Flight Review: United 757 ps Business Class LAX-JFK

by on December 23, 2011 · 18 comments

in Chase, Trip Reports, United

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After my Thanksgiving trip to Santa Barbara with my Grandma, I spent a couple days down in Los Angeles before flying back to the east coast. When looking at my options to get back to New York, it seemed like my best choice would be to get a one-way award ticket since fares were sky-high and surprisingly there were actually a ton of business class awards still available and I had some extra points to use.

I ended up booking a business class seat on a nonstop LAX-JFK United flight aboard their transcontinental Boeing 757 using 25,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points (thanks to my Chase Sapphire Preferred 50,000 point sign-up bonus) which I transferred to United and used to book a one-way business class fare. The extra fees were just $5. Seemed like a pretty good score to me, since that flight was $1,600 and coach fares were $450.

You might remember, but I’d already done one LAX-JFK flight aboard United’s 757 p.s. (premier service) in first class back in August–and I wansn’t that impressed. Most of you commented that business class was the way to go, so I wanted to test out your recommendation. (And PS, you were right).

The 757 ps has just 3 classes of service: first class, business class and Economy Plus. That’s right, no regular old economy on the plane. Hence the “ps (Premium Service)” attribution. Business class has 26 recliner seats with 54-inch pitch and 20.5 inches of width–pretty standard, though still narrow. The food was all very decent, and I was glad that the plane was equipped with in-flight Gogo WiFi so I could get some work done.

The real disappointment, though, was the in-flight entertainment, which were tiny 7-inch handheld LCD screens loaded with about 20 movies and 30 TV episodes and some music. Plus, you couldn’t really use them while working or eating since you’d need to set them down on the tray table. I barely used mine, but that wasn’t an issue because I had wifi.

Other than that, the whole experience was nice–nothing too notable or exceptional.   I did, however, find it more comfortable than Delta’s transcontinental business class, and appreciated how much more low-level award seating availability there was–especially since I love my Chase Sapphire Preferred and all the Ultimate Rewards points I’m racking up from double points on all dining and travel.

What I like the most about United’s ps service is the amazing amount of “low level” award availability- even during peak times. This is a great option if you have Ultimate rewards points or American Express Membership Rewards (transferred to Aeroplan) since fares can get ridiculous on that route- especially in business class.

Take a look at the gallery below for some photos of business class, what I ate, and the tiny IFE screen.

Have you flown on United’s p.s. business class? If so, share your thoughts in the comments below.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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  • Dhammer53

    I’ve been flying P.S. since the beginning. I never thought the 20.5″ width seat was constraining.
    As for coach (if anyone is inclined to fly it), there are no exit row seats. The first row in coach is 15. I’m 5’11″ and with the bulkhead wall, it’s not pretty. If you want legroom, sit on the aisle.
    Who are they kidding when they say P.S. has E+??

  • infamousdx

    What kind of tablets does United use? Anything in the mainstream consumer market?

  • Dhammer53

    Speaking of seats… the conventional wisdom is to book row 9 because it has about 5′ of legroom since it’s an exit row. Please note that the seatback in front of you is far away. That’s a negative. Also, row 9 is on the wing, and it pretty much kills your viewing of the USA. My favorite seat is Row 6. Plenty of windows, and you’re forward of the wing. Alternate is row 8. IIRC, row 7 has limited windows.

  • Blandon

    The main reason to fly in the back of the PS plane is for the electrical outlets. Two for every three seats.

  • Iris97

    I have been booking flights directly through Ultimat Rewards and interestingly, for a recent round trip to DCA on USAir, costs were as follows:
    USAir charges $455 or 50,000 points
    Amex charges $468 or 46,878 points
    Chase (Ultimate Rewards) charges $454 or 36,384 points !
    Is there an advantage to transfering points from UR directly to the airline that I am missing? I am planning to book a trip to Europe soon, so would appreciate any tips about the best strategy for that trip – planning to fly coach. Thank you !

  • Simon

    I flew JFK-LAX on Monday (MR to hit UA 1P) and used 20k miles to upgrade to Business Class on this leg (I’d flown LAX-JFK in row 22 the night before). I was quite happy with the seat (comfortable) and pitch, as I’m 6’1″, and after 2hrs of sleep at the horrible Fairfield Inn in Jamaica, this was very welcome!

    The service was satisfactory – I had the cheese omelette and was offered other entrees as well since most pax were sleeping, but I was just too knackered to eat more.

    I paid $260 a/i for CLD-LAX-JFK-LAX-CLD; and plus the 20k miles for one-way upgrade to Business (as mentioned above). I’d do it again.


    They are revamping this with all lie flat seats over the next year or so. No more first class, I think still 26 business class. So a net loss of 12 premium seats — not sure what that will do to easy redemption.

    Food is terrible in comparison to what Delta has done since September. The new menu and wine there really sets a new high bar with some strong flavors. UA needs to upgrade the tired food presentation.

  • Dhammer53

    Simon, didn’t you pay a co-pay on this?

    FYI, I stayed at the Fairfield Inn at JFK and thought the room was delightful. Only bad thing about this property is that it’s in a crummy area

  • Simon

    No co-pay.

    I should qualify my statement about the Fairfield Inn. Quite a dodgy area, but the hotel was clean and safe. Just way too much activity, and I was assigned a room next the elevator (I used my free night there). So, in more ideal circumstances, I’m sure it’s adequate.

    Delightful? Hmm, YMMV :)

  • David B

    Regarding your comment on getting the UA business class tickets through your AMEX MR points and Aeroplan: be careful how you approach that. If you don’t have any points in your Aeroplan account and check for availability online, you may see the flights appear only to find out after you transfer the points that the “available” flight was not bookable or that there is a surcharge in the hundreds of dollars. My strong advice is to call Aeroplan before transfering to confirm both actual availability and actual fees.

  • Jeff W

    I’m a big fan of business class on PS on this route. The seats are great for me, but I’m 5’5″ so that shouldn’t surprise anyone. BUT, last year Kareem Abdul Jabbar was sitting behind me and I reclined my seat just to see if it was a problem for him. No issue at all. (I put my seat back up after my little test, FYI.)

    Good point Dhammer53 about row 9. I tried it three weeks ago and actually didn’t like having the seat back in front of me so far from me.

    An added bonus…usually good celeb spotting on this route. Never know who you’ll sit next to on the plane.

  • Brian(J)

    If you mean the movie player, it looks like what Alaska Air calls a Digiplayer that they hand out to 1st and charge for in E. I just read my iPad but the player is better than nothing for some people.

    Would like to see more comments about using AMEX to book UA using Areoplan. I am getting desperate to find a place to park my AMEX points when I cancel my Gold Rewards card in 60 days.

  • Anonymous

    Glad you enjoyed your flight! I’m surprised to hear that you enjoyed p.s. more than Delta’s BE transcon product. I just got off a BE flight (I’m typing this from T3 SkyClub), and I flew UA p.s. Business earlier this year (seat 9A). I personally preferred the BE product — the food was better to be sure, and not having those weird tablets kicking around is a real plus. I find the seats more comfortable in BE and I had less trouble sleeping through the red-eye in BE last time, than I did on the p.s. flight. I’m a Star Alliance guy but Delta’s starting to win me over with these flights ;-)

  • Trent Swanson

    don’t forget with UR redemption you also earn miles

  • Anonymous

    Yeah definitely agree on calling. However, Aeroplan won’t charge you fuel surcharges on United flights (nor Continental, nor US Airways for that matter) so that’s less of an issue. What I do with the Amex MR points is I call in, pick the flights out with the agent, ensure they’re bookable, and then transfer them while on the phone. It happens instantly and the agent sees them in seconds.

  • Anonymous

    For domestic trips in coach, it’s often the case that it is better to buy with cash than with miles. In this case, the UR points act as cash (1.25 cents each), plus you get the elite and redeemable miles from the flight.

    I’ve seen that it is also the case with some coach flights to Europe (British Airways mostly), since a lot of the fare is in fuel surcharges that get charged for mileage tickets as well.

    Usually, the most value in transferring points to miles is redeeming for international (or certain transcontinental) flights in Business or First.

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