Review of United flight Tokyo San Francisco in Economy

Airline United
Flight UA 838
Class Economy
Seat 60H
Aircraft Boeing 747-400
Flight time 09:15
Take-off 19 Feb 17, 17:55
Arrival at 20 Feb 17, 10:10
UA   #92 out of 121 Airlines A minimum of 20 Flight-Reports is required in order to appear in the rankings. 239 reviews
jetsetpanda
By SILVER 2796
Published on 6th March 2017
After being dropped off from the CGK flight at the terminal by the bus, I went through security and hurried up to the ANA Lounge located in Satellite 4. I want to bring to the attention of the moderators that this lounge is not an option in the drop down menu above so i used the Satellite 5 one to describe it.

Here's the summary of my schedule:

SFO-NRT on NH Y - click here.
NRT-CGK on NH Y - click here.
CGK-NRT on NH Y - click here.
NRT-SFO on UA Y - you are here.



ANA Lounge Satellite 4


My flight would depart from gate 33 and the UA Club was the closest one to the gate, but I still wanted to go all the way to the NH one. Upon arrival I presented my credentials and was welcomed inside. I went to the shower desk to inquire if there was any availability and was given a pager. In the meantime I went back to the lounge and explored a bit.

The lounge was much smaller than the one at Satellite 5 but the catering was the same. It was very crowded and I saw a lot of Westerners inside, probably from the UA flight who shared the same desire to avoid the UA Club and use the NH one instead. From what I have read I don't think that there is hot food at the UA Club. At least at the NH one there is a counter where you can order hot noodle and curry rice in addition to the buffet items.




Buffet.




Within 10 min. my pager was calling and I returned to the shower desk. I was shown to a room near the entrance and although it was slightly smaller than the one that I had in Sat. 5, it was equally well appointed with all the amenities.

Shower.

photo nh lounge nrt sat 4 6 - copyphoto nh lounge nrt sat 4 5 - copy


I quickly stepped out of the shower and grabbed some curry rice before i went to the gate.

photo nh lounge nrt sat 4 2 - copyphoto nh lounge nrt sat 4 8 - copy


Agents were ready at the gate to start the boarding service. Judging by the crowd sitting down, today's flight was going to be light. Passengers in wheelchairs were grouped at the entrance of the jetbridge and soon an announcement was made inviting passengers who required extra time and families with children to board. Then passengers boarded according to the group numbers.

744 at the gate.

photo ua 838 nrt-sfo 1 - copy

Gate.

photo ua 838 nrt-sfo 2 - copy


An enthusiastic FA greeted pax and directed them to their seats.

photo ua 838 nrt-sfo 4 - copy


Walking to the rear of the airplane.

photo ua 838 nrt-sfo 5 - copyphoto ua 838 nrt-sfo 19 - copy


I still remember those phones.

photo ua 838 nrt-sfo 18 - copyphoto ua 838 nrt-sfo 37 - copy



A 787 that was next to us was taxiing out.

photo ua 838 nrt-sfo 7 - copyphoto ua 838 nrt-sfo 8 - copy


Eventually the last few passengers boarded and the door closed. Here is a view across my seat. Needless to say, i had an empty seat next to me and was able to stretch out comfortably.

photo ua 838 nrt-sfo 9 - copy


A unique view of the curvature of the 747 from the back seats.

photo ua 838 nrt-sfo 10 - copyphoto ua 838 nrt-sfo 11 - copy


The safety video was played and we taxied out. Bye NRT.

photo ua 838 nrt-sfo 12 - copyphoto ua 838 nrt-sfo 16 - copy


Service started after 1 hr. due to turbulence. FA's were friendly and the service was quick due to the emptiness of the cabin. A snack mix was served with your beverage.

photo ua 838 nrt-sfo 20 - copy


I ordered a special Hindu meal and it was brought to me before the actual meal service started. It had a bottle of water, a regular corn salad, the main dish, plain yogurt and sugarless cookie.

photo ua 838 nrt-sfo 21 - copy


Japanese plain yogurt had a slight sweetness that was very different from Western brands.

photo ua 838 nrt-sfo 24 - copy


The main dish was a vegetarian combination of corn, rice, root vegetables and green beans that were nicely spiced

photo ua 838 nrt-sfo 26 - copy


The dessert was utterly tasteless.

photo ua 838 nrt-sfo 27 - copy


I set the tray aside and when the regular meal cart came by the FA asked me if I wanted chicken or pasta. I did not refuse a second serving for the sake of objective reporting and chose the chicken in cream sauce. The chicken seemed to be breaded under a in a thick gravy sauce. The salad was the same that I had for my special meal.

photo ua 838 nrt-sfo 28 - copyphoto ua 838 nrt-sfo 29 - copy

After the meal trays were picked up, bottles of water and ice cream were served. The FA offered me a double portion of both which was nice. I gladly took a second bottle of water. Tea and coffee followed the ice cream service.

photo ua 838 nrt-sfo 32 - copyphoto ua 838 nrt-sfo 33 - copy


Lights were turned off and I tried to catch some sleep but could only take a nap for about 1 hr. The galley only had a bin with bottles of water. I didn't see any snacks available, not even leftover ice cream or snack mixes.

photo ua 838 nrt-sfo 35 - copy

Another discovery was the elimination of mid-flight snack. I asked one of the FA's in the galley and she told me that UA no longer does that service. She offered me a snack mix that she found in a hidden bin but I declined.


A few interesting features of this 747.

photo ua 838 nrt-sfo 38 - copyphoto ua 838 nrt-sfo 40 - copy


Soon it was morning outside.

photo ua 838 nrt-sfo 36 - copy


Lights were turned on to wake up passengers for the breakfast service. A FA delivered my Hindu meal which consisted of some spicy petit pois with bread, plain yogurt, a piece of bread and a bottle of water.

photo ua 838 nrt-sfo 43 - copyphoto ua 838 nrt-sfo 45 - copy


After I finished the FA on the other side who was serving the meals from a cart came up to me and asked if I wanted the "omelette or chicken" i said "surprise me" and we both had a laugh. She ended up giving me both dishes so in the end I had 3 breakfasts. :P


photo ua 838 nrt-sfo 47 - copyphoto ua 838 nrt-sfo 48 - copy

Chicken with rice.

photo ua 838 nrt-sfo 49 - copy

Omelette with sausage and hash brown. it was fluffy and tasty.

photo ua 838 nrt-sfo 50 - copy

I must say that UA seemed to have made cuts in the second service. Last year when I flew PEK-SFO there was a small fresh fruit dish along with the main dish. This time there was only a package of 2 tiny butter cookies.

photo ua 838 nrt-sfo 51 - copy

We soon arrived in SFO and this is one last look at my seat and cabin.

photo ua 838 nrt-sfo 52 - copyphoto ua 838 nrt-sfo 53 - copy


Scenic descent around the Bay Area passing by SFO Airport.




Downtown SFO with the Financial District and Oakland Bridge.

photo ua 838 nrt-sfo 63 - copyphoto ua 838 nrt-sfo 64 - copy


Treasure Island.

photo ua 838 nrt-sfo 65 - copy


East Bay.




U. of California - Berkeley to the left of the stadium .

photo ua 838 nrt-sfo 80 - copy


Downtown Oakland.




Crossing the San Francisco Bay back to SFO.




Soon to be history.

photo ua 838 nrt-sfo 102 - copy


Taxiing to the gate.

photo ua 838 nrt-sfo 105 - copy


Parked at the gate next to this 787, just like in NRT.

photo ua 838 nrt-sfo 109 - copy

I used Global Entry and was through in less than 10 min.
See more

Verdict

United

8.0/10
Cabin9.0
Cabin crew9.0
Entertainment7.0
Meal/catering7.0

All Nippon Airways ANA Lounge, Satellite 5

8.1/10
Comfort8.0
Meal/catering8.5
Entertainment8.0
Services8.0

Tokyo - NRT

8.6/10
Efficiency8.0
Access9.0
Services7.5
Cleanliness10.0

San Francisco - SFO

9.3/10
Efficiency9.0
Access9.0
Services9.0
Cleanliness10.0

Conclusion

The ANA Lounge in Satellite 4 was much smaller than the one in Sat. 5 and it was very crowded. Catering is the same as the other lounge except for the sushi stand. The counter where you can order fresh noodles and curry rice is a nice feature that is appreciated.

It is always a treat to fly on the iconic 747 and I really cherished my ride in it. The emptiness of the flight made it extremely comfortable with plenty of space to stretch. Those who took the middle row ended up with a "flat" bed to sleep. Service was courteous and attentive.

Catering was OK but cost cutting is evident. There was no midflight snack service unlike the PEK-SFO flight that I took last year. Also, only water was available in the galleys this time around. The pre-arrival meal used to have a side of fresh fruit but now it only has a package of 2 small butter cookies.

Informations on the route Tokyo (NRT) San Francisco (SFO)

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


Useful

The airline with the best average grade is ANA with 7.7/10.

The average flight time is 9 hours and 26 minutes.

  More informations

16 Comments

  • Comment 388838 by
    Yoke 375 Comments

    Thanks for this comprehensive report.
    Nice 5-meal service, now that's making me hungry haha!

  • Comment 388874 by
    KL651 TEAM 3858 Comments

    Thanks for this FR.
    Wow the catering does look ridiculous with just a salad a small main and an ice cream...
    No more snacks, a simple breakfast, why would anyone choose UA if NH is at the same price ?

  • Comment 388916 by
    Numero_2 SILVER 7517 Comments

    Thank you Adan !

    Wow... This is a tough experience with UA, especially after the NH flights.

  • Comment 388922 by
    jaytot 18 Comments

    i envy other reporters that their FA offered them a second meal, as i don't experienced that, and for you, third meal?! thats unfair! hehehe!

  • Comment 388943 by
    Rl 777 812 Comments

    Thank you for sharing this FR with us onboard a great classic!

    Stunning R2-D2 NH B789 model by the entrance of the lounge.

    Nice pictures from the lounge.

    Fantastic shots of your stunning 744 and of that company 789.

    “Here is a view across my seat.“
    - Score once again!

    Wonderful aerial shots.

    “She offered me a snack mix that she found“
    - Nice of her, even though the policy seems to have changed.

    Catering quality does not look captivating, especially not compared to the NH meals. It is still nice you received that much additional food on this particular flight. Must have had minimal problems with hunger for some time after this ride.:).

    Cost-cutting is evident in many airlines nowadays, unfortunately. The war for cheaper fares is insane in some parts of the world, more often than not requiring some kind of cost-cutting to keep up (I don't know if it applies to this context though, at least the sentence about cost-cutting does I believe).

    Did you happen to use UA's entertainment in their mobile app on this flight?

    Absolutely fantastic aerial shots of San Francisco and its surroundings before arrival.

    Thanks for sharing this FR onboard the iconic 744.

    Have a good one, see you later.

    • Comment 389112 by
      jetsetpanda SILVER AUTHOR 2240 Comments

      Hi Rl777.

      "Stunning R2-D2 NH B789 model by the entrance of the lounge."
      - Quite an eye-catcher. Special liveries are quite "special". ;)

      " Score once again!"
      - Very lucky indeed. Every time the door closed on each flight you could hear my "sigh" of relief. :P

      "The war for cheaper fares is insane in some parts of the world, more often than not requiring some kind of cost-cutting to keep"
      - It's a race to the bottom. What bothers me is that airlines make such a big deal every time that an enhancement is announced only to see it cut back after a while. It's all hype and basically a marketing ploy. I wonder about the "Polaris" product.

      "Did you happen to use UA's entertainment in their mobile app on this flight?"
      - I'm the type that is happy reading a book or magazines. ;)

      "Absolutely fantastic aerial shots of San Francisco and its surroundings before arrival."
      - It's rare to see this landing approach. I was lucky.

      Thanks for stopping. See you around.

  • Comment 388982 by
    757Fan 426 Comments

    Thanks for sharing this report, jetsetpanda. Wow, it really does look like UA has cut back their food service as their offering looks very bare weak on this route. The food does not look impressive at all.

    Great thought that you were able to get on the 747! I want to fly on one before they are all fully retired.

    Best,

    Matthew

    • Comment 389113 by
      jetsetpanda SILVER AUTHOR 2240 Comments

      Hi Matthew.

      Yep, catering was poor on this route for sure. As long as they don't touch the ice cream and appetizer. AA meals in Y are the worst.

      I'll miss the 747's. Don't wait too long before they are gone.

      Thanks.

  • Comment 389059 by
    ashleyyau 195 Comments

    Thanks Adan for sharing this FR with nice pictures always! It is very interesting to find out we have a very similar routing in the same month (only different in destination)! I departed NRT on UA 1 day before your flight^^

    You are so lucky to have empty seats on your flight (maybe due to Sunday departure). Mine is 100% full.

    So we had exactly the same meal offered (exclude the Hindu option^^). But your chicken in cream sauce looks much better than mine. On my flight the chicken looks and tastes like McNuggets lol Both my and your Oyakodon (chicken with egg and rice) in the pre-arrival meal looks not as good as ex-HND. The sausage and hash brown looks unappetizing as usual…

    “There was no midflight snack service unlike the PEK-SFO flight that I took last year.”
    - Maybe the reason is the flight time is just around 9 hours? According to my colleagues, for the flights to East Coast UA will provide mid-flight snacks. At least both my UA HND-SFO and NRT-LAX also do not have mid-flight snacks.

    Nice SF aerial shots and your Queen has the unusual white winglets^^ BTW I am a bit surprised that you only rate NRT’s cleanliness at 8 :P

    Look forward to next series!

    • Comment 389117 by
      jetsetpanda SILVER AUTHOR 2240 Comments

      Hi Ashley.

      "It is very interesting to find out we have a very similar routing in the same month (only different in destination)! I departed NRT on UA 1 day before your flight^^"
      - We might run into each other one of these days. ;) At least I can invite you to the lounge.

      "Mine is 100% full."
      - That is so strange. I thought that the loads were load because it was after Chinese New Year.

      "Maybe the reason is the flight time is just around 9 hours? According to my colleagues, for the flights to East Coast UA will provide mid-flight snacks. At least both my UA HND-SFO and NRT-LAX also do not have mid-flight snacks."
      - You might right, but these are important markets and UA can't choose to neglect them so badly. Look at the difference between the galley snacks after the meal service between UA and NH. Day and night.

      "BTW I am a bit surprised that you only rate NRT’s cleanliness at 8 :P"
      - Thanks for bringing this up. it was meant to be a 10. It's been corrected.

      Thank you Ashley. Next series might be at the end of May to CAI and KUL. Still working on it and not finalized yet. We'll see. ;)

  • Comment 389431 by
    socalnow GOLD 656 Comments

    Hello Jestsetpanda and thank you for the continuation of this series.

    " Judging by the crowd sitting down, today's flight was going to be light. "
    -Is HND cannibalizing the NRT traffic or just a seasonal dip?

    "Needless to say, i had an empty seat next to me and was able to stretch out comfortably."
    -What a relief. Now you can just put a film on your IFE screen and...no, wait... :-P

    "The dessert was utterly tasteless. "
    -Well, in fairness, sugarless cookie doesn't scream tasty to me... I realize sugar isn't required for flavor but when the eyes and brain see cookie there are expectations.

    "The FA offered me a double portion of both which was nice. I gladly took a second bottle of water."
    -Generosity is a nice gesture especially when the FA don't have a lot to offer.

    "After I finished the FA on the other side who was serving the meals from a cart came up to me and asked if I wanted the "omelette or chicken" i said "surprise me" and we both had a laugh. She ended up giving me both dishes so in the end I had 3 breakfasts. :P"
    -That's really nice service and delivered in a fun way.

    "Downtown SFO with the Financial District and Oakland Bridge."
    -...and home of the 3 time (only counting SF) World Series champion San Francisco Giants! There, I finished the sentence for you. Nice tour of the Bay Area via 747!

    Thanks again for a great read. I'm missing the 747 already. Happy flying.

    • Comment 389756 by
      jetsetpanda SILVER AUTHOR 2240 Comments

      Hi Christian.

      "Is HND cannibalizing the NRT traffic or just a seasonal dip?"
      - Maybe a seasonal dip, especially after Chinese New Year.

      "Now you can just put a film on your IFE screen and...no, wait... :-P"
      - Can you suggest me one of your favorites? :P

      "Generosity is a nice gesture especially when the FA don't have a lot to offer."
      - It becomes more meaningful.

      "That's really nice service and delivered in a fun way."
      - Let's see if I can repeat it when I fly SFO-SIN at the end of May. ;)

      Thanks.

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