I haven't posted in a while as I've been trying to post more on Instagram (@lynknick) in parallel with my reports on this site.
This experience was the epitome of dealing with United Airlines. The flight was scheduled to depart at 9:25 PM, then delayed multiple times till midnight, then United decided to put off departure till 10:00 AM the next morning and put all the passengers in the Marriott for the night. Hundreds of people checking in at the Marriott in the middle of the night was a zoo, but at least I got a room. The manager told some of us that United will sometimes distribute Marriott hotel vouchers knowing that there aren't any available rooms. I wouldn't put something like that past United. They've certainly done worse.
I understand that maintenance problems happen and making these complicated machines operate safely is difficult, but what bothers me about situations like this is the lack of transparency. Why can't they just tell the passengers what's really going on and what's being done to rectify the problem? I think United mistakenly thinks they're being clever by keeping passengers in the dark, that perhaps passengers are happier with less information. The worst part of this delay was that it cost me a full day of my vacation as I'd be arriving late at night rather than early in the morning.
Now that my rant's out of the way, here are some photos of the lounge. It was a standard domestic US lounge. There was soup and assorted carbs available, but not much to make a real meal out of.
Some photos from the delay saga. Despite the headaches from United, my room at the Marriott was pretty nice and had a decent view of the airport. The distribution of hotel vouchers was painfully slow, and this was in the lounge. I can't imagine how brutal things were at the Customer Service desk out in the terminal. It was almost like United had never encountered a situation like this before. One guy asked for cab fare back to his house because he had four kids take care of. First, the woman had to check and see if they were allowed to cover someone's cab fare in lieu of a hotel room. After learning that yes - that's normal - she didn't even know how to do it.
Boarding the next morning
I tried to snap as many photos of the business cabin as I could before it filled up with passengers.
The amenity kit actually was pretty cool. This flight was last summer so they made it Olympic themed. My only gripe is that the container isn't very reusable for anything.
The food wasn't bad (except for the dirty fork). I'd peg it as average for a business class meal on a US airline. Funny how one guy ordered his meal to be served at a different time and this was a big ordeal for the crew. On Qatar that's standard operating procedure - you can eat whatever you want, whenever you want it.
The IFE was decent and had a pretty good selection. I watched at least five episodes of Workaholics.
Some shots of the seat in bed mode
Finally arrived at GIG
I spent a day in Rio before me and the friend I was visiting headed to Curitiba, where he was living at the time.
Continental Airlines Presidents Club (Terminal E)
Houston - IAH
Rio De Janeiro - GIG
I shouldn't have let more than a year pass before posting this review, but this hard product on United business class will be around for years to come. Even though United has over-marketed its Polaris seats, less than 10% of the widebody fleet actually has them. Every time I see Oscar Munoz at a ribbon cutting ceremony for a new lounge or a press event showing off the new seats, I just roll my eyes. The Polaris marketing is essentially a bait-and-switch. Flights on aircraft with 2-4-2 business class cabins still show as Polaris on the United website! Also, United has serious operational problems (like I experienced on this flight) that he has no interest in spending his time on. For example, aside from the maintenance issue itself, why did distributing the hotel vouchers take so long? Distributing a hotel voucher is something they could push through their app to all the passengers immediately. Instead, he has United spending time and money on sexy marketing campaigns for a product that barely exists.
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