The Airline – United Airlines
The Flight – UA 839 from Los Angeles to Sydney, depart 10.45PM, arrive 8.19AM, flight time, 14hrs 34 mins.
The Aircraft – Boeing B787-9 Dreamliner, 36 seats in Polaris Business Class, 70 in United Economy Plus and 113 in Economy. Polaris is set up in a 2-2-2 configuration, with Premium Economy and Economy in a 3-3-3.
Seat – 3L. Loved the space – especially the 198 cms of sleeping room. When I reclined the seat to go to sleep I loved that my feet didn’t feel like they were hanging down a bit like they do on some other airlines. The larger than usual TV screen was directly in front of me so I didn’t have to turn my head to watch it. There is a shelf under the TV which is perfect for your passport wallet, menu, pen, lip balm and phone. A lower shelf is for shoes, once you take them off and put on the comfy slippers United provides, and the USB, power point and headphone plug is easily accessible just behind the right-hand side of my seat – there is also storage for water bottles. It is easy to charge your phone there too. Polaris features custom designed bedding by Saks Fifth Avenue created to provide the best sleep in the sky. I was so cosy with the lovely soft duvet, the lightweight blanket and two pillows – a large one and a smaller one – I used the smaller one behind my back when watching movies. I could have requested a mattress cushion but I didn’t need it.
Check-in and lounge: At every airport – Sydney and San Francisco on the way to Reno on the way over, and from Reno to Los Angeles on the way home, all the United staff I encountered were friendly and efficient. And I mean every single person. As for the lounges, I was looking forward to experiencing the new Polaris Lounge at LAX but didn’t have time. It had only just opened the week before I was there and features private daybeds, art installations, a boutique restaurant and showers that look more like they belong in an award-winning spa. I also must tell you about how easy it was to get from my incoming Reno flight to the gate. It was so lovely not to have to rush from one terminal to another lugging a suitcase and ski gear, having to go through security again and all that palaver. I had a short five-minute stroll with no pressure, no further security (went through security at Reno Tahoe Airport) and it was a doddle. It even made me feel slightly less antsy about LAX, which is saying something.
In-flight service: Once again, I am really impressed by the service onboard. I am offered a drink not long after I sit down and get sorted, and, when asked if I want pyjamas, I happily take them. I can report that they are really comfortable … so comfortable that I actually have worn them at home a few times since and might actually be wearing them now but that is my secret.
Meals and wine: The meal options were great although being so late at night I chose not to have the tempting appetizer of seared tuna, content with the main of seared beef short rib. The ginseng chicken looked good too but I do love a good short rib. I could have chosen the express dining service too but as I said… short rib. There was a lovely Wente Vineyards 2016 chardonnay from the Livermore Valley in California or a Charles and Charles riesling from Washington State. The chardy won. Breakfast was a decent omelette which kept me happy until lunch time.
Entertainment: I did manage to watch a new release movie but somehow, I can’t for the life of me remember what it was. I know I liked it. I also like the channel United offers that helps prepare for sleep and relaxation. Choose soothing nature scenes, guided meditation sessions from Headspace or watch Slow TV.
The Verdict: I had had a flight with United in the distant past that didn’t tick all my boxes but I can assure you that you will be pleasantly surprised on all fronts with the work United has done across the board. I couldn’t fault a single thing from the time I checked in at Sydney Airport to the time I got back home again. As for Polaris, it is even better than I expected it to be – and I knew it was going to be great. Next time you’re off to the USA – give United a go – you won’t regret it.
United Airlines: united.com