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United First B777 San Francisco to Honolulu (oldest B777 in the world!) + clip

United First B777 San Francisco to Honolulu (oldest B777 in the world!) + clip

Old Nov 10, 17, 8:10 am
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United First B777 San Francisco to Honolulu (oldest B777 in the world!) + clip

On August 2nd 2017, I flew ‘First Class’ in a United Airlines Boeing 777-200 from San Francisco International Airport (SFO) in California to Honolulu International Airport (HNL) – also known as Daniel K. Inouye International Airport – on the Hawaiian island of Oahu. Like all carriers in the USA, United Airlines calls its domestic Business Class product ‘First Class’, or ‘United First‘ to be entirely correct. Albeit still good, domestic service is – understandably – not as extensive and refined as on intercontinental flights. But the hard product itself was quiet good since the flight was operated by one of United’s domestic Boeing 777s, which all feature lie flat seats similar to United’s old intercontinental Business Class seats. Lie flat seats on flights to Hawaii are only offered on wide body aircraft, hence why these planes are always preferable over narrow bodies which have angled First Class seats.

This particular flight was operated by a very special airframe, a B777-200 with registration number N777UA. This grand lady of the United Airlines Boeing 777 fleet was the first B777 to enter commercial service. On one hand, I was very glad that this bird is still flying around 22 years after her maiden voyage in 1995. On the other hand, flying on this old plane to Hawaii for five hours overwater did not help to ease my nerves (although I know that United has a perfect maintenance record). Yes, I admit that I am terrified of flying, especially when I have to fly across large bodies of ocean, so this particular flight was a real challenge for me. Flights from the USA West Coast to Hawaii take 5 to 6 hours and there’s no diversion airport in between, meaning that at the point of no return, the plane is 2,5 up to 3 hours away from the nearest airport. Despite the fact that I realize very well that twin-engine jetliners are certified for extended overwater operations (ETOPS), I cannot stop thinking of (extremely unlikely) worst case scenarios when I am cruising at 40,000 feet, such as a double engine flame out or – even worse – an onboard fire. That’s also the totally irrational reason why I preferred to fly via San Francisco to Hawaii since its airports is the closest to Hawaii, meaning less time in the air away from land. Flights from San Francisco to Hawaii take around 5 hours, while those via San Diego, Los Angeles, Seattle or Portland last 20 to 60 minutes longer. The flight itself was uneventful and I was happy that my fear remained within manageable levels, with the help of a light tranquilizer.

I made a clip with impression during this flight, which you want here:

- Trip: SFO-HLN
- Airline: United Airlines
- Aircraft type: B777-200
- Aircraft registration number: N777UA
- Flight Number: UA300
- Date: August 2nd, 2017
- On time departure: yes (1.15 pm)
- On time arrival: yes (3 pm)
- Miles: 2399
- Flight time: 4 hours & 45 minutes
- Seat: 3A
- Class: United First

1. UNITED FIRST CABIN

United’s B777 aircraft features 4 different layout versions. The carrier’s B777-200ER and brand new B777-300ER aircraft are used for international flights, while the older B777-200 aircraft – which used to be operated on international flights – have now been reconfigured for domestic use mainly. The good news is that the ‘United First’ cabin on those domestic, reconfigured B777 planes is identical to United’s old Business Class product, which comes with flat bed seats with 180 degrees recline. While this old Business Class product falls short of the current standards for international Business Class (hence why United is replacing it with the excellent new Polaris product), it’s great for a domestic flight and in fact much better than the First Class product offered on narrow body aircraft, which seem to dominate the West Coast to/from Hawaii market.

Each one of United’s domestic B777 features a small, somewhat cramp First Class cabin located in the plane’s front. The 28 lie flat seats are arranged in 4 rows with a 2-4-2 configuration, with the seats in row 2 and 4 facing forward, while the seats in rows 1 and 3 face backward. Large, grey colored panels with the entertainment screens and ottomans are placed between the four rows of seats. The 2-4-2 configuration is not different from what you find in Economy, and it means that are middle seats which don’t offer direct aisle access (which is a huge disappointment for a premium cabin product). While the 4 seats in the middle might be a great choice for families, they are far from ideal for couples or solo travelers. The cabin itself makes a clean and modern, albeit uninspiring impression.

2. UNITED FIRST SEAT

I had booked a backward facing window seat (3A) for the 5 four flight to Hawaii. You don’t really feel any difference with a forward facing seat, except for the slightly odd sensation during takeoff.

The United First B777 seat is physically the same seat as the one you find on international flights (although United is in the process of introducing its excellent Polaris pod seats on all of its intercontinental aircraft). The seat is covered in an excellent cushion and has a generous pitch of 76 inch (193 cm) but with of wide of only 19 inch, it feels too narrow (especially in the lie flat position). In front of the seat, you find a 15-inch TV touch screen located above a small footwell. The shared center armrest features a small table (where you can put your drinks) as well as the seat controls and the handset for the inflight entertainment.

With a push on a button on the control panel in the center armrest, the seats recline 180 degrees into a full, flat bed. The cushion feels soft, but the bed is uncomfortably narrow between the armrests, forcing you to sleep on your side when you’ve got wide shoulders. But it’s still better of course than the angled seats that are offered by most carriers on Hawaii bound routes, so I don’t want to complain too much. A bigger problem is the lack of storage space, which is limited to a very small shelf under the entertainment screen and the space under the footwell. Storage cubbyholes in the seat itself are lacking. It means that you will have to climb over your neighbor’s legs every time you need to retrieve something from your carry on luggage which can only be stored in the overhead bins.

IMHO, the seats biggest flaw is the total lack of privacy, especially in the four abreast center section. Due to the alternate forward/backward configuration, passengers look directly into each other seats, which can cause some akward moments. In addition, there is no privacy divider between passengers sitting next to each other, which is ok if you’re traveling with a friend or partner but is less than ideal when you’re seated next to someone you don’t know.

What are the best Business Class seats on United’s domestic B777-200? Click here for a seat map.
- Seats alternate facing backward and forward, so if you are sensitive to that, make sure to book a forward facing seat (located in rows 2 & 4).
- The 2 x 2 window seats in row 4 are the best ones, not only because they face forward, but also because row 4 lacks middle seats, hence creating more privacy.
- Families or larger travel parties should consider the 4 middle seats

What are the worst Business Class seats on United’s domestic B777-200? Click here for a seat map.
- When you are a solo traveler, try to avoid the 4 middle seats at all costs (especially the two center seats).
- Seats in row 1 and 4 may suffer from some noise disturbance from the galley and lavatories.

3. AMENITIES

This was a domestic journey, so amenity kits were not provided. I was impressed though that plush Saks Fifth Avenue bedding amenities were offered on this flight, similar to the ones you find on United’s intercontinental Polaris Business Class flights. The excellent bedding amenities consisted of a light throw blanket and a thick Saks Fifth Avenue pillow. The only difference with the Polaris Business Class product was the absence of a duvet.

4. MEALS

A menu was not handed out during this flight. Instead, shortly after takeoff, one of the cabin crew members informed each passengers of the only meal option onboard this flight, which was salmon fillet, served with vegetables, lemon sauce, rice and a salad. Despite its lackluster presentation, the food tasted quite good. A strawberry ice cream was offered as dessert.

5. ENTERTAINMENT

As mentioned above, each seat comes with a large 15-inch in-flight entertainment (IFE) screen located in front of the seat above the foot rest. The IFE can be commanded by directly touching the screen, or by using a handset which is located in the center arm rest. The latter is quite handy so that you do not always have to bend forward to directly touch the screen when you want to change the program settings. Noise canceling headphones are provided to block most noise from the plane and cabin.
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Old Nov 10, 17, 8:12 am
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Old Nov 10, 17, 10:28 am
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Thanks for posting. The view during takeoff from SFO is from the right side of the plane, not the left - where seat 3A would be, though. Were you actually filming from seat 3L?

JK-SFO
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Old Nov 10, 17, 7:35 pm
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Isn't CX B-HNL older, or am I wrong.

Think OP needs a title change.
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Old Nov 11, 17, 12:43 am
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Originally Posted by theLuxuryTravelExpert View Post
This particular flight was operated by a very special airframe, a B777-200 with registration number N777UA. This grand lady of the United Airlines Boeing 777 fleet was the first B777 to enter commercial service.


2. UNITED FIRST SEAT

I had booked a backward facing window seat (3A)
Before the plane went into service with UA, they flew the plane around to airports that UA flew out of to show it off, I remember seeing this aircraft and touring it in San Diego.

BTW you didn't fly in United First, but United Business.
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Old Nov 11, 17, 6:08 am
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Originally Posted by MonThruThurs View Post
Isn't CX B-HNL older, or am I wrong.

Think OP needs a title change.
You're wrong
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Old Nov 11, 17, 9:24 am
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Originally Posted by FlightNurse View Post
Before the plane went into service with UA, they flew the plane around to airports that UA flew out of to show it off, I remember seeing this aircraft and touring it in San Diego.

BTW you didn't fly in United First, but United Business.
United Airlines calls its domestic Business Class 'United First'

Last edited by theLuxuryTravelExpert; Nov 11, 17 at 9:29 am
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Old Nov 11, 17, 9:34 am
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Originally Posted by theLuxuryTravelExpert View Post
United Airlines calls its domestic Business Class 'United First'
It makes me angry that they're allowed to do that - it barely passes for business class, more like premium economy with a 2-4-2 configuration
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Old Nov 11, 17, 11:37 am
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Originally Posted by AussieDreaming View Post
You're wrong
You're wrong. N777UA is the 7th oldest 777 flying!

https://www.planespotters.net/produc...ist/Boeing/777
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Old Nov 11, 17, 12:21 pm
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Originally Posted by MonThruThurs View Post
You're wrong. N777UA is the 7th oldest 777 flying!

https://www.planespotters.net/produc...ist/Boeing/777
It was delivered first and has a lower MSN, implying it's production began earlier. Guess one can argue what constitutes oldest, production begin, delivery or whenevers the line number (what I assume LN stands for) is assigned
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Old Nov 11, 17, 6:52 pm
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Originally Posted by theLuxuryTravelExpert View Post
United Airlines calls its domestic Business Class 'United First'
The 777 the OP was on had a FC cabin.
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Old Nov 11, 17, 8:38 pm
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Originally Posted by theLuxuryTravelExpert View Post
United Airlines calls its domestic Business Class 'United First'
Right, but they also call all of their long haul premium cabins "United Polaris" even though only 1 route has the actual Polaris cabin.

You got domestic first, and arguably United's worst business class configuration ever. Whoever signed off on 2-4-2 in business class should have been fired
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