PlaneReality flew United’s old business class Los Angeles – London and offers a review.
Naturally it starts with a broken united.com, that’s a given. Food and service seemed ok, this is business class and not first after all. The major complaints were lack of standard power supply and lack of video on demand on a decent screen. This is the part that struck me, though:
These older seats have great recline and plenty of legroom, but go for an aisle seat if you plan on getting up a lot. Like I alluded to, United could keep these seats if they installed audio video on-demand.
What’s funny is that PlaneReality’s take is the exact opposite of mine.
I don’t really care what kind of power supply United offers, I have an empower adapter and they aren’t especially expensive if I didn’t. And I can manage inflight entertainment on my own, just load up DVDs on my laptop and I’m good to go — not even dependent on the choices that United decides to offer.
What I really need, though, is a decent seat.
Now, the seats aren’t actually awful. I’ve spent many many hours over many many trips sitting in them over the years. I’ve certainly had my share of long-haul flights e.g. to Sydney in the old United business seats.
But the seats themselves are showing substantial wear, the padding in many of them is just worn out and the legrests are clunky in their adjustments to say the least I often have to hold onto the bottom portion of the seat as I adjust it out.
And it’s not just that the seats are old, laying flat really does make a difference for a restful sleep. And it’s something that United’s competitors offer, and offer on this route in particular.
Competitor American has a not great business seat for sure, but it’s better than the old United seat, at least one would be hard pressed to make an argument the other way around.
Now, transatlantic to other destinations is another story, Lufthansa nad Air France and Swiss all offer angled-flat products out of Los Angeles. So when United installs fully flat seats in the 777 they’ll leap ahead of those competitors. But even so, those carriers offer more advanced seats than the old cradle/barcalounger style seating that still flies in United’s 777 aircraft.
My starting point for long-haul is that the thing that matters most is the seat. And that’s where United is finally, in a behind-schedule sort of way, finally taking the plunge with their mainstay 777 aircraft.