Booking The Trip: Flying The Friendly Skies to India
Review: United Airlines 777-200 Transcontinental Economy Plus Los Angeles to Newark
Review: DoubleTree By Hilton Hotel Newark Airport
Review: United Airlines 777-300ER Polaris Business Class Newark to Mumbai
Review: United Airlines 777-300ER Premium Plus Mumbai to Newark
Review: Pop Up United Club Lounge Concourse C, Gate C124
Review: United Club Lounge Concourse C, Gate C74
Review: United Airlines 787-10 Business Class Newark to San Francisco
Here’s a look at the amazing 777-300ER taking me back to Newark this evening. Before boarding, however, we had to undergo another stringent security check before being able to line up for boarding.
Entering the second waiting room, I was treated to amazing views of the 77W taking us on the long 16-hour journey to EWR. Coincidentally, parked next to us was a Delta 77L which had just kicked off flights to New York JFK.
Boarding started with Global Services and 1K members. Then group 1 was for Polaris, and Star Alliance gold at which point I boarded. Might I add the group 1 lane on this route is always very long. There are 60 Polaris Business class seats and on top of that half the economy cabin has Gold and Platinum status on this route.
Premium plus on the 777-300ER consists of 3 rows in a 2-4-2 configuration. The layout is fairly private and comfortable.
There’s a privacy divider between Premium Plus and Polaris, but unfortunately, there’s no privacy curtain separating economy and Premium Plus. Now let’s have a look at the seats because not all seats are created equal.
Now there are two different seats you could potentially get. Row 20 is the best and has insane legroom. I would recommend row 20 in a long shot over any of the other rows.
Naturally though by the time I booked this flight, row 20 was booked fully. So I went with seat 21L which is a window seat on the right side of the plane. After boarding and walking through the second Polaris cabin, I reached my seat of 21L.
The seat had decent back padding, a decent seat cushion for the 16-hour flight.
The legroom was pretty good. There was a coat hanger to the left side of the screen if needed. There was also a fold-out footrest that you can see below.
Let’s check out the seat features.
On the side of the seat there were buttons that were fairly intuitive. One extended/retracted the legrest while the other did the same with the recline of the seat.
To the right side of the seat on the window side, you could open the armrest and press a button and this would cause the tray table to release and come out.
Below the central armrest there was the USB port and universal charging post. The location might be moderately inconvenient to plug devices in, but it was incredibly convenient while devices were charging.
At the seat we had a nice plush and soft pillow.
A comfortable blanket was provided.
And some headphones as well.
The amenity kits were Star Wars themed in anticipation of the upcoming Star wars movie.
The kit was pretty well stocked for a premium economy amenity kit. Though I have to say, it was probably the most poorly designed and inconvenient amenity kit ever. The way the folds in the kit were designed, it was impossible to remove the contents of the kit.
The view is unfortunately partially obstructed by the 77W’s huge wing. So even for views, seats 20A/L are the best in the cabin.
Now Premium Plus service as stated on United’s website includes a “pre-departure water service in blue plastic cups if time permits“. Those last 3 words are basically an excuse to not give pre-departure drinks in my opinion, but kudos to the crew for including it in the service.
Now I just wanted to make a few comments about the crew working this flight. Firstly, the captain came around and greeted everyone on the aircraft. And he had to be the funniest pilot I’ve ever encountered. As he was talking to Polaris passengers I heard the following:
“Welcome on board, let us know if you need anything, though its United so you probably won’t get it”. I loved it.
Then he came into the Premium economy and asked if anyone wanted to takeover the aircraft during flight. Of course I offered and I told him he could have my seat during the time I was on the flightdeck and even showed him my pilot’s license to reassure him 😆. He was thrilled and we chatted for a bit. Then he continued talking to other passengers with his other comments:
“This is my first flight, but don’t worry I read the book last night.”
“I failed medical school, so I tried law school and I failed that too, so I became a pilot”
It was just a great pilot with a wonderful sense of humor. I can tell you some of the passengers around me didn’t match with his sense of humor, including the passenger sitting next to me, however, it was still great.
Now the crew working business class was phenomenal. They were just smiling and laughing all over the place and were all incredibly sociable with the passengers. This was in stark contrast to the crew I had on my inbound Polaris flight. It was definitely a good day to be a passenger for 16 hours in Polaris.
Eventually, we pushed back and began our taxi.
Soon we had a long takeoff roll on runway 27. I’ve flown out of Mumbai way too many times to remember, and even on some long flights, but this takeoff roll is the longest I’ve ever had our of this airport and those GE-90s were blasting at full power.
From there, we had a slow and gradual climb to our cruising altitude.
The views were limited, but as we turned off Juhu beach, the reflection of the city lights over the wing made for a pretty sight.
Around 30 minutes after takeoff, the crew came around with things. I went with sparkling water as usual. The crew also offered me the whole can which was a nice touch certainly.
Now I wanted to see what the wifi rates were for this flight. It was $22 for the full flight which was an excellent deal in my opinion and I took it. The speeds were awesome for the full flight (except for ~30 minutes over Greenland) and I got a lot of work done, so it was a $22 well spent and kudos to UA for the fast wifi.
Let’s have a look at the menu for this flight before we eat.
Now, the menu promised nuts with my beverage, that wasn’t given. Ultimately it’s just nuts so it’s not a big deal, but definitely shouldn’t be on the menu if it isn’t offered.
The meal came around right at the same time as the drinks.
I went with the chicken. Paneer would’ve been far more flavorful without a doubt as it was an Indian dish, however, I just came from a wedding and 5 days of vegetarian-only food so I needed some chicken in my system.
The appetizer consisted of a salad with paneer in it. The salad was actually moist and flavorful with the olive oil and balsamic vinegar added to it. The paneer itself was also pretty flavorful. It was certainly better than any salad UA would’ve served flying out of the US.
Here is the dressing that came with it.
There was also bread which I pretty much never have.
The main course had chicken. The potatoes were alright, just buttery. The chicken was actually cooked quite nicely but it was ok from a flavor standpoint. Nothing was too great. The grilled veggies were quite tasty and the highlight of the main course. The paneer would definitely have been the option to go to.
There were also chocolates offered
They were good.
There was also a towel provided which I used to wash my hands.
Now I was expecting ice cream for dessert as all of economy class also gets dessert. Though it was never provided. I wasn’t too happy as I’m a huge ice cream fan. If we were expected to only have that chocolate box as our dessert, that’s not good.
The crew finished service with water right after for everyone. And I have to say, crew from business class was proactively walking around and checking on everyone to see if anyone needed anything.
At this point, it was pure darkness for the next 12 hours or so. This was a 16-hour flight in pure darkness. The crew even told me to put the window shades down to allow the passengers to sleep for when the sun came up. I ultimately never did close my window shades. Because I knew well and the crew certainly should’ve known as well that at this time of year on a polar route, there would be 0 streaks of light.
I slept for a solid 5 hours or so before I woke up to use the bathroom.
Now in terms of any mid-flight refreshments, there were drinks and snacks placed out in one of the galleys. The options are the same for Premium Plus and Economy Passengers.
There were two snacks available to choose from.
Around 6.5 hours into the flight, the mid flight snack was served. Again, the crew offered me the whole can of sparkling water, And then there was the same bag offered to everyone, and then a choice of snacks from a basket and I chose lays chips.
Here are the contents of the snack bag.
The sandwiches were alright. I wasn’t expecting anything amazing and it certainly wasn’t.
There were also parle-g biscuits. Now if you are Indian, you know what these are. I love eating these, but only when dipped in tea, so I didn’t have any.
There was also another snack basket from which the crew was serving snacks to premium plus and I chose chips from it.
The business class FAs then came around and cleaned up our snacks. The purser cleared everyone’s tables from my aisle and she was an absolute gem. She was throwing jokes around smiling laughing and conversing every enthusiastically with everyone.
Throughout the flight, the crew was very proactive with offering water. I was happy to see and took the water each time. Keeping hydrated on a long flight is very important.
When we were crossing over Greenland, I did see some northern lights, though it was too faint for my phone to catch so I couldn’t get any of it.
The rest of the flight was pretty uneventful up until breakfast. This was served about 1 hour 40 minutes before arrival.
I went with eggs for my breakfast.
The main course was pretty bland across the board and I had to salt everything up. The eggs were nice and fluffy but I had to put salt and pepper to add some taste to it. The mushrooms were lightly salted but still dry and bland. The spinach was also really really bland.
The fruits were nice and juicy and fresh-tasting
The muffin was dry but sweet and tasty.
The dahi was as good as usual. I always enjoy some good dahi.
Eventually the rest of the flight was just getting ready for arrival and the crew coming around with immigration cards for non-US residents. Thankfully for me, I have global entry so I didn’t have to worry about the line.
We had a smooth touchdown on runway 22L and a relatively quick taxi to the gate.
And here’s a look at the lovely 77W that flew us for 16 hours.
Overall, this was a fairly good flight. The seats were great, the legroom was excellent, the crew was amazing, and only the food was a letdown to some extent here. This is of course the inconsistency of UA, along with the crew, but the hard product is a fairly solid one and I’d definitely be happy to fly them again on a route where it’s offered given a reasonable price difference.