When you think about which airline to fly from Manila to Osaka, your first thought is probably not on United. It wasn’t mine either. But I could not resist.
United has a hub in Guam. This was once a Continental hub and before that an Air Micronesia hub. From Guam, United operates to many islands and larger Asian cities including Hong Kong, Manila, Nagoya, Osaka, and Tokyo.
As I was examining options to get to from Manila in the late evening to Osaka by the following afternoon, I saw several one-stop options. One was via Singapore on Singapore Airlines. Another via Bangkok on Thai. But it was the United option that caught my attention.
United had a late-evening Fifth Freedom flight from Manila to Koror, Palau then continuing to Guam. From Guam, there would be a short layover then a connection to Osaka, arriving a couple hours before my flight back to Bangkok on Thai Airways.
Wait, wait…? Read the introduction to this trip report for more details. Essentially, this was a “review trip”. It’s not like I would have flown from Manila to Bangkok via Koror, Guam, and Osaka except to try out specific new product (from Osaka to Bangkok).
On to the flights…
Manila was a total mess. Wow, I have never seen such ordered chaos. So many people in a dilapidated terminal queuing from line to line. I managed to navigate through and found a Priority Pass lounge called PAGSS to pass the 30 minutes prior to boarding.
I did this trip in economy class. Not so much because I wanted to, but because I booked it last-minute minute and there were no business class award seats or upgrades available. While business would have been nice, we are just talking about a 737 here and no flight was more than 3.5 hours.
After such warm service on the Island Hopper, I was looking forward to the Air Mike crew onboard. And while they were pleasant, it was late at night, the light stayed off the entire flight, and everyone slept.
United did offer a small meal after takeoff, which included a hot sandwich with salad and a packet of cookies made in Guam. The sandwich included two thin slices of ham, some white cheese, and garlic spread.
We landed in Palau and all passengers were asked to exit the aircraft, even those continuing to Guam. There was a Delta 757 parked at the next gate. Delta once served Palau from its Tokyo hub, but abandoned it earlier this year. The gate area was compact, with a single seating area with plastic blue chairs, a bar, and a duty free shop.
Soon enough, boarding began and I chuckled as I peered into the flight kitchen on the way to the aircraft. I’m not sure what airline she was preparing the noodles for, but you know you are at a small station when there is a single person assembling meals in a small kitchen.
The flight from Palau to Guam featured only snack mix and a choice of beverage. Nothing else to say about it other than it was fairly crowded.
We landed at Guam just as the immigration facilities opened and I quickly cleared in to the USA (thank you Global Entry), headed directly upstairs to the security checkpoint, and was soon back in the gate area. It is too bad there is a not a secure transit area in Guam. I know that is not feasible for much of the USA, but certainly is in GUM.
While the flight to Osaka was full up front, it was nearly empty in the back. I had an entire exit row to myself and was quite comfortable for the three-hour journey.
Breakfast was served after takeoff and included sliced cantaloupe and honeydew, a bread roll, and scrambled eggs with sausage and rice.
Guam is like a whole other world in the United network, with complimentary meals in economy class (except, ironically, on the Honolulu nonstop route, the longest flight from Guam) and a sense you are flying 20 years in the past. There is no wi-fi or DirecTV on Micronesia fleet of 737-800s.
We landed early on a crisp Autumn morning in Osaka and I easily made my connection.
> Read More: Guam Demands United Airlines Improve Service
While not the most straightforward routing from Manila to Osaka, I enjoyed what essentially amounted to another United island hopper very much.
Next up: Thai Airways A380 First Class