United, BusinessFirst

Mar 20, 2014
2014 / April 2014

On the Ground: I was especially excited to have my first experience flying the United Boeing 787 Dreamliner. For this trip, I flew into Denver International Airport from Los Angeles International Airport on an early-morning flight to catch the noon departure of the 787 to Tokyo. I arrived at Denver a few hours early and took advantage of the United Club lounge. The club was conveniently situated in the middle of the terminal, and I was happy it held a full-service counter to help United MileagePlus Premier members since I’d lost my connecting flight ticket. The lounge was spacious, with a light and airy feel. Although the breakfast items were basic, the coffee was strong and the many club chairs in the lounge offered multiple electrical outlets for my many tech gadgets. The previously scheduled 787 had service issues, so a large crowd of passengers was trying to get seats on my flight. Although it was sad to see the Dreamliner have problems, the gate agents looked like they were in control and getting everyone on flights.

Pre-Flight: BusinessFirst passengers were the first to board, and I was quickly shown to my window seat and offered a pre-flight beverage. Unfortunately, we sat at the gate more than an hour as issues from the previous 787 flight were still being worked out. Although the delay caused me concern about my connecting flights in Japan, I took advantage of the time to observe the new innovations on board United’s 787, including the larger window with tint control, mood lighting, roomier cabin height and more.

In-Flight: United’s BusinessFirst has a 2-2-2 configuration, with the outer seats facing toward the windows. This gave a bit more privacy and better views. My second-row seat was a spacious 180-degree lie-flat seat/bed with all the bells and whistles. The seat controls were constantly lit, so I could easily change seat positions in the dark. The entertainment system, with a personal 15-inch screen, offered current American movies just out of the theater and a great music selection for all genres and languages. I took advantage of being a woman away from home and listened to Alanis Morissette’s new album and watched Twilight. The standard blue and gray of United’s color concept was understated yet comfortably familiar.

Dinner was served a few hours into the flight. Although they ran out of the Japanese-style meal, the appetizer of sushi and the grilled salmon with clumped crab were tasty. The 2012 Henri Bourgeois Sancerre Les Baronnes Sauvignon Blanc – Loire Valley complemented my fish main course well. By far, the highlight of my meal was the dessert: custom-built ice cream sundaes for each passenger. I selected Bailey’s and lots of caramel to go with my vanilla ice cream — perfect for my sweet tooth.

After dinner I usually get ready to sleep and dig into the amenity kit. United’s kit showcases one of my favorite beauty brands, Philosophy. The chapstick, hand lotion and facial wipes kept me refreshed throughout the flight. The 787 woke passengers with good-morning lighting, which represents the colors of dawn in the overhead lighting. It was a pleasant way to wake up, along with a simple breakfast.

The Experience: I have never had such a nice group of flight attendants on a U.S.-based airline as those on my United flight. They were friendly, unobtrusive, accommodating and ultimately created a good environment. On either end of my flight from Denver to Tokyo, I enjoyed the United Club lounges. It’s great to see United so proud of the 787, and I liked trying out the new product. It’s a must-try for the travel enthusiast.

GT CHECKLIST

  • Less than 10 minutes for check-in
  • Friendly and helpful agents
  • Priority tagged bags
  • Airport lounge
  • Complimentary in-lounge food
  • Priority boarding
  • Pre-flight beverage service
  • Pre-flight newspapers and magazines
  • Extensive on-demand entertainment
  • Amenity kits
  • Slippers
  • Lie-flat seat/bed
  • Turn-down service
  • In-flight menu with three entrée choices
  • Top-shelf wines and liquors

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