Having flown United's pre-merger 777's in excess of 100 times over the years, I wanted to try the Continental version. So I found a flight to Paris. My expectations were low. I was pleasantly surprised.
This was a pre-merger Continental 777 business class cabin with a 2-2-2 layout. These planes primarily fly out of Newark. I sat in 2A which according to the blogs has a little more leg room. It was more than adequate for me at 6 feet tall. In the front cabin there isn’t a row 1 with 2 seats on the left side as a lavatory occupies this space. So you have some noise to deal with in seats 2 A/B and I’d definitely stay away from any row 1 seat because of the constant opening of the lavatory door and galley noise.
The B/E Aerospace Diamond seats are very comfortable. From all the negative reviews I was concerned. But the seat was wide for a business class seat and had cushion along with support. You could be comfortable in this seat for many hours. What I did not like are the audio controls positioned up over your shoulder. The headphones supplied were not that comfortable and I wasn’t able to use my earbuds because the earbud cord was not long enough. With the buds in, any slight movement of my head would pull the plug out of the jack. These seats are also in United's 787's, which makes sense as it's Continental in charge. I flew their 787 on a crew familiarization route back in 2013 and had the same issue with the headphone jack!
This was a short flight, only 6 hours due to a 125 MPH tail wind. While I probably slept an hour or so, it wasn’t due to being uncomfortable in the seat, more so to do with noise from the person in 2B. A decent pillow and blanket were provided but of course no pajamas or mattress pad. I will reiterate that the seat had nice cushion and was comfortable to sleep on.
United’s new Business/First Cowshed amenity kit. Just comparing this kit to the Lufthansa’s first class kit, this one takes first place.
The menu handed out devoted 2 pages to explanations of wines, old world, new world, vintages, etc. Yet no specific wine was mentioned. So I asked the flight attendant for an “old world” red wine. She looked at me cross-eyed. She was French and maybe didn’t understand, yet somehow I don’t think she knew the menu went to great lengths in explaining the differences. She did offer me a taste of the 2 reds on board and recommended one, which I liked the best.
The dinner menu offered four main course selections. Notice they have changed their staple dessert for the last 10+ years from “ice cream” to “gelato.
Food reviews are difficult as everyone has different tastes. However anyone who has flown business class or first class no doubt at one time or another selected the “steak”. And it was probably wasn’t very good as cooking a steak properly hours in advance and reheated it simply is difficult to do. Wouldn’t it make sense to offer a beef dish that cooks for a long time to tenderize the meat and dress it up with some good sauce, like a short rib stew? Well United did and it was GOOD.
IFE was decent. United's safety video was creative and hilarious (wedding scene). This flight had international ATC which is fun.
This flight had an excellent crew. I know US domestic airline flight attendants get slammed constantly, but this crew was attentive and pleasant.
Overall I was very pleased with United on this flight. The food was pretty good, the seat was comfortable and the crew accommodative.
But I did have two issues.
One is the 2-2-2 seating. For single travelers it isn’t optimum and offers no privacy. A number of airlines do offer single seat arrangement in business. On this flight my “neighbor” decided not to sleep and read. So his reading light was on (directly above me) and his newspaper rustled above my head while I was imagining I could sleep through all the noise.
The other issue is the delay. We departed an hour late due to “late arriving aircraft”. That late arrival was 9 minutes late. United scheduled an international arrival and departure with a 90 minute turnaround time. It’s near impossible to deplane, clean, restock and board a 300 passenger plane in 90 minutes. It didn’t matter to my connection it’s just the point that the flight is going to be late with that scheduling.
Have you flown internationally on United? What is your opinion?
Continental Airlines Presidents Club - C3
Newark - EWR
Paris - CDG
Newark is not one of my favorite airports and the United Club was packed. I could only find a seat at one of those computer desks. Arriving at the gate on time and having to wait an hour was the low point of the trip. Overall this was a nice flight on United.
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