Review of United flight San Francisco Mexico City in Economy

Airline United
Flight UA 821
Class Economy
Seat 8D
Aircraft Airbus A320
Flight time 04:10
Take-off 20 May 15, 13:05
Arrival at 20 May 15, 19:15
UA   #37 out of 67 Airlines A minimum of 10 flight-reports within the past two years is required to appear in the rankings. 338 reviews
jetsetpanda
By 3050
Published on 21st May 2015
Hello and welcome to this MEX trip report. The schedule is as follow:

UA 821 SFO-MEX in Y+ - you are here.
UA 718 MEX-SFO in J - http://flight-report.com/fr/report-10406.html.

I have planned this trip a long time ago to meet some family members who were visiting MEX and at the time I opted for the convenience of a nonstop flight. I chose UA for two main reasons. a) I wanted to accumulate miles on a *A carrier and b) I was intrigued about the new catering improvement that UA has announced in their premium cabins.

The day of departure I parked my car at SFO Park and upon arriving at the Intl. terminal, I already saw a line at the check-in kiosks. Unwilling to wait to use a kiosk, I went straight to T3 at the domestic side and accessed one right away. I printed my boarding pass and I noticed that it had a TSA Pre-check logo printed on top. I was puzzled because I don't have status with UA. However, I purchased the ticket using my UA Explorer card which gave me priority boarding, but it never included priority screening through security. Perhaps a new benefit?

The crowded international terminal.

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The domestic side had a long line through security and according to the sign, it was about 25-30 minutes to go through security. Since I had TSA pre-check, it was only 3 min. for me. Here was another surprise when I passed through security - I no longer had to take my shoes or belt off. In addition, I had my laptop in my carry on and was never required to take it out either. Just after I passed through security, there was an announcement to stop the screening process and the whole area was shut for a few minutes. Needless to say, I let out a big sigh of relief and proceeded to go to the AMEX Centurion lounge.

Originally I wanted to go to the UA Club, but found out that the new catering at the SFO Club will not be in effect until May 25. The interesting thing is that all the other clubs at major hubs like ORD, EWR, IAD, IAH and DEN already had the updated menus, so why is SFO being treated like a stepchild? After all, isn't SFO a major hub also to some of the most profitable routes in the system?

Anyways, thankfully there is the Centurion lounge now. The food featured today was created by Cédric Vongerichten, but there is some slight discrepancy between what is posted on the website and what is served at the lounge. While on the breakfast menu it was advertised that there will be Eggs Benedict and pancakes, I never saw those items at the breakfast display. Furthermore, I was expecting fried chicken in honey lemongrass for lunch, and what I got instead was roasted chicken with garlic and lemon. Having said that, the food was much better than what other legacy lounges offer so I can't complain.


AMEX Centurion lounge.

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I started with a glass of Pinot Noir & Chardonnay Mumm Napa Sparkling Wine and a glass of orange juice. The wines at this SFO lounge are all from Napa Valley, even the sparkling wines. A nice feature is the self service dispensers. I took a few shots of the white wines selection.


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Breakfast.




Breakfast display.




Later on lunch was served.




I had something light.

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After having breakfast and lunch, I made my way to the gate. There was an interesting exhibition at T3.

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Some plane spotting.

A swan surrounded by ducks?

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Two swans surrounded by ducks.

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My plane.

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Cabin.




Nice pitch.

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Taxiing.

AF has arrived.

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The purser offered newspapers to the Y+ cabin after he passed through the F cabin, which was a nice gesture.

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Crew was efficient and robotic. I noticed that the quality of the Spanish announcements was a bit rough on the edges. I purchased a hot sandwich that seemed that it had more bread than chicken. As always, I think the cheese plate provided by UA is much better than the one by AA.




A few bumpy moments and then we arrived in MEX with a slight delay. The flight departed at 1334 and arrived at 1919.

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It's AF next to KL again.

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See more

Verdict

United

6.9/10
Cabin9.0
Cabin crew7.5
Entertainment/wifi5.0
Meal/catering6.0

AMEX Centurion Lounge

8.8/10
Comfort9.0
Meal/catering9.0
Entertainment/wifi8.0
Services9.0

San Francisco - SFO

9.2/10
Efficiency9.0
Access9.0
Services9.0
Cleanliness10.0

Mexico City - MEX

7.8/10
Efficiency7.0
Access8.0
Services8.0
Cleanliness8.0

Conclusion

This was an average flight with UA with a crew that did their job and nothing more.

It was disappointing that the new catering at the UA SFO clubs were not updated along with the rest of the hubs. The AMEX Centurion lounge is a nice alternative, not to mention the free liquor for those who like to drink. But beware, as I mentioned above, it seems that all the wines are Californian.

Related

16 Comments

If you liked this review or if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to post a comment below !
  • Comment 137063 by
    Rl 777 809 Comments

    Great FR! Thanks for sharing it :).

    That indeed looks like a pretty normal UA flight.

    The cabin seems to be very clean and fresh.

    See you on the next one!

    • Comment 316574 by
      jetsetpanda AUTHOR 2294 Comments

      Thanks for your visit and comment.

      A lot of people like this new cabin and it looks like a nice improvement. The only thing that I am not fond of are the iron board seats, but I guess that is the new trend since they space and are forces people to put less things in the seat pockets.

  • Comment 137103 by
    K2World 1959 Comments

    Thanks for this FR, nice pictures as usual.
    I like the design and the color of the cabin.
    The flight is quite long actually, and there is no PTV on board. Did you try the wifi ? Or ask for an Ipad ?

  • Comment 137118 by
    NGO85 1622 Comments

    Adan, thank you for sharing this report with us, always a feast for the eyes! (But shame on you for working on this FR while on vacation!)

    I was intrigued about the new catering improvement that UA has announced
    - Haha, announced, but have they performed? We'll find out soon!

    Perhaps a new benefit?
    - Interesting question, I was always under the impression PreCheck was something you had to be signed up for with TSA (which confirms you are low risk), not necessarily a FastTrack equivalent (which shortens the line). I've heard that sometimes at busy airports, TSA will randomly gift people PreCheck at check-in in order to try and cut down the wait times. You might have just won the lottery, unless you were looking forward to a strip search.

    Just after I passed through security, there was an announcement to stop the screening process and the who area was shut for a few minutes.
    - Always a great way to start a vacation :)

    isn't SFO a major hub also to some of the most profitable routes in the system?
    - Definitely UAs largest hub into Asia.

    there is some slight discrepancy between what is posted on the website and what is served at the lounge
    - Possibly a rotating menu or daily variances are in effect? Obviously disappointing if you were expecting particular items to be available, but the actual offering doesn't look bad and has an international lounge quality. Do you photograph food for a living? You have a very keen eye for sumptuous presentation of the food. Mmm, artichokes. The wine dispenser is interesting, almost rivaling the draft beer taps in Asia, but the selection is quite diverse even if it is only local wines. I like how the price is $0.00.

    A swan surrounded by ducks?
    - I thought you had a strong disdain for the NH livery, but you should never judge a book by its cover ;)

    The new UA cabins look clean, albeit sterile (no real personality), but seat pitch is more than acceptable in Y+. As seems to be the trend, all IFE is now personal device based. Was there a USB/power outlet for the seat? I don't remember these being available, which makes the BYOIFE a little bit presumptuous.

    The purser offered newspapers to the Y+ cabin after he passed through the F cabin, which was a nice gesture.
    - No shame in taking some hand me outs.

    I purchased a hot sandwich that seemed that it had more bread than chicken. As always, I think the cheese plate provided by UA is much better than the one by AA.
    - I like how flights to Canada and Mexico are still catered like a domestic flight with only BOB on offer, US carriers continually push the limits, but if they are all doing it, why be different? Definitely not a balanced sandwich, the cheese plate offering looks well-appointed even with a truffle (seems to be a better value than the sandwich).

    Thanks for sharing and see you for the return leg :)

  • Comment 137136 by
    jetsetpanda AUTHOR 2294 Comments

    Hi Michael and thank you for your valuable support as usual.

    ..(But shame on you for working on this FR while on vacation!)
    - Overworked and under appreciated, what else is new? :P

    Haha, announced, but have they performed? We'll find out soon!
    - Stay tuned. I have my fingers crossed. In the meantime I was indulging in some good Mexican eats to cushion myself just in case. ;)

    I was always under the impression PreCheck was something you had to be signed up for with TSA (which confirms you are low risk), not necessarily a FastTrack equivalent (which shortens the line).
    - So did I. Once in a while it is good to receive a nice surprise. Maybe it's karma. ;)

    .. You might have just won the lottery, unless you were looking forward to a strip search.
    - Things are relative in life, don't you think?

    Obviously disappointing if you were expecting particular items to be available, but the actual offering doesn't look bad and has an international lounge quality.
    - I was hoping to try some fried chicken. I was crushed. :(

    Do you photograph food for a living? You have a very keen eye for sumptuous presentation of the food. Mmm, artichokes.
    - Not at all, just an amateur with a passion for food. I like artichokes too, they are good for you. Besides, there is something very unique about the shape of an artichoke.

    The wine dispenser is interesting, almost rivaling the draft beer taps in Asia, but the selection is quite diverse even if it is only local wines. I like how the price is $0.00.
    - That is already a major plus. The way it works is that you are supposed to get a barcode from the bartender and then you scan it. I never tried it since I was not interested in trying anything except sparkling wine.

    I thought you had a strong disdain for the NH livery, but you should never judge a book by its cover ;)
    - I never do. ;)

    ...but seat pitch is more than acceptable in Y+
    - The Recardo iron boards help and give the illusion of more space.

    I like how flights to Canada and Mexico are still catered like a domestic flight with only BOB on offer, US carriers continually push the limits, but if they are all doing it, why be different? Definitely not a balanced sandwich, the cheese plate offering looks well-appointed even with a truffle (seems to be a better value than the sandwich).
    - AM still gives free food in the back, but I guess they are not considered strong competition by the U.S. legacy. Definitely the cheese board was a better deal.

    • Comment 316978 by
      NGO85 1622 Comments

      Oh a new fetish is born. Someone has to come up with a name for that condition. Any suggestions doc? :P
      - Disturbed, lol? Or we could go something like T-SAP (TSAphiliac).

      but a Taco Bell made with local ingredients is not the same as the ones found in the U.S. I'm all for authenticity.
      - Grade F beef is not a local ingredient in the US? Just the talk of Mexican food makes me eager for my next trip home to Texas :)

      It is mainly used for weight loss. Wait, is that your secret? ;)
      - My secret recipe is equal parts stress and Japanese food ;) I do drink lots of tea though.

    • Comment 316980 by
      jetsetpanda AUTHOR 2294 Comments

      ..Or we could go something like T-SAP (TSAphiliac).
      - LOL. That sounds scientific enough.

      Just the talk of Mexican food makes me eager for my next trip home to Texas :)
      - A Texan? You must live up to its reputation then. ;) :P

      My secret recipe is equal parts stress and Japanese food ;) I do drink lots of tea though.
      - Sounds like you like living on the edge. I also love Japanese food and drink lots of green tea.

    • Comment 316981 by
      NGO85 1622 Comments

      LOL. That sounds scientific enough.
      - You can even use it in a sentence, Yep, that guy is definitely a T-SAP... I think I've seen him enter the security line three times already today

      A Texan?
      - Houston born and raised. We have our fair share of authentic Mexican offerings ;) Although they might all be flooded now...

    • Comment 316982 by
      jetsetpanda AUTHOR 2294 Comments

      Yep, that guy is definitely a T-SAP... I think I've seen him enter the security line three times already today
      - Was he able to sit down?

    • Comment 316770 by
      NGO85 1622 Comments

      Overworked and under appreciated, what else is new? :P
      - Preaching to the choir :)

      Things are relative in life, don't you think?
      - I hear some people only fly in order to get searched by TSA...

      I was hoping to try some fried chicken. I was crushed. :(
      - Isn't there a KFC at SFO? There might also be a Taco Bell, so your trip to Mexico wasn't really necessary at all ;)

      Not at all, just an amateur with a passion for food. I like artichokes too, they are good for you.
      - Well, keep up the good work! Isn't té de alcachofa popular in Mexico?

      AM still gives free food in the back, but I guess they are not considered strong competition by the U.S. legacy.
      - I think AM still has a bad reputation with most Americans, so for most people it is never considered an option. If I was SkyTeam, I would fly AM instead of DL into Mexico.

    • Comment 316783 by
      jetsetpanda AUTHOR 2294 Comments

      I hear some people only fly in order to get searched by TSA...
      - Oh a new fetish is born. Someone has to come up with a name for that condition. Any suggestions doc? :P

      Isn't there a KFC at SFO? There might also be a Taco Bell, so your trip to Mexico wasn't really necessary at all ;)
      - LOL! Maybe for the fried chicken, but a Taco Bell made with local ingredients is not the same as the ones found in the U.S. I'm all for authenticity.

      Well, keep up the good work!
      - Now you make me blush. Thanks for the kind praise.

      Isn't té de alcachofa popular in Mexico?
      - It is mainly used for weight loss. Wait, is that your secret? ;) Pandas don't hibernate therefore they can not get the thin look.

      If I was SkyTeam, I would fly AM instead of DL into Mexico.
      So would I. Better lounge and terminal at least.

  • Comment 137216 by
    KévinDC TEAM GOLD 5600 Comments

    The food and drink on offer at the Centurion lounges seems to vary by location. The one in DFW has very Tex-Mex themed food. And the one in SFO seems to champion local wines which is not necessarily a bad thing. SO many ugly ducklings on a gray San Francisco day...blech...UA really needs to get rid of that 80s livery.

    How could you still be hungry on the plane after eating two meals in the lounge?? LOL. Yeah, the BOB is nothing exceptional...pretty standard US carrier fodder. I do like the look of the new UA cabins...well I guess I should say seats. I don't think they did anything to update the actual cabins.

    The picture of the pitch looks like you are flying lufthansa. The seats look like the LH NEK seats and your backpack has what looks to be an LH logo on it.

    How did you buy a mixed cabin ticket...did you buy 2 one ways or does the UA website let you do that? Looking forward for the return, I haven't seen any pics of the new F seats.

    Thanks for sharing!

    • Comment 316784 by
      jetsetpanda AUTHOR 2294 Comments

      The food and drink on offer at the Centurion lounges seems to vary by location.
      - and inconsistent at times.

      UA really needs to get rid of that 80s livery.
      - Maybe we should start a petition then. I agree that globe is so last century.

      How could you still be hungry on the plane after eating two meals in the lounge?? LOL.
      - I made a financial sacrifice in order to bring a more objective FR.

      The picture of the pitch looks like you are flying lufthansa.
      - Shshsh! I am a closeted LH fan. :P

      How did you buy a mixed cabin ticket...did you buy 2 one ways or does the UA website let you do that?
      - UA website might be a lot of things, but it allows you to combine cabins on a ticket.

      Thank you Kevin for your support and comments.

  • Comment 137278 by
    indianocean SILVER 7174 Comments

    Thanks for the tips: check-in in T3 to avoid the lines in the International terminal. IIRC, F and G gates are connected and right in the middle is located the centurion Lounge. I was so sad not been able to visit it last month when I was departed from SFO (oops, did I say too much?)

    I've made a report about the Centurion Lounge in Las Vegas and I found it very plesant. Kevin did the same about the one in DFW. So LGA is the last one which hasn't been reported yet. Definitely worth it.
    The design is a little bit different but the catering looks very nice as well. Quite funny the prices above the bottles of wine. Should I understand they were on self-serve basis?

    Pitch on Y+ cabin is good. How much was the sandwich you bought?

    Thank you Adan.

    • Comment 316786 by
      jetsetpanda AUTHOR 2294 Comments

      Thanks for the tips: check-in in T3 to avoid the lines in the International terminal.
      - Or vice versa depending on the day and time.

      I was so sad not been able to visit it last month when I was departed from SFO (oops, did I say too much?)
      - The cat is out of the bag now, so be ready for the dogs to chase you. :P

      So LGA is the last one which hasn't been reported yet. Definitely worth it.
      - Maybe you should suggest that on FR. You might have more persuasion power than I. ;) Today I saw the AMEX Centurion lounge in MEX @ T1, but did not enter because I was set to try the *A ones (UA and AV).

      Should I understand they were on self-serve basis?
      - Bingo! As much and as often as you like provided you don't look drunk.

      How much was the sandwich you bought?
      - Close to USD 10. I had to mortgage my place.

      Thank you Bernard for your visit and comments.

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