I recently flew with United Airlines between Denver and Los Angeles, aboard a 777-200 sporting their archaic 8-abreast business class. Now mostly confined to domestic routes, it was a great experience for a sub-3 hour flight.
I also filmed the experience for my YouTube channel:
Check in was quick and easy thanks to domestic first class tickets granting Premier Access – that’s priority check in, security, baggage handling and boarding. (I could also have availed of this through my Air New Zealand Star Alliance Gold Status).
I was thankful for priority security – some queues were over 20 minutes long.
United has two Club lounges at Denver, East and West. They were both very busy, owing to disruption and delays caused by a big storm passing over Colorado that afternoon.
Many United Clubs are showing their age; boring and bland with a dearth of facilities – London’s is superb, but in the USA there remains much work to be done to get older lounges up to scratch. Polaris lounges are far superior and reserved for international business class.
The food options were basic and seating limited.
Our 777-200 was delivered to Continental in 1999. Onboard, these aircraft sport a preposterously dense 8-abreast business class, with half of the seats facing rearward for no appreciable reason.
British Airways also flies a similarly dense configuration, albeit in a ying-yang arrangement. While it’s hard to imagine this United configuration as a serious international business class, when flown domestically it makes a welcome upgrade from narrow body 737 and A320 series aircraft!
The interior may look dowdy, but the seats are actually very comfortable indeed. Note that United has a few interior configurations; this legacy United layout, a 2-2-2 Continental layout (found on many international routes) and 1-2-1 Polaris, which is an outstanding seating product.
A pre-departure beverage was served by the warm and friendly crew. The crew on this flight were excellent, striking the right balance between professionalism and outwardly displaying how much fun they were having at work.
Takeoff was only slightly delayed; there was an enormous queue but ATC expedited each departure quickly. I love Denver, but I was glad to be finally leaving after a long day.
The IFE is controlled by what are now vintage remote controls, located in the sidewall of the seat.
This is one of the United flights under 900 miles which still attracts a meal service. I chose the tandoori chicken and rice. This was very tasty, and while it may be uninspiring to look at, I prefer simple things done well. I could have no complaints about the quality or portion size.
Eating dinner on a 6pm departure saves me so much time; I often have limited time at the destination and my priority is usually to get to sleep as soon as I can. Eating a meal on board which actually replaces a visit to a restaurant is a time and money saver.
Dessert was cheesecake, which was also good.
United’s IFE choices are consistently fine in my experience, and the range of options mesmerizing. I would have no qualms about flying even their longest routes given the sheer range of choice in entertainment. There should, in theory, be something for everyone.
My visit to the toilet brought a little surprise…face mist. But why? I could not help but try some. Watch the video to find out my reaction…
We made excellent progress and landed straight-in at LAX on time, despite a slightly delayed start.
In summary, a fine domestic first class experience. At $270 one way, not terribly cheap, but I would actively seek out this aircraft on this route again. I’ve grown to really appreciate United’s service over the past year, and found them to be more consistent than I first thought. This 777-200 can be found flying most days between Denver and Los Angeles on selected flights. Be sure to check the seat map and aircraft type before you book!