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United just began flying its latest and greatest, the 777-300ER (77W), and who better to take you on a tour than the CEO? We happened to catch Oscar Munoz on his first visit to the aircraft, just before UA’s preview flight from Chicago O’Hare to San Francisco today.
Before we get to that, though, let’s let TPG take you on a tour of the plane via Facebook Live:
While the 777-300ER has been flying with other carriers for years, UA is the latest airline to take delivery of this plane — and it’s a huge step up from United’s existing 777s (which will eventually be retrofitted with the airline’s latest interior).
Cockpit and Galleys
Starting up front, the cockpit should be familiar to 777 pilots — the -200 and -300 both have the same type rating, so pilots can fly both versions of Boeing’s largest current-gen plane.
This 77W version offers refreshed instruments, and some tech options that you may not find on older planes, such as multiple exterior camera views (below).
Moving on back — far back — is the large rear galley, which is where flight attendants will prepare economy meals (United’s Executive Chef Gerry McLoughlin is posing below).
And that’s where we first ran into Oscar, who spent a few minutes exploring the plane as he chatted and posed for pictures with crew members.
The 777-300ER offers 60 lie-flat Polaris business-class seats in a modified 1-2-1 configuration, divided between two cabins.
Oscar was understandably very excited to be checking out the plane.
He spent some time exploring the features of a window seat in the rear business cabin, including the new lie-flat position wheel (more on that tomorrow!).
Polaris seats are staggered, meaning some are closer to the window and some are positioned next to the aisle.
Odd-numbered seats, such as Oscar’s pick of 15L, offer quite a bit more privacy.
Those famous Polaris teddy bears (that were available to passengers during the first week or so of Polaris service) made an appearance on today’s media flight — according to a certain UA exec, these stuffed animals have been fetching sums approaching $100 on eBay (so be sure to take yours home if you’re lucky enough to get one).
Oscar stopped by to chat with TPG as well — seen here in seats 1D and 1G (ideal for passengers traveling together).
Based on appearances alone, the new cabin is clearly a huge improvement — we’ll be digging in more over the days to come.
What’s a bit less exciting, however, is the dense 3-4-3 economy configuration — even Economy Plus seats are just 17 inches across, compared to 18 inches on United’s international 777-200s.
Oscar seemed comfy enough in 19F, a bulkhead Economy Plus seat located just behind the Polaris cabin.
Just like the rest of us, Oscar likes to check out the lavs — economy-class restrooms are definitely compact.
There are some slightly larger lavatories to choose from, including this one at the back of the rear economy cabin.
Gate and Boarding
After our early aircraft visit and some remarks back in the Polaris Lounge, it was time for a ribbon cutting ceremony with United execs and crew.
Then, the CEO himself announced that the plane was ready to board.
He then proceeded to scan each and every boarding pass — with just over 60 passengers on the flight, it didn’t take very long to get everyone through.
From the CEO down to the ground support staff, everyone was very excited about United’s new plane.
Tune in tomorrow for a full report from the preview flight, followed by detailed cabin tours (and seat recommendations). For now, it’s time to fly right on back to NYC.
Will I see you on United’s EWR-SFO inaugural flight this Thursday?
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