Review of United flight San Francisco London in Economy

Airline United
Flight UA 930
Class Economy
Seat 45G
Aircraft Boeing 777-200
Flight time 10:35
Take-off 14 Nov 15, 19:30
Arrival at 15 Nov 15, 14:05
UA   #89 out of 112 Airlines A minimum of 20 Flight-Reports is required in order to appear in the rankings. 218 reviews
jetsetpanda
By 4901
Published on 17th November 2015
Hi and welcome to my first around the world report. This will mark the first time that I will fly an Europe-Asia trip segment and I look forward to the experience with TK. The aviation geek in me is happy, but my body will not appreciate all these time zone changes and jet lag.

Here is the itinerary of my trip

SFO-LHR on UA Y - you are here
LHR-LIS on TP Y - http://flight-report.com/en/report-12240.html
LIS-MAD on IB J - http://flight-report.com/en/report-12281.html
MAD-LHR on IB J - http://flight-report.com/en/report-12318.html
LHR-HEL on AY J - http://flight-report.com/en/report-12341.html
HEL-CPH on AY J - http://flight-report.com/en/report-12412.html
CPH-IST on TK J - http://flight-report.com/fr/report-12544.html
IST-HKG on TK J - http://flight-report.com/en/report-12641.html
HKG-SFO on CX J - http://flight-report.com/en/report-12980.html


Before I begin this report, I have to say that this trip started in an untimely manner. I flew one day after the horrible Paris attacks and there were uncertainties about traveling to Europe. I join the rest of the world in support of the people in Paris with my thoughts and prayers, and sincerely hope that all members of this community who reside there are all right. Some people have expressed concerns about me taking a trip to Europe right after this event but I have replied that I will be more vigilant and exercise caution, but not afraid to go. I personally think that if we start to live in fear and avoid doing the things that we normally do, we give terrorists the upper hand and they have already won.

I was prepared for longer checks at the airports and arrived 3 hrs. before my flight. Surprisingly, security went smoothly at both SFO and LHR. In addition, I did not notice any signficant difference in the presence of security staff when I connected through LHR.

My journey began when I was dropped off at the UA Premier counter for check-in. I was matched to Star Alliance Gold (Platinum) through CM's ConnectMiles only a few weeks ago so this elite perk came in very handy. I also brought a free pass to the UA club courtesy of my credit card just in case but in the end this was not needed.

I noticed that there was a small room dedicated to Global Service members next to the TSA Pre-Clear line. I guess UA is trying to catch up to AA in that regards by offering a dedicated area for its top customers. The Premier check-in area was almost empty and I was helped by a smiling UA team leader. When I handed her my documents she asked for my visa to Portugal. I advised her that U.S. citizen staying for less than x amount of time do not need a visa and she acknowledged her oversight. She then issued my boarding passes and informed me about the UA club locations.

UA Premier check-in area.




I went through the Premier line at security but eventually the line merged with the other passengers so that was not so premium after all. Thankfully a new check point opened and things were speedier. After security, I was in an area of disarray with construction going on all around. I guess this part of T3 is going through a make over.




Since I had plenty of time, I decided to go to both UA Clubs. I started with the closest to me which is the domestic one.

It's an American football display this time. Unfortunately I don't share the excitement of this latest exhibition but I am sure others would find it exciting. One man's garbage is another one's treasure I suppose.

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UA Club T3

I have always found this lounge to have more personality than the sterile one at the International site. Perhaps it is the nautical theme from a bygone time or the openness to the tarmac, but I enjoy this lounge better than the one at the Intl. terminal.


Entrance.

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Interior.




I've read about the enhancements in catering at the UA lounges, and I am happy to report that although this is by no means exemplary, it constitutes a step in the right direction. The rabbit diet consisting of carrot sticks is a thing of the past now, replaced by healthy salads, a hot soup, and better selection of appetizers and sweets. The famous salami that I keep hearing about is still elusive, but I was satisfied with the new selections.

One thing that I like about this UA Club is that there are bowls and metal cutlery, unlike the Admirals Club which uses plastic utensils with a silver finish and disposable bowls.

The buffet.





Condiments.

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Drinks.

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My selection.
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Leaving the lounge on my way to the intl. terminal.

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UA Club Intl. terminal.

There was a line outside the door by the way I arrived at this lounge and the two agents working at the entrance were busy. As I expected, it was crowded but not to full capacity. Same offerings as the domestic club but I still preferred the domestic one as it felt more relaxing.




Interior of the lounge. Personally I feel that UA should get rid of these tacky big flowers at the entrance. It kind of makes me of like Alice in Wonderland.




Not a lot of great reading materials. At least I find that UA's Rhapsody magazine is somewhat more engaging than AA's version of its premium cabin.

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View is not the best.

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After spending sufficient time here I went to the gate. It was very crowded as expected but the agent working there had a very professional attitude and even smiled when I inquired about the possibility of getting a better seat. Unfortunately the flight was horribly full.

My plane.

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Boarding started with the protocol for the different priority passengers. I was glad that I had Star Alliance Gold printed on my boarding pass and was one of the first to seat all the way in the back. It sounds like such a big privilege to sit all the way in the back. :P

The crew today was LHR based and service was very good for the most part. Two FA's positioned at the door welcomed me onboard with a smile which was reassuring.

My seat. Yes, the aisle one on the row before the last one.

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The power charger was located under the seat, contrary to AA's which is in front by the screen. Needless to say, the location of it was a pain in the rear. Imagine if you are in the middle seat and wanted to charge your electronics.

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IFE was fine with an assortment of movies, but I think AA had a bit more selections. The reading light and FA call buttons were located under the screen only.

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Once everyone boarded and after take off, the meal service started with drinks and a package of cheese with crackers.

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Dinner followed with another round of drinks. Here is my Hindu meal which was tasty. The salad and dessert were disappointing, but in the end I was offered the regular ice cream along with the other passengers.

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Since I ordered a special meal I was served first before the cart with the regular meals. I was finished before the cart made it to the second cabin so I took my tray to the galley and a smiling FA took it from me. By the time the meal cart reached my row, I was offered a choice between chicken or pasta. Since I was curious about the regular meal, I chose the chicken and it had a much better updated salad with some sort of grains which kind of reminds me of AF meals in Y on long hauls. The chicken was served with couscous which was good.

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After the trays were cleared, a FA went around distributing individual bottles of water.

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Dessert followed and it was salted caramel gelato. Wonderful dessert for Y cabin.

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After the meal service I randomly saw some movies and surfed through the different programs. Back in the galley bottles of water, juice and crackers with cheese were set up for passengers to take.

By the time the second meal service started, I was once again offered a hot Hindu meal which this time was a bit spicy.

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I did not finish the meal and took the tray to the galley on my way to the WC. This time another FA was there and when I inquired if I can leave the tray, she said that it would be nice if I could hold on to it since they were still serving other passengers. She was putting the last touches to the meal cart that was going to be taken to the other side so I guess she was busy, but her tone was a bit dismissive which was a stark contrast from returning the tray on the first meal service. Up until now, the FA's were all very professional and even smiling in their interactions with customers, but I guess there is a rotten apple in the basket from time to time. She could have just told me to place the tray in the galley counter to take care of it later if she didn't want to deal with it.

Once again, I asked one of the FA's if it was possible to try a regular meal if there were any extras. She gladly brought me a tray with pancakes since that was the only option left. I was surprised that UA served a hot meal for breakfast and was just expecting a croissant with a yogurt or fruit. A nice improvement indeed.

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We landed in LHR earlier at 1331 which gave me a couple of extra minutes to visit the UA and SQ lounges.
See more

Verdict

United

7.6/10
Cabin6.0
Cabin crew8.0
Entertainment7.5
Meal/catering9.0

United Airlines Red Carpet Club (International Terminal)

7.8/10
Comfort8.0
Meal/catering8.0
Entertainment7.0
Services8.0

San Francisco - SFO

8.8/10
Efficiency8.5
Access9.0
Services8.5
Cleanliness9.0

London - LHR

8.8/10
Efficiency8.0
Access9.0
Services9.0
Cleanliness9.0

Conclusion

Even thought it was not trend setting, I was very satisfied with the improvements that UA has implemented for its lounges and particularly onboard long haul Y flights. Compared to what they used to serve the difference was drastic, although there is always room for improvements. I think it seems stingy to announce all these improvements and then try to charge passengers with Buy on Board after the meal service.

I applaud UA for not going to the 3-4-3 cabin configuration in Y on the 777's. The seats were well padded and did their job. The location of the power charger is really a pain to reach and this should be modified to be more user friendly. Also, I think that some controls by the arm rest would be more familiar to some passengers.

With the exception of one crew member, the rest were top notch and very professional. It's amazing how a negative experience can have a more lasting effect than the positive ones.

Informations on the route San Francisco (SFO) London (LHR)

The contributors of Flight-Report published 3 reviews of 2 airlines on the route San Francisco (SFO) → London (LHR).


Useful

The airline with the best average grade is British Airways with 7.9/10.

The average flight time is 9 hours and 46 minutes.

 

24 Comments

  • Comment 150756 by
    KL651 3501 Comments

    Thanks for this FR.

    That's indeed a lot of improvements to be noticed, especially on the onboard meal services.

    However it might be because this was a longer TATL flights, from what I've seen on East Coast flights it's not as good.

    The food does look good and the quantities ok.

    It's funny to offer at the same time BoB and free snacks in the galley.

      0
    • Comment 328746 by
      jetsetpanda AUTHOR 2164 Comments

      However it might be because this was a longer TATL flights, from what I've seen on East Coast flights it's not as good.
      - You have a point here. I remember when I flew Y on BA last year from SFO to LHR the breakfast service was very lacking. Then recently BA started to serve a hot breakfast on those same flights and due to competition UA might also be doing this.

      It's funny to offer at the same time BoB and free snacks in the galley.
      - UA is a contradiction, isn't it? ;)

      Thank you for your comments.

        0
  • Comment 150761 by
    eminere™ 248 Comments

    What a neat trick to get two servings of meals.

      0
    • Comment 328747 by
      jetsetpanda AUTHOR 2164 Comments

      I can be resourceful when I want something. Thanks for dropping by.

        0
    • Comment 328748 by
      jetsetpanda AUTHOR 2164 Comments

      Oi Caribel. Tudo bem mi amigo.

      The expression someone's garbage is another's treasure applies to marital relationships too. ;)
      - Talking from personal experience? :P Your wise words are always appreciated.

      Try humour to diffuse the hostility. Tell her something like: Mi dispiace di svegliarti, Fra un minuto me ne andrò E non dici una parola... You get the drift.
      - In life you need to choose your battles. This one was not worth wasting my saliva. When you see a pitfull showing its teeth, you walk away slowly.

      Thanks.

        0
  • Comment 150762 by
    Caribel 113 Comments

    Como vai voce? Share your solemn thoughts for the people grieving in France.

    So you have taken a trip to the dark side by flying UA. AA FF devaluation makes UA the more generous program.

    The lounge reflects the more profitable business clientele of San Fran. The expression someone's garbage is another's treasure applies to marital relationships too. ;)

    The perennial FA in permanent state of PMS is a fixture of airlines. Try humour to diffuse the hostility. Tell her something like: Mi dispiace di svegliarti, Fra un minuto me ne andrò E non dici una parola... You get the drift.

    Happy and safe travels!

      0
  • Comment 150779 by
    ashleyyau 171 Comments

    Thanks for sharing this flight report with nice pictures!

    The facilities for the 2 United Clubs look adequate and food choices look good. BTW for this around the world trip will you have the chance to visit the new T3 United Club in SFO?

    Read through this report I found there is a big contrast of your UA flight experience compared with the one on member NGO85’s UA TPAC flight i.e. the food offerings and crew services. I cannot understand why United services can be so varied in different routes???

    You are so lucky to get 2 meals each time on flight :D

    Looking forward to your next report!

      0
    • Comment 328749 by
      jetsetpanda AUTHOR 2164 Comments

      I tried to visit the new T3 club but was not able to access it due to the construction. I saw a sign with UA Club blocked by a temporary wall. On second thought I remember reading something about a temporary club around that area. Perhaps I should have walked further inside but decided to stick to the ones that I knew.

      I cannot understand why United services can be so varied in different routes???
      - Are you surprised? ;)

      You are so lucky to get 2 meals each time on flight :D
      - Getting a better value for my ticket. :P

      Thanks for your visit.

        0
    • Comment 329069 by
      jetsetpanda AUTHOR 2164 Comments

      Thank you for the tip.

        0
    • Comment 328921 by
      jetdillo 2 Comments

      The Temporary UC is halfway down the hall from the entrance to the T3 Pier, between the two security screening areas.
      There's the security screening near the escalator to the SkyTrain and hallway heading towards the Rotunda, and then there's the one just past DOM Premier check-in. It's a little hidden and off to the right side. There's a staff stairway & elevator and then an elevator marked for the UC. Take that up one floor and the club is on the left out of the elevator vestibule.
      It's small-ish, but also tucked out of the way so I've never really found it to be that crowded.
      The downside is that there are no windows, so it's not good for 'spotters.

        0
    • Comment 328750 by
      jetsetpanda AUTHOR 2164 Comments

      I'm grateful for your sacrifice.
      - I do what I can with my grain of sand. ;) It was a bigger sacrifice testing the BA F lounge at LHR later and having to sample a couple of champagnes. :P

      Everyone can notice that 3-3-3 configuration gives a much better feeling of airness in the cabin, especially the male cabin crew who easily distributes water during the flight.
      - Indeed, but didn't the 777's have a 2-3-2 configuration for the last couple of rows instead of 3-3-3?

      Thanks Bernard.

        0
  • Comment 150798 by
    indianocean 4813 Comments

    Thank you Adan.

    I'm grateful for your sacrifice. You could have gone to the AMEX Centurion lounge instead of visiting the two dreadful UA lounges even if these last two went on an improvement. Of course, it is much much better than carrot stiks but still.

    Everyone can notice that 3-3-3 configuration gives a much better feeling of airness in the cabin, especially the male cabin crew who easily distributes water during the flight.

      0
  • Comment 150818 by
    NGO85 1579 Comments

    Thank you Adan for this great report!

    “When I handed her my documents she asked for my visa to Portugal.”
    - It never ceases to amaze me the issues I run into with agents on check-in. Although when I get too aggressive with providing them documentation to clear up visa requirements, they get even more confused.

    The lounges have better offerings of food than what I saw at the UA Club in NRT, so there is some credence to the improvement. I agree, the domestic lounge at SFO is much nicer ambiance that the international lounge.

    Ohh, “The Women of Bond,” what an invigorating read in Rhapsody.

    I love the top down views you get of the planes at SFO. The B747s are so close and so big :)

    “It sounds like such a big privilege to sit all the way in the back. :P”
    When you consider how long it takes to get to the back of the plane when you board with Zone 4, I think you appreciate it a little bit.

    The location of the chargers on the B787 was also awkward, the window seat’s plus was underneath the middle seat. You can make yourself a new friend pretty quickly as you reach to plug in ;)

    The catering rating might be skewed since you had 4 meals... I thought those meal trays were pathetically small on my flights and yours too. There is a definite lack of quantity, but I will concede there is some improvement in quality. My KIX-SFO flight was crappy quality, but returning on KIX-SFO (reporting soon) will show much improved catering quality and we had the same gelato (maybe only ex-SFO?) Your breakfast definitely beats the one I had on KIX-SFO.

    her tone was a bit dismissive
    - The UA crews seemed very moody on my last trip too. Since it was a LHR based crew, they probably just wanted to get home.

      0
    • Comment 328751 by
      jetsetpanda AUTHOR 2164 Comments

      It never ceases to amaze me the issues I run into with agents on check-in. Although when I get too aggressive with providing them documentation to clear up visa requirements, they get even more confused.
      - I'm sure more than one vacation was ruined due to incompetence in the past.

      The lounges have better offerings of food than what I saw at the UA Club in NRT, so there is some credence to the improvement.
      - That seems hard to believe. Isn't NRT a major hub after all?

      “The Women of Bond,” what an invigorating read in Rhapsody.
      - Are you referring to the mind? :P Hey, Rhapsody is a publication for the premium market, so don't make fun. ;)

      I love the top down views you get of the planes at SFO. The B747s are so close and so big :)
      - Some airports are better than others when it comes to taking pics from the gate. LIS and TLV are horrible with those dots, and to some extent SFO T2.

      You can make yourself a new friend pretty quickly as you reach to plug in ;)
      - Don't we make friends everytime we plug in? :P

      Your breakfast definitely beats the one I had on KIX-SFO.
      - There is no competition on that route since UA is the only one offering a nonstop. They can relax the standards. ;)

      Since it was a LHR based crew, they probably just wanted to get home.
      - That should serve as an incentive instead, don't you think?

      Thank you Michael.

        0
  • Comment 150822 by
    lagentsecret 8424 Comments

    Thanks for sharing this FR and your first RTW

    It's an interesting mix of *A and OW companies flights : how did you build this routing ?

    The lounge food offer is really enhanced (even if it was not so hard lol) : one or two hot mains would be perfect

    The catering on board is unfortunately not on par :(

    Anyway the regular meals look better than your special meals

    You were lucky having a good crew : it can really make a flight more enjoyable

    See you soon for the lounges visits in LHR

      0
  • Comment 150827 by
    jetsetpanda AUTHOR 2164 Comments

    It's an interesting mix of *A and OW companies flights : how did you build this routing ?
    - I waved a magic wand. ;) SFO-LHR-LIS was using Lifemiles leftovers. LIS-MAD-LHR-HEL-CPH was an Advantage award. I wanted to do LIS-LHR on BA instead for the sake of spending more time in LHR but AA wanted to charge me for 2 intra-European awards instead of 1. So using IB and going through MAD with the additional flights was considered 1 award and was fine. I don't understand that logic. CPH-IST-HKG was a paid ticket in J on TK and the only portion that I spent money on. Finally HKG-SFO was with Avios points. I was charged 70.000 for that one segment which I thought might be a bit high, but I had to get on that flight since my family was there.

    The lounge food offer is really enhanced (even if it was not so hard lol) : one or two hot mains would be perfect
    - You know as well as I do that UA will not spend the money on main dishes. Even getting sandwiches at meal times might be asking too much.

    The catering on board is unfortunately not on par :(
    - It's a matter of perspectives I suppose. For someone who flies in front with more renowned carriers it is always going to be somewhat disappointing. ;) Having said that I really liked the main dish of the Hindu meal.

    Thank you for commenting as usual Gilbert.

      0
  • Comment 150895 by
    Rl 777 728 Comments

    Thank you for sharing this FR with us!

    Great shot of your bird before departure! I'm usually unlucky with reflections or it's just that I suck at taking photos at night.

    IFE looks decent but nothing too fancy, anyway as long as there's a functioning moving map it's alright IMO.

    The first Hindu meal looks good, except the sad salad. The normal one looks good visually with a much better looking salad.

    Nice to see they serve hot breakfasts, they seem to have improved quite a lot compared to other older reports I've read.

    See you!

      0
    • Comment 328829 by
      jetsetpanda AUTHOR 2164 Comments

      I'm usually unlucky with reflections or it's just that I suck at taking photos at night.
      - Night shots of airplanes are hard to take due to the light reflections, so you are not the only one. The trick is to find a spot that will provide some shadow when you focus with your lens. Practice makes perfect and you just have to experiment.

      IFE looks decent but nothing too fancy, anyway as long as there's a functioning moving map it's alright IMO.
      - I agree with you. A moving map is essential. ;)

      The first Hindu meal looks good, except the sad salad.
      - I think UA forgot to upgrade the side dishes of the special meals. :P

      Nice to see they serve hot breakfasts...
      - Considering that they are profitable these days, upgrading the Y product is not an unreasonable expectation.

      Thank you for your visit.

        0
  • Comment 151077 by
    jetdillo 2 Comments

    I'm curious why you checked in for a TATL flight at the DOM Premier check-in instead of going to the INTL terminal?

    Did you want to visit the DOM Club first ?

      0
    • Comment 329068 by
      jetsetpanda AUTHOR 2164 Comments

      I had plenty of time and decided to make a stop at the DOM one first since it was close to the security checkpoint anyways. I have been to both lounges before and I liked this one better.

      Thanks.

        0

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