Flying from Los Angeles to Honolulu in route to the Philippines was an interesting experience, but it allowed to me try out all of United’s more Premium products. I was flying on an Elite upgrade from LAX to HNL and am a Star Alliance Gold member, which allowed me to access not only Premier check in, but also the United Club lounge access at LAX.
First class comes with free check bags so I checked a couple of boxes of gifts and headed to the gates.
After such a joyful time with the TSA, I headed towards my gate, but I wanted to stop by the United Club first. Check out the United Club review at LAX here. I needed a drink after my experience with the TSA and the but also the United Club Lounge was a perfect place to find a Bloody Mary.
After a short stop by the Club, the monitors had said my plane was boarding, so I headed down to the gate. Upon arriving at the gate, I found out the plane was not boarding yet, because they said the catering truck had not arrived. Despite this announcement, I could see the catering truck at the planeside and I could see people loading items onto the plane. Odd I thought, the United Gate agents just flat out lied about why the boarding was delayed. I decided to hang out by the gate because I wanted to see what would happen. It was now 9:35 and our schedule departure time was 9:43, yet the plane status still read “on-time”. Shortly after, the gate agents announced they were going to begin boarding, however they were going to start with ONLY those in economy. Those sitting in the Premium cabin would have to wait because the catering truck/carts were blocking the 1st class cabin. After the econ cabin was boarded around 10am, the first class cabin was able to board the plane.
After the backwards boarding process, everyone in first class found their way quickly to their seats. The FAs were hidden in the forward galley. One finally ventured out to collect jackets and to hang them. After only a few minutes, the cabin doors closed and we thought we would push back and be on our way, yet we waited and waited. After 10 minutes of waiting, the pilot announced that due to traffic, we had to wait to push back and it would be another 10 minutes or so. Meanwhile, there were no preflight service and the FAs spent their time gossiping amongst each other.
United Airlines First Class
We finally took off, about an hour delayed, and were on our way to Hawaii.The first class FA came through the cabin, taking everyone’s drink order and lunch order. The options were either a pasta or chicken noodle dish. She informed me that they had a Vegan meal for me (I ordered a vegetarian, but that this option was alright) so I did not have a choice for meals that day. I was happy to see that United had honored my special meal request, for I was told on a previous flight that there were no special meal requests for domestic flights.
Drinks and mixed nuts were served about 40 minutes into the flight. The nuts were room temperature, not warmed, but needless to say, still better than peanuts (warm nuts are standard). I found it funny that the table cloths aka Napkins displayed Continental, but the paper napkins displayed United. Furthermore, the glasses also had contradicting names, with some reading United with the new logo and others reading Continental with the new logo.
Shortly afterwards, lunch was served. My lunch, since it was vegan meal, consisted of white rice, steamed veggies, a bowl of fruit and wheat bread. The meal was very sparse and hardly filling! Upon finishing my meal, the FA came by and asked me if I would like anything else. Still being hungry, I asked the FA if I could ask her a question, she responded, “if you must”, I was somewhat taken aback by her response, but asked anyway, my question was simple: were there any sources of protein on board for the meal I was provided was highly lacking a protein option. She looked at me and said “NO”. I then asked her if there were any extra nuts available, or anything that could supplement my meal.
She again said, “No, we only have enough nuts for each person to have one serving and we do not have any other proteins onboard.” She then proceeded to tell me that I should have brought my own meal aboard if I was not satisfied with what was provided!
The mean old hag walked away and I honestly was shocked by the conversation I just had with the FA. My seatmate, who I had barely spoken to looked over at me and said, your meal was tiny; I would still be hungry if I was you! We then proceeded to have a conversation about the rude Flight Attendant, and how she didn’t even try to offer a solution. Then the nice stranger reached into her purse, and pulled out an all-natural, gluten-free protein bar with 30 grams of Protein and offered it to me! What an awesome seatmate, I thought! And honestly the Quest Protein bar was Delicious!
About 30 minutes later, the same FA came through the cabin and started offering dessert. The option today was an Ice cream Sundae with your choice of toppings: Caramel, Strawberries, Chocolate, and Nuts. I opted for Chocolates and Nuts. The response from the FA was: “I thought you’d opt for the Nuts” S he then walked away and brought me my Sunday with Chocolate
Shortly after dessert, I fell asleep watching a movie on my tablet. The overhead movie was the same movie I had watched previously from IAH-SAN a week ago, and I had no desire to watch the movie again. Thankfully, for this 5 hour flight, I had brought plenty of entertainment options, including my tablet, my laptop, and my smartphone. For the united first class seats had no power ports and did not offer individual TVs/In Flight Entertainment. A pretty poor premium seat.
About 2 hours before landing I woke up and got up to use the bathroom. While waiting for the bathroom I asked for a refill on my drinks, because both my Jim Bean on the Rocks and my Club soda had been cleared from my tray table. The older FA who I had not seen in the aisle at all, but was instead busy working the galley smiled and offered to prepare those for me while I was in the bathroom. After using the bathroom, I had noticed that the snack basket was sitting out in the galley. I helped myself to 2 100 calorie nut packs (I thought she told me earlier there were no more nuts on the plane?!?!), 2 mini cliff bars, and a bag of pop chips. Since my meal was so small, I thought to myself I better grab a few extra snacks for my next flight (HNL-GUM) for I would be sitting in coach.
I returned to my seat and less than a minute later, the same haughty FA from before followed me to my seat with my drinks. She placed both my drinks down, looked at me said, “Did you get enough snacks? You look like a hoarder!”
I stopped, looked at her and said, “Excuse me?”
She looked back and said, “Did you take enough?” You took two of almost everything!”
I kept my composure and said, “Yes thank you, I need to make sure I have a protein source for later”
She turned and walked back to the galley but before leaving said: “Well you’ve had more than your fair share!”
I was still sitting there in awe by the conversation that I had just exchanged with the FA when my neighbor looked at me in disbelief as well. We joked around about how she made it seem as though the snack was coming out of her paycheck, and then we both returned to our own entertainment devices for the rest of the flight.
The last two hours of the flight was uneventful and we landed in Hawaii just about 30 minutes behind schedule. I had 45 minutes still before my next flight, so I disembarked and headed towards flight that would take me onwards to Guam.
United Airlines Hawaii First Class Rating
Overall I would rate this flight 3/10. Here is my breakdown:
Check-in 6/10 – Staff were not very helpful, made it difficult to not only access check-in but then had a difficult time having someone verify my passport information. Thankfully the Premier check in was nearly empty and more organized than T7.
Boarding Process 1/10 – Staff lied about the delay, made up an excuse, then rushed to get us on the plane. No extra services for those seated in the Premium cabin
Seat comfort: 7/10 – Standard domestic first class recliner seat, plenty of legroom and a winged headrests. A pretty standard domestic first class seat.
In Flight amenities: 3/10 – No inflight power, no individual IFE, Overhead TVs are better than nothing, but this is 2012 and I had plenty to keep myself entertained with. Not a great first class experience
Meal: 4/10 – small, lacking protein, only real good part of it was the fruit salad and desert
Service: 3/10 – FA was rude, arrogant, and not helpful. Given my initial request for protein, she should have at least offered the snack basket, which had packets of nuts in it and cliff bars, but instead she said No and did not offer a resolution. Furthermore, when getting food from the snack basket she referred to me as a hoarder and greedy!
Overall opinion of United Airlines? After this flight and my last flight, I’m starting to wonder why anyone would fly United. Maybe for the United Polaris business class seat and Polaris Lounges? I had to convince both people at Check-in and the United Club that I had access to such areas, FA were rude, the reason for delay was a lie (at first), departure time/status remained “on-time” despite the clear delay, and IFE is lacking.