered to Continental Airlines back in 2002 and then transferred to United in 2011. She was sporting the Star Alliance livery and just recently had been retrofitted with the new Polaris seats.

Boarding began at 5:04PM and was done via door 2L.

The Flight

United offers 50 Polaris business class seat onboard their B777-200ERs split between two cabins in a 1-2-1 configuration. The first cabin is rows 1-8 while the second cabin is rows 9-15. These Polaris seats are manufactured by Zodiac Seats and are incredibly stylish.

While each seat has direct aisle access, not all of them are equal. The odd numbered seats are closer to the window while the even numbered seats are closer to the aisle. Each seat was 22 inches wide and when fully flat offered six feet and six inches of sleeping space.

I was seated in 3A which was flush against the window.

Each seat had a 16-inch high definition touchscreen entertainment screen which was very responsive and fast. Above the screen was a handrail and to the right was a coat hook.

Below the screen was a small storage space for wallets or phones. Next to it was a USB port.

The bi-fold tray table popped out from underneath the storage space. At the top of the table was a personal device mount as well.

The tray table was both massive and sturdy.

I found the footwell to be pretty large and my size 11 feet both fit.

Seat controls were located in the window armrest and included options for lumbar support, mood lighting, and “Do Not Disturb”.

On the left hand side was an adjustable armrest with a literature pocket.

When fully lowered it created a larger sleeping surface area. Next to the armrest was a small storage pocket.

Seat features also included a huge white marble countertop, reading light, and lamp.

There was also a storage big which contained a pair of used headphones, headphone hook, and mirror.

Additional charging options at the seat included a power outlet and second USB port. Next to the power was a headphone jack and IFE remote.

I found the entry way to the seat to be more than wide enough for me to easily get in and out of the seat.

Upon boarding, all passengers were given a sanitizing wipe by flight attendants at the door. The seat itself I found to be pretty dirty, especially since I found used headphones in my storage bin. I must also mention that the seat itself smelled terrible. It reeked of a male body odor.

Boarding was completed quickly and within 35 minutes the doors were closed. We pushed back at 5:45PM to a beautiful orange sunset over the Rockies.

At 5:58PM we rotated down the runway and took off towards Chicago.

Once in the air, I loaded the flight map and browsed the inflight entertainment.

Once we reached 15,000 feet, the flight attendants sprang into action with a beverage service. I asked for the elusive pre-mixed Old Fashioned and was surprised when the purser found one!

Due to COVID-19, United had modified their inflight service. Since this flight was blocked at over two hours and twenty minutes there was snack service.

Options on this flight included a carved chicken sandwich, tomato basil sandwich, or select snack box. I went with the chicken sandwich which was heated up.

After having dinner, I decided to give the lie-flat bed a spin without any bedding. I found the footwell to be a good size for my size 11.5 feet and the padding was comfortable enough for the short time I spent lying down.

I also checked out the business class lavatory at the front of the aircraft. It was stocked with Sunday Riley products.

For the remainder of the flight I alternated between watching movies and browsing the interactive flight map.

Thirty minutes prior to landing the cabin was prepped and the lights turned back on. We landed at 8:46PM local time and had a surprisingly short 13 minutes taxi to the gate.

Thanks for the ride!

Trip Report: United Airlines (B737-900ER) Domestic First IAH-DEN

The Details

  • Flight: UA329
  • Aircraft: B737-900ER
  • Class: Domestic First
  • Seat: 4F
  • Route: Houston George Bush Intercontinental (IAH)-Denver International (DEN)
  • Distance: 906miles
  • Flight Time: 2hrs 9min
  • Departure: 2:50PM
  • Arrival: 4:22PM

The Preflight

After arriving from Chicago at 11:40AM, I had a two hour layover in Houston until my final flight to Denver. I made my way to the AMEX Centurion Lounge located in the international terminal at IAH which was about a 10 minute leisurely walk from the United gates.

Check-in was done contactless through the AMEX app on my iPhone which gave me a bar code that the staff scanned.

I was surprised at just how full the lounge and the majority of passengers unfortunately were not wearing masks.

The food buffet was roped off and a lounge attendant would place the food I wanted onto a tray. There was an excellent selection of hot foods including fried chicken, beans, and lentil soup.

With 20 minutes until boarding was scheduled to begin, I made my way to the C gate area. I loved the huge windows which had great views of the planes at the gate.

Our aircraft today, registration N68843, was a fairly new B737-900ER that was delivered to United in 2015.

Boarding actually began two minutes early at 2:14PM and was an orderly affair. Those with disabilities and large families were invited to board first, then Global Services, elites, and first class passengers.

The Flight

United Airlines offers 20 first class seats up front on their B737-900ERs arranged in a 2-2 configuration. These seats were the previous generation domestic first seats before the newer slimline first seats. I found the seat to be very well padded and more comfortable than the new slimline seats.

Each seat offered 37 inches of pitch and was 20 inches wide. There was also a distinct lack of seatback entertainment screens.

Legroom was not bad and the literature pocket did not intrude too much into the space.

The right armrest was nonadjustable and stored the tray table.

The bi-fold tray table itself was fairly large and sturdy.

The center console had a small table top.

A small cocktail tray could be pulled out from the center console.

The recline button was just below the armrest and each seat offered up to five inches of recline.

Below the center console were power outlets. Unfortunately, United did not install any USB ports.

Upon boarding, flight attendants handed out sanitizing wipes for each passenger at the door.

35 minutes after boarding began, the boarding doors were closed. First class went out completely full and economy was nearly at capacity. We pushed back at 2:50PM.

The taxi to runway 9 took about 20 minutes and then we were off towards Denver!

Once in the air, I loaded up United inflight entertainment system on my tablet. As always, the United flight map provided a wealth of information about the flight.

Service began twenty minutes after takeoff with a round of drinks. I had an Gin & Tonic and a bottle of water.

Due to COVID-19, United has cut back on their inflight food offerings. Since this flight was blocked at over two hours and twenty minutes there was a selection of sandwiches and snack boxes available.

The choices included either a tomato basil sandwich or the Select snack box. Unfortunately, by the time the flight attendant got to me; the carved chicken sandwich had run out.

Contents included salami, almonds, cheese spread, crackers, dried apricots, and a chocolate.

The rest of the flight was uneventful with clear skies and great views of the Lone Star state.

I also checked out the forward first class lavatory which illuminated with a futuristic blue lighting. There was generic United branded soap but also a newly installed hand sanitizer dispenser.

We began our initial descent into the Denver area at 3:55PM local time and had some stunning views of the Rocky Mountains on our final approach into runway 17R.

We touched down at 5:17PM local time and were at the gate six minutes later. Thanks for the ride!

Trip Report: United Airlines (B787-9) Business ORD-IAH

The Details

  • Flight: UA503
  • Aircraft: B787-9
  • Class: Polaris Business
  • Seat: 3A
  • Route: Chicago O’Hare International (ORD)-Houston George Bush Intercontinental (IAH)
  • Distance: 984miles
  • Flight time: 1hr 57min
  • Departure: 9:12AM
  • Arrival: 11:36AM

The Preflight

My significant other dropped me off at Terminal 1 at Chicago O’Hare at 7:15AM, just over an hour until boarding was scheduled to begin. I was surprised to find that Terminal 1 was packed and there was even a line for the Premier check-in area. Travel was definitely picking up a year after the COVID-19 pandemic began.

Thanks to my AMEX Green card, I had signed up for Clear which allowed me to skip the general TSA Precheck lane. This probably saved me 15 minutes or so as the Precheck lane (next to the Clear line) wrapped around the check-in counters. I was airside within two minutes of scanning my eyes for the Clear biometric machine. Each Clear customer was also given a small travel kit with a disposable mask and sanitizer.

The flight today was departing from the C gates which is connected to the main terminal by a underground tunnel.

The C gate concourse is where most of the wide-bodies depart from, including this majestic B767.

The boarding gate was located directly adjacent to the closed Polaris Lounge which meant I could not get a good view of the B787-9 taking us down to Houston. This B787-9, registration N29981, was delivered brand new to United Airlines in August of 2020 making her less than a year old.

Boarding began promptly at 8:25AM and was an orderly affair. All passengers boarded via door 1L.

The Flight

United currently has 38 B787-9s in their fleet split between 15 Polaris equipped and 23 non-Polaris equipped (Parallel Diamond) aircraft. Luckily, today’s B787-9 was Polaris equipped and had 48 business class seats arranged in a 1-2-1 configuration. In addition, there were 21 premium economy, 39 economy plus, and 149 economy seats.

Compared to the larger B777-300ERs and B777-200ERs with Polaris, I found the seat on the B787-9 to be noticeably narrower. Each seat was 20.5 inches wide compared to 22 inches on the B777s. When fully flat the bed was 78 inches long.

Due to the nature of the Polaris seats, the odd numbered seats are closer to the window while even numbered seats are closer to the aisle. I was in 3A which was flush against the windows.

Each seat features a 16-inch high-definition touchscreen entertainment screen that was very crisp and responsive to touch. Next to the screen was a coat hook.

Below the screen was a small storage space perfect for electronic devices as well as a USB port. The tray table popped out from below the storage space.

The footwell was comfortable but a bit narrower than I would have liked. There was a small cubby below the footwell for shoes.

When deployed, the massive tray table slid out and could be folded open. At the top was a sturdy tablet holder.

To the left of the seat were the seat controls that included lumbar support, a reading light, and “No Not Disturb” button.

Next to the seat on the right was an adjustable arm rest that also had the literature pocket. There was also a tiny storage bin.

On the aisle side of the seat was a large white marble counter top space.

There was a reading light which could be flipped up.

There was also a medium sized storage bin which contained a headphone hook and mirror.

The headphone was United branded and I did not bother to unpack it from the plastic wrapping.

Below was a IFE remove, universal power outlet, another USB port, and headphone jack.

Each seat also featured a stylish lamp that could be turned on and off. There was also a small privacy shield which added some privacy to the seat.

Despite lacking any doors to the seat, I found that there was a great amount of privacy at the seat. From the seat, it was near impossible to see other passengers in the cabin.

Upon boarding, each passenger was given a small sanitizing wipe.

Forty minutes after boarding commenced, the doors were closed. Business class was entirely full but the rest of the cabin was roughly 60-70% full. We pushed back at 9:12AM but were held at the gate area due to air traffic control delays.

Finally, 30 minutes after pushing back we were rotating down runway 10L. After a sharp bank we had sunny views of Chicago.

I loaded up the inflight map on United’s excellent entertainment system.

Once in the air, flight attendants came down the aisle with a beverage cart. I had a Bloody Mary that was served single.

Due to COVID-19, United had adjusted their inflight service. On flight blocked at over 2 hours and 20 minutes, there is a snack selection in addition to the beverage service.

Since this was a morning flight, the options included an egg sandwich, veggie sandwich, or tapas snack box.

I went with the egg sandwich that was good.

After breakfast was served, water bottles were distributed.

Halfway through the flight, I decided to have another Bloody Mary. However, the flight attendant alerted me that they had run out of the Bloody Mary mixer…. She happily offered me some tomato juice instead which I decided to try. Would not recommend.

As we neared Houston, I headed to the forward lavatory. It was unremarkable except for the Sunday Riley branded face mist and hand cream. The lavatory itself was relatively clean.

We began our initial descent into the Houston area around 11AM and the cabin was prepped for landing 20 minutes later. On the approach, we had clear views of Houston Intercontinental.

It was a beautiful day in Houston and we landed at 11:37AM local time on runway 8R.

We pulled into the gate seven minutes later and I was soon on my way to the AMEX Centurion Lounge.

Thanks for the ride!

Trip Report: United Airlines (B737-700) Domestic First IAH-ORD

The Details

  • Flight: UA1637
  • Aircraft: B737-700
  • Class: Domestic First
  • Seat: 3A
  • Route: Houston George Bush Intercontinental (IAH)-Chicago O’Hare International (ORD)
  • Distance: 997miles
  • Flight time: 2hrs
  • Departure: 4:34PM
  • Arrival: 6:47PM

The Preflight

After arriving in Houston at 3:43PM, I had just 10 minutes until boarding was scheduled to begin for my final flight home. Luckily, the walk was only five minutes or so and I arrived just in time.

Todays B737-700, registration N27722, was delivered brand new to Continental Airlines back in March 1999 making her almost 22 years old. After the merger with United Airlines, she was transferred over in August 2011.

I was actually pretty excited for this run-of-the-mill domestic flight since it was going to be the first time I was sitting upfront on a B737-700. It was also just my third time ever flying a B737-700.

Boarding began on time at 3:55PM with Global Services and Premier 1K members invited to pre-board. First class was invited after them in Group 1.

The Flight

United Airlines features a total of 12 first class seats on board their B737-700s arranged in a 2-2 configuration over rows 1-3. In the economy cabin, there are 36 Economy Plus and 78 economy seats arranged in a 3-3 configuration. A hard wall separates the two cabins.

All United B737-700s have the newest slimline signature domestic first class seat. These slimline seats can also be found aboard the United A320s and B757-300s. Each seat is 20.4″ wide and has 38″ of pitch.

The nice thing about the slimline first seats onboard the B737-700s is that they feature seatback screens. Other aircraft with the new first seat lack the seatback screen. Below the screen were two literature pockets.

DirectTV was available on this flight with live TV.

While the pitch was generous at 38″, the foot room was restricted by a large box.

In between the two seats was a small cocktail table.

A small extension of the table popped out from below to give more room for drinks.

Below the cocktail table was a 110V outlet. Unlike Delta, American, and Alaska Airlines, United has decided to not install USB ports…

Next to the 110V outlet was a bottle holder. Behind that was the built in IFE remote, headphone jack, and more storage space.

The large bi-fold tray table was stored in the center armrest.

It was fairly sturdy when fully folded out.

There was also a built-in tablet holder. However, mine was broken and could not support the weight of my tablet.

The recline button was located in the movable armrest on the left side. Recline was advertised as about five inches. Below the armrest was another storage space.

I do have to admit that the design of the new first class seats are very sleek. I loved the leather stitch and United branding throughout the cabin.

Upon boarding, each passenger was given a sanitizing wipe. This was a very full flight and the first class cabin went out completely full. The door was closed at 4:32PM and we pushed back four minutes later.

The taxi to the runway took about 10 minutes and at 4:48PM we took off from runway 26L.

Once in the air, I loaded up the United inflight entertainment on my tablet to get to the flight map. I personally love the United flight map and appreciated all of the details that it provides.

I also watched history in the making on DirectTV as the US House of Representatives voted to impeach President Trump a second time.

20 minutes after take-off, the flight attendant came through the cabin to take drink orders. I had a Gin & Tonic and specifically requested a double. In my experience, American flight attendants love serving doubles (without asking) while United flight attendants only serve singles.

Due to COVID-19, United has modified their inflight service in domestic first class. Since this flight was blocked at over 2 hours and 20 minutes, there would be a small meal service.

The flight attendant came through the cabin and offered each passenger a choice between either a carved chicken sandwich, tomato basil sandwich, or select snack box. Both sandwiches were warmed as well.

I had the carved chicken sandwich which was not bad; considering how much fat and carbs it contained.

Halfway through the flight, I asked for a Bloody Mary which was served promptly.

We began our descent into the Chicagoland area around 6:20PM and had great night views of the urban sprawl.

The final approach was smooth into O’Hare and we landed on runway 27R at 6:47PM.

As usual at O’Hare, we taxied around the airport for some time before pulling into the gate at 7PM.

Thanks for the ride!

Trip Report: United Airlines (A319) Domestic First SAN-IAH

The Details

  • Flight: UA2298
  • Aircraft: A319
  • Class: Domestic First
  • Seat: 1B
  • Route: San Diego International (SAN)-Houston George Bush Intercontinental (IAH)
  • Distance: 1,360miles
  • Flight Time: 2hrs 44min
  • Departure: 10:44AM
  • Arrival: 3:34PM

The Preflight

After my disastrous attempt to fly home with Alaska Airlines through Seattle that was having a historic snow storm, I managed to book a last minute United flight two hours prior to departure. I made my way from Terminal 2 East to Terminal 2 West where the United check-in counters were. Check-in was a breeze and there was no line for TSA PreCheck. I was airside within five minutes of dropping my bags off.

Unfortunately, United (along with Delta) has closed their lounge at SAN due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The only lounge that is open at San Diego is the Airspace Lounge which I had visited earlier this morning. Because it was quiet a long walk away, I decided to just relax in the boarding area for an hour or so. All of the other passengers remained socially distanced as we waited.

Our A319 was leased by China Southern Airlines and delivered in November 2007 with the original registration of B-6242. After flying with CZ for a decade, she was then transferred to United in December 2017 and given the registration N898UA.

Boarding was scheduled to begin at 10:10AM but was delayed because the incoming flight from San Francisco was late. The passengers deplaned at 10:12 and five minutes later the boarding process began. I somehow doubt United managed to sanitize this aircraft before we boarded…

The Flight

United Airlines offers a total of 12 first class seats onboard their A319s arranged in a 2-2 configuration between rows 1-3. These seat are the new recliner seats designed in conjunction with PriestmanGoode. This will be the first class seat offered by United for the foreseeable future and can be found on the United A319s, A320s, B737s, and B757s.

Since I had booked this ticket last minute, the only available seat was 1B. Each seat was 21.1″ wide and offered 37″ of pitch.

There was no bulkhead cutout for the seat and legroom was restricted by the wall. I would not pick this seat again if I had the choice to.

There was a literature pocket on the bulkhead which further restricted the leg space.

The recline button was located in the right armrest. Each seat offers an “articulating” bottom which slides forward to give a sense of reclining. United advertises four inches of total recline in this seat. The armrest could be lifted up and there was a storage space below.

In between the two seats was a granite cocktail table which was showing its age with scratches.

There was an additional tray that popped out from below the tabletop.

Below the center armrest was another storage space.

The power outlet was also located below the center armrest. United has opted not to install USB ports in their newest first class seat…

The large bi-fold tray table was stored below the left armrest.

When fully folded out the tray table was very sturdy. There was also a small tablet mount built in which I appreciated.

At 10:37AM the boarding doors were closed and the captain came directly to the first class cabin to give a personal welcome and description of the flight. He then went on the thank all the first class passengers for choosing United as well. We pushed back seven minutes later at 10:44 and had a long taxi to runway 9. I really wish I had been able to choose a window seat as the takeoff from runway 9 is a rare occurrence.

The ride out was a bit bumpy but we soon found smooth air. I loaded up the flight map on my own tablet using the United Wi-Fi.

Service began with a round of drinks served from the front to the back of the aircraft. Unlike Delta and Alaska Airlines, United (along with American Airlines) continues to offer a full beverage service including hard liquor. I had a Bloody Mary.

Due to COVID-19, United has significantly modified their inflight food service. The details are below.

Since we were not departing from one of the hubs listed above, the only choice of food was either a Tapas or Select Snackbox. The boxes were served from back to front of the aircraft and unfortunately when it was my turn, only the Tapas box was left. Only three Select boxes had been available it seems.

Contents included flatbread, almonds, breadsticks, hummus, bruschetta, olives, and a chocolate. I had the Tapas box a month ago and that box had a ginger candy which was not in this box today.

30 minutes after serving the snackboxes, the flight attendant handed out snack bags.

Contents included a water bottle, sanitizing wipe, pretzels, and Stroopwafel.

Every 20 minutes or so, the single flight attendant serving the first class cabin would make a pass through the cabin, collecting trash and passing out water.

As we neared Houston, I used to single first class lavatory at the front of the aircraft.

The only amenity inside was a United branded hand soap.

We began our initial descent into Houston at around 3:00PM and had a smooth landing on runway 26L at 3:34PM local time. The taxi to the gate took nine minutes and soon I was on my way to the next flight to Chicago. Thanks for the ride N898UA!

Trip Report: United Airlines (B757-300) Domestic First ORD-IAH

The Details

  • Flight: UA2354
  • Aircraft: B757-300
  • Class: Domestic First
  • Seat: 1A
  • Route: Chicago O’Hare International (ORD)-Houston George Bush Intercontinental (IAH)
  • Distance: 926 miles
  • Duration: 2hrs 13min
  • Departure: 10:44AM
  • Arrival: 1:09PM

The Preflight

I was dropped of at Terminal 1 O’Hare at 8:30AM in the morning for my 10:45AM flight to Houston. I arrived a little bit early because I had just signed up for Clear and had to finish registration at the airport. There were very few people in the Premier Access check-in counter.

Premier Check-in

After finishing the registration process for Clear with the incredibly friendly and helpful staff at O’Hare, I was escorted towards the TSA PreCheck lane. Just before entering, I was given a Clear goodie bag filled with hand sanitizer, tissue paper, sanitizing wipes, and a face mask.

Clear Goodie-bag

My flight to Houston today was departing from the C gates at Terminal 1, which is connected via underground walkway to the main terminal. It is always a trip to walk through the rainbow colors.

Most of the restaurants in the terminal were open while the Duty Free stores remained closed.

One of my favorite parts of the terminal facilities at O’Hare are the ground-to-ceiling windows with excellent views of the apron. I passed by a B767-300ER headed to Hawai’i.

Next to our gate was a Embraer regional jet headed towards Detroit.

Our beautiful B757-300, registration N75853, was delivered brand new to Continental Airlines back in February 2002. She was eventually transferred over to United Airlines in January 2011.

Currently, United has a total of 21 B757-300s which primarily fly hub-hub routes such as ORD-IAH, IAH-DEN, and ORD-LAX.

Boarding began exactly at 9:55AM. Global Services, Premier Elite, and First class passengers were invited to board first. Economy was boarded from back to front due to new COVID-19 protocols.

As with most B757 flights, passengers boarded via door 2L. That meant all First class passenger got to turn left!

The Flight

United Airlines features a total of 24 First class seats in a 2-2 configuration between the first and second pair of doors. These seats are United’s newest generation of slimline Domestic First recliners and are also found aboard their A319s, A320s, B737s, and MAXs. Compared to American Airlines’ newest Domestic First seats, I’ve found that United’s is more comfortable but lacks in seat features.

I was seated in 1A today, which in my opinion is the best seat aboard the B757-300. Since it is bulkhead, there are no passengers in front of you that recline.

What is awesome about seats 1A and 1B is that there is a foot cubby cutout in the wall to stretch out your feet. Seats 1E and 1F lack this cutout and the legroom is more restricted. There was a standard literature pocket above the cutout.

The cutout was fairly large and allowed for the storage of a personal item.

Between the seats was a granite cocktail table.

There was an extension of the cocktail table that could be slid outwards for more surface area.

Below the cocktail table was a universal power outlet. United strangely opted to not install USB ports at their seats. Right below the power outlet was a small storage space for drink bottles.

Next to the bottle storage space was another storage space perfect for tablets, books, or phones.

The large bi-fold tray table was stored in the center armrest.

There was a built-in tablet holder which was the perfect size for my 10.4″ Galaxy tablet S5e.

In the left side armrest was a recline button. The new slimline seats feature an “articulating bottom” which means instead of really reclining, the seat bottom slides forward instead. Below the armrest was a deep storage pocket.

I must give credit to United for their exceptional cabin finishes and branding.

These small design touches definitely gave the cabin a more “premium” feel.

Upon boarding, each passenger was handed a sanitizing wipe by the masked flight attendants. Despite the poor weather around Chicago and the snow flurries, our flight pushed back a minute early at 10:44AM. Thankfully, de-icing was done at the gate instead of the new de-icing facilities built at O’Hare.

We had a long 25 minute taxi to the runway 9R and at 11:09AM we finally took off. Enjoy the roar of the Rolls Royce RB211s!

Once in the air, I launched the inflight map from my table. I love the amount of information United provides on their flight map.

Service began with a round of drinks. I had my usual Bloody Mary.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, United has modified their inflight service. On flights longer than two hours and 20 minutes, United offers First class passengers either a sandwich or snack box.

Options today included the Tapas snack box, chicken sandwich, or tomato basil sandwich. All of the choices were presented by a flight attendant on a tray.

I decided to try the tomato basil sandwich which was terrible. Despite being heated, it was flavorless and filled with fat.

Flight attendants were very attentive on this flight. They made multiple passes through the cabin collecting trash or offering more drinks. Halfway through the flight, I had a ginger ale.

Most of our flight involved cruising over a cloud covered landscape.

As we approached Houston, I used the forward lavatory. It was relatively clean.

We passed over Lake Houston on our approach to runway 26L.

We landed at 1:09PM local time. Enjoy the landing!

The taxi to our gate took just five minutes. Deplaning was done from front to the back with all first class passengers invited to get off first. Thanks for the ride!

This was another perfectly fine flight with United Airlines on a B757-300. I appreciated the open bar, comfortable seat, and warm service. I will say that the food offerings are seriously disappointing and could use some improvement. Until next time!

Trip Report: United Airlines (B777-300ER) Polaris (Business) SFO-ORD

The Details

  • Flight: UA1726
  • Aircraft: B777-300ER
  • Class: Domestic First/Polaris Business
  • Seat: 9A
  • Route: San Francisco International (SFO)-Chicago O’Hare International (ORD)
  • Distance: 1,967 miles
  • Duration: 4hrs 25min
  • Departure: 10:38PM
  • Arrival: 5:03PM (18 min late)

The Preflight

After my incoming flight from San Diego arrived at the E gates of Terminal 1 at SFO, I had about one hour until boarding over in the G gates.

I had access to the AMEX Centurion Lounge thanks to my Platinum card. All travelers were prompted to open the AMEX mobile app and check-in online. The app then provided a QR code which was scanned by the lounge staff behind plexiglass.

There was an expansive buffet available where a staff member would plate the food you wished to have. Since it was still nine in the morning, breakfast was being served. I had an excellent egg frittata, chicken breakfast sausage, toast, and scrambled eggs with a yogurt parfait. The bar was open as well and I had a spicy Bloody Mary.

Centurion Lounge Breakfast

After breakfast, I made my way over to the G concourse where most of the widebodies depart from. Next to our B777 at Gate G2 was a United B787 and ANA B777.

United B777

Our bird today was a B777-300ER, registration N2352U, that was delivered brand new to United just nine months ago in Feb 2020. She was painted in the new United EvoBlue livery.


Personally, I think the new livery looks beautiful. United has a total of 24 B777-300ERs in their fleet which are used on most of their premier long-haul routes. I was very lucky to catch it on a domestic route.


Boarding began on time at 9:55AM a full 40 minutes before the scheduled departure time. First class boarded with Premier members after those who need assistance and Global Services.


There were two jet bridges available for use through doors 1L and 2L.


The Flight

Each United B777-300ER has a total of 60 Polaris business class seats split between two cabins in a 1-2-1 configuration. The first cabin is rows 1-8 while the second cabin is rows 9-18.


Introduced in 2016, the United Polaris business class seat was designed by Acumen Design and PreistmanGoode and manufactured by Zodiac Seats. I love the stylish finish of the Polaris cabin which feels modern and elegant.


Every seat has direct aisle access however not all seats are equal. The odd numbered row seats are closer to the window while the even numbered seats are closer to the aisle.


Each seat measures 22″ wide. When fully flat there is a total of 6’6″ of sleep space.


I was seated in 9A, the first row of the second cabin behind the second pair of doors.

9A Bulkhead

There is a 16-inch high-definition entertainment screen which is touchscreen. Next to the screen is a coat hook.


Below the screen is a small storage slot perfect for wallets or phones. There is also a USB port next to it for charging devices.

USB port and storage space

The bi-fold tray table pops out from underneath the storage slot.

Tray table

At the top of the table is a personal device mount.

Device mount

When fully folded out the sturdy tray table is enormous.

Tray table

The benefits of a bulkhead Polaris seat is that the footwells are positively massive. I had more than enough space to stretch out both of my feet.

Bulkhead footspace

Seat controls are located in the window armrest. In addition to the seat controls, there are button for mood lighting, “Do Not Disturb”, and lumbar support.

Seat controls

The right hand armrest features a literature pocket and tiny storage space.


The armrest can be depressed.


On the aisle side of the seat is a large white marble top working space.

There is also a reading light which can be flipped up.

Reading light

Each seat has a medium-sized personal cubby that also contains a mirror and headphone hook.


Below the cubby is the IFE remote, universal power outlet, and headphone jack.

IFe remote, outlet, and headphone jack

Each seat also has a very chic lamp.


The benefit of the odd numbered Polaris seats is that there is an incredible amount of privacy despite the lack of a door. I felt as is I was truly in my own “pod” during the flight.


The exit of the seat is slightly narrow and I had to exit the seat sideways.

Seat exit

Upon boarding, flight attendants in masks handed each passenger a sanitizing wipe.

Sanitizing wipe

At each Polaris seat there was also a pair of United branded headphones.


Boarding took about 40 minutes and by 10:35AM the cabin doors were closed. We pushed back seven minutes early at 10:38AM. There were a few planes ahead of us in line for takeoff. Enjoy!

Once in the air, I pulled up the flight map.

Flight map

Service began with a round drinks. I went with a Gin & Tonic.

Gin & Tonic

In the era of COVID-19, United has reduced in-flight service on all of its flights. For domestic first class flights longer than two hours and 20 minutes departing from hubs (Chicago, Cleveland, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, Newark, and San Francisco), United offers a choice between a sandwich or snack box.

Flight attendants brought out a tray offering either warmed carved chicken focaccia sandwiches or a Classic Snackbox. I went with the chicken sandwich.

Carved Chicken Sandwich

Unlike my previous encounter with the carved chicken sandwich, this time it was heated an actually very yummy. The melted cheese mixed with the pesto sauce in warmed soft bread was excellent.

Chicken Sandwich

We had beautiful views of snow capped mountains flying over Southern Idaho and Western Wyoming.


United installed four lavatories for business class passengers on their B777-300ERs. There are two lavatories behind the cockpit and two lavatories between the first and second business class cabins.


The lavatory was stocked with Sunday Riley products including hand cream and face mist. There were also additional sanitizing wipes available.

Hand cream

We also had great views of Eastern Wyoming and South Dakota.


Since this flight was a few weeks before Christmas, United had loaded a variety of classic Christmas movies. I enjoyed re-watching Elf for the umpteenth time.


Halfway through the flight the flight attendants came through offering another beverage service. I switched to a whiskey and Diet Coke.

Whiskey and Diet Coke

The flight attendants also came through with a snack basket that had pretzels and Stroopwafels.


The views of rolling clouds over Western Illinois were oddly mesmerizing.

As the sun set, flight attendants turned the mood lighting to a gentle yellow hue.

Mood lighting

The sky turned to pink then red as we approached Chicago.


We made a circle around downtown and approached O’Hare from the East to land on runway 28C. Unfortunately, the thick clouds blocked out the views of the Chicago skyscrapers.

Enjoy the landing video!

We touched down at 5PM local time in Chicago and spent roughly ten minutes taxiing to the gate.

I must say this was probably my favorite domestic first class flight that I’ve flown. The fact that I was able to enjoy United’s flagship product for four hours without having to pay a premium was a great deal. The comfortable and sleek Polaris seat coupled with an open bar made for a very memorable flight.

Trip Report: United Airlines (B737-800) Domestic First SAN-SFO

The Details

  • Flight: UA2480
  • Aircraft: B737-800
  • Class: Domestic First
  • Seat: 4F (switched into 4A)
  • Route: San Diego International (SAN)-San Francisco International (SFO)
  • Distance: 466 miles
  • Duration: 1hr 17min
  • Departure: 7:28AM
  • Arrival: 8:45AM

The Preflight

I was dropped off at Terminal West 2 at San Diego International Airport at 6:00AM for my 7:49AM departure flight to San Francisco. United and Delta operate from the newer (west) side of Terminal 2 while American and Alaska Airlines operate from the older (east) portion of T2.

There was quite a few people checking in this morning and both Premier check-in counters were busy. Luckily, there was no one in the PreCheck lane and I was airside within five minutes of dropping my checked bag off.

United Check-in SAN

I made my way to my favorite lounge at SAN, the Airspace Lounge, located between the East and West parts of Terminal 2. I had access due to my AMEX Platinum card.

Airspace Lounge

The lounge was pretty empty with only four other passengers. Due to local COVID-19 restrictions, all of the food was delivered to you and not self-serve. Seating was spaced out to maintain social distancing.

Airspace COVID-19 Precautions

I ordered an excellent Americano which was brought out in a to-go cup. One perk of using the AMEX Platinum card to access this lounge is the fact that each guest is given a $10 food voucher. I used my $10 to order a hot bacon, egg, and cheese breakfast sandwich ($6.50) and a large bottle of water ($3).

Breakfast Airspace

Ten minutes before boarding was scheduled to begin I made my way towards the gate. I passed by a gorgeous Delta 757 headed to Atlanta.

Delta 757

The gate area was not crowded and seats on the benches were blocked off for social distancing.

Gate area

Our plane was a B737-800, registration N12218, that was delivered to Continental Airlines in 1998.

B737-800 N12218

Boarding began exactly at 6:59AM with Global Services, Premier elites, and First Class passengers. United’s 737-800s feature 16 first class seats in a 2-2 configuration. These first class seats are the ex-Continental Airlines seats which have been around for almost two decades. In my opinion, the newer Slimline seats are more comfortable.

Each seat features 37 inches of pitch with 20.5 inches of width. The seats definitely felt very worn and well-sat in.

There was also a small seatback IFE screen at each seat. The screen was definitely outdated but I still appreciated having a screen at all. Live DIRECTV was available on this flight.

I loved that I was able to watch the flight map unlike on other competitors 737s…

Flight map

There was large literature pocket behind each seat as well which easily fit my laptop.

Literature pocket

The legroom was not bad despite the presence of a medium sized-box.


The right armrest had the IFE controls as well as a small storage space.

The left sided armrest was where the tray table was located as well as the recline button. Each seat has a very generous five inches of recline. Despite being in the last row I had more than enough space to recline.

Recline button

The tray table folded in half and had an indented cup holder.

Tray table

When fully folded open the tray table was fairly massive.

Tray table

Upon boarding each passenger was handed a small sanitizing wipe.

We pushed back 10 minutes early at 7:39AM. Next to us was a fellow United 737.

United 737

After a very brief taxi to the runway we blasted off for San Francisco. There was a lovely view of Terminal East 2 with an assortment of United, Delta, and Alaska planes.

Terminal 2

The view of San Diego Harbor and the beaches was magnificent.

I connected my laptop to the United Wi-Fi and loaded up a very detailed flight map.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, United has cutback on their inflight service. For domestic flights under two hours and 20 minute, United offers each first class passenger a small snack bag. On flights over two hours and 20 minutes, United offers either a snackbox or sandwich.

Once we reached 10,000 feet the flight attendants came through the cabin offering each passenger a pre-packaged snack bag. In it were a sanitizing wipe, water bottle, and two snacks.

United snack bag

Next was a beverage service and I had a Bloody Mary.

Bloody Mary

There was a fairly thick marine layer over much of the Southern California coast today.

It cleared up as we passed over the Northern California coast and Big Sur.

There were clear skies in San Francisco for our landing approach.

After landing we had a brief ten minute taxi to the gate. Thanks for the ride!

This was a perfectly fine short intra-California flight. I appreciated the small snack bag and drinks for a early morning departure. However, when compared to American Airlines newer B737-800 I would have to say United comes in second.