Thursday, May 21, 2009

Trip Report - United London to San Francisco 777

Flight United 931 from London to San Francisco - May 2009

I was interested to see what United's move to Terminal 1 at LHR would bring. The old terminal provided for a decent experience and the Red Carpet Room was located somewhat close to the United gates.

Terminal 1 has been remodeled and the United Ticket area is very large and open. There was no line when I showed up for this 2pm departure. The post-security "waiting area" has also been redone with all new shops and eating areas.

The eating options are all upscale -- there are NO fast food outlets for a cheap meal. The only place to get a decent priced meal is the pre-packaged meal place next to Everything Britain.

The air conditioning was minimal in the waiting area so it was fairly warm and "sticky" -- even during a cool May day. If you are traveling during the summer, you might want to check out Priority Pass to get into a club instead of sweating it out in the waiting area.

In this terminal there is a single Star Alliance lounge -- no Red Carpet Room. I didnt go in, but its tucked in the corner next to the transfers desk.

My 777 aircraft was awating us at Gate 52. This was a 777 with the OLD business class seats, so I didnt bother upgrading and stayed in the economy plus section.

I like the (new-ish) United gates in Terminal 1 -- the concourse has glass walls and very high ceilings, so it gives a more open and relaxing feeling that the old gate holding rooms.

The gate agents boarded Global Service (only) first for some reason, then First Class, then Business Class and 1Ks. After those groups, Premier Execs and Group One.

The Economy Class on the 777 has 2-5-2 seating -- five seats in the middle section. My flight had a couple seats in the very middle open, but otherwise it was full. The 777 has big bins so there werent any issues with carry-ons not fitting.

On they talk about the "entertainment equipment box" in front of the H seats on this plane. Its a metal box that blocks some of your space, but its wasnt too bad. I kept my carryon overhead to have extra leg room. Here is the view from my seat 25H in Economy Plus.

My seatmate was pretty content to sleep the whole flight against the window, so it was a fine flight. However, the United flight attendants were pretty surly and never smiled. One even kept wiping her arm and hand against her nose during the safety demo -- I hoped she washed her hands before the meal service! Plus they didnt come by with a water service at all during the 10+ hour flight.

Although the Purser announced that meals were FOR SALE, this wasnt the case since United International coach meal policy change last year. I didnt take a picture of the main meal, but the "snack" about an two hours outside SFO was a clear bag with Chips, Twix and a pretty good turkey wrap thing.

The video equipment worked ok -- small seat back video screen. The movie hung for a while after each announcement, but it was fine. United doesnt use Video on Demand, so you have to watch in real time and wait for the Purser to "reset" the movies once they end.

SFO customs and immigration was a true breeze -- at our arrival time (5pm PT), we were the only inbound flight so there were no lines. There were plenty of agents to check folks' paperwork. I think I was through the whole process in about a minute (really!) since I only had carryons.

It was an ok flight and I completed my Mileage runs to make Premier Exec during the double EQM bouns period. However, the flight attendants in my section were very poor and pretty much showed disdain to each passenger -- I sent an email to United a couple days ago - I still havent heard back yet.