Saturday, September 1, 2007

Trip Report - Seattle (via SFO) to Sydney on United

After a quick London trip on United, it was another trip to Sydney to finish out the month. I have done this trip on United about six times in two years. I prefer to travel via Honolulu on Air Canada, but it was more expensive routing for some reason -- so I booked the cheaper non-stops.

I was starting to dread another trip in coach on this 14 hour flight, but got a surprise upgrade at the Seattle Airport. I was able to get SFOSYD business class confirmed at the ticket counter for the normal 30k miles -- plus she even gave me a choice of window or aisle seating. I quickly chose the aisle and got 8G.


Now 8G is an "ok" business class seat. Its in the shorter cabin behind first class. It CLEARLY has much less legroom than the business class rows in the 20's. The other major downside is the flight attendants put their bags behind these seats. On the plus side, I like the smaller cabin and you have access to a bathroom forward and aft. The bathroom aft is far enough back where you are not bothered by it.


Above is the view of this mini-business class cabin from seat 8G. As you might be able to see I spotted a handwritten sticker on the bathroom on the other side of the cabin. This looked a bit "tacky" to be in business class -- but kind of typical for United these days.

I couldnt quite read what it said, but I think it says "Lav Out" and something else. Anyway - I wasnt sure what was wrong with the the lav, but for a 14-hour flight you would think Untied would try and fix a premium cabin bathroom or at least put a more official looking sticker on it.


We were delayed for two hours due to a cargo warning "light" not working. There were only two announcements made during our 2 hour wait -- first by the captain, and second (nearly 2 hours later) by a random flight attendant. I was very disappointed the captain did not make more updates, it doesnt cost her or the airline anything to keep us informed.

The business class service was fairly poor on this flight. Since we had a two hour delay before leaving the gate, it seemed like the flight attendants tried to rush the service so they could take their breaks. While the United Menu had FOUR white wine choices, the flight attendant said he only had "a White or Red...or a Riesling". I am just amazed that the Flight Attendants feel like the can be so casual about the service. Even Qantas has some "class" when it comes to premium cabin service.

Not once did I get addressed by Last Name and it was rare if they asked if there was anything else I needed -- it was all about put out trays, cleaning up the trays and taking things away.

The audio didnt work on a couple channels of the video, but I had seen Shrek 3 a couple times already, and it gave me a chance to watch Hot Fuzz -- which is great.

The service on my return flight (SYDSFO) in Economy Plus was better. The flight attendants were more visible and seemed much happier.

In any case, I can't wait until United upgrades the audio/video equipment on those old 747-400s. Having a pull down movie screen for all of coach is just plain embarrassing!

Business Class SFO-SYD: B- (the food was ok and I liked the mini business class cabin)
Economy Plus SYD-SFO: C+ (extra credit for open seat next to me)

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