I flew on a well-worn 737-900 in economy class from Denver to Ontario, California on United Airlines. While not my favorite aircraft, I enjoyed plenty of legroom and efficient service in the Economy Plus section of the main cabin.
United Airlines 737-900 Economy Class Review
Boarding commenced on time 35 minutes before departure.
Denver (DEN) – Ontario, CA (ONT)
Depart: 07:18 PM
Arrive: 08:41 PM
Duration: 2hr, 23min
Distance: 819 miles
Aircraft: Boeing 737-900
Seat: 7D (Economy Class)
I tend to find many of United’s 737-900 jets quite tired, including this aircraft. The cabin marking and particularly the harsh fluorescent light without the Boeing Sky Interior or mood lighting give the cabin a very dated appearance.
I had initially chosen seat 12C, which is an aisle in “regular” economy (no extra legroom) in order to do an apples-to-apples comparison of my United and Frontier on the same route, but a gate agent paged me and asked if I would be willing to move up to a bulkhead aisle to accommodate a family that wanted to sit together. Under the circumstances, I was happy to make the exchange (though I wish it had been to first class…I found myself at #4 on the upgrade list despite traveling on a pricey Q fare and applying Plus Points to the reservation).
Regular economy class seats have a seat pitch of 30-31 inches with a recline of two inches while Economy Plus seats have a seat pitch of 34 inches and a recline of three inches. The bulkhead row (where I was seated) and the two emergency exit rows have even more legroom. My seat also had a bulkhead cutout such that I could stretch my legs out fully under the first class seat in front of me.
There are two universal power outlets for every three seats (seats are arranged 3-3 in economy class).
I had a clear view into the first class cabin…
IFE + Wi-Fi
Perhaps there was a glitch in the system, but I received an alert (as I had for my earlier flight from Milwaukee to Denver) that the wi-fi would not work onboard, but it ended up working just fine.
Wi-Fi is priced at $8 for MileagePlus members or $1o for non-members. T-Mobile members (depending upon plan type) can enjoy complimentary wi-fi access on mobile devices.
This aircraft was also equipped with individual monitors featuring DirecTV and 10 channels of looping movies. These movies began shortly after takeoff and then repeat after they are complete. Access to both live TV and to movies (plus a moving flight map) are complimentary and complimentary headphones are provided.
Food + Drink
United offers complimentary soft drinks, water, tea, or coffee in economy class along with a small snack. Alcoholic beverages are available for purchase. Today’s snack selection included:
- Dark chocolate and sea salt chocolate crisps by Undercover Snacks
- Apple and mango fruit bars by That’s it
- Savory snack mix by Summer Harvest
I chose a seltzer water and appreciated that United even had lime wedges.
On flights over 500 miles, snacks and snack boxes are also offered for purchase (fresh items like hamburgers or salads are only offered on flights over 1,190 miles). As a 1K member of United’s MileagePlus program, I receive one complimentary food and alcoholic beverage item per flight when my upgrade does not clear.
For this flight, I skipped the alcohol but chose the “Takeoff” snack box. Contents included:
- Beef salami
- Mediterranean apricots
- Gouda cheese spread
- Fig spread
- Cream crackers
- Italian breadsticks
- Hickory smoked almonds
- Toblerone chocolate
It’s not a bad box for nibbles and I quite like the hickory-smoked almonds and beef salami.
The one downside to being moved to row seven was that I was directly across from a lavatory. There are two lavatories in the rear of the aircraft plus one behind the first class cabin (first class has a dedicated lavatory in the front of the cabin).
The lavatory is tiny and grungy (look a the chipping around the toilet and the damaged mirror above the sink), but thankfully there were no unsavory fumes that came my way.
Flight attendants provided efficient service. I had pre-ordered the snack box and it was just handed to me without a word. That’s fine, but I think something like, “Mr. Klint, we thank you for your 1K status. Please enjoy this complimentary snack box as a token of our appreciation for your loyalty” would have been even better.
After the drink service, the purser made a water run halfway through the flight and garbage was collected after the snack service and again before landing.
We landed on time in Ontario and my whirlwind trip to Wisconsin was complete. I’m happy to sit in a bulkhead seat when my upgrade does not clear on United. The 737-900 is a dated cabin, but the flight was otherwise smooth and productive and many will appreciate scoring an aircraft with personal TVs (which, to be clear, is hot or miss on the 737-900).