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Australia Trip Report: United Club Lounge + United Global First 747 Honolulu – Tokyo

With a surprisingly speedy ride to the airport, I had an hour and a half to spare before my flight. After having a minor issue at check-in that took  unreasonably long to resolve because I couldn’t flag down a United agent to resolve it, I headed to security. The security line was ridiculously long. When I tried to get into the “Gold”/priority lane, an airport rep told me I had to get a “sticker” from United before I could use that line. As wrong as this sounded, I decided to play nice and head back to the United desk to ask about said sticker, but the line was even longer than security. By this time the agent was busy being helpful to another passenger, so I just walked through the Gold lane. The TSA agent didn’t have a problem with it, so all was well.

Old school display at Honolulu Airport

Old school display at Honolulu Airport

Security still took a long time, though this was one of those times I got picked to bypass the nude-o-scope and go through the metal detector, which always makes things more pleasant. After making it through security, I began the long walk to the gate. The United Club lounge was just above it.

United Club Lounge

The lounge was pretty busy, which made it difficult to take photos. Not everyone is up for strangers taking their photos, so I generally try to be mindful of that (except for when I’m abroad or at a holy relics exhibit).

United Club Lounge Honolulu Airport

United Club

The lounge was pretty basic. The coffee maker was broken, so I had a choice between a variety of watered down juices from the dispenser. I sat down in the only chair I could find near an outlet – and by near I mean I had to move a table that weighed more than I did and climb over it into a dark corner to reach the outlet. Shortly after, a very serious looking business man asked if he could take the seat next to mine. He sat down and oddly, every time his phone rang, “Gangnam Style” played – and not just the beat but the opening line.

United Club Lounge Honolulu International Airport

United Club Lounge

I stayed for about 30 minutes until I started noticing people rushing out of the lounge. Eventually, boarding was announced and I headed out as well.

United Airlines Global First Cabin 747 Honolulu - Tokyo

United Airlines First Class Cabin 747 Honolulu – Tokyo

First Class Cabin 747 United Airlines Global First 747 Honolulu - Narita

First Class cabin

I ended up being one of the first people to board. There was another guy, who kept getting in the way of my shots, but eventually I managed a few non-obstructed photos of the cabin. The seat itself was pretty nice. The reviews on SeatGuru recommended seat 1A, citing privacy. This was definitely the case – in addition to being very comfortable, it felt much more private than the aisle seat I had on the return flight.

The Seat

On my seat were two pillows, a blanket, amenity kit, and headphones – all wrapped in plastic.

United Airlines First Class Seat 747 Honolulu - Tokyo

United Global First Seat

The amenity kit itself was packed with practical items: Toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, mouthwash, eye mask, comb, hand sanitizer, a piece of cloth for eyeglass or computer screen cleaning, earplugs,  and socks. I’m a huge fan of Philosophy products, so the 20% off coupon (while perhaps tacky for a first class amenity kit) tucked into the plastic bag among other Philosophy skincare products, was not wasted on me.

The bathroom also stocked Philosophy products – the hydrating mist is probably what kept my face from turning into sandpaper during the flight. Thumbs up on the amenity kits and skincare products.

The seat had tons of storage: A storage compartment on the right armrest and one on the far end left side. In addition, there was plenty of space under the footrest.

United Airlines Global First Class Seat 747 Honolulu - Tokyo Narita

Seat controls and storage compartment

United Airlines Global First Class Seat 747 HNL - NRT

Seat and IFE

I had very low expectations for the crew on all United segments, but for the most part my experience was positive. The crew on this flight was especially welcoming and chipper.

We took off right on time, with amazing (instagrammed) views.

Aerial view of Waikiki Beach Honolulu Hawaii

Parting shot of Honolulu

The Food

A tiny thimble of warm nuts was served an hour after take-off, along with drinks. The FA came around to set the table, dropping an herbal scented cloth, which was not at all off-putting like you’d imagine.

Tiny ramekin of nuts and a broken IFE

Tiny ramekin of nuts and a broken IFE

The FA’s came around with bread and sushi. I understand this being a Japan-bound flight, they’d want to include some “local” foods, but the sushi was just a gimmick – and an awful one at that. It’s the same stuff they sell at the grocery store and nobody wants to eat that, so unless you’re going to serve restaurant quality sushi, don’t serve it at all.

The spring roll looks dry and cold, but it was actually decent. The pretzel bread was a little too hard and I ended up just scooping out the insides, like a 5 year-old would.

United Airlines Global First Class 747 HNL - NRT Meal Sushi and Spring Roll

Sushi and spring roll

Next came three tablespoons of  tomato soup, which was very good. The portions were tiny, but this allows you to actually sample everything they serve. See – I’m a bowl? glass half full kind of girl.

United Airlines Global First Class 747 Onboard Meal Service Tomato Soup

Tomato Soup

The salad was served after that and while I generally skip the salad in any meal, it had cheese and nothing livens up a salad like cheese…and lots of heavy ranch. As you can tell, I have quite a sophisticated palate.

United Airlines Global First 747 Onboard Meal Salad

Salad with a gallon of ranch and cheese…with bits of lettuce

The Salmon, topped with crab meat was pretty dry and tasteless, so I only took a few bites.

United Airlines Global First Class 747 Onboard Meal Service Tomato Soup

Salmon topped with crab, with a side of rice

Afterwards, the FA’s came around with ice cream. You only have a choice (if you can call it that) of Vanilla, though you can pick from various toppings. I went with caramel and though the ice cream was a bit too hard, it was overall a decent dessert. Afterwards, the FA’s came around with cheese and chocolate, which I passed on. The meal service ended an hour after it started.

United Airlines Global First Class 747 Dessert

Ice cream with caramel sauce

At this time, there were seven hours left to go, so I browsed through the IFE, which had stopped working during take-off and had to be rebooted. It had a decent selection, however. After watching a few minutes of Pacific Rim to see if Charlie Hunnam could play a character outside of the biker genre (he can’t), I got bored and tuned into Jobs instead. It really wasn’t as awful as the reviews suggested. Maybe if Ashton Kutcher hadn’t adopted that strange walk or found a more natural way to move his hands while he talked, and the director found a way to actually tell a story rather than show a series of scenes chronicling various moments in his life, the movie could have been saved. Clearly, I’m an expert on this subject.

I also connected to the wireless network, which was incredibly fast. There really was no difference between the wifi available at Starbucks and onboard.

Afterwards, I went to sleep and found the seat very comfortable. It was a bit wider than the seat on the return, which I’ll describe in an upcoming post.

About an hour and a half before landing, breakfast was served. I was offered fruit, yogurt, and because they were out of muffins, a cinnamon roll. Of all the breakfast items I’ve ever been served on a plane, the cinnamon roll is by far the oddest. I think my reaction was the same as when, as a kid, my aunt offered me a toaster strudel for breakfast – utter horror at the impropriety of being offered candy for breakfast, but my impulse was to accept. Aside from that, I was served a plate of cold cuts – and since the majority of it was pork,  which I couldn’t eat, it pretty much went to waste. The fruit/yogurt was ultimately a nice change from all the heavy, calorie loaded food I’d been ingesting.

United Airlines Global First Class 747 Breakfast HNL - NRT

Breakfast: Cold cuts, fruits, and yogurt

Overall Impression

Overall, this was a pleasant flight. The food wasn’t the best, but the seat was comfortable and the service was good. In general though, I wouldn’t recommend flying United Global First. The seats are slightly bigger, but you’re better off saving your miles and flying Business class. I’m pretty sure they serve the same awful food and while the cabin is bigger and the seats slightly smaller, you still get a flatbed seat that is an improvement over coach.

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Ariana Arghandewal

4 Comments

  1. Wow it sounds like the food was less than stellar for a First Class product. You didn’t sound too pleased with it!

    • Yes, it was pretty bland. I can’t imagine how bad the food in coach must have been.

  2. being based in HNL, I’ve also flew this exact same route on united in first.. I couldn’t agree more with your comments. Especially about the sushi. i’ve had better pre-made sushi bought in the supermarket.

    • It definitely wasn’t the highlight of the meal (though I can’t point to anything else that was). The Thai Airways segments I flew after this were pretty damn incredible and made up for it.

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