So Earl and I invested in the upgrade to first class for our trip to Hawaii. It’s like a drug; once you fly First Class, you’re addicted to First Class. Now when I fly for work or pleasure and unable to get into First Class I can be a little cranky. Premium Economy offers some consolation, but even then there’s always that horrible feeling of possibly ending up in double-digit row.
I clench my jaw and play a snob with the best of them.
This is our first time flying in the “Version 4” configuration of United’s First Class offering on the Boeing 777. The seating arrangement is odd. We are in row 3. The seating arrangement is 2-4-2. Seats 3A-B and 3K-L are facing the rear of the aircraft. Seats 3D-G are facing the front of the aircraft. The row is staggered so that the outer seats are parallel to the entertainment “wall” separating the inner seats from the previous row, which is facing the back of the aircraft. Our entertainment screens are back to back, and likewise for the outer rows. Because of this arrangement I can easily look the passengers in 3A-B, 3K-L directly in the eye. Not awful but unusual for an airline flight. Luckily, Jamie and Chris are closest to our sight line.
This direct flight from Chicago O’Hare to Honolulu is approximately nine hours long. We left the gate on time at 10:10 with wheels up at 10:40 Central. Wheels down will be around 15:15 Hawaii, which is four hours behind Central. For assistance with the mathematics, wheels down is 19:15 Central. In American civilian terms, that’s 7:15 PM. The entertainment offerings are robust enough to keep everyone entertained for such a journey. The system is easy to navigate with the seat mounted remote control.
Speaking of the seats, they are quite comfortable and perfectly capable of lying completely flat. Again, it’s easy for the outer seats to see what the inner seats are doing, and vice-versa, so there’s that small element of a lack of privacy, but the provided amenities are quite nice. The pillow is fluffy and the Saks Fifth Avenue blanket is impressively heavy.
Lunch was served around 11:15 Central, which is 7:15 Hawaii time. We were not presented with a menu but addressed by the crew by name, who then gave us a verbal list of choices. My husband had beef tips and I had a fish dish with lobster sauce. A salad with Sesame Ginger dressing was included, as well as a dinner roll but I didn’t get a roll for some reason. I didn’t bother to ask for one. Maybe it’s under my seat. For dessert a coconut flavored ice cream sundae was on tap and though the ice cream was very frozen and hard, it was delicious.
Overall I was hoping our First Class experience would include the “pods” we experienced flying LAX to ORD in 2019, but I feel like we are getting our investment’s worth with what we are experiencing today. There are much better offerings for First Class experiences out there, especially when flying internationally, but the airplane feels “fresh”, the crew has been top-notch and I’m pleased with the experience thus far. It makes logical sense that flying ORD to HNL is a Domestic Flight, but with half of the flight over the ocean and the entire flight longer than some international offerings from United, I would think this experience would be more in line with the Polaris International experience. However, I am without complaint. With four hours left to go on this flight I’m confident my satisfaction level will continue this pace and I recommend flying in the manner as your budget or points allow.