I take a lot of quick trips, though this one was lightning fast even by my standards, as I flew to Hong Kong and back in about 32 hours, with just over four hours on the ground in Hong Kong.
Why? This trip was motivated by United’s new Polaris product. United introduced their new Polaris international premium cabin experience for flights as of December 2016. However, in reality, a vast majority of flights only have the new Polaris soft product, and not the new seat, which is only available on their 777-300ER aircraft.
So I was determined to review United’s new 777-300ER on a longhaul flight as quickly as possible after it was introduced. Late last year United announced the first routes that would feature the new plane. Specifically, Newark to San Francisco would get 6x weekly 777-300ER service between February and May, while the first longhaul route to feature the new plane would be San Francisco to Hong Kong, as of March 25, 2017.
Now, if you’ve ever looked at award availability between San Francisco to Hong Kong on United, you’ve probably noticed how little space there is. However, I set ExpertFlyer alerts for availability on this flight, and sure enough, just a few days before departure, space opened up. I managed to book the following routing using Avianca LifeMiles, for 75,000 LifeMiles plus $5.60 in taxes and fees:
03/28 UA414 Los Angeles to San Francisco departing 6:40AM arriving 8:12AM
03/28 UA869 San Francisco to Hong Kong departing 1:00PM arriving 6:45PM (+1 day)
Those are LifeMiles that I purchased for 1.375 cents each, meaning that the one-way ticket to Hong Kong cost me ~$1,000.
United’s 777-300ER business class
Since I had to be back in the US at most two days later, I decided to do a direct turn in Hong Kong. Singapore Airlines has a flight from Hong Kong to San Francisco leaving at 11:30PM, meaning I’d just have a few hours on the ground in Hong Kong.
Initially there wasn’t any availability, but I decided to waitlist the segment (one of the cool things about the KrisFlyer program is that they let you waitlist awards, and often they clear). Sure enough, just hours after I waitlisted the flight, I got a text saying that it cleared.
So I booked the following return flight:
03/29 SQ002 Hong Kong to San Francisco departing 11:30PM arriving 9:15PM
That cost me 82,000 KrisFlyer miles plus $79.60 in taxes, which I consider to be reasonable (especially since this is the award cost after KrisFlyer’s latest devaluation). KrisFlyer is transfer partners with all four major transferable points currencies, so I transferred Citi ThankYou points and Amex Membership Rewards points to book this ticket, which I primarily earned through cards like:
I was excited about this flight since I haven’t actually reviewed Singapore’s new(ish) business class product, even though I’ve reviewed their first class products many times before.
Singapore’s 777-300ER business class
In this report I’ll also be reviewing the United Clubs in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Hong Kong, given that I had the chance to check them out on this trip. Unfortunately none of these airports have Polaris Lounges yet. So far only Chicago has a Polaris Lounge, which looks incredible.
United Club Los Angeles Airport
All-in-all, I’d say this was a crazy but fun way to spend a couple of days.
I’m happy I had the chance to try United’s new 777-300ER business class just days after it began international service. Even better, I got to pair it with another product I hadn’t yet reviewed, and even managed to book it on the same route, so I could do a head-to-head comparison. I figured that this trip would be especially exhausting, but it actually wasn’t. I wasn’t in Hong Kong long enough to get any jetlag, but rather just got a great night of sleep after returning to the US, and then felt great.
Stay tuned, I’ll try to publish this report pretty quickly. Thanks for reading!