It was nice to catch up on sleep aboard an 11-hour flight from Munich to San Francisco in United Polaris Business Class.
My first stop was the Lufthansa Senator Cafe, where I enjoyed a smoothie and cappuccino prior to boarding my flight. Enjoying my coffee, I boarded rather late in the boarding process.
United Airlines 195
Munich (MUC) – San Francisco (SFO)
Wednesday, April 17
Duration: 11hr, 35min
Seat: 1A (“Polaris” Business Class)
The gate agents were very pleasant–I was thanked for my business as I scanned my boarding pass and wished a pleasant flight.
Overall Good Service Onboard
I can almost always tell the difference between an ex-Continental and ex-United flight attendant (going back to the 2012 merger). The two groups now have a single contract and work together, but the differences in style and training are still quite evident.
This flight had an ex-Continental purser. One reason I know this is because male pursers on the former Continental side often don’t wear the standard uniform. I’m not sure if this was a special exception for International Service Managers (what Continental called pursers), but he was wearing a black sport coat and purple tie. He also took lunch orders immediately, as if there was no time left on an 11.5 hour flight. He struck me as a televangelist (not just in apperance, but in the way he slickly worked the cabin with his greetings to each passenger).
But at least I was greeted before I was asked what I wanted for lunch…that’s a nice improvement over “first and second choice?” that I often get from the ex-Continental folks.
Good evening. Have you had a chance to review the menu? What can I offer you as your first choice? How about a second? And how about before landing?
Of course it was morning in Munich…and of course, he could not be bothered to address passengers by name. Thankfully, I did not see much of him for the rest of the flight. But he must be given credit for at least smiling.
The flight attendant who worked my side of the aisle for most of the flight was a wonderful older lady from the United side who was courteous, friendly, and pleasant. What a difference a crew makes! She smiled, made small talk, and truly tried to be proactive.
Business class went out with two open seats and I originally wound up with an open seat next to me in row eight, the last row of the cabin. But just before takeoff I was asked if I minded moving to 1A so that a separated mother and daughter could sit next to each other. I was happy to oblige and appreciated that the FA did not demand that I move…she just asked me if I was willing. That’s usually the best way to get what you want.
Better Meal Service, Both Taste + Presentation
Here’s the flight menu:
Service began with a pre-departure beverage followed by a hot towel after takeoff.
The meal service was tasty, but what impressed me most was the presentation. Lunch began after takeoff with a choice of beverage and mixed nuts. Nuts were served warmed and the bowl was actaully full!
Next, an appetizer of green salad with sliced mandarin oranges and herbs plus a mozzarella cheese plate was light and tasty. The garlic bread was also absolutely brimming with garlic and very good.
For my main course, I ordered a mushroom-stuffed chicken breast served with polenta and vegetables. I was shocked when it arrived beautifully plated since United had supposedly eliminated all these plates for casserole dishes. A visually-appealing meal instantly leads to higher satisfaction, at least in my book.
For dessert, I enjoyed an ice cream sundae with strawberries, whip cream, and sliced almonds.
After waking up from my nap, I ordered a grilled cheese sandwich. The pre-arrival meal service was coming an hour later, but I was hungry and all the snacks in the galley had been picked over. I was offered a cup of beef chili with it, but just had the sandwich.
United recently updated its pre-arrival meal after more than two years of chicken breakfast with Israeli couscous. Now, the choices are chicken with gnocchi or Pizza Margherita. I ordered the pizza and it was a bit light on sauce and cheese, but actually delicious. On the side was a very German-style cucumber salad.
I enjoyed the meals on this flight.
Any United business class review must give credit where credit is due. United continues to offer to comfortable Saks Fifth Avenue bedding that helps aid sleep. I slept for the majority of the flight, which can be a challenge during a daytime flight. It helped that I stayed up most of the previous night working.
Wi-Fi worked for the portion of the flight I was awake. I paid for two hours of access (which can be paused and restarted on demand) and found that although slow, I was able to load and send email and even open webpages. I still look forward to the day of high-speed wi-fi onboard United flights.
As I said in my preview piece, this flight, more than my outbound, is the United I am used to. It was nice to enjoy a great rest in between a couple of decent meals with excellent service from one particular FA.
Finally, we had great views of San Francisco on our final approach to SFO: