I’ve often thought the best airline experiences are not only the ones where you feel fresh after a long haul flight, but also the ones where you actually don’t want to get off the plane. I have never flown with United Airlines and on my recent trip to San Francisco, I was very eager to experience their new Economy Plus offering. However, United Airlines had other plans and when I arrived to the airport in Sydney to check in, I was given a Business Class ticket. And I never wanted the experience to stop!

So what did I think about the Business Class and Economy Plus offering on United Airlines? Read on to find out…


BUSINESS FIRST Date Travelled: Thursday 6th August 2015 Flight Number: UA870

United Airlines Business First

I have to admit, it was one of those moments everyone dreams of and I couldn’t believe it was happening to me…! I had my Economy Plus ticket in my hand and was waiting to board my flight to San Francisco, when the airline manager came over to wish me a great flight and handed me a Business Class ticket.

I almost couldn’t believe it. I thanked her profusely, before triple checking she was positive the ticket was for me. Then she showed me to the Zone One boarding lane for First Class and Business Class passengers and before I knew it a flight attendant was chauffeuring me to my very spacious seat.

Three things I noticed straight away – I had a window seat (hurrah), the plane had Wi-Fi on and my seat was facing backwards, mind blown. Once I got settled, and hopefully came across to the other passengers that I knew what I was doing and that I actually belonged in the Business Class cabin, I took my seat and started to watch a movie whilst sipping on a glass of French champagne. I could tell the next 12 hours were going to go by very, very smoothly.

Now if there is one thing United Airlines does exceptionally well in Business Class, it’s the food. And there is a lot of it. It seems like I really enjoyed myself because I forgot to write down the menu, however I have photo proof! Once we had taken off, I was offered a hot towel, snacks, another champagne and a menu to make my selection from. I enjoyed:

To Begin: Smoked duck with black bean cucumber salsa, and fresh seasonal greens served with raspberry vinaigrette

Main Course: Tenderloin of beef served with red wine jus, mashed potatoes, baby carrots and broad beans

To Finish: International cheese selection served with grapes and crackers

Then the cabin lights dimmed and guests were able to continue watching the on demand entertainment on our large 39cm screens or sleep till their hearts content. I did both. I might also add that a big bonus was the huge selection of movies to watch.

There were a variety of snacks offered throughout the flight, including Tim Tams and fresh fruit, and before I knew it I had watched a few movies, got a few hours sleeps, indulged in The Cowshed amenities given to each passenger and responded to a few emails, when breakfast was being served. I enjoyed a hot cheese omelette with tomato salsa, bacon and a chicken sausage, a selection of French pastries, yoghurt and fresh fruit.

And the service? The flight attendants probably could have been a bit more personable, however it is a long flight and I can imagine a lot of travellers in Business Class don’t want to engage with anyone. I used to work as a flight attendant at Virgin Australia when I was studying full time at university, so I know how full on the job is. However my only bit of feedback would be for the flight attendants to at least smile a bit more!


ECONOMY PLUS Date Travelled: Monday 10th August 2015 Flight Number: UA863

United Airlines Economy Plus

Passengers now have the option to upgrade for an additional fee from Economy to Economy Plus. Although don’t get too excited; the only tangible difference are the seats which offer an extra 12.7cm of space and you’re just a bit closer to exiting the plane swiftly when it reaches its destination. Additionally, passengers can still get Wi-Fi and there is still a full meal experience.

However I did find the meal experience not as great as other Economy Classes on other airlines. Whilst complimentary beer and wine is on offer, and there is a new option to purchase premium snacks, the meals themselves weren’t as good as I thought they would have been. There also needs to be a more sufficient mid flight service as I was left feeling quite hungry before breakfast arrived, and a few other passengers were also making the same comments.

The on demand entertainment was excellent and I had a great time watching many, many movies. I also had no problem sleeping and found the complimentary blanket and pillow comforting; although I do always travel with my own pillow for extra comfort.


FINAL THOUGHTS Overall, my experience with United Airlines was good! I give the airline four out of five stars. They operate daily from Sydney to San Francisco and still remain the only carrier to fly non-stop from Australia to San Francisco, which is great for not having to catch a connecting flight in Los Angeles.

TipsJaharn GilesComment