Book Flights
 
Home United Airlines Airline Review

    United Airlines Airline Review

    8.5/10

    From 4 editor reviews

    Jerry Chandler

    Cabin: United First
    Route: Atlanta - San Fransisco
    Aircraft: 737-800

    7/10

    Seat and Amenities

    No problem finding my seat. 1B stared me in the face the moment I boarded. All 16 seats in the first class cabin were full. They usually are these days as carriers tightly control seating capacity.

    Pretty typical seat for domestic first class: leather, limited recline, nice lumbar support and fitted with all-important powerports for laptops. Since this is a bulkhead seat there are no footrests. That said, you can shed your shoes and prop them up discreetly on the carpeted wall in front of you.

    This -800 is among the 27 percent of United’s 737s that the company has outfitted with Wi-Fi. The rest of the seven-three fleet is set to be so rigged by July 2015.

    Even though Atlanta’s not on the East Coast per se, the scheduled 5:16 minute, trip qualifies in this reporter’s mind as a true transcontinental flight. An amenity kit would have been a nice touch.

    Customer service on board

    Upon boarding I took off my coat, smiled at the flight attendant, handed it to her for hanging up and said, “Thank you.” That failed to spark reciprocal “You’re welcome” or a smile.

    The takeoff roll for the almost fully-loaded 737-800 took 40 seconds. The little kid in me continues to be amazed at the magic of machines taking flight. The day I take this all for granted it’s time to retire.

    Catering

    Smiles broke out among the cabin crew as breakfast was served. Up front that meant a choice of cereal or a full American breakfast replete with scrambled eggs, sausage and hash-brown potatoes. I chose the latter. I had a long day ahead and my body would need the protein. After a layover at SFO I was bound for Chengdu, in the far western reaches of China.

    As the meal service rolled on, the sky roiled up a bit. The flight attendants deftly balanced trays of food. The captain came on the PA (a re-assuring gesture) and explained that air traffic control was reporting mild to moderate turbulence at “all altitudes.” He was doing what he could to smooth things out.

    Inflight entertainment

    The in-flight video fare wasn’t bad: some 100 channels of DIRECTV. Movies, sports, news, and such are all there – even though the bulkhead screen is a bit smallish. In United First, there’s no change for DIRECTV. In United Economy and Economy Plus there is.

    Inveterate weather-watcher that I am, I switched between The Weather Channel and the in-flight moving map. The latter doesn’t display en route weather, but The Weather Channel does. Going back and forth, I got a good idea of what lay ahead. This was springtime in the American south and the heavens were predictably unsettled.

    When the radar cleared, about the time we crossed the Colorado border, I turned off the video and pulled out my own decidedly non-digital hardbound entertainment, the third part of a biography of Winston Churchill.

    Extra information

    The best flight is an uneventful flight. Despite intermittent light to moderate choppy air, Flight 1275 was precisely that.

    This AirlineRatings author was the guest of United Airlines.

    Mike Machat

    Cabin: Premium Economy
    Route: Houston to Los Angeles
    Aircraft: Boeing 787 Dreamliner

    10/10

    Flying aboard any next-generation airliner is always special, and Boeing’s new 787 Dreamliner is no exception. As the world’s first jet airliner built with its major structure formed using composites rather than metal, this ground-breaking aircraft brings a new dimension to passenger comfort. Despite early teething problems, the Dreamliner has now established itself as the new “Queen of the Sky.” Unlike first-generation jetliners in the 1960s, however, this aircraft is flown by only one U. S. carrier, and that’s United Airlines (recently merged with Continental). AirlineRatings Editor Mike Machat flies aboard United’s Houston-Los Angeles service and reports about it here.

    Seat and Amenities

    The 787’s new lightweight hi-tech seats are very comfortable with ample legroom in Premium Economy, and with abundant under-seat storage from window-to-aisle. Fully articulated seats recline smoothly and easily. There are no window shades because the windows are self-tinting, controlled by a button on the wall. Pillows and blankets placed on each seat were average size, and padded earphones could be found in each seat pocket at no charge.

    Customer service on board

    Beverage, food, and trash carts cycled through the aisles at the beginning and end of our three-hour flight from Houston to Los Angeles, and the cabin crew was very friendly and courteous. Multi-lingual cabin announcements were pre-recorded, rather than being made by human flight attendants.

    Catering

    United’s Economy and Premium Economy cabins share the same inflight beverage service and menus. Both the snacks like cheese and fruit, and meals of wraps and sandwiches were excellent, and prices were reasonable. The food was fresh and tasted quite good. Serving sizes of complementary beverages were generous as well.

    Inflight entertainment

    High-definition flat screen with bright crystal-clear imagery was excellent. Many language choices were offered and a special kids channel was available. Unlike other United Airlines flights, no Air Traffic Control channel was offered. Wi-Fi was available, with a USB port located in every seat, and a power outlet in each three-seat row.

    Extra information

    United’s Boeing 787 does not have any child-free zones, onboard lounges, or on board shops, as with some larger twin-aisle long-range aircraft, but it provides passengers with a smooth, comfortable and ultra-quiet flight using the latest technology in the air today.

    Mike Machat

    Cabin: Premium Economy
    Route: Washington to Houston
    Aircraft: A319

    8/10

    A slightly shorter addition to the Airbus A320 family, the A319 has proven itself to be a veritable workhorse on short-to-medium-range stage lengths. This first variant of the original A320 retains its predecessor’s fly-by-wire flight control system and two-pilot digital cockpit. Carrying 26 fewer passengers, however, the A319 offers approx. 500 miles greater range at the same cruising speed of Mach .82 (555 mph). United Airlines was the first U.S. carrier to inaugurate A319 service in 1996, and uses the aircraft on its high-density east-coast routes, with wider aisles than the Boeing 737 adding to passenger comfort in the Business, Premium Economy, and Coach cabins.

    Seat and Amenities

    The A319’s seats were older but comfortable, with ample legroom in Premium Economy, but small under-seat stowage room. Legroom was slightly better than in regular Economy. Pillows and blankets placed on each seat were of average size. Padded earphones could be found in each seat pocket and there was no charge. All the window shades were left down for the entire flight, which was annoying.

    Customer service on board

    Beverage, food, and trash carts came down the aisles at the beginning and end of our three-hour flight from Washington to Houston, and the cabin crew was friendly and courteous.

    Catering

    United’s Economy and Premium Economy cabins share the same inflight beverage service and menus. Snacks like cheese and fruit trays, and wraps and sandwiche meals were excellent with reasonable prices. The food was fresh and tasted good. Serving sizes of complementary beverages were small, however.

    Inflight entertainment

    The A319 had small screens that folded down from the overhead panels at every third seat row, and only one movie was offered during the flight, followed by two TV shows. There were no language choices offered and no special kids channel was available. Like other United Airlines domestic U.S. flights, Air Traffic Control could be heard on a special channel, but there were no USB ports or power sources available, and no Wi-Fi on board.

    Jerry Chandler

    Cabin: Business Class
    Route: San Francisco to Chengdu
    Aircraft: 787-8

    9/10

    Seat and Amenities

    I settled into my BusinessFirst seat, 1E on the aisle, for the 13 hour journey to Chengdu. I used to love the window seat. Age, however, now dictates ready access to the lavatory and I don’t want to be climbing over my seatmate all evening to get to the aisle. This is a six-seat across airplane in Business Class. Four of those six seats offer immediate aisle access, two don’t. They’re on the window.

    The seat itself is comfortable and converts into a full lie flat bed. Controls are built into the armrest. Powerpoint and glasses stowage is over your shoulder. The audio video on demand (AVOD) is accessed via touch screen or hand held controller. There are a couple of sometimes balky features, but overall it works well. The seatback screens in BusinessFirst are huge, sharp and clear. During the span of the flight I end up happily consuming four full films. No matter how comfortable the seat (and it is) I just don’t sleep on airplanes.

    Oh yeah, about those lavs, they’re as high tech as the 787 itself. Water flows from the sink at the wave of a hand. That’ how the immaculately clean toilets flush too. The largest lavatory is located on the port (left hand) side between two sections of BusinessFirst. If you have a physical disability, this is the one you’ll want to use.

    The BusinessFirst amenity kit has most of the requisite: eye shade, socks, toothbrush and toothpaste, tissue and in-flight refresher.

    Customer service on board

    Since this is the Chengdu inaugural, the A Team staffs both cockpit and cabin, from the pilot in command to the flight attendants. They made the trip a real pleasure

    Catering

    Confession: I love good airline food. If I’m riding up front I’ll skip a pre flight meal just to feast on the in-flight fare. United’s BusinessFirst menu didn’t disappoint. I started out with chilled jumbo shrimp and fresh seasonal greens. The former weren’t over chilled; the latter not wilted. Before the main course of filet of Amazon Cod came a nice, buttery Rodney Strong Sonoma County Chardonnay, vintage 2011. After the main course, I skipped the cheese and port and dove straight into a caramel sundae. Sundaes are a staple of airline deserts, and it’s hard to mess them up. Flight attendant Joey Cheng asked me if I’d like a liqueur with the sundae, perhaps a warmed Grand Marnier. I gave in graciously.

    Inflight entertainment

    While the seats are comfortable, the AVOD ample, and the food more than fine it’s the atmospherics of the flight that set it apart. The Boeing 787 is, quite simply, the most passenger friendly airplane in the skies today when it comes to cabin atmosphere. It’s exceedingly quiet and subtly lit. The cabin altitude is thousands of feet below other jets and the amount of moisture infused into the cabin significantly higher. Assuming you haven’t delved too deeply too often into United’s wine list chances are you’ll feel better upon touchdown.

    Extra information

    This author was United’s guest on Flight 9

    View all Reviews

    SHARE
    Cookie settings