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Something I love about United is their Channel 9- the ability to listen to the cockpit’s communications with Air Traffic Control. It’s unique to United, but something I wish all carriers had. While the audio quality wasn’t great and there was a loud ringing in the background, it was cool ot listen to the cockpit as they were cleared for takeoff.
Once airborne, service was very quick, which was much appreciated for a 10:30pm departure. I immediately checked out the in-flight entertainment options and opted to watch The Social Network. I never go to the movies, because I always like to have a lot of options when in the air. I decided to use my own Bose headphones instead of the provided noise cancelling, just because I like the feel of my own headphones. Unlike some other airlines, like Delta, the headphone jack was normal, so I didn’t need an double pronged adapted, which was nice.
For dinner, I ended up ordering the seafood bisque, salad with shrimp and red wine vinaigrette and the sea bass and rice. In general, the food was okay and the salad was the best part.
The soup was very salty, but edible. The salad was actually delicious and the red-wine vinaigrette quite tasty. The sea bass was somewhat dry and the rice was very bland. Overall, the meal was decent and I chose the French burgundy, which was good.
After watching The Social Network, which was sufficiently entertaining, I took a Lunesta and decided to sleep for at least 6 hours. I made my own bed and opened up the blanket, which was thin, but sufficient. I feel that Delta’s BusinessElite duvet is much more substantial. Another difference with other first class carriers is that they make your bed for you. There was no mattress pad and no assistance from the flight attendants. I simply hit the recline button and had laid out the blanket. Granted, that was more than enough, because after I put on my eye mask and ear-buds, I was out like a light for almost 6 hours. I truly slept like a baby, which is all I can ask for in an international premium class product.
The flight attendant woke me up 55 minutes prior to depature, which was much appreciated. He asked “Tea or coffee” and I asked what type of tea they had. He responded “Black”, so I opted for the Starbucks coffee. The lack of tea choice is yet another example where United could easily go “Above and beyond”, yet they don’t.
Breakfast was a bland omelet, tomatoes, potatoes, yogurt and fruit. The Starbucks coffee was the best part, for sure.
Before I knew it, we were descending through the clouds and ready to land at GIG. I took video of our landing, but please excuse the bumpiness.
Overall, I absolutely loved the first class seat and service, but United fell short with really impressing me with the soft product. The food could definitely be improved (adding caviar, amuse bouche, etc) and other amenities, such as providing pajamas, like British Airways. The lounge was also decent, but nothing amazing. The general theme of my travels has been that the US legacy airlines provide "decent" service, but nothing memorable. I am very fortunate to be able to fly first class, and I totally recognize that, but in order to report accurately, I have to rate airlines comparatively. And unfortunately, United was good, but did not knock my socks off.
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