The airline with the best average rating is Continental Airlines with 8.6/10.
The average flight time is 5 hours and 16 minutes.More information
Ladies and gentlemen, a very warm welcome back to my series about a December-January 2019/20 trip back home to the USA! When last we saw each other, I had arrived at JFK's Terminal 8 after an American flight from Milan. Now, I'm back with a flight in United Business from Newark to San Francisco!
I experienced 5 new products in a total of 7 flights (including this one). I'll be keeping you in suspense by announcing each new segment as it comes. Here's where the routing stands at this report:
I'll announce how I booked this flight at the end of this sub-trip, so as not to give away where I went next. The one thing I'll say is that I booked this flight in Economy, but more on that later. This will also be my first report using my my camera, a DJI Osmo Pocket. Let me know what you think of it :-) Here's how the entire trip looked like on a map, thanks to the Great Circle Mapper, now that it's all done:
I got up on Christmas morning at 6:30 AM to quickly pack everything in my backpack, as I was travelling without a suitcase for this portion of the trip. While I'd have normally taken either an Uber/Lyft or NJTransit to get to Newark, today I rode with a friend, who was also flying out of Newark that morning. I'm happy I did, as the views from the Henry Hudson were gorgeous!
And once we entered New Jersey, we were treated to a beautiful view of Midtown.
It might have been because it was Christmas morning, but the NJ Turnpike was more or less deserted, and we made it to EWR from the Upper West Side in under 30 minutes!
We parked the car at one of the daily parking lots and took the AirTrain from there. I bid my friend farewell at the A Gates, from where he was flying.
Got a cabin all to myself in the AirTrain.
I got off at Terminal C, United's home at Newark.
The terminal had United's blue mood lighting, and also some holiday decorations, which I liked.
Like everything else, the Premier Access check-in was also fairly empty.
I got my boarding pass for Economy Plus Seat 7A and headed for security, which, for Newark standards, was a breeze. I headed to my gate, C127.
United 777-300ER to Tokyo-Narita.
Concourse C3 is by far my favorite concourse at Newark, but…
…it only has a tiny little pop-up United Club, which I'm not a fan of.
Because of that, I headed back to Concourse C1, and the big United Club, which is located near gate C74
Once I got in, I went to the 1K desk to inquire about an upgrade. The upgrade for my connecting flight had already cleared, though this was a Premium Transcon flight, and elites can't get free upgrades on Premium flights. So I decided to use PlusPoints, a new system that replaced GPUs (Global Premier Upgrades) and RPUs (Regional Premier Upgrades). As a 1K member, I'm entitled to 280 PlusPoints once reaching my status. As this was a Premium Transcon flight, the redemption of PlusPoints was the same as an Economy to Polaris redemption, which is 40 PlusPoints. It was a no brainer, so I got on the waitlist. After that I found a seat in the crowded lounge.
The lounge is pretty nice, especially because there is naturally that comes from the sides, as well as the top.
I only got a muffin and water, because I knew that regardless if my upgrade cleared, I would still get a free meal on board.
I left the lounge 5 minutes boarding boarding and hailed a golf cart to take me to my gate.
Unfortunately, I was unable to take a good photo of the aircraft on the ground in Newark. On top of that, my new camera can't zoom. Regardless, flying me across the country was N19117, a 1996-built Boeing 757-224(WL) which was delivered to Continental in April of that same year and transferred to United in October 2010. Its fleet number is 0117.
I stayed back after boarding began to make sure my upgrade cleared. Sure enough, it did, and I got a new boarding pass for seat 3A. It amazes me how quickly United manages to find people to take over the seats of upgradees, as when I boarded my original seat was already taken! It felt great to turn left at the entry door, and I found my seat in the second-to-last row of Business Class.
Waiting for me at my seat was a Saks Fifth Avenue blanket and pillow (the ones you'd find on international flights)…
…a Star Wars amenity kit…
…and the menu.
Let me show you the seats features. On the side of the center armrest are the seat's controls, and directly under that the tray table…
…next to the tray table is the IFE remote…
…and the literature pocket…
…and behind the seat you can find the safety card, headphones, and a universal power outlet.
There was a pre-departure beverage service, but I forgot to take a picture. I went with an orange juice. Once boarding was completed, San Francisco-based Captain Donald added his welcome on board and announced a flight time of 6 hours. The jetbridge pulled away from us and the Star Wars safety video began.
Here's the video, if anyone's interested:
Starting the engines.
Runway switch in progress, plus my favorite skyline in world 😉
Taxiing to Runway 22R.
Making a brief left turn…
…followed by a right turn.
Takeoff video. Sorry that it's really shaky during the roll, my new camera has a gimbal which apparently doesn't like G-forces. Then I tried to control it with my hand, which backfired. You can still hear the engine buzz, though:
Cabin after takeoff.
Up front we had two Houston-based flight attendants taking care of us, both of whom were friendly and professional. The service began quite soon after departure with a thick oshibori.
Water and warm mixed nus.
The meal was presented very nicely on a tray, and every course was brought out by hand not from a cart, which I liked.
The chilled appetizer, Shrimp with Sriracha, honey and lime, grilled pineapple. I didn't taste any Sriracha, though 😕
There was also a choice of bread. I chose Garlic Bread, which was tasty.
For the main event, I chose the Portobello Kale Lasagna, with Garlic Alfredo sauce, sautéed kale and mushrooms, semi-dried tomato. This dish was really, really tasty and flavorful.
To finish, a desert cart came around, and I went for United's signature Sundae with Ghirardelli chocolate sauce and cherries. I think you know how it tasted 😋
Here's a more in-depth look at the amenity kit.
It contained a dental kit…
and a Sunday Riley promo code. That's more than enough for such a short flight, but my only problem with the kit is its cheap look.
Here's the very nice blanket that was provided.
Cruising over Ohio.
The view from 2R.
I personally love the Business cabin on the 757 - it's nice, private, and also very quite. There was no foot traffic throughout, either. It feels a bit like the upper deck of a 747. My only complaint is that when my seatmate had his bed reclined, it was really hard to get out. But I managed.
Classic 757 PSU.
Almost halfway through the flight.
As much as I was enjoying the flight, I have to say that the IFE was subpar. There weren't many choices of movies or TV shows.
Luckily for me, they had my favorite TV show, Billions. I binged watched 5 episodes.
To my surprise, there was also a snack service prior to our arrival. The choice was between a Chicken Wrap or Tomato and Mozzarella Sandwich. I went for the former, which was fresh and tasty.
As we descended, the snack basket came around the cabin. The flight attendants also returned our coats and wished us a good day/safe onward journey. I was very impressed!
As we passed over Sacramento, First Officer Amy came on the PA to inform us that we were 30 minutes from landing, that it was cloudy in San Francisco, and that those of us on the left side of the aircraft would have a great view of San Francisco during the approach. Yay!
Descending through clouds.
San Francisco in sight!
At first, I assumed we were going to land on one of the 28s. But then we made a left turn…
…and got the fantastic view we were promised!
I then realized we'd be landing on one of the 19s! I've flown into SFO many, many times, but I've never landed on the 19s, so this was a first.
Over the runway.
Super smooth landing on Runway 19R at 1:36 PM, 5 minutes early, after a flight time of 6:03.
Landing video. This one turned out fine 🙂
Delta 737-900ER from Atlanta.
Delta 757-200 from JFK.
United 777-200 to Honolulu.
United 777-200ER to Newark.
Pulling into an empty Concourse F.
One final look at the cabin.
I bid farewell to the lovely crew and made my way out of the aircraft. From there, I was off to the United Club. But not without one last photo of N19117, of course.
We took off from Newark and flew east right after takeoff. We reached our initial cruising altitude of 34,000 feet 20 minutes into the flight, while northwest of Allentown, PA. From there we headed towards Chicago, and climbed to 36,000 feet over northwestern Ohio. As we reached Sioux City, IA, we climbed to 38,000 feet, and flew towards Sacramento, where we began our descent. Thanks for reading, and see you in the next report!
Overall a really wonderful flight with United.
+ Intimate cabin
+ Great crew
+ Comfy seat
+ Well stacked amenity kit
+ Delicious food and more than what I expected
+ Early, scenic arrival
- Overcrowded lounge in Newark
- Subpar IFE selection
- 2x2 Configuration
I really don't understand why people dislike United. I've flown close to a million miles with them, and all my experiences have been great. This flight was no exception. United will always be my preferred airline in the US!