Not only did I survive my economy class trip from Los Angeles to London on United, but I found it a far better experience than my recent flight from LA to Frankfurt on joint-venture partner Lufthansa.
I took a trip to Switzerland and Germany at the end of last week so that my wife would not have to fly back to Los Angeles alone with my two-year-old. Although I probably could have upgraded, I’ve reviewed the Los Angeles to London flight twice this year already in Polaris Business Class and figured an economy class review would be more helpful. Thus, I booked a cheap K-class fare and did not even bother to request an upgrade. From London, I booked a BA flight to Basel, Switzerland.
I left my office at 3:45 PM and arrived at LAX at about 4:30 PM. That gave me a few minutes to wait in the United Club prior to the commencement of boarding at 4:55 PM.
United Airlines 923
Los Angeles (LAX) – London (LHR)
Thursday, May 2
Depart: 5:45 PM
Arrive: 12:20 AM+1
Duration: 10hr, 35min
Seat: 22F (Economy Plus)
United 787-9 Economy Class Seating
Thanks to my status with United, I was able to assign a seat in the Economy Plus cabin at no extra cost, which offers up to five extra inches of legroom. Usually I will book window seats so I have control over lighting for meal pictures, but since United usually locks the windows on the 787, I took an aisle seat in the center section so it would be easy to get out. That worked like a charm since the couple next to me was traveling together. I was never bothered during the flight.
United’s 787-9s have two economy class cabins with all seats in a 3-3-3 configuration. The front economy class cabin features Economy Plus, while the rear section is branded United Economy. Unlike the Lufthansa A380, there are two power ports per row of three seats in addition to a USB charger on the setback monitor. The seats do not (seem) to recline quite as much as other airlines, but the articulating seat pan slides up when you recline the seat. A pillow and blanket were waiting at each seat.
The aircraft door closed 10 minutes early and we were in the air by 5:5o PM.
United 787-9 Economy Class Dining
Dinner was served after takeoff, followed by a mid-flight snack, and breakfast prior to landing. I always order pasta on United and frankly the pasta in business class is about the same as the pasta in premium economy and here in economy class (I’ll write a separate post on that).
First came drinks and pretzels.
That was followed by a second drink course and main courses. Choices were General Tso Chicken or cheese ravioli with tomato sauce. My ravioli was perfectly acceptable and came with a side salad with balsamic vinaigrette dressing and a white roll with butter.
After dinner, a third beverage service was performed then lemon sherbet and bottles of water were distributed.
Midway through the flight, FAs came around with a mid-flight snack, which was a turkey sandwich and M&Ms.
Finally, 90 minutes before takeoff breakfast was served. Choices were pancakes or omelette. The omelet was also really the same thing served in business class…and quite tasty I might add. The fruit + yogurt + muffin + eggs made for a very nice breakfast.
FAs performed a beverage service before and after breakfast, meaning a total of five on the 10-hour flight. That’s better than I recall in previous journeys.
United 787-9 Economy Class Wi-Fi + IFE
The IFE systems were not working for the first couple hours of the flight. The screens would freeze and the purser reset the system several times. Finally, he did a “hard” reset (whatever that is) and everything came back on and started working.
As an aside, United had an email in my inbox upon landing apologizing for the IFE issue and offer compensation of 1250 miles or a $25 voucher. That’s a paltry amount, but the problem itself was paltry. I did appreciate the proactive touch.
The touch-screen IFE system is very responsive and included over 100 moves plus TV shows and a moving map. United no longer offers games with its IFE. A very limited audio selection was also available.
Disposable headphones are provided for free.
Wi-FI worked well and the cost for the flight was $26.95.
United 787-9 Economy Class Lavatory
I walked into the lavatory relatively early into the flight and found it disgusting. Look at this:
Both seats were up…clearly a man’s work…
I’m not sure whose job it is to clean it, but I cleaned it up a bit myself. How disgusting must people be to leave a mess like that?
United 787-9 Economy Class Service
Finally, a shout-out to a young FA who went by “T” and worked my section. She was so courteous to the passengers in her section and smiled as she served drinks and meals. A smile always goes a long way. The whole crew was friendly. No complaints at all on service.
United offers a very tolerable economy class onboard its 787-9 in Economy Plus. I say “tolerable” instead of “great” because I just cannot sleep well in economy class seats. Still, I’d much rather be in Economy Plus on United than in economy class on Lufthansa or British Airways.