I’m very excited to bring the first United A321Neo review to flight-report.com! The A321Neo is United’s first Airbus delivery in over 20 years, and features United’s new NEXT interior. It features a new first class product, and I’m so excited to share this experience with you!
Orlando Intl’ Airport has 3 terminals, A, B, and C. Be sure to check which Terminal you’re flying out of so that you arrive at the correct terminal. A and B are connected, so if you go to A instead of B or vice versa, you’re a short walk away from where you should be. The newly opened Terminal C, however, is in a completely separate building.
Arrived at MCO at 7:48 am after my hotel shuttle dropped me off at Terminal B, which is where United flies from. The United Check In counters are located at the end of the terminal, which is where my shuttle dropped me off- at the last door.
The United Check In looks really cool with the LED signs and MCO’s mood lighting in the check in area.
United has a very large operation at MCO, especially for a non-hub, so there’s a big check in area. However, there is no premier access line. Just one line for additional services, a large self service kiosks and one area for the bag drop shortcut. It wasn’t a problem. There was no line for the self service kiosks and there’s enough there to accommodate a lot of people at once.
I wasn’t checking a bag, but there was not a long line for the Premier Access Check In, so I used the self check in kiosk to print my boarding pass, and was on my way within a minute or two.
MCO is laid out in a way where you have to take a train to get to the different gate areas. There are 4 different gate areas, and there’s a different train for each of them. So, be sure to check your gate before going through security, because if you go through the wrong security checkpoint, you’ll end up on the wrong train.
United flies from the gates 30-59, so be sure to go through that security checkpoint and those trains.
There’s a separate lane for passengers with both precheck and clear. I went through the Clear lane and was through pretty quickly.
MCO also has something “MCO Reserve”, where passengers without PreCheck or Clear can reserve their spot in line for security at a specific time. MCO’s terminal pre-security has a number of shops and restaurants that you can enjoy, and so, if you eat and shop before security, this option makes a lot of sense. The best part of it is that it’s completely free to use. However, you do have to reserve your spot up to 72 hours in advance.
MCO has a United Club located near gate 43. The club is open from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. daily. The lounge is located one level up from the main terminal and is very close to all of the United gates. So, you have to take an elevator upstairs and check in with reception upstairs.
The lounge is a decent size, and can get crowded, due to United’s large presence at MCO.
Immediately upon entering, you enter the main seating area, and immediately to your left is the cold food buffet. The usual bagels, yogurt, and fruit were on offer.
Just behind the cold food buffet is the bar, which doesn’t open until 11:00.
The lounge is laid out in a sort of weird way. The toaster is located away from the bread. And there was a warmer next to the toaster with omelets and potatoes. Though, the omelets were all gone and there were very few potatoes left.
On the right side of the food buffet, there is a seating area located next to some windows.
In the middle and towards the back of the lounge is the coffee station, which had no regular coffee, only decaf today.
In the back of the club is the business center. When I visited this lounge back in April, it was a typical business area with cubicles. Now it’s been replaced with newer high top tables. The privacy in this area is usually excellent as MCO sees more vacationers than business travelers.
Just ahead of the business center is another seating area near the entrance with armchairs near the windows.
I settled in here for my visit as it was empty, and it afforded me an excellent view of the beautiful A321Neo taking us up to Chicago today!
My flight today was departing from gate 43 today, which is located right next to the United Club.
I arrived at the gate a bit ahead of schedule since I wanted to grab a picture of the practically brand new A321Neo that would be taking us to Chicago today. This aircraft and flight is really special as the 321Neo is the first delivery that United has received from Airbus in over 20 years. The aircraft features United’s new NEXT interior, and features a new first class seat, which we would be trying today.
We boarded on time at exactly 9:10 a.m., and I was the second person on board!
We boarded through door L1, where I was greeted by our friendly purser, Roy!
The First class cabin on the A321Neo is arranged in a 2-2 configuration, and features 20 first class recliner seats across 5 rows.
The cabin features mood lighting and even has Airbus’s new Airspace cabin.
I quickly found my seat, 2A, a window seat on the left side of the cabin. The seat features 38 inches of pitch, is 20 inches wide, and has 5 inches of recline. Note, that row 5 only features 3 inches of recline.
My first impressions of the seat? WOW. It’s awesome. It has a shell design, and looks very sleek.
The left armrest contains the tray table. The table has an improved design. Unlike the other United aircraft where you had to fumble around with your drink and move it in order to extend the tray table fully.
In the right armrest, you’ll find a large cocktail tray
There is a weird, semi-circular “privacy partition” in between the two seats, but in my opinion, it doesn’t do anything. You can still see over it. I much prefer the winged headrest shell that Delta’s A321Neo seats offer in terms of privacy.
Also, in the right armest, you’ll find a Qi-Certified wireless charger!
Below that you’ll find a cubby hole for a tablet or phone, and next to that you’ll find a remote for the IFE.
The remote for the IFE is also upgraded! It has a track pad instead of physical arrow buttons and was very neat and intuitive! Though, the screen is touchscreen so you may not need that.
There is a literature pocket in the seatback in front of you and ample room to store your personal carry-on item underneath the seat in front of you.
Between the two seats ahead of you, you’ll find another pull out cocktail table. Also, you’ll notice a divider in the seats ahead of you, so that people behind you can’t really see you, which is awesome.
Even the Passenger Service Unit above your head has some improvements with some lighting next to the buttons!
Straight ahead of you on the seatback is the IFE screen. This screen is 13 inches wide, and has 4K resolution! It has a headphone jack along with a USB-A and USB-C charging port. The IFE on this aircraft also allows you to use Bluetooth headphones, so you can connect wireless. And I have to say, it sounded great on my Bose QC 35 IIs! Additionally, there's a small menu at the bottom that shows you the remaining flight time, and if you tap on it, it changes to the remaining time left in your movie or TV show! very cool!
At 9:32, the flight attendant came around to offer us a pre-departure mimosa!
At 9:45, for some reason the entertainment system shut off and my headphones were disconnected, and didn’t come back on until right at pushback time. Not really sure what that was about. Then, when the IFE came back on, the Bluetooth wasn’t working.
At 9:46, someone kept running their call bell repeatedly to the point where the flight attendants had to come on to say “If your child keeps ringing the call bell, please have them stop. This is for emergencies only.” So as to not single anyone out. But then the bell kept ringing…
At 9:47, the safety video played. By the way, they’re drawing of the A321 is just horrible! What is that? Though, I’m definitely not saying that I could do any better! I have zero talent in that area!
At 10:00, we pushed back from the gate and then began our taxi to the runway.
At 10:13, we lined up for departure on runway 36R.
At 10:15, we reached 10,000 feet, and were well on our way up to O’Hare.
There was some turbulence on departure, so the flight attendnats didn’t begin their service for a bit.
At 10:37, the flight attendants began their service with a hot towel.
I noticed that on this flight, the flight attendants didn’t come to confirm our preorders. They did go around to those who didn’t or couldn’t preorder to offer them a selection, though. I had preordered the Ropa Vieja Enchiladas.
At 10:45, service continued with an offering of drinks. The drinks arrived shortly after with a ramekin of warm nuts. Roy brought me the can of tonic water and even brought me a second bottle of gin, just in case I needed it!
At 10:55, my meal was served and I have to say it was delicious! The enchiladas were so flavorful! This was honestly one of the best dishes I’ve ever had on a plane!
At 11:00, Roy came around to ask if we wanted a glass of wine with our meal in addition to our drinks. I declined, but that was extremely thoughtful!
After I finished my meal, I then reclined my seat a bit, and decided to watch a movie on the IFE screen.
There was a problem with some folks not being able to use their IFE screens, so they did have to reboot the entire system which meant that m, again, I had to re-pair my headphones which was really annoying. It was at this point that I had wished I had kept my regular cord for my headphones with me instead of leaving them in my backpack, which was in the overhead bin.
After the IFE was reset, I then started receiving error notifications which I wasn’t before… sigh… this is why I always preach to bring your own in flight entertainment. I just sat and watched the in flight map and listened to some music in my phone.
They then decided to reset the WiFi and IFE again! It makes me wonder at which point the crew decides that it’s time to just leave it alone. I wondered this, because, by the time the IFE came back on, we were on our final approach.
At 11:10 Chicago time, the captain came on to announce our initial descent into Chicago, and that we would be arriving in about 30 minutes and should be at the gate right on time or maybe even a minute or two ahead of schedule.
As we approached in, we got a good view of MDW airport.
At 11:44, we touched down on runway 2C, and began our taxi into the gate.
We arrived at gate B3 today at 11:52 a.m, for a slightly early arrival.
I made my way off of the aircraft, to the United Club to await my onward flight to IAD.
I was very excited to fly this A321Neo with United, as not only is it the newest addition to the United fleet, it’s the first Airbus delivery that United has taken in over 20 years.
It features a new first class seat as part of the United NEXT program, which was excellent. The seat design includes privacy elements that you just don’t receive on other flights. And it’s so high tech! From a 13 inch 4K IFE screen to a Qi Wireless charger in the seat, to USB-C charging, and Bluetooth capabilities, and lastly the dynamic strip showing you flight information… This technology integrated into this seat is fantastic for a domestic short haul product.
Roy, our purser, was also excellent today. He did an excellent job taking care of us and was very attentive!