Review of United flight Tokyo Singapore in Economy

Airline United
Flight UA803
Class Economy
Seat 45J
Aircraft Boeing 777-200ER
Flight time 07:50
Take-off 04 Dec 15, 18:25
Arrival at 05 Dec 15, 01:15
UA   #120 out of 141 Airlines A minimum of 20 Flight-Reports is required in order to appear in the rankings. 318 reviews
sweetsonata
By 2685
Published on 4th December 2015
This report covers the return flight of my week-long trip to Japan. The report for the inbound flight can be viewed here: http://flight-report.com/en/report-12322.html

To start off, we left for NRT using the Narita Express train from central Tokyo. Despite Narita's remoteness, Japanese efficiency came to the rescue, and we simply had to take a single direct train to reach the airport.

I reached slightly too early for check-in, and decided to take a look around the shopping area first. There wasn't much to see, at least not anything that one couldn't already have seen in other malls in Tokyo.
photo 1

My flight on the FIDS. Despite the fact that I was not codesharing today, I found it very convenient how NRT's FIDS always lists the codeshare numbers at the same time as the main flight number. This is something I think Changi can really improve on, since their style of alternating the codes on a single line of text can make reading the FIDS tiresome at times.
photo 2

After a quick mini-dinner at one of NRT's sushi joints, I went to register at the check-in desks.
photo 4

Star Wars Christmas tree exhibit.
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Another exhibit showcasing Japan's iconic use of robots in manufacturing.
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Apron shot. The fast-fading winter sunlight and distance precluded identifying most of the aircraft, though.
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I only had a few seconds to check out NRT's viewing gallery, but when I did, I was able to grab a shot of N704DK. This bird had come in from LAX and was about to begin a run to ATL. This also marks the first time (that I know of) that I have ever seen a Boeing 777-200LR.
photo 20151204_172145

Security was extremely speedy and efficient, and I was soon airside.

4 December 2015
United Airlines
UA803
Tokyo Narita (NRT) - Singapore Changi (SIN)
Boeing 777-200ER (N795UA)
Economy Class
Gate 27


FIDS at the gate. This was taken about 30 minutes before departure.
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Our ship for today. Unfortunately, the shadowing precluded me reading the registration via the nosewheel doors. Flightradar24 had already revealed the aircraft's identity as N795UA, but it would still have been nice to get some visual confirmation before boarding.
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Legroom shot. It was fairly comfortable, though part of it might have been because I'm a rather short person.
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JA710A at the neighbouring gate, having just returned from MNL.
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IFE was kind of meh. Not many of the films interested me, though there were some good and updated selections. At the very least, the interface was one of the cleanest I've ever seen on an economy-class IFE.
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We pushed back at 6.16pm, nine minutes before scheduled departure time. We taxied to Runway 16R and took off at 6.37pm.

Meal service began two hours after takeoff, following a period of somewhat vigorous turbulence. We were told grilled chicken and pasta were on the menu, but by the time the FAs arrived at my row (the last full row), we were told the chicken had already run out. Well, OK…

The meal was better than I had expected, especially since my benchmark at the time was the appalling offering I had seen on my inbound flight.
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However, I found the pasta very salty, to the point that it drowned out the taste of the cheese and left a sour aftertaste. I was able to tolerate the salt because I am quite young, but I wonder if older passengers would have felt differently about UA piling on the sodium. For that, UA loses brownie points.

Approximately three hours after takeoff.
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On another note, I tried pushing up the window shade at one point, and was greeted by this sight. I wonder if this is supposed to be normal, especially since I have never seen this happen before on my multiple previous 777 flights?
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Flyby past Changi in preparation for the final approach. This isn't a terribly good photo, but one can just about make out Changi's shape.
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We touched down on Runway 02L at 12.51am Singapore time, 24 minutes ahead of the scheduled arrival time, and pulled up next to HL7736. 9V-SWB was on our left, though I didn't manage to grab a shot.
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Final look at N795UA as we left, with lighting good enough to finally visually confirm the aircraft's identity.
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I made a beeline to the exit. Security was lightning-fast, expedited even more by Changi's Automated Clearance System. However, the airport's performance at the baggage carousel left more to be desired, as I did not see the first of my bags until 20 minutes after arriving at the belt. Having had multiple experiences with Changi's extremely speedy baggage processing (probably second only to HKG), I was not particularly impressed.
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Verdict

United

6.4/10
Cabin7.0
Cabin crew7.0
Entertainment/wifi6.0
Meal/catering5.5

Tokyo - NRT

8.5/10
Efficiency9.0
Access8.0
Services8.0
Cleanliness9.0

Singapore - SIN

8.5/10
Efficiency7.0
Access9.0
Services9.0
Cleanliness9.0

Conclusion

I'm going to award UA a perfect 10 for on-time performance given its early departure and similarly early arrival (which would still likely have been maintained even if the plane had left at the scheduled time). Other than that, honestly, the meal was probably the most interesting part of the flight. Even there, UA continued to underperform, with one meal choice missing and the other not setting a particularly healthy example. However, the experience in Economy is still reasonable, especially given the price this flight came at. All in all, I wouldn't totally rule out flying UA again if the opportunity arises.

Information on the route Tokyo (NRT) Singapore (SIN)

6 Comments

  • Comment 151658 by
    NGO85 1622 Comments

    Thanks for sharing the return leg of this trip!

    Approximately three hours after takeoff.
    - This is where Okinawa is :) You are pretty close to Naha based on this screenshot of the map.

    I wonder if this is supposed to be normal
    - Just be glad this didn't happen on a daytime flight and you were stuck with blinding light the entire flight. Probably not UA's fault, but definitely shows the age of the plane. The UA long-haul fleet needs to be desperately updated and I think the move to B788s and B789s is helping.

    The catering looks good, in fact better than the normal UA catering. That meal tray is full sized and not as small as the ones they offer on the normal TPAC routes. This is what I was referring to in your last report where UA caters fifth-freedoms better than their normal routes (with respect to quantity). The quality of the food ex-Japan was week on my flight too, so maybe that plays a role in the low quality.

    It looks like you have an older IFE than what is on the B787s, I found the content to be good when I was on UA.

    How were the crews on these flights?

    UA is never going to wow you, but it got you where you needed to go on time for both flights. Now you can appreciate the quality of carriers in Asia a little bit more knowing what is on offer on the other side of the globe.

    • Comment 329481 by
      sweetsonata AUTHOR 8 Comments

      Thanks for reminding me, I forgot to discuss the crew. The crew were generally pleasant and did their job properly. Probably not as proactive as some of the crew on the Asian carriers, especially SQ, but they didn't detract from the overall experience.

      I ought also to mention that on this leg, when I went and asked for some canned drinks, the FA went and showed me every drink they had on offer, one by one. I found this quite a diligent gesture, and it certainly brightened up what would otherwise have been a rather lacklustre flight.

  • Comment 151665 by
    aussenrist 224 Comments

    Thanks for sharing this report!
    I found you probably sat in the last row for both flights. Was it noisy since they were close to the toilet and galley?
    A very UA-standard meal. I would be happy if they had pre-arrival snack provided i.e. supper like your outbound flight. BTW what is your drinks (in white color)?
    I think you could claim United for the apology voucher about the broken window shade. Send the picture to them and it should works :P
    Look forward to your next trip!

    • Comment 329491 by
      sweetsonata AUTHOR 8 Comments

      Hi! Yes, it was somewhat noisy, but not so much on this segment because it was a night flight and most people were trying to get sleep, so it wasn't really busy around the area.

      The white drink is milk!

      About the window shade, I was actually eventually able to pull it back into the right position, but the fact that the shade could do this evidently betrayed the plane's age.

  • Comment 151815 by
    Rl 777 810 Comments

    Thank you for sharing this FR with us!

    The first meal looks pretty decent even if the salad looks slightly sad. Too bad the pasta was salty.

    Seems like a pretty standard UA flight with a slightly better than average meal (for UA).

    A decent flight experience I guess.

    See you!

  • Comment 152179 by
    KévinDC TEAM SILVER 5224 Comments

    Thanks for another good report.

    Security was extremely speedy and efficient, and I was soon airside. - I always find security to be a breeze at NRT. The fact that they have so much staff to help move things along probably helps. I remember one time I was going through security in NRT when there was an Earthquake...Most non-Japanese, including myself, starting freaking out and getting down on the ground as there was a lot of shaking. The security staff barely flinched! They were calmly telling people that there was nothing to worry about and kept moving them through the line. Now that's Japanese efficiency!

    The meal definitely looks better than on the way over, but it's still a U.S. airline meal with no real appetizer or dessert--just a salad and cookie.

    Thanks for sharing!

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