Flight-Report

Review of United flight Newark Sao Paulo in Business

Airline United
Flight UA031
Class Business
Seat --
Flight time 07:55
Take-off 23 Dec 13, 21:55
Arrival at 24 Dec 13, 08:50
UA   #113 out of 129 Airlines A minimum of 20 Flight-Reports is required in order to appear in the rankings. 274 reviews
Bo
By 6925
Published on 17th June 2014
Hello :) Welcome to my trip report. This flight is one of the segments that I took during my South American Tour last winter. There are not a lot of coverage on United on this website and I think none of UA's South American routes. Admittedly UAL is not the most successful in its operations to LATAM. EWR-EZE has been previously terminated and as of now does not serve Santiago de Chile on its own aircraft (aside from Copa) at all. The only two Brazilian airports that UA operates to are GRU and GIG, behind all of its major competitors DAL, AAL, LANTAM etc. I am a fairly frequent flyer on UA and I think inconsistency is the airline's biggest issue. I have been on some wonderful UA flights while experiences the other half of the time is fairly bad. This flight is in my opinion an average UA flight so I though posting it would help readers who are not familiar with UAL to know what to expect should they find themselves on an United flight in the future.

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It is the year end season again. I was traveling on Dec 23. The streets in New York were fairly busy.

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As the normal case of my UA trips, this one started at Penn Station.

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Amtrak was busy that night too.

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I caught my NJ transit train to Newark. I think in theory EWR is not any further from New York Penn than JFK. However NJ transit to EWR seems to take twice as long as LIRR to JFK.

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It wasn't too long before I arrived at EWR terminal C. Leaving the airTran I entered the crowded ground level departure hall.

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Check in using the Premier Access desk was took about 5 minutes. UA is separating Gold/Silver from Plat/1K/GS/F/J pax at check in. Maybe there are too many *G these days? Who knows. The ironic part is that the lane for actual F/J pax was actually more crowded than the Gold/Silver lane so I made my decision accordingly.

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Departure board for the night.

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It took me a long time to pass through security. Once airside, I headed to the United Club for some holiday eggnog before the flight.

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Old school looking ex-president's club.

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UA club is not the most interesting place in the world as we all know

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The usual packaged carrots

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… and junk food.

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Coffee station

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The club was not very busy.

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US and Canadaian Weather. Seems like -1F in YYZ.

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The only pleasing part of the club is probably this view.

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It was soon time for boarding. I headed down to the boarding gate. GRU and DEL are using the gates next to each other. It was very crowded.

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I was onboard fairly soon. Priority boarding was enforced and a document check was conducted as we boarded since US passport holders need a visa for Brazil.

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My single seat in the middle.

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Us usual plastic cup orange juice on UAL.

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I noticed a decline of the quality of the blanket, which i found a little bit odd. Maybe I just got a very old one. The cabin was kept uncomfortably cold throughout the night and I had to request an additional blanket to keep myself warm.

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Cabin right before taking off.

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Tonights flight path. It was a pretty smooth trip south.

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Soon after take off, nuts and drink was served. The flight attendant simply said Drink? when he approached me. Classic UAL.

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Dinner was served. I was pretty sure that the salmon appetizer was supposed to be plated separately. Seeing it on top of the salad was very strange. Bread was good, but it took me ages to get the butter shown in the picture above.

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Fish entree - it tasted just as it looked. Worth maybe $5 on the ground. They ran out of all other options and orders were taken by status. I'm platinum so I don't know what the pax who didn't have status ended up eating. Y food?

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Cheese plate was nicely presented. Although this is pre-plated and no cart so no choices.

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Ice cream was the best part of the meal :D

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Despite the poor dinner service I had a good night of sleep and woke up as we flew over Brasilia. In the end sleeping is what matters. I almost flew TAM all the way but decided not to the last minute before I bought the ticket since flat bed is not assured on JJ.


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Orange juice was served as pax woke up.

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Breakfast was served about 1 hr out of GRU. Usual egg + continental choice menu was used on this flight. I had the hot egg option. Not all that different from a regular domestic breakfast service. This time around the crew was a little bit friendlier and said do you like some breakfast? This is still not the kind of professional language you'd see on BA or LH let alone CX/SQ. However it was indeed much nicer than Drink?


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Some cabin shots right after landing.

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LH from FRA

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All of the bags!

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We parked at a remote stand, which was something I didn't expect. We boarded a bus for the terminal and a few connecting passengers seemed to have run late.

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Since I had a connection on JJ to SCL to catch, I quickly passed the transit security check and got into the international departure terminal.

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I checked out the United Club. UAL used to have an arrival suite at GRU that you could access for shower and breakfast if arriving in J on UA operated flights. Apparently they did away with this and I was only allowed in with TAM's J ticket departing in a few hours. The only remaining part of the old arrivals suite is the shower nowadays.



Food spread at United Club GRU. It is by no means impressive but pretty good compared to UA clubs in the US.

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I took some fruits and cold cuts.

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Window with a few of the terminal exterior.

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All UA flights to the US leave in the evening. With JJ still being in *A at the time of my trip, there were very few pax in the UA lounge that morning. I think it was only kept open because of the GRU-GIG tag on to the IAD-GRU flight. I soon left the UA club and headed for my JJ flight to SCL. A trip report for GRU-SCL can be found at http://flight-report.com/en/report-6735.html


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Verdict

United

5.4/10
Cabin8.0
Cabin crew2.0
Entertainment/wifi7.5
Meal/catering4.0

Continental Airlines Presidents Club (Terminal C3)

2.0/10
Comfort0.0
Meal/catering0.0
Entertainment/wifi7.0
Services1.0

Newark - EWR

4.8/10
Efficiency3.0
Access3.0
Services5.0
Cleanliness8.0

Sao Paulo - GRU

3.5/10
Efficiency5.0
Access3.0
Services3.0
Cleanliness3.0

Conclusion

Overall I had a good night of sleep. But that really was about it. I normally only fly US carriers within the Western Hampshire. Crossing ocean either side will bring in so many much better carriers. UAL still has my business for the time being so long as AA hasn't caught up on hardware.

Related

7 Comments

  • Comment 112681 by
    KévinDC TEAM GOLD 4742 Comments

    Very nice report! Not so nice flight :-)
    Typical UAL, I would say. Cold, disiterested flight attendants and nasty looking catering. I'm a DL Plat, and I have to say DL catering looks waaaaay better in Business than this. The one good thing about this cabin is the single seat in the middle with full aisle access, but again, UA is behind DL and AA's new configs with not offering full aisle access. I like window seats, but don't like climbing over a strangers, with full aisle access I can have both. Although I'll give UA credit for having been the 1st US carrier to offer full-flat seats on all international config aircraft. Living in DC, DL is often not the most convenient choice--if UA were a better airline I might consider doing a status match challenge, but practically every UA FF I know is unhappy with them so I'll still with DL and the extra connections over UA's direct flights out of the IAD hub.
    Thanks for sharing!

  • Comment 112682 by
    jetsetpanda 2296 Comments

    Thanks for sharing this report. Your scores say it all and of the three major U.S. carriers, UA is the one at the bottom. I recently read that there is a new round of lay offs and reservation agents are the latest group affected. One would think that will all these mergers the industry has somehow stabilized.

    If this is an average flight on UA, I shudder thinking what a bad flight looks like. I have personally seen FA's talk to passengers in Y and J condescendingly, laugh at them mockingly, sigh in frustration in front of them and be argumentative when passengers ask for their names. That is not to say that there are no good FA's, but they are far and in between. Unfortunately as the friction between management and workers increases, we are bound to see more of these manifestations.

  • Comment 112686 by
    padawan 1447 Comments

    Thank you for this report !
    Meal seems indeed very poor, and seat very good if you manage to sleep all way long.

  • Comment 112694 by
    KL651 TEAM 4403 Comments

    Thanks for this FR.

    If that flight was average by UA standards, I really pity those who have to endure a bad UA flight.

    From the catering to the crew the soft product is to be ashamed about. The seat is good but that's not enough.

    This UA/CO merger really seems to have been a mistake as it turned 2 airlines (one good and one average) into one bad airline.

  • Comment 112705 by
    Chatokay 283 Comments

    Thanks for this good report :)
    However, I deeply regret that the text of the pictures is under them. It's really a pain to have to scroll up to see the picture related to the text. It is far more agreeable for the reader to put it above.

  • Comment 112758 by
    Caribel 114 Comments

    Excellent summary of your holiday's flight. I enjoyed your objective criticism mixed with humor.

    The aircraft interior layout was pioneered by now defunct Continental. I still cherish the memory of flying Continental long-haul Business. FA would introduce themselves to each passenger, ask how to pronounce your name correctly, offer to explain the wine/liquor selection on board, delve into the menu items and personalize the serving schedule.

    Some may argue that since you slept so soundly, the FA service helped to incentivize your sleep ;)

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