Review: United 787 Business Class On A Domestic Flight

Filed Under: United

It’s not often I write about my domestic flying nowadays, since I find most flights to be pretty run of the mill. However, I recently flew United’s 787 for the first time, between Houston and Los Angeles.

In this case I had the option between a $280 economy flight on an American CRJ-700, or a $400 first class fare on a United 787-9. Naturally I chose the latter. Ultimately I realize a domestic flight isn’t ideal for experiencing an airline’s “flagship” service, though I figured it was better than nothing.

United’s 787-9s have a pretty big business class cabin, consisting of a total of 48 seats, in a 2-2-2 configuration.

They’re spread across two cabins, with the forward cabin having a total of five rows, and the rear cabin having three rows.

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I selected seat 5L, the window seat in the last row of the forward business class cabin on the right.

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United’s 787 business class has B/E Aerospace Diamond seats, which are the same you’ll find in Aeromexico’s 787 business classAmerican’s A321 business class, Qatar Airways’ A320 business class, Air China’s 777 business class, etc. Personally I far prefer seats with direct aisle access, though this is still preferred to the ex-United 777s, which have eight seats per row in business class.

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These seats have a bit of storage behind them, so as far as (mostly) forward facing business class seats go, these are pretty decent.

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In theory the foot cubby by the window seats is a bit better than by the aisle, though it was still pretty tight. It didn’t matter too much on this short daytime flight, though.

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What impressed me most about the flight was the friendliness of the crew. The flight attendants were super young and super friendly, which I wasn’t expecting. They offered pre-departure beverages of choice, including several refills during the boarding process.

United-787-Business-Class - 7

While the service was extremely friendly, I was a bit disappointed by the pace of service after takeoff. The flight time was 2hr48min, and it was an hour after takeoff before they served drinks and nuts.

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For lunch I selected the chicken option, which was described as “chicken jambalaya.”

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It was not good.

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The side salad was tasty, though small.

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The meal was served with a wheat roll.

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There was no dessert served with the meal, though perhaps that was a blessing, since I eat enough on planes anyway. 😉

Otherwise the flight was uneventful, and I spent most of it working on my laptop. While the plane had wifi, it was excruciatingly slow, so I stuck to work which didn’t require internet for most of the flight.

United-787-Business-Class - 16

Bottom line

Overall this was a great domestic flight, though this isn’t my favorite hard product for a longhaul flight. Overall I was pleasantly surprised by the friendliness of the crew, while I was disappointed by the pace of service and quality of the food.

With the loyalty programs of the “big three” US carriers now being revenue based, there’s less of an incentive than before to be loyal. Add in the fact that the price premium between economy and first class seems to constantly be decreasing, and I’m finding it more worthwhile than before to just pay for the cabin/flight I want to take, assuming first class is reasonably price.

With my goal of reviewing as many new airlines as possible, I’ll try to review United’s longhaul service soon, perhaps when they introduce Polaris service.

  1. Looks like Lucky is now allowed to travel UA. We’ll be hearing now some UA stories. Sit tight. Buckle up.

  2. Nice to see Lucky flying United again! Would be nice to know about the full story and all the rumors arround his ban.

  3. Your crew is from to CO side, based on the 789. From the description of them I’ll be they are brand new to the job, as I’ve. Den on a 789 to IAH with a very junior crew.

    Based on that I’m not surprised about the late service as they are still getting their bearings on galley prep, etc. Also that lunch comes with a warm chocolate chip cookie which must have been forgotten or too late to prep since they were running behind.

    I like the jambalaya if it really was that and not the chicken cattitore. The latter is meh. Was the sausage and shrimp?

  4. @OberBoberGrober

    Allegedly, Ben was banned from UA’s FFP, but was he ever banned from traveling on UA?

    Glad that we have–and will be–seeing a lot more diversity in reviews here on the blog.

  5. Thanks for letting your readers know how you resolved the personal issues with United you shared in a magazine interview and which implied that you had been “banned for life.” That is a more interesting story than the review itself.

  6. Ben: For the longtime readers of your blog, it, in addition to being interested in knowing the facts surrounding your relationship with UNited, it would be enlightening to know why you chose to share information about your actions that led to being banned from flying United with the readers of Rolling Stone while keeping the readers of One Mile At A Time, with whom you had a relationship, in the dark.

  7. Damn,
    Your ban got lifted.
    So glad to hear that, nice work United,not just Ben but people often do make mistakes and I’m glad United realised that.

  8. Ben!!! A review of United airline?!?!?! I just about spilled my coffee when i read the headline! Hope to see more reviews of them from you.

  9. Glad to see the first review from you personally on UA in a while; looking forward to any future installment. Also excited that the AAdvantage innovation finally got us out of the OneWorld bubble.

  10. All those looking for the story of Lucky’s UA ban should look up the article about him in Rolling Stone. I suspect that’s about as much detail as you’re going to get.

  11. Long time readers may remember the glory days of lucky’s UA experiences and his mileageplus frenzies and redemption’s on the old LH F, TH F, ANA F.
    We miss your red carpet club shenanigans.
    Also, weren’t the 789’s introduced into service AFTER the Polaris announcement?

    I would love reviews of:
    Emirates 77W F (Suites w/ice digital widescreen)
    China Eastern 77W F
    AZAL F (The a340’s were supposed to be delivered to kingfisher, but……. they have a bar!!!)
    Air China 748 F
    Korean air 748 F

    Also, you have to try JetSmarter, it is the uber of private jets and is very affordable.
    For example private jet $1800 transatlantic round fares.
    The seats are added by people that are flying their OWN private jets and are selling vacant seats on jet smarter.

  12. Im not a fan of RS its an unethical publication IMHO I read the article by searching for it and while it starts out fairly positive it ends up portraying Ben as a lonely hermit. The article did illuminate what I already thought, he’s one smart kid and has helped thousands of people with his vast knowledge of Air carriers. I am not interested in points etc but I am interested in which Airline to fly. So Ben thanks for all you do

  13. @Varun Susarla – UA was one of the first airline to receive 789, and that was 2 years ago, UA made the announcement of the Polaris product just 2 months ago.

  14. I don’t know what that stuff was, but it bears no resemblance to anything remotely like jambalaya. I think you were served some other dish.

  15. i thought that ben was banned from flying united? i think that he is doing a disservice to his readers if he doesn’t explain in details why he was banned and now why he is once again flying united air lines.

    thank you ben, for your transparency, tongue in cheek

  16. @Mark: pmUA crew is also staffing the 787-9s. pmUA crew now work three 787s, but I am not sure if they are -8, -9 or both. Last Thursday I flew IAH-SFO on a pmUA staffed 787-9. Of course the service was really good … and much much better than any pmCO crew could possibly do.

  17. Ben I appreciate you reviewing United seats. You are my trusted source of information with regards to airline information and to be honest without United reviews, it’s not very easy to form a good opinion of a U.S. based traveler choices. I hope you do more United reviews in the rest of 2016.

  18. Why would you write this on the Bottom Line when you know perfectly well you’re not on a long haul flight? “Overall this was a great domestic flight, though this isn’t my favorite hard product for a longhaul flight.” There’s 11 superfluous words in that sentence.

  19. I’m impressed at how Lucky rolls with the trolling that comes in these comments! It shows maturity – which the average dreary troll lacks. Thanks for all the great reviews. I buy with $ a lot of biz flights. I trust and value your reviews which do affect how I spend my hard earned dollars on flights.

  20. IF you belong to FT there are threads that talks about why Ben was Banned from UA. People wondered what airline he FF program he used, I’m betting LH.

  21. @John – You know he (or any of the contributors to this site) could be posting under a different name, and how would we know anyway?

    @Gadflyer – Oh, snap. In triple and Z formation.

  22. Flew AC from YVR to LHR and return last fall and almost all the food was not only inedible but unidentifiable by me. I think in future I will pack subway fare in a cooler bag. If your meal, shown above, is typical of Business class I doubt I would be able to choke it down. I was hoping to get past AC’s allocation of 2-4 BC seats on points per flight and get a decent meal. Does 1st get any better? My memories of decent food on planes is pretty old.

  23. It’s a pity for such a relatively new plane, United has a lousy 2x2x2 business-class product. I know United is now rolling out its 1x2x1 product, but that’s going to take a long, long time.

  24. A review of really any of the legacy domestic products is useless….they are all utter rubbish.. and this is coming from someone who flies Delta…

  25. United has been, and continues to be, a despicable and horrid airline. I feel sorry for anyone who actually goes out of their way to fly on them. I mean, this is a relatively new plane, and they don’t offer all aisle business class seats? Disgusting.

  26. @Chloe Polaris wont be taking to the skys until 2017, long ways away. Currently UA really has a Premium Econ as J, 6 across on a 777 in Y, really….

  27. And speaking of all aisle access, it looks like even Polaris configured cabins of the 787 have the stoopid 2-2-2 configuration. No aisle access for window seats. Absurd.

    I have never flown this configuration and I’m not willing to spend 6K to experience it. What do you do if you are in a window seat and your seat mate has their seat flat? Do you have to straddle them to climb over?

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