Catering for passengers with work, rest or play in mind, United Airlines' Boeing 757 'BusinessFirst' business class service treats transcontinental travellers to fully-flat beds, inflight WiFi and on-demand inflight entertainment.
Easily mirroring an international service and with similar seats to United's Boeing 787 Dreamliner, Australian Business Traveller takes to the skies on this p.s. Premium Service flight from Los Angeles to New York Area's Newark Liberty Airport to bring you this review.
- Frequent flyer program: United MileagePlus (Star Alliance). Virgin Australia Velocity points can also be earned indirectly via the Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer scheme.
- Priority check-in: Look for 'Premier Access' on the far left of the Terminal 7 check-in hall. Passengers connecting from Sydney or Melbourne with an onward boarding pass can proceed straight to security.
- Checked baggage allowance: 2x32kg bags. One extra 32kg bag allowed for United Premier Gold (and above) and Star Alliance Gold frequent flyers.
- Carry-on baggage allowance: 1x113cm bag with no specific weight limit, plus a personal item like a laptop bag or handbag and smaller goods including umbrellas and duty-free purchases.
- Priority security screening: Yes, adjacent to the Premier Access desks. TSA PreCheck lanes are also available in the economy section for registered US travellers.
- Priority boarding privileges: Yes, with Group 1 after Global Services members, military, disabled passengers and families with children have boarded.
Unlike United's international flights from Australia, flights departing Los Angeles are eligible for mobile check-in via the United smartphone app: so if you're travelling without checked bags, use the app on your way to the airport and then fly straight through security. The app also generates a 3D barcode that can be used in lieu of a paper boarding pass, but we still grabbed a printed copy to keep with our jacket – making it easier for the crew when returning it prior to landing.
Passengers in BusinessFirst on United's transcontinental p.s. Premium Service flights can choose between two United Clubs in LA – a small lounge in the space previously occupied by United's Global First Lounge, and a larger Club near gate 71A: Both lounges provide speedy Internet, a selection of food and beverage and charging points for your gadgets, although sadly lack showers for international travellers.
United's Boeing 757s with BusinessFirst feature a single aisle and seats in a 2-2 layout...
... stretching to 193cm when fully-flat and in bed mode, and 53cm at the widest point: Extending the bed also reveals an adjustable reading light and shortcut keys – handy for bringing the seat forward for meals or when standing: You'll find the main controls and pre-sets for 'upright' and 'fully-flat' aside a shared cocktail table... ... next to which there's also a small privacy divider small enough to cater for couples chatting but large enough to obscure your face when sleeping... ... and which leads up to a storage shelf with a small literature pocket, international AC and USB outlets and the seat's headphone connection port.
It's a great place to plonk your phone or tablet while charging, although you'll need to twist around to do so as the shelf sits 'behind' your seat.
A beverage service is provided before take-off, although with drinks served in plastic and cardboard cups... ... progressing to a pre-lunch drink once airborne poured in a real glass, and warmed nuts after a well-timed round of hot towels. A fresh salad begins the meal with balsamic dressing on the side, bread and a choice of red/white/sparkling wine, beer or spirit-based drinks. For mains was choice between a chicken and rice dish (selected), salmon or a vegetarian paneer option. The chicken proved spicy and was cooked well without being tough or rubbery. Concluding the main was a light mango gelato... ... with warm cookies also offered before landing.
Entertainment & Service
As you'd expect of a premium cross-country flight, each guest in BusinessFirst has their own 16-inch touchscreen... ... loaded with hundreds of movies, TV shows, music tracks and a range of games: We found the entertainment selection almost identical to that offered on United's Boeing 787 from Melbourne to Los Angeles, so if you're part way through one movie as you arrive in the States, you can pick-up where you left off as you continue your journey.
Cabin crew on today's flight were indeed professional but weren't overly welcoming in their service, making their first interaction with passengers a walk through the cabin while repeating "Jackets or coats?" at nobody in particular.
A press of the call bell was also answered by a flight attendant leaning forward and raising their eyebrows while remaining silent, which feels a little awkward.
However, the same crew 'warmed-up' around the time the main course arrived, and initiated discussions about wine pairing and which was their (and my) favourite – a nice second-take on a relatively mediocre first impression, without straying the conversation beyond the journey itself.
This particular Boeing 757 was also fitted with inflight Internet: offering unlimited data for US$15.99 (A$22.60) while the aircraft was cruising, but which didn't work at all until the crew performed a 'hard reset' on the system around 1.5 hours into the flight.For casual users, that's quite expensive – particularly without a pro-rata discount for the connectivity time lost by the fault – but for business travellers staying connected with the office during the business day and putting their feet up after they land, it's more than fair.
Visiting New York City on business? Also read:
- American Airlines A321T first class review: LAX-JFK
- Review: Grand Hyatt New York hotel in Midtown Manhattan
- Five tips for riding the New York subway like a local
- How to get half-price tickets to Broadway shows in New York
- 'Delta One' Boeing 767 business class review: LAX-JFK
- Ten great stopover cities for New York-bound travellers
- United B737 first class review: New York/Newark-Los Angeles
Chris Chamberlin travelled to New York as a guest of United Airlines.
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