United BusinessFirst - Boeing 777-200ER : UA79 Newark to Tokyo Narita
The recent merger of Continental and United Airlines has created a mega-carrier with over 700 aircraft in the mainline fleet and nearly 90,000 staff. It is an absolutely mammoth operation with a route network covering the entire globe. The airline has so many different aircraft types it is hard to keep up with what's on offer! For my recent trip from the New York area to Japan I booked a flight on an aircraft which was formerly the flagship of the Continental fleet, the Boeing 777-200ER in a two class configuration featuring the airlines 'BusinessFirst' seating. Under the United brand the seating name has stuck and the airline has acquired a new hub in Newark. My flight, UA79, from a very cold New York would be operated by former Continental Airlines crew members.
|The United B777-200ER operating my flight|
UA79 from Newark to Tokyo is scheduled at just under 14 hours in duration so being up the front is definitely preferable! I had selected a window seat in the first row of the second business class cabin, seat 8L. Check-in was easy at the many vacant kiosks at the premium check-in zone for United passengers at Newark. I was soon through security and into the United Club (formerly the Continental Presidents Club). The lounge is very basic as I have come to expect in the USA with very limited food and beverage options. Fortunately there is a nice view of the apron and my aircraft at Gate 102 was filling the window nicely!
|United Club Newark|
|Great engine and wing view|
|Headset, slippers, power outlet|
|Today's flight over the top of the world|
|The place for your feet in bed mode|
|The Engine is made by GE as you can see|
|Pre-lunch drinks and nuts|
|Air dried beef with kiwi and melon|
The beef was actually quite tasty and I was feeling pretty satisfied overall with the meal service. The male flight attendant working in my zone was friendly and always had a smile on his face, and he always made sure my drink was replenished. Some grapes, cheese and crackers were up next. To go with it I had a glass of Baileys.
I sneaked a peak outside and found a completely snow and ice covered landscape, it was stunning!
The ice cream sundae trolley soon made its appearance and I ordered mine with caramel sauce, nuts and whipped cream (no cherries thanks). It was delicious!
The meal service over it was time to recline my seat and watch some movies. The BusinessFirst seat is FULLY FLAT and really pretty comfortable. Here is a photo to show you the seat in bed mode (not my own image):
As you can see it's nice and flat but of course if the person sitting on the window wants to get out they will need to climb over the other person. This can be achieved without waking them up... if you are careful!
At some point I looked out the window and the light had faded away but there was some amazing snow covered mountain ranges outside. Simply stunning! And most people probably didn't even sneak a peak either.
With most passengers sleeping or watching movies in bed there is no mid flight meal service as such, but snacks are available. Sandwiches, cakes, cookies, that type of thing. I ordered a cheese sandwich and a piece of cake which came on a plate and I was offered a linen napkin and proper cutlery to go with it.
I eventually went to sleep and woke up when it was time for breakfast. The table clothes wre again laid on the tables and service commenced with a bowl of fruit and a yoghurt. I do like the way the yoghurt was in a proper ceramic bowl and not a plastic tub thrown on a tray like some carriers offer. It makes it feel that little bit more premium.
Next breads and jams were on offer so I had a croissant...
The main course I ordered was egg and sausage and this is where I was let down. The egg was just plain bad and the whole thing looked like a $2 McDonalds offering:
I don't think many people finished their egg including myself, it was tasteless! I washed it down with a cup of coffee and started filling in my Japanese arrival card. Despite having just finished breakfast the actual local time in Japan was approaching 1pm.
Breakfast items were cleaned up and the cabin was prepared for landing. As we made our final approach to Narita I noticed the Narita Hilton passing by the right hand side. I was actually booked into that hotel for that night so it was good to get an idea of where it was.
A beautifully smooth landing and we were in a cold and cloudy Tokyo.... although it was warmer than the -9 degrees celsius I had left behind in New York. We made our way to the United terminal, were you could easily be mistaken for thinking it was an American airport with the number of United tails lined up...
Overall I was quite a happy customer. My expectations are pretty low when flying any American airline so I can safely say this flight definitely exceeded my expectations. The wine list was ordinary, the breakfast main course was bad but the seat itself was very comfortable. The service was always with a smile and whilst not as polite and polished as some Asian carriers I found the crew operating my flight to be above average. I was also impressed with a few aspects of the catering including: yoghurt served in a proper bowl, main course plated individually and tables set properly and not on a tray.
I now would like to try American Airlines on their new product to see how they compare, I have heard good things!