Flight-Report

Review of United flight San Francisco Osaka in Premium Eco

Airline United
Flight UA 35
Class Premium Eco
Seat 22J
Aircraft Boeing 787-8
Flight time 11:45
Take-off 11 Oct 15, 11:15
Arrival at 11 Oct 15, 15:00
UA   #113 out of 129 Airlines A minimum of 20 Flight-Reports is required in order to appear in the rankings. 274 reviews
NGO85
By 5856
Published on 28th November 2015
Background:

This series will cover a quickie to San Francisco aboard United Airlines (UA).

Part 1 – KIX-SFO [UA 34, Boeing B787-800, EconomyPlus] – http://flight-report.com/en/report-11846.html
Part 2 – SFO-KIX [UA 35, Boeing B787-800, EconomyPlus] – You are here

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.


Pre-flight:

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.

photo 58

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.

photo 1

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.

photo 6photo 7

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.

photo 9

Rather sterile seating areas.

photo 5

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).

photo 8

UA B747-400 to PEK.



NH B777-300ER to NRT (the plane I should have took).

photo 13

UA B737s with scimitar winglets.

photo 14

UA A320.

photo 15

UA B737-900ER with scimitar winglets.

photo 16

UA B777-200ER getting towed to a gate.

photo 17

UA A320.

photo 18

They are connecting the tug to my plane, I’m glad they used the one for the right plane.

photo 19

The UA B747-400 to NRT is getting pushed back at the gate next to mine.

photo 20photo 21

UA B757-200 with winglets.

photo 22

Boarding is about to start for my flight, so a quick peak at the FIDS.

photo 23

UA B747-400 arriving from somewhere in Asia, which immediately takes the gate of the plane that just left for NRT.

photo 24photo 25

UA B737-800 with scimitar winglets.

photo 26

UA A319 and another UA B747-400 arriving.

photo 27

I’m in the last boarding zone, so I finally head to the gate. The seating area in the gate area.

photo 28

My plane again.



The UA B747-400 to NRT lifting up.

photo 32

Old school UA tug.

photo 33




——————————-

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.

photo 34

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.

photo 35

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.



Seatback contents.

photo 40

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.

photo 39

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.

photo 41

I happily finished it.

photo 42

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.

photo 43

The starter is a much-improved salad. The lettuce does not look sterile and there is some couscous and vegetables in there too.

photo 45

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.

photo 44

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.

photo 46

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.

photo 47photo 48

Meal service finished around here.

photo 49

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.

photo 50

A quick trip to the lavatory.

photo 61photo 62

Marathon will be happy to know baby changing is a man’s job on UA.

photo 63

Cabin shot leaving the lavatory (with phone).

photo 60

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.

photo 51

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.

photo 52

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.

photo 53

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.

photo 54

7C B737-800 (ex AB).

photo 55

CX A330-300 arriving from TPE.

photo 56photo 57

Thanks for reading this report and series!





—————————-

BONUS: Larkspur Ferry Terminal on the way to SFO.

photo 64
See more

Verdict

United

7.0/10
Cabin7.0
Cabin crew6.0
Entertainment/wifi8.0
Meal/catering7.0

San Francisco - SFO

7.8/10
Efficiency7.0
Access9.0
Services7.5
Cleanliness7.5

Osaka - KIX

8.4/10
Efficiency10.0
Access6.0
Services7.5
Cleanliness10.0

Conclusion

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.

Related

23 Comments

  • Comment 151241 by
    jetsetpanda 2296 Comments

    Thank you Michael for another great FR with fantastic pics.

    UA is UA and if you know what to expect then you will not become too disappointed. The improved catering is a step in the right direction and hopefully one of the many beginnings of the new Oscar era. One can only hope.

    That experience with your seatmate was just bizarre. It would really annoy me if my neighbors starts to lean against me. It was very kind of you to act as a translator. Doesn't UA have those cards with pictures of the meals so that FA's can provide passengers with a visual of the meals in case of communication issues?

    See you.

    • Comment 329128 by
      NGO85 AUTHOR 1624 Comments

      The improved catering is a step in the right direction
      - But why wasn't this consistent in my trip? The catering KIX-SFO was terrible, but the SFO-KIX catering looked improved for UA standards. Still doesn't touch NH catering by any stretch of the imagination.

      It would really annoy me if my neighbors starts to lean against me.
      - If I was the window seat, I'd be livid (upcoming SK report will touch this subject... I had a war with my seatmate). I was on the aisle and she was small (she was using her Louis Vuitton bag as a footrest, lol) so it was no big deal since I didn't feel squeezed. She was out for at least 2 hours, but I didn't wake her until I had to use the restroom. It was just awkward because I thought the guy was her husband so I was feeling really uncomfortable with the situation.

      Doesn't UA have those cards with pictures of the meals so that FA's can provide passengers with a visual of the meals in case of communication issues?
      - Neither of these flights had any sort of menu card, everything was verbal. There was a Japanese-American FA in our cabin, but she only did one drink service and was elsewhere. NH's menu cards are much more practical.

      Thanks for your continued support Adan!

  • Comment 151261 by
    KL651 TEAM 4399 Comments

    Thanks for this FR.

    There is indeed a vast improvement on the food compared to the KIX-SFO flight! that's strange japanese catering is usually better than the US one.

    Anyway shame that the crew was once again not the greatest.

    The experience with ANA would have been better but probably more expensive...

    • Comment 329163 by
      NGO85 AUTHOR 1624 Comments

      Thanks you for your comments!

      That's strange japanese catering is usually better than the US one.
      - You would think that! Jetsetpanda also recently had strong catering ex-SFO, so maybe it is airport dependent?

      Anyway shame that the crew was once again not the greatest.
      - I've never really liked UA crews, I've always had some sort of weird vibe from them.

      The experience with ANA would have been better but probably more expensive...
      - I don't think that is necessarily always true. If you consider the price of UA's EconomyPlus to NH's Economy (same seat pitch, lol) it almost balances itself out :)

    • Comment 329219 by
      NGO85 AUTHOR 1624 Comments

      Even with the delayed boarding ?
      - When they made the announcement about the delay, they requested passengers to stay in the gate area so that they could start boarding as soon as the catering was finished. Was I really missing anything going to the UA Club?

      Sure I do ! ^^
      - I prefer Dr. Kaufman from the modern era.

    • Comment 329164 by
      NGO85 AUTHOR 1624 Comments

      Merci Clement!

      and at the same time ending one of the series which are running for several days ! ^^
      - The suspense was killing you?^^

      No time to spend / waste at the United Club in SFO ?
      - I got to the gate at the indicated boarding time after oversleeping so there was no time to waste there.

      You are always lucky when it comes to spotting. ;) SFO seems to be UA Queen of Skies' kingdom !
      - A sunny morning in SF, very lucky. It reminds me a lot of DTW with the large number of B744s milling around.

      Waht a scam ! ;(
      - $180 = rip off, but I was reimbursed for it, so it beats normal Y.

      Were there any Japanese FA working on this flight ?
      - There was 1 Japanese-American FA, but I only saw her in my row once during a drink service. She was a little snappy with passengers too.

      First meal service looks so-so… UA's Y catering isn't improving at all !
      - It is better than my first flight, so I consider that an improvement^^ It is still not good catering, even SK, which borders on LCC too had much better catering.

      What a bad luck ! ;(
      - The taste is night and day. It tasted like badly flavored water :(

      Goldeneye isn't that old (and its opening sequence has been partly shot in Switzerland ^^) and Hugo Drax is one of my favourite Bond's villian. lol
      - Watching Goldeneye reminded me of my childhood. Only sort of old. LOL, you have a favorite Bond villain?

      Then I guess you missed your chance that day ! :D
      - Ms. NGO85 would not have been happy with that outcome ;)

      See you for the inflight fight on SK's 343. ^^
      - It will be on the CPH-NRT sector, stay tuned^^

    • Comment 329189 by
      Numero_2 SILVER 8748 Comments

      - I got to the gate at the indicated boarding time after oversleeping so there was no time to waste there. -> Even with the delayed boarding ?

      LOL, you have a favorite Bond villain? -> Sure I do ! ^^

  • Comment 151267 by
    Numero_2 SILVER 8748 Comments

    Thank you for posting this report - and at the same time ending one of the series which are running for several days ! ^^

    No time to spend / waste at the United Club in SFO ?

    Nice spotting, with a nice weather again. You are always lucky when it comes to spotting. ;)
    SFO seems to be UA Queen of Skies' kingdom !

    The uninspiring EconomyPlus product. -> Waht a scam ! ;(

    Were there any Japanese FA working on this flight ?

    First meal service looks so-so… UA's Y catering isn't improving at all !
    They already ran out of Japanese beers, so I got stuck with a Heineken. -> What a bad luck ! ;(

    I watched two old Bond movies (Goldeneye and Moonraker) -> Goldeneye isn't that old (and its opening sequence has been partly shot in Switzerland ^^) and Hugo Drax is one of my favourite Bond's villian. lol

    but the girl that was in the middle seat slowly started leaning and sleeping on my shoulder. -> A local opportunity for you maybe ? lol
    The girl approached me in the baggage claim and thanked me for helping her. -> Then I guess you missed your chance that day ! :D

    See you for the inflight fight on SK's 343. ^^

  • Comment 151271 by
    ashleyyau 212 Comments

    Thanks for sharing this flight report! Nice pictures with blue sky always!

    So strange that UA are not providing menu to passengers. Looks like they assume that their passengers must be proficient in English LOL
    Even the LCC i.e. HK Express and Vanilla Air will provide menu with both pictures and text as I know.

    BTW this time the meal looks MUCH better than the outbound flight. May be SFO as a UA hub encourage the airline to cook the food better :P

    Looking forward to your next report and happy thanksgiving (I’m a bit late…)!

    • Comment 329165 by
      NGO85 AUTHOR 1624 Comments

      Thanks you for your comments!

      So strange that UA are not providing menu to passengers. Even the LCC i.e. HK Express and Vanilla Air will provide menu with both pictures and text as I know.
      - Or at least put the menu on the IFE! It is not the difficult in this day and age... Getting asked beef or chicken should be a thing of the past.

      BTW this time the meal looks MUCH better than the outbound flight. May be SFO as a UA hub encourage the airline to cook the food better :P
      - Both jetsetpanda's SFO-LHR flight and my SFO-KIX flight looked to have decent catering (for UA standards). My problem with the KIX-SFO flight was that the quantity was just dismal...

      happy thanksgiving (I’m a bit late…)!
      - We don't have turkey in Japan :(

    • Comment 329166 by
      NGO85 AUTHOR 1624 Comments

      Thank you for stopping by and commenting!

      I still think there are better ways to travel
      - There are much better ways to travel, but sometimes practicality and cost come into play. For me it is several hours shorter to take a direct KIX-SFO on UA versus doing NGO-NRT-SFO or NGO-HND-SFO on NH. I don't go out of my way to fly UA, but sometimes it's a necessary evil :)

  • Comment 151279 by
    byromania 34 Comments

    I very much enjoyed your report, but it in no way made me want to fly with UA. I still think there are better ways to travel, but again, I did enjoy your report.

  • Comment 151280 by
    lagentsecret SILVER 10299 Comments

    Thanks for sharing this FR

    You are crossing your routings... as usual

    Gorgeous spotting pictures

    I like to eat a clam chowder at the airport when I'm leaving from SFO

    The food looks much better than before and at least it was tasty because of the spice and the pepper

    I mentioned I assumed I was sitting next to a Japanese couple
    Maybe it was before you seduced the woman lol

    The UA Eco+ is only interesting because of the better pitch nothing else

    See you soon for your next report (and a beginning of another routing ?)

    • Comment 329167 by
      NGO85 AUTHOR 1624 Comments

      Merci pour vos commentaires 007^^

      You are crossing your routings... as usual
      - I like to keep people guessing. I'll start to finish all the reports so it will become simple again.

      Gorgeous spotting pictures
      - The benefits of sunny California weather :)

      I like to eat a clam chowder at the airport when I'm leaving from SFO
      - I was in all sorts of panic that morning. I didn't even eat breakfast before going to the airport.

      The food looks much better than before and at least it was tasty because of the spice and the pepper
      - It's still not great, but it is better and that's what is important. Yes, seasoning is important, it was pretty bland otherwise which is surprising considering it was a noodle dish that should be salty^^

      Maybe it was before you seduced the woman lol
      - Hmm, usually I have the opposite effect and they run away, lol^^

      The UA Eco+ is only interesting because of the better pitch nothing else
      - Imagine paying $180 for a middle seat^^ I was reimbursed for the Y+ seat, but I would never pay out of pocket for it unless I was guaranteed a row to myself like in the KIX-SFO report.

      See you soon for your next report (and a beginning of another routing ?)
      - No other trips until returning to the US for Christmas, I'm still recovering from that month of hell^^

  • Comment 151336 by
    757Fan 505 Comments

    Thanks for sharing this report. UA looks to have improved their catering a bit from a few years ago when I flew them to Milan from Newark, but those trays are tiny! The food also looks much tastier than what you had on the KIX-SFO route. Like you, and your comment in your first segment, I also miss Continental a lot. Their service and food was always good, and much better than the current UA. I hope UA also improves some of their customer service a bit ... They are miles away from Delta in their service in Economy I feel like.

    Looking forward to your next trip!

    Best,

    Matthew

    • Comment 329221 by
      NGO85 AUTHOR 1624 Comments

      Thanks for your comments Matthew!

      Improved is a relative term. As you know from the CO days, standards were a lot higher. UA destroyed their catering and everyone complained. They have now brought it up to mediocre and people are happier because it is improved relative to what it was post-merger, but still not what it should be based on CO's standards. The trays are really small, much smaller than any other carrier I've seen. The tray is the size of a piece of paper and the main is not much larger than a passport. I always hated UA pre-merger, and I feel like UA has retained that image and just taken CO's fleet. Service on UA has been poor in my recent experiences so I avoid them like the plague when possible.

  • Comment 151373 by
    Rl 777 812 Comments

    Thank you for sharing this FR onboard UA's Dreamliner!

    Absolutely stunning spotting shots from SFO! The weather surely helped. The shot of your bird with the UA 744 taking off in the distance is just amazing!

    Pitch looks good but that's to be expected in Y+, I still don't think I would spend $180 more for a few extra inches of pitch.

    The first meal looks like an improvement, it seems like the catering on UA is pretty decent ex-SFO. I experience those problems with pax every time we travel to DAC. I remember my mom had to explain and translate a lot of things to a woman coming from Beirut on my DOH-DAC flight last year, we also filled in her arrival card. Too bad the FA didn't appreciate your support (or she didn't show it).

    The main course of the second mail is very colourful, glad they offered a real meal service this time.

    Nice spotting shots at KIX at the end!

    See you on the next one!

    • Comment 329220 by
      NGO85 AUTHOR 1624 Comments

      Thanks for your comments, now I need to find one of their B789s. They use one on NRT-LAX, but I don't really want to fly UA unless I have to :)

      Absolutely stunning spotting shots from SFO!
      - Unfortunately, the international terminal is tucked inside the airport so you can't see any of the runways. You can only see aircraft movements in and out of the G/F gate areas, which means only UA planes.

      I still don't think I would spend $180 more for a few extra inches of pitch.
      - Definitely not. I only did it because it was free for me, if I had to pay out of pocket for the upgrade it would not be worth it on this segment. If I knew I would get a row to myself like on KIX-SFO, then I would pay $180 to upgrade.

      I experience those problems with pax every time we travel to DAC.
      - It's a situation where menus need to be distributed or put on the IFE. All cabin announcements were made in English and Japanese. There were Japanese-American FAs in both the J and Y cabins, but only 2 on board so they can't be expected to take care of all the Japanese speakers (~50% of the cabin). Airplanes are loud and its not easy to hear a snappy FA give a quick verbal menu.

      The main course of the second mail is very colourful
      - Yes, visually, the food looked far better than on the first leg. It's still not great catering, but it was at least improved. It still isn't as good as what CO used to offer.

      KIX is so-so, not that much more traffic than NGO.

  • Comment 152069 by
    KévinDC TEAM GOLD 4740 Comments

    TBH, I had to force myself to read this because UA just equals booooooring to me. But I knew if was you and figured there'd be some good planespotting and pics to make up for the UA-ness of it all. And it did! Great shots of course, and perfect lighting! Too bad so much of it was wasted on sad and drab Unitental livery. I'm kind of pleasantly surprised by the catering, but everything else is as blah as you would expect. Again, I've said this before, but this is a new 787 and the cabin already looks dated...sad sad sad. I know I have a generally unfair bias against UA, like 90% of America, but most reports I see (and my experiences in the past) just confirm how mediocre UA really is.

    • Comment 330025 by
      NGO85 AUTHOR 1624 Comments

      Thank you for your comments Kevin!

      I had to force myself to read this because UA just equals booooooring to me.
      - Thank you for sacrificing your eyesight for this report :)

      Too bad so much of it was wasted on sad and drab Unitental livery.
      - The *A side of the international terminal is very one-dimensional since it is wedged in by the UA domestic terminal. Very boring spotting, but I at least tried to get almost every type of plane UA operates :)

      this is a new 787 and the cabin already looks dated...
      - Absolutely, the KIX-SFO was my first time on a B787 and stepping onboard, you ask yourself, This is it? It really isn't an impressive experience. Your first time will be AA B788 NRT-ORD?

      I have a generally unfair bias against UA, like 90% of America
      - I am biased too, but I try to be fair in my criticisms. I really did see an improvement in catering this flight. My score reflects that this is a good product. It's not terrible, but it's not great. They need to improve their consistency, that's what bugs me the most about UA.

    • Comment 330028 by
      KévinDC TEAM GOLD 4740 Comments

      Nope...the LAN flight will be my 1st 787 and then I'll have the AA 787 following shortly thereafter. Hopefully both will be a little more impressive than the UA 787--especially the LAN 789. I'll go from not ever having been on a 787 to riding both the 788 and 789. Woot!

      I agree that your grade of 7.4 is fair. It's just a smidge above MEH

    • Comment 330032 by
      NGO85 AUTHOR 1624 Comments

      especially the LAN 789
      - You'll see how tight the 2-2-2 feels in J on the B787. AA did the right thing putting Cirrus seats on theirs. UA did themselves no favors in that regard.

  • Comment 152251 by
    NGO85 AUTHOR 1624 Comments

    especially the LAN 789
    - You'll see how tight the 2-2-2 feels in J on the B787. AA did the right thing putting Cirrus seats on theirs. UA did themselves no favors in that regard.

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