Last weekend I did a United MR to Moscow from Philadelphia. While I could have flown to Geneva, Zürich, or Brussels for cheaper, Moscow was operated by a 767 with UA’s lie-flat Business Class seats and I was able to confirm an upgrade immediately.
I will break the trip down into three parts:
After finally convincing UA’s check-in staff at PHL that I did not need a visa to travel to Moscow because I was transiting, I had to rush to the gate to make my 0615 flight to IAD. I was the last to board and the agent shut the door behind me as I walked downstairs to the tarmac.
The flight, my "mode" flight on United, was uneventful as usual, though I was surprised that nearly every seat was occupied.
Upon landing at Dulles, I stopped by the C17 RCC club for a little snack before heading over to Arlington to retrieve my lost umbrella.
The RCCs at IAD do not offer the upgraded amenities (cold cereal and toast in the morning) available at many Red Carpet Clubs including LAX, SFO, and PHL. But a granola bar and yogurt were fine–I was planning on having breakfast in Alexandria.
I just missed a 5A bus to Rosslyn, so I went back inside the terminal to ticket a reservation I had on hold. No wait this morning.
After a nice breakfast in Alexandria and a stop at the Hyatt Arlington to recover my umbrella, I returned to IAD. It was 1300 and security lines were short. I took a mobile lounge over to the D Terminal and stopped in at the RCC for an hour. No one was at the front desk for 25 minutes. Anyone could have walked in. Come on UA…
I decided to stop by Lufthana’s Senators Lounge but stopped again at the C17 RCC first to pick up another wi-fi card and a couple more drink chits.
I had the mobile lounge to myself for a few minutes, so I snapped the picture below. The new train system opened this week and while I can’t say that I’ll really miss the mobile lounges, maybe I will just a little.
As usual, the food was tremendous in the Lufthansa Lounge. I limited myself to a few appetizers since my flight to Moscow was leaving in 1.5 hours.
I returned to the C7 RCC, which as is almost always the case before the afternoon bank of international departures, was packed. Such a difference between the picture above and the picture below, no?
I hung out in the lounge till boarding began, then had to explain to the DME gate agent again why I didn’t have a visa. This time, thankfully, the delay was only about five minutes.
I was hoping the crew would be friendly and vibrant, but I quickly ascertained that this was not the case. A FA walked by me five times during the boarding process and did not offer to take my coat. The scowl on his face made me think better of flagging him down. I got up to hang the coat myself and another FA took it from me as I opened the closet and bluntly asked me what my seat number was. Where’s the polish UA?
Menus and amenity kits were distributed as I settled into my rear-facing seat 6K. I have enjoyed sitting backwards on a plane dating back to the day’s when Southwest used to have brown leather rear-facing seats on their 737s.
At least when it comes to the seat and IFE, UA offers a very competitive product. The seat was comfortable and in working order and the IFE was available immediately on a screen that puts Lufthansa’s First Class screen size to shame.
Dinner service began after takeoff. Nuts were lukewarm and the ramekin was only partially filled. The appetizer was fair–I’d say the best part of it was the tomatoes and bell peppers in the salad. The bread was doughy and cold. The little blue tin-foil wrapped object below was chocolate.
I ordered steak for the main course (other choices were vegetarian pasta or chicken). Should have gone with the chicken. The steak had a salisbury taste that was not appetizing. The potatoes and veggies were good, though.
The tiramisu was good.
I slept soundly for five hours before waking up over Belarus. Breakfast was soon served and I was offered a fruit plate or no fruit plate. The flight was over nine hours, long enough for UA to include a hot breakfast choice in Business in my humble opinion.
We landed in Moscow 30 minutes early. As you can tell, I was disappointed by the flight. Again, UA’s C-Class seat beats many of their Star rivals including LH, OS, SK, TP, US (for now), and CO. But the service was so lackluster, cold, and indifferent that I was left wondering if I was making the right choice in continuing to patronize UA.
The return flight was a bit better, as I will report soon, but morale is low amongst FAs and if UA wants to truly offer a world-class product, the service aspect needs improvement–a lot of improvement.