United Airlines, BusinessFirst
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string(11) "Wendy O'Dea"By Wendy O’Dea - June 1, 2015
On the Ground: After arriving from LAX, I had a good chunk of time at Newark Liberty International Airport before departing on United Airlines flight 25 to Ireland, so I headed straight to the business-class lounge. The Terminal C lounge is the largest at EWR, offering plenty of seating, workstations, showers and a large bar area. I booted up my computer in one of the many private cubicle spaces — accessing the WiFi to check email and chat with family via Face Time — then headed to the main lounge to check out the provisions. The food options were snacks, consisting mainly of individually wrapped cheese and crackers, fruit and cereals. I was disappointed to find few gluten-free options (medically necessary for me), even upon request. At boarding time, I hoofed it to my gate and quickly boarded the Boeing 757-200 from the priority group line.
Pre-Flight: Flight attendants provided beverage service upon boarding, but they had already poured the last of the pre-flight Champagne before I arrived at my seat. I was requested to change seats to allow a couple to sit together and agreed without hesitation.
I had to move again mid-flight to provide an empty seat next to the pilot’s rest seat (required under the new rest regulations) — inconvenient and somewhat annoying but obviously important to ensure focused and well-rested pilots at the controls.
In-Flight: Meal service included an appetizer of sushi or salad; a main course of chicken, beef, fish or pasta; a cheese course with Port; and ice cream sundaes for dessert. Unfortunately, the gluten-free meal I’d requested was not available, even though I’d added it to my reservation and called twice to confirm before my trip. I did receive a gluten-free meal from the economy cabin that was quite good on the outbound flight; the one on the return trip was somewhat disappointing. However, gluten-free side dishes and a variety of snacks and fruit were available throughout the flight.
The roomy, 180-degree flat-bed seats made the six-hour overnight journey a comfortable one. A small footrest under the entertainment center, coupled with the leg riser, provided ample space for sleep. Pillows and blankets were sizeable and a better quality than those in other classes of service, and power sources for laptops and phones were located to the side of the headrest. Although the three-pronged outlet at my seat wouldn’t power my laptop, I arrived with my phone — and body — fully charged.
The Experience: Despite some missteps, flying direct to Shannon was worth its weight in gold for traveling to western Ireland. I’d fly this United 757-200 again, assuming I would receive my requested meal. United flies from Newark year-round and from Chicago O’Hare seasonally (June 4–Aug. 17, 2015).
- Less than 10 minutes for check-in
- Friendly and helpful agents
- Priority tagged baggage
- Airport lounge
- Complimentary in-lounge food
- Priority boarding
- Helpful and courteous flight attendants
- Pre-flight beverage service
- Pre-flight newspapers and magazines
- Extensive on-demand entertainment
- Amenity kits
- Lie-flat seat/bed
- Turn-down service
- In-flight menu with three entrée choices
- Top-shelf wines and liquors