Review: United Business First Dubai to Washington

After spending an enjoyable three days in Dubai, we arrived at Dubai International Airport where we went through check-in, immigration and security without a hitch.  We had about an hour or so to kill before we needed to go to the gate for another round of security, so we headed to the Lufthansa Senator Lounge for a bit.

This lounge isn’t the largest lounge in the world, but there were a few options of cold appetizers as well as beer, wine and soft drinks.  I had a drink and a quick bite to eat as my buddy and I relaxed a bit before our impending long haul back to Washington.

Lufthansa Senator Lounge - Dubai

Lufthansa Senator Lounge – Dubai

It was finally time to get to the gate, so we made the ten minute trek through the expansive Dubai Terminal 2.   Since this was a flight back to the United States from Dubai, there was an additional security screening at the gate.  They took business class passengers first, but that only meant that we were allowed into the holding pen first at the gate, as boarding had not yet started.  Finally, after about thirty minutes of sitting around, we boarded our United B777-200.


My Last Hurrah as a United 1K:  A Weekend in Dubai


 

United Airlines (UA) 977
Washington (IAD) – Dubai (DXB)
Aircraft:  Boeing 777-200
Seat:  9A (Business First)
Monday, January 19
1:05AM – 6:55AM
Duration:  14:50

We entered the B777-200 again from door 2L, but unlike our last flight, we took an immediate right and settled in the forward-facing seats 9A and 9B in the larger business class cabin of this three-class, (pre-merger United) Boeing 777.  Like our inbound flight to Dubai a few days earlier, the United Business First cabin on this flight featured a 2-4-2 configuration in business class — pretty much the tightest fit in the industry.

Since my Global Premier Upgrades cleared months before the flight, we were able to select a pair of seats that were forward facing, and we were not stuck in the dreaded set of four business class seats.  The only forward facing pairs of seats in this configuration are rows 6 and 9.  I prefer row 6, but after this flight, row 9 proved to be perfectly fine.

Seat 9A on the United B777-200

Seat 9A on the United B777-200

As we got settled into our seats, we were offered some welcome aboard champagne — which I happily accepted.   My initial impressions of the flight crew on this flight was that they were initially much more friendly than the flat-out terrible crew we had on the flight over.

Having a plastic glass of champagne -- I was exhausted!

Having a plastic glass of champagne — I was exhausted!  Looking ragged.

It was quite late at night / early in the morning when this flight was scheduled to depart.  Luckily, United’s in-flight entertainment (IFE) system allows you to start a movie whilst on the ground.  So I started to watch “Grand Budapest Hotel.”  We had a somewhat delayed departure, but finally pushed back from the gate about twenty minutes behind schedule.

Soon after takeoff, I must have fallen asleep, but I was awoken as drink and meal service began.  I had a scotch to go along with some warm nuts.  I ordered what seems to be a standard United Business Class entrée — the beef tenderloin.

Admittedly, I was basically falling asleep during meal service since it was pretty much the middle of the night.  The presentation of the meal was pretty poor, but it definitely tasted much better than it looked – clearly an improvement over the slop that I endured on the outbound flight.  The salad was quite tasty and I really liked the dressing.  The chilled salmon appetizer was good enough, though I’m not a huge fan of salmon.  The best part was that I was offered copious amounts of garlic bread — win.  The steak was decently good, but I don’t really remember eating the potatoes and green beans.   I finished off the meal with the standard ice cream sundae, and as I finished it, I was basically falling asleep.

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Salad with Salmon Appetizer and Garlic Bread

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Salad Course

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Beef Tenderloin, Fingerling Potatoes and Green Beans

Dinner was over, and I was out.  I reclined my seat, and it was lights out for this guy.  This was about two hours into the flight.  We were over Iran somewhere.

Now these United BusinessFirst seats are a little bit tight, but man, oh man — do I sleep well in them.  I had one of the deepest sleeps I’ve ever had on airplane on this flight.  I eventually woke up when I heard some wrestling around in the cabin of the cabin crew.  I took a look at the flight map, and saw this:

Where we were when I woke up

Where we were when I woke up… yup… almost to Boston

Boston.  We were already almost to Boston.   I fell asleep over Iran.

I’d just slept over 11 hours in a row.   On an airplane.

Now that’s what I call a good night’s sleep anywhere.  But it’s basically unheard of on an airplane.   I guess I slept so well since this flight happened at natural sleeping hours, and because I was basically exhausted from the whirlwind weekend in Dubai.

Anyway, shortly after I figured out where I was and what was going on, the flight attendant brought be a Diet Coke and served breakfast.  Breakfast consisted of yogurt, fresh fruit, an omelette, chicken sausage and potatoes.  All in all, it wasn’t too bad.  I was pretty hungry, so I ate it.  Not the best breakfast in the world, but it was passable.

Omlette Breakfast

Omlette Breakfast

After breakfast, I watched the sunrise, as my seat was facing the east.  We made our descent into Washington and arrived a few minutes past our scheduled arrival time.

The Verdict…

I have a hard time finding fault with a flight on which I slept over 11 hours.  For that, I must admit that this flight accomplished everything I hoped.  It allowed me to arrive in DC well-rested and ready to spend the day with my girlfriend after a long, almost 15-hour flight.  I love the timing of this flight since sleep is basically natural.  Of course, business class really made everything much better.

The catering on this flight was fine.  It was nothing special, but not nearly as bad as the catering we endured on our flight from Washington to Dubai a few days earlier.  The flight crew on this flight was much better too.  And of course, the seat was plenty comfortable for me.

All in all, this was a decent flight, and a perfectly comfortable way to fly from the Middle East back to the USA.  It was my last flight as a United Premier 1K, and a decently solid one — nothing special, but not terrible.  While I appreciate flying in business class, I certainly won’t miss United — its catering, service and onboard product is lacking in the market — even when compared to the other international US carriers (Delta and American / US Airways).

How I booked it…

As mentioned earlier, I booked this flight with cash.  I booked a W-fare from Boston to Dubai via Washington-Dulles for under $1,000 round-trip.  The Global Premier Upgrades cleared about three weeks apart, in July and August.

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