Review of United flight San Francisco Singapore in Economy

Airline United
Flight UA 1
Class Economy
Seat 41F
Aircraft Boeing 787-9
Flight time 16:25
Take-off 25 May 17, 22:50
Arrival at 26 May 17, 06:15
UA   #107 out of 123 Airlines A minimum of 20 Flight-Reports is required in order to appear in the rankings. 253 reviews
jetsetpanda
By SILVER 5327
Published on 27th May 2017
Hello - Salut- Hola - Ni Hao!

Lately I've been doing "around-the-world" itineraries with increase frequency and this is the first of this kind for this year. A few months earlier I received a promotion from TK that gave me 4x the amt of status miles for flying J or 2x in Y. I decided to take advantage of this offer and get my qualifications for TK Gold Elite out of the way. Originally I was planning to go to BKK via OSL on TK and when I learned that ET flew LAX-DUB I wanted to fit that into SFO-OSL somehow. Eventually this proved to be too risky and I decided to use CAI as a base since there were many cheap J fares out of there. I then modified my trip to go from SFO-LHR, then use AA miles LHR-CAI on RJ, CAI-BKK on TK and BKK-SFO on JL. I looked at the schedule and it seemed too ambitious to do LHR, CAI and BKK in one week so I scratched that and started again.

Looking at TK J fares I saw one from CAI-JFK for USD 757 (about EUR 676.80) total. I grabbed that and redeemed an AA award on EY in J from SIN-CAI. I then purchased a UA one way SFO-SIN for USD 550 (about EUR 491.70) as a positioning flight and used a USD 100 credit for the JFK-SFO leg which ended up costing me USD 62 9 (EUR 55.40) via IAD which will give me the chance to visit TK's new lounge and also LH. Everything was set now and in the end this new itinerary was shorter than the OSL/BKK would have been. There was one thing though that was bugging me. I began to regret using my miles for EY and wanted to change it to QR instead. I figured that QR would give me a better experience compared to EY. For example, access to QR's Al Safwa F lounge was a big motivator plus the fact that QR gives pajamas on the SIN-DOH leg. In addition I have read about EY's cost cutting moves and that turned me off.

I kept calling AA asking for J inventory from SIN-CAI for weeks to no avail. Finally in one of these calls the agent told me that there was seat SIN-DOH in J but nothing from DOH-CAI. I remember that QR treated some short ME flights as 2 cabin F & Y and asked the agent if DOH-CAI had F available and she said yes, then I told her that technically I could be booked in F since J was not offered. She tried to change it and told me that the amount of miles was still the same - 40,000 miles. Bingo! All this time when I was inquiring and was told that no j seat was available I wonder if most of the agents were aware that DOH-CAI on QR was sold as F instead of J. Aaargh!

So my itinerary would look like this:

SFO-SIN on UA Y - you are here.
SIN-DOH on QR J - click here.
DOh-CAI on QR J - click here
CAI-IST on TK J - click here
IST-JFK on TK J - click here
JFK-IAD on UA Y - click here
IAD-SFO on UA Y - will not report


The first segment of this schedule will be the hardest with a duration of 16:25 with my butt firmly planted in Y. To make matters worse, the flight appeared to be full. When I checked in online, a question appeared asking if I am willing to take an alternate flight for USD 400. I don't think so.

So the day arrives and my sister drops me off by 21:10. I completely forget that it is the weekend of Memorial Day - a busy traveling weekend. The entrance to the airport is congested with heavy traffic and I start to get nervous. I finally make it to the terminal by 21:30 and go to UA Premier desk to check in. I stand in line and an agent pulls me off and prints my boarding pass at the kiosk. he has a very friendly demeanor and makes small conversation with me about my trip to SIN. After he handed me the boarding pass I thanked him and he wishes me a good trip.

Thank God I have TSA Pre Check. There are a few people waiting in line but it moves quickly. In less than 10 min. i am on the other side. There's no time to visit the lounges so I walk straight to gate G98. I notice my plane parked next to SQ.

photo ua 1 sfo-sin 2 - copyphoto ua 1 sfo-sin 3 - copy

Speaking of lounges, I was at the SQ lounge the other day and asked the receptionist when they will close it to make room for UA Polaris since it getting to be mid 2017. She told me that at first they were told in August but in the most recent briefing, they might not even close it and SQ might keep the lounge. This is just a rumor but nevertheless an interesting one. A lot of *A Gold flying in Y would revolt to the idea of not being able to use UA Polaris and be sent to an inferior UA Club.

Since the original boarding pass is a flimsy one I decided to ask the gate agent if she could print a new one for me. She cheerfully did it with a smile which is so unexpected. So far the customer service of the UA airport staff is winning me over. ;)

The gate looks crowded but I have not heard of any offers for volunteering seats. Perhaps the flight might not be as overbooked as originally though.

photo ua 1 sfo-sin 4 - copy

Boarding is carried out in an orderly fashion with priorities respected. In join Group 2 and upon entering the plane a FA welcomes me aboard. Another one position towards the back of the plane also greets me with a smile.


Getting to my seat I find out that the last 3 rows of Y (39-41) do not have overhead storage. To make matters worse the ones on the right side are full of headphones for J cabin. Yikes!!!




The seat pitch however is pretty decent and it feels comfortable at 32" or 81,28 cm.

photo ua 1 sfo-sin 10 - copy


Most controls for the seat like reading light and FA call button are interactive.

photo ua 1 sfo-sin 11 - copy

Another complaint that I have about this particular plane is the amount of WC's. There are only 4 for the entire Y cabin which seem low in my opinion. Four WC's for 204 people? Let's hope that a food poisoning outbreak never occurs aboard.

Speaking of WC's, seating on 41F one can hear every time the WC next to it flushes. Why then did I choose this seat? I was hoping that the middle one would remain open since it is such an undesirable row and secondly I cannot sleep on the plane and noises don't really bother me.

After take off the meal starts and I ordered my Hindu special meal. However, I only do this when I fly UA.

I am one of the first ones to be served and the meal looks and tastes as expected.

photo ua 1 sfo-sin 12 - copy


I finish my meal and then was offered a regular meal - chicken or noodles. Chicken it is and it looks like a rendition of sweet and sour chicken.

photo ua 1 sfo-sin 17 - copy


For dessert there is salted caramel gelato and FA's also distribute a bottle of water.

photo ua 1 sfo-sin 20 - copy

I try to watch a couple of films but do not actually pay too much attention. In between breaks I go to the galley where bottles of water and snack mix packages are offered from a bin.

photo ua 1 sfo-sin 21 - copy


There is a midflight snack service. The special meal one consists of pita bread with lettuce and pieces of chicken stuffed inside with a package of chocolate chip cookie. Regular pax get a turkey and cheese sandwich and M&M's. There are also snacks for sale if you don't like the free one.

Special meal snack.

photo ua 1 sfo-sin 25 - copy


Turkey and cheese sandwich.

photo ua 1 sfo-sin 24 - copyphoto ua 1 sfo-sin 26 - copy


Soon we prepare to land and the breakfast is served about 1:30 hr before.

I was given a Hindu breakfast that was not Hindu at all. It consisted of boiled rice with pieces of fruit. Maybe a vegetarian one but the piece of paper had my name and Hindu special meal written as the code. Good thing I did not order a diabetic meal. :P

Cabin with mood lighting getting ready for breakfast.

photo ua 1 sfo-sin 29 - copy


Hindu meal????

photo ua 1 sfo-sin 28 - copy

I was also offered the omelet with roasted potatoes and sausage link.

photo ua 1 sfo-sin 31 - copy

We landed a bit early by 05:59.
See more

Verdict

United

8.0/10
Cabin7.0
Cabin crew8.5
Entertainment9.0
Meal/catering7.5

San Francisco - SFO

9.5/10
Efficiency10.0
Access9.0
Services9.0
Cleanliness10.0

Singapore - SIN

9.9/10
Efficiency10.0
Access10.0
Services9.5
Cleanliness10.0

Conclusion

I was dreading this flight because of its length and I was confined in the last row. Surprisingly this turned out to be a tolerable experience. The seat pitch of 32" is generous compared to the 747 or 777 in UA's fleet. The attitude of the staff from ground agents to FA's was refreshingly pleasant and a big contrast from the negative publicity that UA has received lately. The situation with the number of WC's and lack of overhead storage for the last couple of rows is discouraging and annoying.

Catering for the most part decent with the exception of my breakfast Hindu meal which seems to be designed by someone whose enemy is diabetic. The tray sizes might be small but having ice cream for dessert is a treat, especially compared to what the U.S. competition offers in Y. I personally think that of the big 3 US carriers, AA has the worst catering for Y and UA the best.

Informations on the route San Francisco (SFO) Singapore (SIN)

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


Useful

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

The average flight time is 16.0 hours and 18.0 minutes.

  More informations

19 Comments

  • Comment 399273 by
    indianocean SILVER 6022 Comments

    Even if the SKL in SFO is not the best one in the world, it stills beats the awful UA Club.

    "The seat pitch however is pretty decent and it feels comfortable at 31" or 78.74 cm."=> What? Are you kidding me? It's a 17-hour flight, man.

    "Four WC's for 204 people?"=> even worse: four WC's for 204 people on a 17-hour flight.
    Hope not all the pax go to number 2 at the same moment.
    Any diapers available on board?

    "I finish my meal and then was offered a regular meal - chicken or noodles."=> you scared me. I thought you were going on a veggie diet.

    In french, breakfast is "petit-déjeuner". In your case, you can call it "small lunch" indeed. Good thing you had another round.

    Catering onboard was what I expected. But the UA Dreamliner is definitely not the best plane to fly an ULR-flight in Y.

    Thank you Adan

    • Comment 399278 by
      jetsetpanda SILVER AUTHOR 2277 Comments

      Hi Bernard.

      Correction - it's 32" or 81.28 cm. Sorry about the mistake. I'm jetlagged and just drank sparkling wine at the QF lounge in SIN. ;)

      "even worse: four WC's for 204 people on a 17-hour flight."
      - They were mostly occupied throughout the freaking entire flight. The flushing was a constant reminder and they were disgustingly filthy. I will be kissing the floor of QR when i get aboard tonight.

      "Any diapers available on board?"
      - I think it has been axed as part of the cost cutting. :P

      "you scared me. I thought you were going on a veggie diet."
      - Im on a "see food" diet. :P

      The problem with the UA Dreamliner is the lack of storage for the last couple of rows and the small number of WC's. Otherwise it is a comfortable seat with good pitch. On an empty or half empty flight it is a nice ride and i found out how to raise the armrest on these seats.

      Thanks Bernard. See you soon on a better experience.

  • Comment 399285 by
    marathon GOLD 8875 Comments

    Jetsetpanda traveling long haul in Economy, and - God forbid! - on United ! I was curious ;)
    I sometimes try the "Most undesirable Seat" trick to not have a middle seat neighbor. I did not catch if it worked for you this time ?
    I'm happy to welcome you in my exclusive Special meal club - I'm currently testing AF's offering one by one on my weekly shuttle and they sometimes cheat a lot on how special the meal is ;)
    Thanks for sharing !

    • Comment 399377 by
      jetsetpanda SILVER AUTHOR 2277 Comments

      Salut Marathon.

      Now your curiosity has been satisfied and you can move on to other priorities in life. ;) The flight was full as I expected and I felt sorry for the guy stuck in the middle seat. To his credit he hardly bothered me to go to the WC which was a blessing.

      "I'm happy to welcome you in my exclusive Special meal club"
      - It's an honor. Are you going to give me a title? :P

      "...they sometimes cheat a lot on how special the meal is ;)"
      - Does not appear to do so when it comes to kosher meals They use Hermolis. :P

      Thank you for your comments Marathon. See you later.

      • Comment 399394 by
        marathon GOLD 8875 Comments

        AF's kosher meals are by far their best option; they drew me comments of envy from my neighbors each time I tried but once. (You don't win each time in that lottery)
        On the other hand, I could not eat the crackers of AF's so called "low salt menu" last time... because they were too salty for me !

  • Comment 399300 by
    jules67500 GOLD 3639 Comments

    Hi Adan, thanks for sharing !

    Well, at least you ate well and a lot though that hindu meal doesn't look great.

    Not the greatest flight as it's long and your seat is just unbearable I think ^^

    A bientôt !

    • Comment 399378 by
      jetsetpanda SILVER AUTHOR 2277 Comments

      Hi Jules.

      "Not the greatest flight as it's long and your seat is just unbearable I think ^^"
      - The seat was fine, the location of it was problematic. I can't believe that I survived that. :P

      Eating a lot does not equal to eating well. ;) You as a French should know that better than anyone else :)

      Thanks for stopping Jules.

  • Comment 399306 by
    eminere™ 267 Comments

    Is it normal service protocol that you are offered a second meal off the regular menu after you have finished your special meal?

  • Comment 399310 by
    Razza_Pr 203 Comments

    Hello, Jetsetpanda, and thank you for sharing this FR!

    Honestly, $550 sounds like a killer deal for a 16-hour flight between 2 premium destinations. Did you check SQ's prices for the same route?

    "I was given a Hindu breakfast that was not Hindu at all. It consisted of boiled rice with pieces of fruit."
    -Perhaps they mistook your special request as 'bland meal' :P

    "When I checked in online, a question appeared asking if I am willing to take an alternate flight for USD 400. I don't think so."
    -I'm curious about this. They have only 1 daily direct to SIN, right? Which means they would've had to reroute you via HKG, therefore putting you on the hot new 77W, and a nice $400 refund from UA which would effectively make you pay for the new experience for pennies to the dollar. But I'm assuming you only declined that offer because of the tight schedule for your layover at SIN?

    Thanks again for this report. Cheers!

    • Comment 399380 by
      jetsetpanda SILVER AUTHOR 2277 Comments

      Hi Razza_Pr.

      "Did you check SQ's prices for the same route?"
      - SQ was higher by a significant difference, but then again they can charge the higher prices. Surprisingly NH fares were the same or lower than UA, but I chose UA because of the schedule and that way I could go right after work.

      "But I'm assuming you only declined that offer because of the tight schedule for your layover at SIN?"
      - Right on. I did not want to miss going to QF lounge in SIN and riding on QR.

      Thanks for your comments Sir.

  • Comment 399385 by
    ashleyyau 200 Comments

    Thanks for sharing this report with nice pictures Adan! Greetings from SF^^

    USD400 for oversold again? No way! I would let UA drag me and receive USD10M as Dr. Dao did :P

    “The entrance to the airport is congested with heavy traffic”
    - I arrived SFO 1 day later but the traffic outside International was very light and smooth

    “I notice my plane parked next to SQ.”
    While you are taking the UA1, I will do my SQ1 back to HK :P

    Your plane should be one of the earliest B789s UA received which features the ex-CO seat pattern (my 2 UA B789s equipped with leather seats). It should be more comfortable and soft than those leather seats.

    The regular meal seems to be the ex-SFO standard. I had the same one last year on the Queen. Size of ice-cream is generous (better than CX & SQ). Mid-flight sandwich looks improved at the expense of size. Based on my recent experience on SQ, UA has better water handling than SQ which the former gives you 1 bottle while SQ only gives you cups. IMO bottle water is more practical on long-haul.

    Looking forward to next report!

    • Comment 399517 by
      jetsetpanda SILVER AUTHOR 2277 Comments

      Hi Ashley.

      Heck for 10 million most people would voluntarily take a beating.

      "I arrived SFO 1 day later but the traffic outside International was very light and smooth"
      - Intl would not be affected too much. it's a different animal. ;)

      "While you are taking the UA1, I will do my SQ1 back to HK :P"
      - Rub it in. Let's see who gets the last laugh. :P

      "It should be more comfortable and soft than those leather seats."
      - I was surprised by the decent legroom and yes, the seat had good cushion.

      "IMO bottle water is more practical on long-haul."
      - The bottle is much preferred by me too.

      Thanks Ashley for dropping by.

  • Comment 399436 by
    AirCanada881 SILVER 1637 Comments

    Thank you for sharing this report Adan, my oh my what a long flight in Y! I'm glad you also took advantage of the TK promo, very lucrative IMHO despite its shortcomings, I still haven't decided whether I will redeem the miles on TK metal or not. If I could choose I would try SQ or TG F but seems like a long shot.
    UA fares up pretty well in this report, looking forward to the next instalments :)

    • Comment 399519 by
      jetsetpanda SILVER AUTHOR 2277 Comments

      Hi William.

      "I still haven't decided whether I will redeem the miles on TK metal or not. If I could choose I would try SQ or TG F but seems like a long shot."
      - I've heard it is complicated to redeem miles on other *A carriers with TK, but their own awards are pretty straightforward and less than what others required.

      UA was not too bad on this flight. Friendly crew, edible meals (except for the last special one) and early arrival.

      Thanks for commenting.

  • Comment 399607 by
    Rl 777 812 Comments

    Hello and thank you for sharing this FR with us!

    The detailed introduction was interesting to read :).

    Great night spotting at SFO.

    Poor effort on the special breakfast but good to see you received a regular meal twice.

    Nice to hear positive comments from the crew on this flight.

    “I try to watch a couple of films but do not actually pay too much attention.“
    - Happens to me all the time!

    Looking forward to the rest of this massive itinerary.

    Have a good one, see you!

    • Comment 400116 by
      jetsetpanda SILVER AUTHOR 2277 Comments

      Hi RI 777.

      A bit of a background before a big itinerary makes it more interesting.

      "Poor effort on the special breakfast but good to see you received a regular meal twice."
      - I like to have options. ;) So far it seems that UA has been catering meals in Y a bit over 100% (unless a lot of them are refusing to eat) :P
      Seriously i think there was a mix up with these meals. I had to read the sticker twice and it had my name and the right code, but the rice with pieces of fruits was not anything that resembled Hindu. Weird.

      "Nice to hear positive comments from the crew on this flight."
      - UA gets a lot of criticism, some of it is justifiable, but as far as the crew is concerned I have been getting nice ones so far.

      "Happens to me all the time!"
      - i think it is called boredom.

      Thanks for your comments.

  • Comment 399897 by
    socalnow GOLD 735 Comments

    Greetings Jetsetpanda and thank you for you courage and selflessness to take UA1 in economy for 17 hours! The news today of UA starting LAX-SIN is very interesting in that it's blocked at 17:55 on the westbound.

    "The gate looks crowded but I have not heard of any offers for volunteering seats. Perhaps the flight might not be as overbooked as originally though."
    -It seems this flight is doing well. Although the fare you paid of USD 550 for a 17 hour flight cannot be all that lucrative to the airline. I assume the J cabin subsidizes that Y fare.

    "Getting to my seat I find out that the last 3 rows of Y (39-41) do not have overhead storage. To make matters worse the ones on the right side are full of headphones for J cabin. Yikes!!!"
    -Yikes indeed. It seems like when CO ordered and configured these airplanes (It was a CO order, wasn't it?) they did not envision them on 17 hour missions...even though at the time they were flying some long flights ex. EWR. The passenger to lav ratio is poor.

    It's nice to hear that you encountered friendly and service oriented staff at UA. There's hope yet!

    None of the 6 meals look particularly generous or appetizing but the offer if the additional trays is kind.

    I'm very happy that you came through unscathed, with teeth intact. I suppose many things are not as bad...or as good...as we make them out to be in our minds. I know you are going to declare QR the best airline on the planet earth after this leg!

    Thanks again for sharing the experience and happy flying.

    • Comment 400119 by
      jetsetpanda SILVER AUTHOR 2277 Comments

      Hi Christian.

      "The news today of UA starting LAX-SIN is very interesting in that it's blocked at 17:55 on the westbound. "
      - Just when you thought it couldn't get any worse. ;) These are flights made for masochists, especially those who have a middle seat. Perhaps taking one of these flights once in a while will serve as atonement for our vice. :P

      "I assume the J cabin subsidizes that Y fare."
      - indeed i think so too. Funny thing is that there was a slightly cheaper fare by about $100 less than what I paid and it was on NH, but it was a morning flight and involved a change in NRT. The schedule did not work for me, otherwise I would have taken that in a blink of an eye. I know this is not an accurate tool but when I looked at the seat map a few days before my flight only a few seats in J were empty.

      "It was a CO order, wasn't it?"
      - I don't know to be honest with you. I'm not as savvy as some when it comes to that aspect of aviation geekness. :P Sorry!

      "None of the 6 meals look particularly generous or appetizing"
      - Nothing to write home about, but way better than what AA offers in Y for sure.

      "I know you are going to declare QR the best airline on the planet earth after this leg! "
      - I love QR!!!

      Thanks for dropping a few words.

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