Flight: Frankfurt to Washington Dulles
Airline: United Airlines
Flight Number: UA933
Plane: Boeing 777-200
Cabin: Polaris (Business Class)
This is a review of my flight from Frankfurt (Germany) to Washington Dulles in the USA. The flight leaves Frankfurt at 17:10 and lands in Washington at 20:05.
The motivation behind booking this flight (as opposed to a OneWorld carrier) was simply price. My Client told me relatively last minute they needed me in the US – and BA/AA’s prices were astronomical.
I’d never flown United Airlines in my life, and have been entertaining moving from OneWorld to Star Alliance – so I wanted to see how Star Alliance’s primary US carrier did. It just so happened these two things aligned!
I will at some point do a United vs American article, where I look at each airline and decide who wins!
I had arrived from London into Frankfurt on a Lufthansa operated flight, and it was extremely late. The check in process involved a walk through a transit area; luckily I didn’t have to re-check Security, else I would have missed the flight.
I was grilled when leaving London on the required documents, checks, visas, covid vaccinations, reasons for going to the USA, etc – despite a Visa, Global Entry, a Known Traveler Number, and having been to the US multiple times in the current year. I was even asked to prove when I’d applied for my most recent Visa, and refused checking in until I’d done it.
However, all of these questions were asked again in Frankfurt, despite being wholly unnecessary – there was a long queue before anyone could go to the Gate, at which time boarding had started.
For these reasons, I really don’t rate Lufthansa at all, as I’ve written about previously – and was lucky not to have missed this flight to Washington! The in-depth and unnecessary paperwork checks were once again unnecessary, and appeared in some ways to overstep the line into Frankfurt Airport staff becoming quasi-US Border officals.
Predictably, I didn’t get to use the lounge by the time Lufthansa’s extremely late flight had landed and I’d waited in a long line for my documents to be checked.
I don’t believe United have their own lounge in Frankfurt – thus this is shared with Lufthansa.
I’ve previously reviewed the Lufthansa Business Lounge in Munich, and I doubt the lounge is much different, nor any more inspiring.
This was United’s Boeing 777-200.
United are huge users of the Boeing 777 series, with 74 777-200’s and 22 777-300’s in their fleet.
This 777 was configured with 50 Polaris (Business Class) seats, 24 Premium Economy Seats, and 202 Economy seats.
In order to attempt to reduce the length of these blogs, you can find my review of the Polaris seat here.
General observations are that it’s comparable to the American Airlines Flagship Business seats, but with far more privacy.
One thing I did find different in United’s approach was offering memory foam pillows! Great idea!
Food and Drink
Upon boarding drinks were offered – the usual champagne or water. Unlike American Airlines, these were served in glasses, not plastic cups.
Once we were airborne, pre-dinner drinks were offered. Rather strangely, there was no drinks menu (unlike, say American Airlines or BA) – so I had to ask what was available.
Luckily they had Stella! This was served with hot nuts.
On this occasion I stayed with my Stella for the meal, though the usual choice of red/white/sparkling wines were offered.
I’m not quite sure what this meal counted as, since the flight was 17:10 – and there was still a snack later on. So, I guess it’s dinner?
The dinner was sort of a one-tray service, with deserts brought afterwards.
The dinner menu was, again, lacking in style. It was a printed 1-sided piece of card, with no drinks, no wines, etc.
The options on the menu were;
- Green Salad
- Pork coppa
- Chicken tika masala
- Black halibut filet
- Tortellini with ricotta & mushroom filling
- I decided to go for the chicken tika masala, and it was surprisingly good, with a good spice to it.
One thing that was different was that there was no bread basket – seemingly everyone on the flight was destined to have pretzel bread (which I would have picked anyway).
Another slightly strange thing was that the salad dressing was already on the salad, where as most airlines have it in a small bottle on the side.
For desert there was the option of the ice cream sundae (didn’t look as good as American’s), shortbread cake or cheese. I went for the cheese, which wasn’t that inspiring!
Ultimately, I think that whilst this meal is OK – American Airlines win.
Before landing, snacks were brought around.
Options were either a beef burger, or herb and citrus vegetable couscous.
I picked the burger, which came with some fruit and a muffin. It was OK – but nothing to write home about. That said, it was sort of a novelty having a burger…..just needed the fries!
For those still peckish after the flight, crisps, popcorn and chocolate were stationed on a trolley near the galley. Unfortunately, this as far as it went.
If there is one thing that really did impress me it was the Amenities Kit.
The Amenities Kit came in a hard case, which I’ve since re-purposed.
Inside the Amenities Kit was;
- Eye mask
- Ear plugs
- Facial clensing cloth
- Face cream
- Lip balm
- Hand cream
- Tooth brush
The contents aside (which is far more than American Airlines are offering); the case is so good, and so useful! I was impressed!
United offered Wifi at £16.99 for 1 hour, $20.99 for 2 hours, or $31.99 for the full flight.
I purchased the full-flight Wifi and found it very reliable for everything I needed to do – which was mainly emails.
The screen is just about right for the seat, and very similar to that offered in AA’s Flagship Business.
I found there was a good variety of entertainment on the system – such as the Bourne selection of films, a London Calling (for British TV) channel, and a whole series of music.
Something unique to United is the channel for listening to the aircraft’s communication with Air Traffic Control – however it didn’t seem to be working for this flight.
United provide headphones along with their entertainment. I’d say the headphones are roughly the same as American’s offering, but unlike AA – the Cabin Crew don’t demand them back 90 minutes before landing!
As with American Airlines, I found United’s Cabin Crew to be a mixed bag.
They perhaps weren’t as rude or abrupt as AA’s cabin crew – but they also won’t be winning any prizes for charm and charisma.
Generally speaking they were polite, but that’s as far as it went.
Landing in Washington
As we landed in to Washington’s C1 gate, it was pitch black.
From here, in the pitch black, we went into the Mobile Lounge.
Having never seen one in my life, it was quite a strange experience in the dark; as we all sat in a door-less corridor for around 10 minutes before this ‘thing’ went to the Main Terminal.
It was an odd but fun experience, when you’ve worked out what’s going on!
Luggage came relatively quickly after landing – but this may be to do with the fact IAD’s Global Entry scanners had broken down, so it was a manual process!
United Airlines are definitely an airline I’d happily fly with again.
It was frustrating not to have seen a lounge due to Lufthansa being late, and I’d say the catering was a little behind American Airlines’ current offering.
The seat is great, the memory foam pillow will thought through, and the Amenities Kit was just great!
Also, for LHR flights: the United Club at Heathrow’s Terminal 2, is extremely good!
So, whilst United were good in many respects; my experience was not quite good enough for me to want to hang up my OneWorld alliance.
Score: 75 out of 90 – or 83%.
A generally good flight, but down-marked by the amount of silly and unnecessary document checks, the food, and the cabin crew.