United Airlines B777-200 First Class Trip Report HNL-NRT

ua-hnl-diamond-head

View of Diamond Head at Honolulu International Airport

Flight Date: 10MAY2013—I had checked United Airlines’ website the night before, so I knew today’s flight was going to be United’s ancient and decrepit first class product. I was still hoping for a last minute equipment change though as I walked along the open-air walkway towards the Diamond Head Terminal where the United Club lounge is located. Honolulu International Airport has seen better days and the United Club lounge is no exception.

United Club Lounge Honolulu Entrance

United Club Lounge Honolulu Entrance

Although the lounge’s front lobby is pleasant enough, upon entering the main lounge area I happened to look up and noticed this…

Moldy Ceiling at the United Club Lounge Honolulu

Moldy Ceiling at the United Club Lounge Honolulu

The lounge is actually quite spacious; however it is in need of an extreme makeover. There is a bar, but no bartender could be found. The scant food and beverage area looked similar to what you’d find at a second-rate roadside gas station. Really the only saving grace was the free Wi-Fi.

United Lounge Food Selection

United Lounge Food Selection

As I boarded the plane my hopes were dashed; as I saw clearly this indeed was the dreaded first class cabin from back when Y2K was a hot topic. United Airlines launched, with big fanfare, their new first and business class product over four years ago! How can it possibly take four years to retrofit their fleet? At least I had some advance notice; many times with United you think you’re getting the new seats and they pull a fast one on you at the last minute…

United Airlines B777-200 Old Style First Class Cabin

United Airlines B777-200 Old Style First Class Cabin

I was connecting in Narita for an onward flight to Bangkok. Until last month, with the introduction of Korean Air’s daily Honolulu-Narita service, United was the only airline with a first class cabin on this route. I guess they figure since there is no competition they can still fly these crappy old planes and get away with it—used toothpicks from a previous passenger and all!

United Airlines First Class

United Airlines First Class

The flight attendant in charge was friendly though and maybe sensing my anger gave me a look like ‘don’t blame me’ and offered me a glass of sparkling wine.

The flight took off on time and right before push-back I got a nice shot of an ANA B767 with Diamond Head crater in the background.

ANA B767 with Diamond Head

ANA B767 with Diamond Head

For lunch I chose the Newburg-style Seafood and a glass of the Pouilly-Fumé. The in-flight service started with some cashews and water.

Cashews and Water

Cashews and Water

The appetizers followed: Sushi and Mushroom Pastry (note the intriguing…’Amazon Sauce’ ?)

Appetizers

Appetizers

Next came the soup (it was cold…and not on purpose) and salad.

Seafood Soup

Seafood Soup

Green Salad

Green Salad

There were four main courses and I chose the Newburg-style seafood.

Newburg-style Seafood Main Course

Newburg-style Seafood Main Course

There were two choices for dessert: assorted cheese selection and ice cream sundaes.

Cheese and Port

Cheese Selection

This wasn’t the worst in-flight meal I’ve ever had, but certainly not what you would expect on an international first class flight. If you read my recent Qantas or British Airways trip reports, you will note how I wasn’t overly impressed with their in-flight meals either—that said, compared to United’s offerings, those two would have to be considered haute cuisine. Simply stated, United’s in-flight meal service sucks. United obviously isn’t investing the resources to bring up their international service to world standards. I would recommend you bring your own meal and supplement that with the odd drink or dish off the United in-flight menu instead.

Not all was bad: United’s first class amenity kit is actually one of the best I’ve come across lately: nice design and chock full of useful items. The Tokyo and Honolulu-based in-flight crews were also worth mentioning. They were friendly and constantly coming through the aisles with drink refills and snacks.

United Airlines First Class Amenity Kit

United Airlines First Class Amenity Kit

United's Global First 'Garment Bag' Style Amenity Kit

United’s Global First ‘Garment Bag’ Style Amenity Kit

United Airlines Global First Amenities

United Airlines Global First Amenities

The in-flight entertainment system on this ancient B777-200 was laughable. The monitor on your smart phone is probably bigger. The cabin product is so old they still have video tape cassettes for movies, no games and a very limited selection of TV programs. No sockets available to re-charge your pc or phone either.

Ancient Video Monitor

Ancient Video Monitor

The United first class seat is old and falling apart. I had to prop up the tiny monitor with my knee in order to view the movie and years’ old dirt and grime was noticeable in every nook and cranny. The seat is extremely narrow at the toe and anyone over 175cm in height will find it difficult to get comfortable in the bed position. Duvet and pillows were nice and fluffy though—about the only thing about the seat I can compliment.

United Airlines B777-200 Old-style First Class Seat

United Airlines B777-200 Old-style First Class Seat

Final Thoughts-
This was a tough trip report to write. So many things wrong with United’s service. I almost decided note to publish it, lest everyone think I was a curmudgeon. But then I thought ‘No!’ If they are going to take my money for such a lousy product they need to feel the heat. I could understand it if they provided discounted airfares on these old planes, but they charge you the full amount whether you get the new product or not. As I mentioned there were a few flowers blooming through the dung: great amenity kit, nice in-flight crews and fluffy pillows. In closing, I recommend that anyone considering a flight with United make sure before you purchase that you’re getting the new product. You will regret it otherwise. Traveler beware!

More about United’s First Class Service

United Airlines B777-200 First Class Photo Gallery

 

3 Responses to United Airlines B777-200 First Class Trip Report HNL-NRT

  1. Sea-Tac Ginger says:

    Wow…I think I’ve had better domestic flights with United than this international flight. Although, I remember having a good flight once in United’s business class from SFO-NRT. Of course, that was way back in the day. Hopefully, with the merging of Continental and United things will start improving for United!

    • FABFLYER says:

      Hi There Sea-Tac Ginger,
      Yeah. It was pretty rough. Really old and well, dirty. I hear the new United first and business class seats are much better. Hope to try them soon. Thanks for the comment.
      FABFLYER

  2. Pingback: Thai Airways A380 First Class Trip Report NRT-BKK - FABFLYER

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