Review of United flight Frankfurt Washington in Business

Airline United
Flight UA988
Class Business
Seat 9A
Aircraft Boeing 777-300ER
Flight time 09:10
Take-off 01 Jan 24, 11:30
Arrival at 01 Jan 24, 14:40
UA   #73 out of 96 Airlines A minimum of 10 flight-reports within the past two years is required to appear in the rankings. 435 reviews
shivpilot14
By SILVER 624
Published on 3rd January 2024

Check in


I was staying at the Hilton Garden Inn Frankfurt Airport after my arrival from London the previous evening. The hotel is connected to the Long Distance Train Station at FRA airport in the Squaire complex. It was an easy 10 minute walk to/from Terminal 1, and the walk is entirely indoors so you don’t have to worry about inclement weather. The Sheraton is also located inside of the Long Distance Train Station, so that may also be a good option for an overnight stay at FRA.

Frankfurt has one huge check in hall for all of the airlines. So, be sure to check Frankfurt’s iconic departure board for your check in zone. The United Check-In counters are located in Zone B, at counter 489-498. The one thing I don’t like about FRA is that there is no overhead signage telling you where the different counters are, so they can be hard to find, and it took me longer than I care to admit, walking around to find the United counter.


photo fra-departure-board

Once at the United Counter, you will have to go through a security check that is standard for all flights entering the U.S. There is an economy class check in as well as a Premier Access check-in lane. After you do your document check, you can proceed up to the counter to check-in. In my case, there was nobody at the economy check-in, but quite a few people at the Premier Access Check-In, so I opted for that one instead. I was greeted by an extremely friendly agent who wished me a happy new year, asked me if I did anything for new year’s eve, and tried to make good conversation with me. It was quite nice.

It took her about 2 minutes to check my bag and print my boarding pass. I arrived at FRA about 2 hours prior to departure, and the agent said, “You are still quite early for your flight! Boarding begins at 10:40, and if you follow the signs for the Z gates, you can then access the Lufthansa Lounge after Passport Control while you wait! Enjoy your trip home!”


security and passport control


I then followed the signs for the A and Z gates, and arrived at the security checkpoint. After scanning my boarding pass at the automated gate, there was a sign for two different lines. One for First class and business class, and one for economy. I went into the Business class lane, and just before the security checkpoint, an agent asked me if I was in business class, and when I said yes, he waived me through. There was no line for business class.

At the security checkpoint, there was a uniformed security agent asking everyone if they had laptops, liquids… etc. and helping you with separating things and putting them in the trays. He was extremely friendly. I put my things through, and went through the scanner, where I, again, was selected for additional screening. For some reason, this happens to me every time I fly out of Europe, which is why I always allow myself additional time.

Once through security, I followed the signs for the Z gates, and found myself at passport control. There was a separate line for EU passports and all other passports. Surprisingly, there was only one other person in line ahead of me for passport control, so it took less than a minute for me to get through.


the lounge


Once through passport control, I passed through Duty Free and made my way to the Lufthansa lounge next to gate Z50.

As I approached the lounge, there was a Lufthansa agent standing outside speaking to passengers before they entered. She was speaking in German so I couldn’t understand what she was saying, but after she finished speaking with them, some of them turned away and walked away, while others did not.

When it became my turn, she asked to see my boarding pass and told me, “The business class lounge is closed for renovations, so we are not able to offer you anything at this time. But, you are Star Alliance Gold being United Platinum, so you can enter the Senator Lounge.” So, I was let in. It became apparent to me that the Business class lounge was closed, and they were only letting those with access to the Senator Lounge in, meaning that those turned away at the door, were likely only flying in Business class.

Lufthansa’s Business Class and Senator Lounge’s are usually co-located but with different access rules.

The business class lounge is accessible to the following passengers:
● First Class passengers (flights operated by Star Alliance)
● Business Class passengers (flights operated by Star Alliance)
● Senators
● HON Circle members
● Star Alliance Gold Members

The Senator lounge is accessible to the following passengers:
● First Class passengers (flights operated by Star Alliance)
● Senators
● HON Circle members
● Star Alliance Gold Members

When I got to the desk, the agent scanned my boarding pass, and said, “Mr. Shivpilot14, we are at full capacity and unable to admit you at this time. You may return in approximately 30 minutes, or you can take a shuttle to the B gates which is about a 40 minute bus ride and walk, to utilize that Senator Lounge instead. However, we do have complimentary coffee and pastries that you may take to-go with you.”

Sure enough, there was a separate lane with a coffee stand with a barista to make you coffee and give you pastries to take with you. Given that I only had about 40 minutes until boarding, I decided to just to order a cappuccino, and head to the gate.


boarding


It was approximately a 7 minute walk from the Senator Lounge to Gate Z22. At around gate Z16, there was a United Airlines representative asking all passengers that were walking through if they were flying on any United flight. When I said yes, she directed me to a line.

After standing in line for about one minute, she came back to the line and asked everyone, “Is anyone Premier Access? Business Class? Star Alliance Gold? 1K? Global Services?” When I said yes, she directed me to her colleague at the front of the line. When her colleague looked at my passport and boarding pass, and saw that I had already completed the security check at check-in, she said, “Oh, you’ve already done this, go straight to the gate, don’t wait here.” She then told her colleague to make sure that they haven’t already done the check before entering the line.

When I got to the gate, we still had about 30 minutes until boarding. The crew was just getting on board at the time, and the gate area seemed quite calm. At about 10:35, we were directed to line up in our respective groups. Since I was in group 1, I joined the group 1 line. Boarding began right at 10:40 a.m. with pre-boarding. Then the gate agent said something quite rude. He announced, “Please check your boarding group before joining the line. If you are not in the correct boarding group, I will send you to the back of the line because it’s not my problem.” A few passengers around me heard this and thought the same thing that I did. Was it really necessary to announce it like that and say it like that? He had this derogatory tone about him as well.

Once group 1 was called to board, our line started moving, and just before boarding an agent checked documents again for security checks. If you didn’t have the sticker, you had to answer the questions. I was waived right through. After scanning my boarding pass, we were led down a flight of stairs to the jetway.

We boarded through door L2. I was greeted by a friendly flight attendant who handed me a cleanplus wipe and asked me where I was sitting. When I told her 9A, she said, “oh, you’re so close! Turn right and it’s the first seat on the right!” 


the seat


I found my seat 9A, which is the bulkhead, window seat in the second business class cabin. The Polaris seats are arranged in a 1-2-1 configuration on the 777-300ER, offering every passenger direct aisle access. The odd rows face straight, and the even rows are at an angle. I always prefer the odd, window seats as a solo traveler for the most privacy. Though, couples should opt for the odd numbered middle seats in the middle so that you can be close together and lower the partition.

The gel pillow was at my seat. The remaining bedding was inside of the footwell, which contained the regular Pillow and the two blankets.


photo seat-overview

The seat controls are located next to the left armrest, with a wheel that allows you to adjust between fully-flat bed mode, and the fully-upright taxi, takeoff, and landing mode. You can also adjust your footrest, your lumbar support, and your recline with a lot of different combinations.

There is a faux marble countertop on the right side where you can set things on top of, this is where there headsets and the printed menu were located.

Just above the countertop is the IFE remote control, the universal power outlet, a USB-A charging port, the headphone jack, and a small vanity closet where you can store a few things during the flight. In there was a water bottle for use during the flight. I find this spot perfect for storing my toiletries and chargers.

The seat is well padded, comfortable, and extremely private. You can’t see another passenger in the cabin unless you really start looking for them, and nobody else can see you. Which is what I love about the Polaris seats. On the 777-300ER individual air vents were available as well as an overhead reading light.

The seat featured two windows, one of which offered an excellent view of that beautiful GE-90 engine!



pre-departure


Once I was settled in, a male flight attendant came by to offer me my choice of water or sparkling wine. I chose water as my pre-departure beverage (PDB). I miss the days when PDB meant that you could order whatever you wanted, but such is life!

Shortly thereafter, a friendly female flight attendant came by to confirm my meal selection. United allows you to preorder your meal in premium cabins beginning 5 days prior to departure up until 24 hours prior to departure. I selected the grilled salmon. She also asked which appetizer I would like, and I selected the prawns.


photo polaris-menu-drinksphoto polaris-menu-foodphoto pdb

At about 11:20, the captain came on the PA to welcome us on board. He informed us that our flight time would be a fast 8 hours 25 minutes from takeoff to touchdown and that we should arrive right on schedule. Which had me wondering… with a block time of 9 hours 25 minutes, how could we arrive on time with an 8 hour 25 minute flight time? I understand that taxiing isn’t included, but surely it can’t be an hour long taxi on both ends?

Then the other shoe dropped, he informed us that they were loading some last minute cargo and that there was some frost on the wings that needed to be sprayed off, so it would take a minute before we departed.


photo de-icing

A few moments after that, our purser, Martin, a German flight attendant came by to personally introduce himself to everyone flying in Polaris, and while greeting us all by name, and said that if we needed anything, we shouldn’t hesitate to let him know.

At 11:40, we were still at the gate when United’s safety video, Safety is Global, was played.

After that, Martin came around with slippers and the Therabody amenity kit.


photo slippers

Flight


At 11:55, we pushed back, and then began our taxi to the runway, where I enjoyed views of other aircraft. Never before have I seen so many aircraft in Star Alliance liveries in one place! I also saw a Condor striped livery!



At 12:16 p.m. we took off from runway 25C.


photo entering-the-runwayphoto takeoff

We reached 10,000 feet about 3 minutes after departure. At which point I reclined my seat a bit and explored the in flight entertainment options. United has an excellent selection of in flight entertainment. I settled in to watch Mission Impossible: Dead Reckoning Part One.


photo ife-screenphoto ife-2

At around 12:40 pm Frankfurt time (approximately 24 minutes after departure), the meal service began with the distribution of a hot towel.

At around 12:50, the flight attendants brought the drink cart around. I ordered the Nicolas Potel Bourgogne Aligoté from the menu. I’m no wine connoisseur by any means, but it tasted great. I was also given warm nuts and a glass of my choice of still or sparkling water. I chose still.


photo white-wine-and-nuts

At 1:06 pm Frankfurt Time (approximately 50 minutes after takeoff), my meal was served all on one tray. The starter, the prawns were excellent. They were extremely flavorful. The salmon was a bit too fishy for my taste, but was still tasty nonetheless. The mashed potatoes were also quite good. The salad was dry and the tiny amount of dressing they give you is nowhere near enough to make up for that. The meal was also served with some bread, I got a pretzel roll and was surprised to find that it was cold and hard.


photo lunch

For dessert, I was offered a cheesecake or an ice cream sundae. I went with the ice cream sundae and was also asked if I wanted coffee or tea. So, I asked for a cup of coffee with Bailey’s Irish Cream.


photo ice-cream-sundae

It took about 90 minutes for the entire meal service to be completed, which is extremely fast. After I had my dessert and coffee, I was feeling a bit tired so I caught about a 2 hour nap and woke up with about 5 and a half hours remaining in flight. The bedding is extremely comfortable. The cabin was kept pretty cold on today’s flight, but the thick blankets kept me quite warm throughout the flight.

Once awake, I drank some water from the water bottle in my cubby hole and settled in to watch The Mummy, which is such a great, classic film.


photo the-mummy

At about 3 hours remaining in flight, I was feeling a bit thirsty, and decided to ring the flight attendant call button to see how long it would take for the flight attendants to come and service my request. It took about 2 minutes for someone to come after pushing the call button, which is pretty average timing. Not too long, but also not super quick either. I thought I’d ask for the grilled cheese toastie that’s on the menu, and the flight attendant told me that they don’t have that catered on this flight as it’s only for flights over 10 hours in length, but that I could help myself to the snacks in the snack basket. I asked for a Coke Zero to get some caffeine in me, and she brought it right away.


photo coke-zero

I also decided to use the lavatory ahead of my seat, and found that it had been cleaned and refreshed by the cabin crew during the time period when most people were sleeping, which was nice to see.

At about 1 hour and 45 minutes before arrival, the lights came on, and you could smell food being prepared in the galley.

5 minutes later, hot towels were distributed, about 5 minutes after that, I was offered the before arrival meal, a selection of the vegetarian chili or a grilled chicken sandwich with bacon, caramelized onions, and a Cajun hollandaise. I went with the grilled chicken sandwich. It was served with a side of crinkle cut fries and a blueberry muffin.

The chicken sandwich was tasty and flavorful, and the fries were crispy. The blueberry muffin, although packaged, was soft and tasted great. It was served with ketchup and mustard, and salt and pepper packets that were labeled in German. The bacon in the sandwich was also the European styled bacon and was not crispy. Based upon that, I’m guessing that this meal was prepared and catered in Frankfurt.


photo pre-arrival-meal

As soon as I was finished eating, the purser, Martin, came by to collect my tray and asked me if he could get me anything else. I didn’t want anything, so I declined, but it was an excellent gesture!

About 30 minutes before our touchdown time, we began our descent into Washington-Dulles.

About 10 minutes before landing, the purser, Martin, came by to thank me for my platinum status with United and to thank me for choosing them, and to welcome me home to Washington! What an excellent gesture!


arrival in iad


As we approached in, we flew directly over the Stephen F. Udvar-Hazy Center, which is an excellent Smithsonian Air and Space Museum! I highly recommend it!


photo the-udvar-hazy-center

We touched down on runway 1R at 2:35 pm local time. We had a quick taxi to our gate, C2, putting us at the gate at 2:40 pm.


photo touchdownphoto taxiing-inphoto taxiing-in-2

There are two customs and border protection (CBP) points at IAD. One being midfield at Concourse C for connecting passengers arriving on United flights, and another at the main terminal for all other passengers, including those who are ending their travels at IAD. Because Washington, D.C. is home for me, I was ending my travels here and I was directed to the Main terminal and was transported there on a “moon buggy”.

The main CBP checkpoint lines for global entry can be horrendous, the past 2 times I arrived into IAD, the global entry lane took almost an hour to get through. However, today, global entry took less than 1 minute to get through.

My bags came out approximately 35 minutes after I went through Global Entry, and then I made my way through and was on the metro home!

See more

Verdict

United

8.8/10
Cabin10.0
Cabin crew10.0
Entertainment/wifi10.0
Meal/catering5.0

Lufthansa Senator Lounge Z50 - Z

0.5/10
Comfort0.5
Meal/catering0.5
Entertainment/wifi0.5
Services0.5

Frankfurt - FRA

7.3/10
Efficiency7.0
Access7.0
Services5.0
Cleanliness10.0

Washington - IAD

5.0/10
Efficiency5.0
Access5.0
Services5.0
Cleanliness5.0

Conclusion

Overall, this was an excellent flight in Polaris. I was disappointed with the lounge experience in Frankfurt. With the business lounge being closed for renovations, however, that’s not United’s fault, it’s Lufthansa’s. I have heard that if you have time, the Air Canada Lounge in Concourse B is excellent!

As far as the flight itself goes, I must say that the service was excellent. The crew was incredibly attentive, constantly asking us if we needed anything and was ready to answer any questions that I had. The food service today was average. The salmon was not the best meal I’ve had on United, but maybe I just ordered the wrong thing?

But the extremely private seat, the bedding, the drink selection, the service, and the amazing in flight entertainment options make up for that. I’d have to say I wouldn’t hesitate flying United Polaris again, and in fact, I will be, in just a few more days!

Information on the route Frankfurt (FRA) Washington (IAD)

Les contributeurs de Flight-Report ont posté 12 avis concernant 2 compagnies sur la ligne Frankfurt (FRA) → Washington (IAD).


Useful

La compagnie qui obtient la meilleure moyenne est Lufthansa avec 7.3/10.

La durée moyenne des vols est de 8 heures et 43 minutes.

  More information

3 Comments

If you liked this review or if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to post a comment below !
  • Comment 642124 by
    KévinDC TEAM SILVER 6586 Comments
    Oh wow, you sure got that 2nd review out super quickly! Very impressed haha---I wish I was that quick...I'm always months behind in posting.

    Nice to have another Washingtonian posting reviews! I live in SoCal now, but was in DC for over a decade up to 2019.

    The main CBP checkpoint lines for global entry can be horrendous, the past 2 times I arrived into IAD, the global entry lane took almost an hour to get through.


    Yikes! CBP at IAD has always been a huge mess, even for GE as you mention. And surprisingly, a few weeks ago, there was even a humongous line at TSA Pre-Check where it's normally quiet. Took me 20 minutes to get through. Apparently it was so bad then even converted the downstairs Employee checkpoint to Pre-Check temporarily to get everyone through. It's one of those situations where "If everyone's Elite, no one's Elite" but replace Elite with Global Entry/TSA Pre-Check haha.

    Too bad about the lounge in FRA, but again, it's not surprising. Before my West Coast more and AS joining OW, I was so tempted to switch loyalty to UA and *A, but I've just never been a fan of LH for intra-European stuff...I much prefer BA and IB. And within the US I fly AS as much as possible, even though my status is with AA.

    Nevertheless UA have really gotten it together these past few years, hence why I'd been tempted to switch. Granted the UA experience to/from IAD isn't great with UA being in that Godawful trailer of a "temporary" terminal at C/D haha.

    Great report with beautiful photos and once again super well-written! Thanks very much for sharing!
    • Comment 642127 by
      shivpilot14 SILVER AUTHOR 7 Comments
      Yeah, it's a bummer but, from what I've heard, the FRA lounges are nothing to write home about. I've heard that I'll get a similar experience to the IAD LH lounge anyways... and yeah, based upon my experience with LH Intra-europe the other day, I'm not so convinced of their 4 star Skytrax rating! I just don't get it... Thanks for reading!
      • Comment 642129 by
        KévinDC TEAM SILVER 6586 Comments
        Hah, I've heard that too. In fact, the LH lounge at IAD is the only Priority Pass lounge I've never bothered to visit over the years...much prefer the TK lounge for the good food, though it gets a bit crowded. The VS, BA, and AF lounges are also much better than the LH lounge.

        Ah Skytrax...a mystery as old as time! I will never understand how their ratings work. That's why on Flight-Report.com we let the actual people flying do the rating! completely unbiased.

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