Aircraft: Boeing 777-200 (former Continental)
Seat: (Row) 33 and above.
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The Seat: Legroom suffers aboard this United Airlines 777-200ER with at least an inch less legroom than competitors. Once installed, the lack of space should be a key selling point for upgrades to Economy Plus. Seat width here is typical for this aircraft. Rows 33 and up aren’t bulkhead or exit rows, so there shouldn’t be a tray table or personal TV in the armrest to reduce the space.
Personal TVs are installed at all seats so you’ll have something to do, so long as you find a movie or TV show you can sit through. With competing airlines really upping the bar on in-flight entertainment (Cathay Pacific’s “Studio CX” and even Delta’s movie selection aboard transoceanic flights), the selection here seemed a little sad.
Service: I was starting to think that perhaps I had unfairly misjudged the crew aboard this Tokyo to Newark flight. “Maybe I’m just TOO used to the great service I get aboard the Asian Airlines”, I thought to myself. But after hopping a few fairly long trans-pacific flights aboard competing US airlines AND a few more international legs aboard United (all former Continental to be more specific), I’m sad to report a number of experiences with pretty salty flight attendants. I have a huge love and respect for what these people do and try not to be the guy to make their job more difficult, but when politely asking something like “Do you have any decaf?”, I’d be happy with “Sorry, no.”, instead of a terribly disgusted and annoyed look…then a very stern “NO!”. I wasn’t sure if he was mad at me or the fact that I drank decaf, but he could have communicated that better (I just like the taste of coffee, sorry!). Similar snips of equal or greater levels of disgust were offered to other passengers aboard this particular flight.
One high note for this crew is that a few of them went out of their way to find vegetarian food options for the gentleman behind us who hadn’t requested a special meal in advance. From the sounds of it, he ate pretty well. My best guess is that the flight crew was a majority vegan caffeine addicts.
Food: Having recently learned more about what goes into my convection oven dinner aboard this flying mess hall, I’ll go easy. But seriously United, presentation goes a long way. Put some parsley sprinkles on it or something. (The mid-flight sandwich was actually as awful as it looked.)
Summary:. Not bad enough for me to get into a “I”M NEVER FLYING UNITED AGAIN!”-style rage, but smiles and food presentation will help keep people on-board with this newly melded airline. Fly this plane if the price is affordable, your tolerance of marginal service is high and you have some extra movies on your personal electronic device.
Rating: 2 hops (of 5).
Strategy:There’s no strategy in booking a typical economy seat like this one. I’d recommend upgrading to Economy Plus if it’s in the budget and you’re taller and need the leg-space.