I’ve written this review in a more casual way than my usual trip reports. Hopefully it will be helpful to some of you.
Flying United is like driving my car…I do it so often it just become second nature. Once in a while, though, I get to try something new. On this trip, it was a new seat on an old bird.
I arrived in Chicago a full five hours early in order to full review the Polaris lounge, but ended up staying for nearly eight. More on that in a bit.
First, let me add that I cannot think of an airport that reminds me more of United than Chicago O’Hare. The checkered floor, the neon lights, that smell…I always enjoy flying through ORD.
My plane had a mechanical problem. Something was wrong with the galley. We ended up departing over three hours late. Having no onward connection until the day after arrival, I wasn’t stressed about arriving late, but I did just want to board the plane and go to sleep.
At least this wasn’t too much of a rolling delay, just 6:30 P.M., 7:00 P.M., 7:30 P.M. and then 8:00 P.M., 8:30 P.M., 9:00 P.M. and finally 9:30 P.M. By 9:00 P.M. boarding commenced.
Chicago (ORD) – Frankfurt (FRA)
Sunday, September 30
Depart: 6:15PM (9:42PM actual)
Arrive: 9:45AM+1 (12:34PM actual)
Duration: 8hr, 10min
Distance: 4,344 miles
Aircraft: Boeing 777-200
Seat: 15L (Business Class)
United is in the process of retrofitting its 777-200 and 767 fleet, installing its latest Polaris business class seats. I consider these seats a vast improvement from the old ones. Each offers direct aisle access and are pretty comfortable in any position. I’ve reviewed this seat on the 777-300ER and 767-300 before.
Frankly, I just wanted to sleep. I appreciated the two USB chargers, plenty of personal storage, reading light, and convenient power outlet, but tonight I just pulled out my blanket and leaned back.
There’s a gap between the seat armrest and the window…an unexpected receptacle for trash?
G-R-O-W-L went my stomach.
That delay had made me hungry again. Annoyed, I took a look at the menu. Pasta is my preferred late-night treat, as the carbs and fat typically have a coma-inducing effect.
I still tried to resist. I went into the lavatory and changed into pajamas. Usually on flights under 12 hours I won’t bother to change, but wanted to be comfortable tonight. I always appreciate the pleasant aroma of the Cowshed amenities and spray my face with the chamomile refreshing toner.
Back in my seat, the purser stopped by and asked if I wanted to eat. I said sure, why not. That was probably wise because the lights were on for the first 90 minutes of the flight anyway.
The captain apologized for the delay without really explaining what the galley issue was and we finally took off. Soon thereafter, warmed nuts and a choice of beverage appeared.
While waiting for dinner, I tuned into an HBO Documentary on the late U.S. Senator John McCain. I didn’t really learn anything new about him, other than the fact that he divorced his first wife and left three children behind, then had four more with his second wife, but nevertheless found it quite interesting.
I also liked how United maintains “Channel 9” on the 777s, which carries Air Traffic Control communications. This used to be something I looked forward to every time I flew United.
The appetizers arrived. Some sort of cabbage salad along with a tuna appetizer and garlic bread. I accepted the tray for the picture, but wasn’t in the mood for seafood or rabbit food.
The main course appeared and this was actually a very tasty dish. It included portobello mushrooms, cheese ravioli, and plenty of shaved Parmesan cheese on top. This was truly a tasty dish and not as heavy as the other three choices on the menu.
I passed on cheese and dessert and just passed out.
Unfortunately, I woke up about an hour before landing. The purser, who was absolutely lovely and served my side of the cabin herself, appeared and asked if I wanted breakfast. Sure, why not.
The menu called for my favorite Southwestern omelet. I always enjoy this even though I probably should have just rolled over and gone back to sleep. Small problem, though. It was not the Southwestern omelet. Instead, it was a a plain cheese omelet. Still good, but not the same. Someone forgot to put the icing on the cinnamon rolls, but that was a blessing in disguise: calories I did not need.
I wolfed down breakfast in a few minutes and fell back asleep. The purser literally shook me awake with about 15 minutes to go before landing and I sprinted into the lavatory to do a quick change before landing. We landed almost three hours late and stopped at a remote stand. These are actually a blessing in disguise because you are dropped off right at the immigration checkpoint and if connecting to another Terminal 1 flight in the Z or A gates, do not have to re-clear security. That is not always the case when you arrive in a gate position.
I was soon off to the Hyatt Regency Mainz.
Delays are always annoying, though it did not impact me very much this time. Because of the long delay the captain really tried to make up time, which only cut my sleep time. I would have preferred to arrive even later and had an extra half hour to sleep. United’s new business class seat is excellent in every way: one of most comfortable in the sky. Throw in some friendly service and a tasty plate of pasta and the flight was actually quite lovely.