United's Impressive Domestic First Class Product
Updated: Dec 18, 2019
When traveling by air domestically in The Unites States, you have many options as to which airline to fly, which route to take, and which class of service to fly in. You have everything from tiny 50 seat regional jets such as a Bombardier CRJ-200 or Embraer ERJ-145 in economy to first-class aboard a Boeing 777 with new suites installed. For this article we will be focusing on the first-class product from an airline that takes you to the “Friendly Skies” that airline is United. UA is one of the “Big Three” U.S. Legacy carriers, based in Chicago, IL they have quite an expansive route network with seven hubs throughout the continental U.S. and a hub on the U.S. Island territory of Guam. They have a fleet of nearly 900 mainline aircraft and over 600 regional ones.
The flight that I took was from Ft. Lauderdale to Houston-Intercontinental, which is United’s Texas hub as United 514 with a scheduled departure time of 11:52 AM and arrival time of 1:39 PM including a one-hour time difference. United flies out of Terminal 1 at FLL in concourse C, the terminal just went through a massive renovation recently, and it is stunning, now all three concourses of terminal 1 (A, B, C) are accessible airside, check out our airport guide of Ft. Lauderdale for more info. I had come in on another United flight, so I did not have to pass through security, but I am a South Florida native, and I used to fly out of FLL all the time, so I know that terminal 1 security never usually has too long of lines.
Our aircraft was one of their 19-year-old Airbus A320’s registered N464UA. The ticket I booked was in economy going from Ft. Lauderdale to Houston then onto Austin, TX, but because I am Premier Gold with United, I was upgraded 48 hours before departure to first class. I am a complete and total Boeing guy, but I have to say that the Airbus product is the best in all of the United’s domestic fleet. The A320 has 12 first-class recliner seats configured in a 2-2 configuration while in Economy Plus and standard economy, they are 3-3. The best row on the entire plane is row 1, the very first seat in first class, which is also the bulkhead seat. The standard dimensions of the A320 first class have a width of 20.5 inches and 39 inches of pitch, but in row one, you get an additional 6-8 inches. The seat offers an impressive two separate storage compartments and a universal power outlet at each seat. The tray tables are in the armrest, though, which makes them immovable, but since the seat is so spacious, that is no issue. Also, the aircraft does not offer personal IFE devices like some Boeing 737’s do with Unite, but you can stream movies and tv shows for free through the United app.
I was sat in Seat 1A, the window seat on the left side of row 1. Boarding was scheduled to begin at 11:17 AM, 35 minutes before departing, and it began to board right on time. Once onboard the aircraft, I quickly found my seat since it was in the first row and got settled into the seat. Due to the row being the bulkhead, all backpacks, purses, and small items need to be stowed in an overhead compartment for takeoff and landing. The very kind flight attendant came by and put my backpack up in the compartment for me. She then asked what we would like to drink for the pre-departure dink. I requested a Diet Coke, and it was served within about a minute. Just as boarding was nearly complete, she came back around and asked if we would like a snack on the flight and said the options were either a cheese and grape platter or a cold Mexican style salad with no dressing, she said it was more like a salsa. I chose the first option being the cheese platter.
We pushed back right on schedule at 11:52 AM and made a short taxi to runway 28R. We then lined up on the runway and took off towards the west, beginning our two hour and twenty-one-minute journey to Houston. Once we leveled off at our cruising altitude of 36,000 feet, the flight attendant came back around and handed out a scorching hot towel, which was nice and refreshing. We were then handed out the inflight snack, and I must say United does exceptionally well with their catering on board their flights. I was expecting a small cheese plate with maybe 2 or three grapes but this one was huge. It had three different kinds of cheese (Brie, Gouda, and Cheddar), a whole vine of grapes, some prosciutto, a strawberry, a packet of crackers, and a Ghirardelli chocolate caramel square. The snack was also served with water and choice of drink, which I chose to have another Diet Coke. Once I finished the snack, I watched a movie on my computer and just relaxed as we made our way over the Gulf of Mexico to Houston. Another round of drinks was served around halfway through the flight.
We then began our descent into the Houston area, and the flight was coming to a close. We landed at 1:19 PM local time, twenty minutes earlier than scheduled, and taxied over to gate E12. Overall, this was an awe-inspiring first-class experience on United. The aircraft itself was spacious and very comfortable, we departed on time and arrived early, the flight attendant was very accommodating and kind, and the service on board was impeccable. I genuinely believe that United offers the best first-class product when flying domestically in the United States. I want to try United’s International “Polaris” class to see what that is like in the future. Thank you, United, for a great flight! I am looking forward to more trips with UA very soon.
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