After a wonderful opening ceremony at the gate, it was time to board the flight. Although blocked at 17hr,55min the inaugural flight from Los Angeles to Singapore would take only about 16hrs due to reduced headwinds.
If you’re just joining me now and missed the first segment, I was invited by United to fly on the inaugural flight to Singapore. Festivities including a dedicated check-in counter and special menu at the United Club heralded the new flight, currently the longest nonstop flight to/from the USA.
Uniformed military member and United Global Services members were invited to board first, followed by Polaris Business Class passengers.
Los Angeles (LAX) – Singapore (SIN)
Friday, October 27
Arrive: 6:20AM+2 (actual arrival 4:51AM)
Aircraft: Boeing 787-9
Seat: 7B (Business Class)
United 787 Seating
Although called “Polaris” the business class seats aboard the 787-9 are United’s traditional 2-2-2 business class seat we have seen for years. They are quite comfortable, but some will complain that window seats do not have direct aisle access. These seats will not be updated to the new Polaris seating (no United Dreamliner will be updated).
I’ve discussed my philosophy about these seats before — I’ll just reiterate here that all I need is a comfortable lie-flat bed and I’d rather climb over a neighbor or have a neighbor climb over me than miss out on an upgrade. For a “luxury budget” traveler like myself, I appreciate denser business class cabins.
I took a look at economy class as well and counted nine across in economy. It looks tight, but the seating configuration is optimized for open middle seating when the flight is not full.
Anyway, I settled in and was welcomed aboard by purser Shauna McDonald. She stopped by each seat in business class, introducing herself and wishing passengers a special flight. I learned that the crew onboard (LA-based, ex-Continental crew) was hand-picked and also operated the San Francisco to Singapore inaugural last year. It showed. Each member of the crew was excellent.
United 787 Bedding
Like all United longhaul flights, excellent bedding from Sak’s Fifth Avenue is provided. On each business class passenger’s seat is a pillow, light blanket, and heavier blanket. Mattress pads and cooling memory-foam gel pillows are available upon request. Quantities are limited so ask right away.
United 787 Amenity Kit
Menus and amenity kits were distributed prior to departure. Pre-deapture beverages and chocolate were also offered. For the next few months, United is honoring its 747 with a specially themed amenity kit. It’s contents include 747 trading cards and 747 socks!
United 787 Pajamas
Pajamas are not proactively offered, but available on all United flights over 12 hours. I noticed nearly every passenger in the cabin changed into pajamas, something that I have never seen on other ultra-longhaul flights I have been on. Slippers were already present at each seat.
United 787 IFE + Wi-Fi
As we took off precisely on schedule, I checked out the IFE for the long journey ahead. United has a great selection of movies, games, and TV programming. I ended up watching Alien: Covenant, a sequel to Prometheus. Although I’m not quite sure why I’m drawn to this particular sci-fi genre, I enjoyed it.
I also connected to wi-fi, which was $36.99 for the entire flight and unfortunately worked quite poorly. When wi-fi doesn’t work well or is down for long periods of your flight, request a refund with United–they will not argue. As an aside, the wi-fi worked well on my return journey.
United offers noise-cancelling headphones in business class:
United 787 Dining
Dining began after takeoff. Today’s flight would feature two meal services, dinner after takeoff and breakfast prior to landing. For those still hungry, hot and cold snacks were available in the galley throughout the flight.
Here’s a look at the menu and wine list.
I began with a “Wine Flight”, tasting all three white wines and choosing a very nice Resiling from Washington State. Wine was served with mixed nuts.
The appetizer contained two cold Thai lemongrass shrimp. I was happy to see a return to green salad instead of the noodle blend or coleslaw we’ve seen masquerading as salad on international flights over the last several months. Garlic bread and a pretzel roll as well.
For the main course, I tried spicy chicken in a coconut-ginger broth. I’d heard good things about it, but was a bit hesitant about it. Turned out it was delicious. I highly recommend this if you like a nice spice. You know me: I rarely order any sort of Asian cuisine, but I really enjoyed this.
That was followed by a cheese course:
And finally an ice cream sundae with petit fours. United still uses paper cups to serve the sundae after discovering its specially-made glass bowls cracked under the pressure of sub-freezing temperatures.
Between meals, snack carts in the galley offered additional snacks. Hot grilled cheese sandwiches with tomato soup were also available upon request.
I reclined my seat and went to bed, managing to sleep for about eight hours (thankfully). Note here United has individual air vents on the 787-9 which help tremendously. But when I woke up I felt sicker than I’ve felt in years…perhaps sicker than I’ve ever felt.
I outline the details here. No need to rehash them here, except to say it was a rough seven hours to Singapore. I appreciated that the crew 1.) noticed I was sick (I must have looked really horrible) and 2.) kept constant watch over me for the remainder of the flight.
> Read More: When You Get Sick in the Middle of an 18hr Flight…
I was extremely sick, but asked that my breakfast be delivered just so I could take a picture of it. I didn’t touch it, which is a shame, but here it was–
Obviously my sickness made an otherwise enjoyable flight absolutely miserable. My trip report on the return flight will be a better gauge for what service is like. Nevertheless, I love being able to fly nonstop from Los Angeles to Singapore and will continue to defend United’s “outdated” business class as the best possible compromise between comfort and cabin density. I always sleep well in United Business…even when I’m sick.
Upon landing in Singapore, we were met with music and celebration.
All passengers onboard the inaugural flight received a complimentary passport case with the United Airlines branding on it.