My recent flight from Barcelona to Washington Dulles onboard a 767-400 was business as usual on United Airlines.
I write about United Airlines often, but I’ve never flown the 767-400ER in the forward cabin before, so figured I’d offer a brief review of my flight.
I arrived at the gate as boarding was set to commence, where I discovered we would be departing from a remote stand. After traveling down two flights of stairs, I boarded a bus, which took me to the aircraft.
United Airlines 141
Barcelona (BCN) – Washington (IAD)
Saturday, August 10
Depart: 12:00 PM
Arrive: 03:05 PM
Duration: 09hr, 35min
Aircraft: Boeing 767-400ER
Seat: 5D (“Polaris” Business Class)
Climbing the air stairs with my bag made me realize how much we take jetbridges for granted…
United Airlines 767-400 Business Class Seating
United’s 767-400s have 39 seats in business class. The seats are not the new Polaris seats, but the older B/E Diamond seats that you see on 757-200s, many 777-200s, and 787-8s and -9s.
Since I was traveling alone today, I took advantage of the 2-1-2 cabin configuration to assign myself a private seat in the center. The 20.6″ seat width is the same as on other aircraft with the same seat type, but I think this felt a bit smaller because the side table in the center section is tiny…
There’s not all that much personal storage, though I was able to fit my Saks Fifth Avenue bedding in the storage area adjacent to the seat.
As I usually do on transatlantic flights, I spent most of the flight sleeping. I’ve never had trouble sleeping on this seat and this flight was no different.
If you’re traveling solo, this is a better seat choice than sitting next to someone.
United Airlines 767-400 Business Class Service
The flight attendants were quite amused that I put on pajamas after takeoff with a Virgin Australia logo. They let me know, in a playful way. “Why are you wearing that? We were all talking about you!”
It’s that sort of service that I have come to enjoy on United. Some might call it a bit too familiar, but I consider it friendly. I joked that I would wear my British Airways pajamas next time, prompting a huge smile.
Service was efficient and kind as well. Passengers were called by surname when meal orders were taken and flight attendants moved quickly to serve lunch after takeoff. This was greatly appreciated since I wanted to maximize sleep.
United Airlines 767-400 Business Class IFE + Wi-Fi
I’m hooked on The Man In The High Castle, so I binged watched four episodes, eating into my nap. Also on offer was plenty of other boxed set TV programming, movies, and looping audio tracts. United cut on-demand audio after the merger with Continental and has not brought it back. I was also happy to see “From the Flight Deck”, which lets you listen in on cockpit communications with air traffic controllers, but it was turned off.
Wi-Fi was available at a cost of $27.99 for the flight with unlimited data, but I opted not to connect.
United Airlines 767-400 Business Class Amenity Kit
United offered Spiderman-themed amenity kits during the months of July and August to commemorate the latest Spiderman movie, of which United is a sponsor. The contents included special Spiderman socks and eyeshades as well as the Sunday Riley skin products.
United Airlines 767-400 Business Class Lavatory
The lavatory wasn’t so much unclean as it was falling apart. The flight attendant call button had an “inop” sticker over it and the lavatory is long overdue for a refresh. Usually there are several Sunday Riley products adjacent to the seat, but they were either not provisioned or swiped by a passenger.
United Airlines 767-400 Business Class Dining
Lunch was served after takeoff and a snack before landing.
Here’s the menu:
United does not presently provide a wine list, which is probably a smart thing considering that the menu often did not match availability in the past.
I began the meal with mixed nuts and a sparkling water.
The appetizer was a mozzarella with tomato, basil, and olives. It was served with choice of bread and a green salad with fennel and mandarin oranges.
I chose a mushroom-stuffed chicken breakfast for my main course, served with polenta and broccoli. I’ve had this dish several times in the past and it is always a safe choice.
I skipped the ice cream sundae and just had some cheese (unidentified, not overly strong, but tasty) and petit fours.
Prior to landing, I ordered chicken ragout, something I have not tried in the past (the other choice was pizza margherita). It was actually very flavorful and included potato gnocchi, mushroom, and sundried tomatoes. It was served with a cucumber salad, more bread, and a chocolate truffle.
This is a highly-recommended dish.
While perhaps I should have stopped there, I could not resist requesting my favorite turkey gouda sandwich on a pretzel roll from economy class. I do this every time I fly business class…the sandwich is that good. Often, that will be the only pre-arrival snack I will eat.
We landed on time and I cleared immigration and was back in the departure hall in under 15 minutes. I cannot think of a more “average” United flight than this one. I’d say that is a good thing. A couple edible meals, friendly service, plenty of IFE and wi-fi, and a lie-flat bed are the ingredients I look for in business class. All boxes were checked on this flight, as drab as it looks.
This is a perfect example of my confusion! What I cannot fathom about United (and I am a 1k, have been for years and keep coming back for more idk why) is that they clearly don’t have an industry leading product (except for the infrequent new Polaris seats- I fly all internationally and have had exactly one flight with those seats in the last two years) and yet they charge exorbitant prices for business class. In looking to make 1k again I wanted to book an AUS to TUN business class flight and it was thousands more than Delta was charging or BA or a half a dozen other airlines. How do they justify $6,000-$10,000 for business class when its so poor? And I can fly Qatar Q-suites (to Nairobi for instance) or BA first for less? It must work for them but I cannot see how.
I already have BA Gold locked down for the year and I am just not 100% sold on making 1k. I will frankly have na easier time booking and flying BA’s new business class from the US than getting a true Polaris seat. The prices for my last two flights of the year are making me hesitate to settle for mediocre in order to make 1k again, especially with my falling success rate on getting my GPU’s to clear despite using advanced mode and gaming out the best flights. I don’t know how to break up with United.
I often fly back of the bus and simply can not fathom flying Business without aisle access.
My take of the incongruence between fares and product boils down to confusion between fares published and fares paid. United has an enormous following among F 500 firms that have contracts with United. These passengers fill the seats and have little to say.
I am currently 1K and am also mystified how UA has gotten so expensive for such a mediocre product. Maybe they have a lot of captive corporate contracts. I used to find they often had the cheapest long haul business class, and could use my GPUs. That was worth it. But this year I am flying much more BA, which is better and cheaper.
OMG that looks delicious! I always wondered about those middle seats. I should think they’re anything but private! But I’d probably choose one if traveling alone too. I know some people don’t feel comfortable sleeping “in public” so they definitely wouldn’t do so there!
Agreed. They look very “exposed”. I think I’d have preferred a nice window seat. Then again, I always do.
I was thinking the same. It’s like being on display.
Thanks for the review on this! I’m a longtime United flyer (1K Million Miler, almost all of which has been legacy United and then the merged company) and have only flown on this kind of plane twice, since it was a legacy Continental aircraft. I would add to what you noted that the 767-400 has two features I really don’t like: there are no individual air nozzles above the seats and the lavatories for the Polaris cabin are at the back of it, which on my flights resulted in many economy passengers using them.
Next time you fly UA, could you request the hot bites since they’re often overlooked in reviews? Vegan chili bowl sounds worthy of a picture.
Hi Jared, I’ve had the vegan chili before and even have a picture of it. It’s tasty. Maybe I’ll make that a focus of my Meal of the Week this week. I’ve also had lobster mac and cheese as well as grilled cheese sandwich and tomato soup as hot bites.
I agree with you that the “familiar” style of U.S. flight attendants can be nice. One time I traveled from CapeTown to New York via Doha and London — first two legs on Qatar and last leg on American — and I really enjoyed the service from the AA flight attendants most of all.
I wouldn’t mind this on that relatively short sector; but anything longer and the very open nature of the seating would become problematic. For the fares charged it’s not unreasonable to expect a greater level of privacy.
My issues with these seats (and most of United’s seating on their wide body planes) is the lack of aisle-access seats. I’m not a privacy nut, but the aisle access is probably my biggest gripe. Yes, I know one can choose center seats, but it’s nice to be able to sit in a window seat and not have to worry about climbing over your seatmate just to go to the bathroom.
Technically, you had broccolini with your meal not broccoli…
Wouldn’t you feel extremely exposed sitting in one of those solo seats in the middle?
I did not. I liked not having anyone next to me.
Agree. This is the only “all aisle access” seat on the pmCO biz class seats. No one is climbing over you and you get severed by both FAs.
Or at least served! 😉
Middle seat is ok.Worst seat is the window seat. If you have a passenger on your site you have to jump if he’s sleeping.WORST Business i have ever seen.