This report will cover the return to KIX. It was a stressful morning and a 100% full flight, so this report will be lighter on photos, but all of the major components are covered and you are encouraged to refer to Part 1 of this series for an introduction to UA’s B787 hard product since it is identical to this report.
After oversleeping because of jetlag, it was a rush to SFO. Arriving at SFO 1.5-hours until departure, the lines for check-in for UA in the international terminal were really long since every single flight to Asia leaves at the same time (a majority operating on B747-400s). This also had a trickle down effect on security being very slow so it took about an hour to get through all that mess. Completely my fault, I know.
The cheap boarding pass that managed to survive TSA unscathed.
Reaching the gate, I was relieved to hear an announcement that boarding is being delayed because the plane still had to be cleaned and catered, but they didn’t expect any delays arriving into KIX. That gave me some breathing room and the chance to wander around the G90-100 gates.
Gate 100 and my plane.
Here is my plane for the day: N26910. Quite fitting actually, I had N26909 operate UA 34 on the inbound and I add “1” to everything to get N26910 operating UA 35.
I don’t particularly like SFO, it’s a standard US airport with all your typical airport stores and shops. The only thing that really stood out to me was the large murals they had over each gate.
Rather sterile seating areas.
The best feature is that the boarding is done a floor below the main concourse, so you can actually get some nice aerial shots of the planes with the big, clean windows they have in the terminal. I took advantage of this to mill around and spot.
UA B777-200ER (bad example since this window had the black dots).
UA B747-400 to PEK.
NH B777-300ER to NRT (the plane I should have took).
UA B737s with scimitar winglets.
UA B737-900ER with scimitar winglets.
UA B777-200ER getting towed to a gate.
They are connecting the tug to my plane, I’m glad they used the one for the right plane.
The UA B747-400 to NRT is getting pushed back at the gate next to mine.
UA B757-200 with winglets.
Boarding is about to start for my flight, so a quick peak at the FIDS.
UA B747-400 arriving from somewhere in Asia, which immediately takes the gate of the plane that just left for NRT.
UA B737-800 with scimitar winglets.
UA A319 and another UA B747-400 arriving.
I’m in the last boarding zone, so I finally head to the gate. The seating area in the gate area.
My plane again.
The UA B747-400 to NRT lifting up.
Old school UA tug.
United Airlines, UA 35 Equipment: Boeing B787-800 [N26910, delivered February 2014] Departure: 11:15 (ATD: 11:43) Arrival: 15:00 (ATA: 14:59) Flight time: 11:16
At 11:11, I finally board.
Entering, a warm welcome from a FA. I squeeze through the tight galley where another FA tells me to “Stand back, honey” as she tries to serve pre-departure drinks to the rear J cabin. I didn’t really care for her tone and it quickly neutralized the warm welcome I just received.
The uninspiring EconomyPlus product. My two neighbors are a young Japanese couple (or so I thought). Seat pitch is good. For a more detailed seat review, see Part 1 of this series.
IFE with headphone and USB connections under the screen. Annoying when someone needs to get out of your aisle since you have to unplug everything.
Boarding finished quickly and we began push back. The safety video played during the taxi. We lifted off about 30 minutes late.
As soon as we leveled off, the aperitif service started. Asahi, water, and a cheese/cracker packet. This is much improved over the previous flight and is the same that jetsetpanda saw on SFO-LHR.
I happily finished it.
The first meal service starts. I was given the choice of Korean style chicken or some pasta dish. This is the first time we had issues with the FA, she was an American and didn’t speak any Japanese. My seatmates weren’t so good with English. I had to translate the menu for them and take their orders. The FA just looked annoyed. You would think the FA would appreciate my help, but never even thanked me once. I went for the Korean chicken option.
The starter is a much-improved salad. The lettuce does not look sterile and there is some couscous and vegetables in there too.
The main was also well presented (for UA standards). The chicken was fine and the sauce had a little bit of spice to it so it helped add flavor.
They already ran out of Japanese beers, so I got stuck with a Heineken. They must only load Japanese beers in Japan and what is leftover from the Japan-US route is reused on the US-Japan route.
After dinner, water bottles and gelato were distributed. This is the same gelato jetsetpanda saw on SFO-LHR and it was actually good. Coffee/tea service followed.
Meal service finished around here.
I fell asleep and didn’t wake up until a mid-flight drink service was done. This was not done on the KIX-SFO segment. I got a cup of coffee and water.
A quick trip to the lavatory.
Marathon will be happy to know baby changing is a man’s job on UA.
Cabin shot leaving the lavatory (with phone).
I watched two old Bond movies (Goldeneye and Moonraker) until the second meal service started. This is when things got weird. I mentioned I assumed I was sitting next to a Japanese couple, but the girl that was in the middle seat slowly started leaning and sleeping on my shoulder. Which was really awkward since the guy (who I thought was her husband) at the window kept looking over giving me the eye. At least Ms. NGO85 got a laugh out of this story later on. Anyways, the second meal service started 1.5 hours from arrival.
The second meal service was a real meal service, which was nice. Again, verbal offers of Asian style noodles or eggs and potatoes. I took orders for my seatmates. At least they thanked me for my help even if the FA didn’t appreciate my help. I got the Asian noodles and my seatmates both went for the eggs. Drink service was also conducted.
Again, presentation of the main is good and after some salt and pepper tasted good. The bread was nothing special and unfortunately was the exact same bread given on the first tray. The cookies for dessert weren’t great; I would have preferred a fruit cup.
We landed right on schedule into KIX. Deplaning was nothing special, just a “thanks for flying with us.” There were no lines for immigration and I was quickly into the baggage claim. This is when I found out my seatmates were not a couple. The girl approached me in the baggage claim and thanked me for helping her. We chatted until my bag came, I bid her farewell and cleared customs on my way to the train. The train from KIX to Shin-?saka is only hourly so I had 30 minutes to kill. I walked back to my spotting perch on the curb of the terminal.
I won’t make the same mistake twice, a CX B777-200 is here.
7C B737-800 (ex AB).
CX A330-300 arriving from TPE.
Thanks for reading this report and series!
BONUS: Larkspur Ferry Terminal on the way to SFO.
San Francisco - SFO
Osaka - KIX
This UA experience was very different from the inbound flight and that shows how inconsistent UA is. I felt catering was much stronger on this flight. The crew was still fairly unfriendly and robotic. UA is not an exciting product, it’s a get you from Point A to Point B airline.
Cabin comfort: The 787 is tight in a 3-3-3; the full cabin felt crowded. EconomyPlus seating fine, but it is not worth the $170-200 they charge for it. I don’t buy into the B787 hype, feels no different than a B777 other than less engine noise.
Crew: The welcome on board was nice, but then it all went back to status quo on UA. Disinterested crews. They weren’t explicitly rude this time, but they seemed temperamental and that always reflects poorly on service. I shouldn’t be scared to ask for water because of their anticipated reaction.
Meal and catering: Much better than on the last flight. Two hot meals offered. I could tell a big difference in the catering between this flight and the last leg, there seemed to be higher quality even if the quantities were the same. The presentations looked much nicer. Still LCC in the fact that it is BOB only between meals.
Entertainment: No newspaper offered. Standard seatback literature. IFE screen is a little small, but good variety. Limited moving map (you have no way to control anything).
On-time performance: We left the gate late and we landed right on schedule.
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