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Old Jul 8, 16, 6:19 pm
Join Date: Feb 2012
Location: San Francisco Bay Area
Posts: 48
United BusinessFirst 787-9 SFO-KIX-SFO

I enjoy reading all the trip reports and live vicariously through many who post on this site. I am no expert in collecting miles or a millionaire. I am fortunate enough to have a mother who has worked for United for just over 30 years. Therefore, whenever I have time, I take advantage of the benefits and hop on a plane even if it's just for one full day. My brother and I try to meet up once a week to get lunch and catch up on life. During one of our lunches, my brother joked and said, "We should go to Japan and get sushi." Apparently, I didn't take it as a joke and immediately went on my iPhone and looked at the United flight loads to NRT, HND, and KIX. I should have mentioned earlier that our base airport is SFO. It is very convenient for us for Asia flights, not so much for Europe flights. But I digress... Anyways, NRT seems to always be full since it is a gateway to Asia. HND wasn't looking good and the flight times weren't very appealing. KIX was wide open with over 20+ seats in J and over 90+ seats in Y. To top it off, United would be flying the 787-9 to KIX. I've never flown on the Dreamliner and this would be the perfect time to finally give it a go.

Fast forward a week later and we're getting dropped off at one of my favorite US terminals, the SFO International Terminal. I initially wasn't planning on writing a trip report for one reason. This was the day after the 4th of July and I may have celebrated a little too hard and really wasn't in the mood to be snapping photos. I apologize ahead of time for the lack of photos of the airport and interior of the plane. I just recently turned thirty and my body doesn't recover quite as fast as my twenties.

As soon as I saw the 787-9 Dreamliner parked at Gate 94, I couldn't help myself and busted out the GoPro 4.

The mural wall at Gate 94

Not the greatest views of the Dreamliner

We had some time to kill so we went to Andale for a breakfast burrito. This is just my opinion of SFO, but I think the food choices aren't very good. Yes, they have a few good Asian spots and good organic vegan options if that's what you're into. But with the state I was in that day (recovering from celebrating America's independence), I wanted something greasy.

After eating we headed down to the gate and were immediately issued our assigned seats of 7K and 7L. Rows 1-5 are in the first section of BusinessFirst and rows 6-8 are in the smaller cabin. Going home, we sat in row 5 and I enjoyed the smaller cabin more. We boarded with Group 1 and got to enjoy almost 30 minutes on the ground before departure.

First view of the interior of the 787-9. I must say, I was pretty excited about this flight.

The large windows

I did notice that the foot well in the bulkhead rows were noticeably bigger. But hey, I wasn't complaining. I was just happy to be on the Dreamliner.

I opted for Champagne or sparking wine for the pre-departure beverage. I was actually starting to feel better at this point and might have been going for the "Hair of the dog" theory.

We had an on time departure at 11:35am and taxied to the runway. I did notice the take off to be noticeably quieter than the 747 and 777 that I'm used to on long-haul flights. Once airborne, the crew (PMCo) got out of their jump seats and the slamming of trays, doors, buttons, and beverage carts began.

We were given menus on the ground and asked for our choices. I chose the Pork Chop.

As per usual, ramekin of warmed nuts and a glass of Pinot Noir

The table set up with a pretzel roll

The cold appetizer which I thought was fantastic

Salad (I was so excited about Salad that I forgot to take a picture before taking a few bites)

The main course (Pork Chop) which I was excited about. It was cooked very well and was tender. However, it was very salty.

The cheese course with Baileys

Ice Cream Sundae to finish it off

I enjoyed a movie with dinner. I liked the IFE controller which is exclusive to the 787-9. I was able to have the map on the controller while watching movies.

That ended the first meal service of the flight. I relaxed and took a two hour nap. I watched a few episodes of The Big Bang Theory. In no time, it was time for our pre-arrival snack. I initially wanted to try the Katsu but were already out and ended up having an omelette for lunch. By that time, it was around 1pm local Osaka time.

No complaints, well okay maybe one; I've never been a fan of airplane breakfast food and breakfast is usually one of my favorite meals.

While eating, we had a decent view of Mt. Fuji

Almost there!

We landed into Kansai International about five minutes ahead of schedule. And off the plane, we were hit by the wall of heat and humidity. There were no lines at customs and immigration and were out of the airport within ten minutes. That included the short tram ride from our gate to the main arrival hall. We headed for the JR Line that took us straight into Namba Station. We would be staying in the Dotonburi area of Osaka for two nights. I initially wanted to stay at the Hilton in Umeda but decided against that to be closer to Dotonburi. I used Agoda to look for hotels in the Namba/Dotonburi area but couldn't find anything good. Most places were guesthouses or really small Japanese hotels. I ended up booking an Airbnb for two nights which was a short five minute walk into the Dotonburi area. I completely forgot to take pictures of the apartment but for those of you interested here is the place.

I highly recommend it for the location. The place was clean and quiet. The beds were comfortable and the host was very accommodating even though we actually never met in person.

We left on July 5th and arrived on 6th. The 7th would be our only full day in Osaka. Our plan was to take United 34 back to SFO on July 8th, which departs at 4:45pm Osaka time. Here I am in my apartment in San Mateo, CA on July 8th at 3:15pm typing this trip report starting to really feel delirious. Again, I digress. Here are some photos from my time in Osaka.

The famous Ichiran Ramen. Pay before you enter via vending machine.

Take a seat and circle your choices. You then hand it to a Ramen chef who you don't see at all.

Then a few minutes later.... voila!

Freshly made gyoza

Conveyor belt sushi AKA sushi boats

More sushi


We did a day trip to Kyoto and for some reason, this is the only photo I took. This was right outside Gion.

I actually took another photo right before leaving Kyoto Station.

Growing up one of my favorite N64 games. I couldn't resist and had to try it out.

Before we knew it, it was already time to head back to KIX. With the jet lag, heat, and eating too much, I was actually ready to head back home to my girlfriend and our pooch. The flight wasn't departing until 4:40pm and had to be out of the apartment by 10:00am. We killed some time at Starbucks and decided that we would have lunch and do last minute souvenir gift shopping at the airport. KIX has a pretty impressive selection of restaurants. We took the Limited Express train back to KIX which took about 40 minutes.

Looked kind of like a Spartan warrior from the front.

Inside the train to KIX with the nice cheetah print seating

Once we arrived at KIX, my brother was hungry. My little brother is about 6 ft tall and probably weights 150 lbs at most but is always hungry and can eat A LOT. Me on the hand, I am about 5'10" and 180 lbs and love to eat but can't eat nearly as much as my brother does. I reminisce to when I had a good metabolism and could stuff my face silly and not gain a pound. I watched my brother eat his last Japanese meal at the airport. I bought my girlfriend some candy which she requested. I am glad she requested things for me to buy because I am quite possibly the worst gift giver. I have no originality or creativity when it comes to gift giving. Lucky or unlucky for me, my girlfriend likes to travel as well so when it comes to the gift department, I usually book us a trip for gifts We still had well over three hours to burn and I was getting hungry myself. Remember when I mentioned KIX having an impressive selection of restaurants? The golden arches were calling my name and got myself a Big Mac meal. I never saw so many westerners in one area.

After my brother watched me eat, we checked in, went through security, and immigration which was a breeze. They're so polite unlike the TSA Agents. We got to the gate area and waited until we were issued our boarding passes. For the ride home we were assigned to 5D and 5E which was the center section and both aisle seats, which was fine for us since it was a night flight and wouldn't be much to see.

We boarded the plane on time and settled in.

I was pretty tired for this flight and again didn't plan on taking photos. Here is the meal:

Some tasty garlic bread

Watching The Jungle Book during the dinner service

My brothers chicken meal

My steak, which ended up being really good!

They did a really great job heating it up.

To finish it off

I skipped dessert and went right to sleep. By the end of the service we had less than seven hours left in the flight. After a decent sleep, I woke up to the flight attendants preparing breakfast. I skipped out on breakfast since I wasn't very hungry. We landed into SFO at around 10:05am, which was forty minutes ahead of schedule. That concludes my trip report. I apologize for the lack of photos and the random rants I went on. While writing this, I was beginning to feel the jet lag and delirious so I blame that. Comments and feedback appreciated!
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