After a fairly mediocre flight to Sydney, my return flight was a far better overall experience, even with an inferior seat.
After arriving in Sydney from San Francisco a bit late, I had two hours before my “connection” back to Los Angeles. I used the time to make a “coffee” run between three lounges. I’ll provide full reviews in separate posts, but first visited the Air New Zealand lounge, which has been totally remodeled since my last visit (many years ago).
The coffee was amazing! It’s one of the simple joys of life and always a highlight of being in Australia.
I also took a few minutes to shower.
Next, I headed next door to the Singapore Airlines lounge. Frankly, I found this lounge inferior to the Air New Zealand lounge. It was very crowded and internet slow. I did enjoy another coffee, however.
Boarding would soon begin for my flight to Los Angeles, but I headed down to the lower level to check out the American Express Lounge, which is more like a Plaza Premium lounge with an American Express logo. To properly complete my coffee analysis, I had another cappuccino. Once again, it was tremendous.
Most passengers had already boarded by the time I made it back to the gate for my flight to Los Angeles.
I was hoping to see the famous Annie, who I seem to miss every time I am in Sydney, but she was off for Christmas Eve.
Sydney (SYD) — Los Angeles (LAX)
Tuesday, December 24
Duration: 13hr, 40min
Seat: 3L (“Polaris” Business Class)
United’s 787-9 has been reviewed many, many times by me. You can check out the seat features here. Business Class has 48 seats in a 2-2-2 layout split over two cabins with a galley and lavatories in between. United still offers superior Saks Fifth Avenue bedding as well as a cooling gel foam pillow. Mattress pads, slippers, and pajamas are available upon request.
For this review, I’ll focus on the service and food.
Great, Great Service
I knew immediately this would be a great flight when I saw the purser, Timothy Trueman, going around to each passenger in business class and welcoming them onboard.
He was the purser on my son Augustine’s first flight and took excellent care of him. Here, he instantly remembered me, warmly welcomed me back, and asked how my son was doing. He could not believe when I said he was now three years old!
That small gesture of greeting every passenger set the tone for the flight. The crew was friendly and attentive. Passengers were addressed by name when meal orders were taken and Tim addressed me as “Mr. Klint” throughout the flight.
This flight definitively proved that U.S. airlines can match service levels to their foreign rivals, dare I say even their Asian rivals.
I always choose a window seat on the right side of the cabin when departing SYD to maximize views of Sydney. Today, the weather was quite cloudy. But that beach adjacent to the runway looks like a great place to planespot!
Let The Dining Began
Lunch was served after takeoff. Although the chipotle beef with macaroni & cheese sounded appealing, I stuck with fish, ordering Tasmanian salmon with Israeli couscous. This was a good choice, as the fish was moist and flavorful. The shrimp appetizer and green salad with French vinaigrette dressing was a nice starter. Garlic bread is excellent out of Sydney.
For desert I had cheese and two macarons,
A respectable Nicolas Feuillatte Champagne was on offer.
During dinner, I watch Ad Astra, an interesting sci-fi movie starring Brad Pitt.
I also bought an internet flight pass, which was $23.99 and worked (slowly) for the entire flight.
Fairly jet lagged, I was awake for the majority of the flight. A little more than midway through, I ordered a grilled cheese sandwich with tomato soup and it turned out to be the best sandwich I’ve ever had on United…I wrote about this in last week’s Meal of the Week feature.
Breakfast was served prior to landing, a frittata with chorizo and potatoes plus fruit and yogurt on the side. By this point, I was wide awake again. It was 5:00 AM, my normal wakeup time in LA.
We landed early at LAX and had a short taxi to our gate in the Tom Bradly International Terminal. It appears that United no longer uses the Terminal 6 immigration facility, which is a shame. With four flights from Australia plus the El-AL flight from Tel Aviv arriving at the same time, lines were horrific for immigration but Global Entry, as always, was very quick.
I had left Sydney on the afternoon of Christmas Eve and arrived back in Los Angeles on the morning of Christmas Eve!
It was thrilling to go on another mileage run after so many years. I try not to fly for the sake of flying any longer; if I do, I at least want to review new products for this blog. But mileage running in business class is a fun way to spend 36 hours.
And kudos to the crew of UA842 for taking such good care of me and the other passengers onboard.