Evaluation: United Airways’ “Previous” 787-9 Enterprise Class

After an awesome keep on the 4 Seasons Hualalai, it was time to return to the mainland. We determined to fly United’s Boeing 787 enterprise class from Kona to Chicago. Regardless that the flight ended up that includes United’s previous enterprise class seats, it was nonetheless significantly better than my final United flight from Hawaii to Chicago.

How I booked our United Airways enterprise class tickets

Slightly than returning to Florida, we needed to first journey to Boston, as we had a dedication there. Premium choices out of Kona have been extraordinarily restricted:

  • For the date we have been touring not a single flight from Kona to Los Angeles had even one first-class seat left on the market, not to mention out there with miles or an improve
  • You’ll be able to all the time join by means of Honolulu to get entry to extra routing choices, however that provides fairly a little bit of journey time

I set a worth alert with Google Flights for Kona to Boston, and finally acquired an alert for an choice that appeared fairly good in comparison with the options. United operates a Boeing 787 flight from Kona to Chicago. That is at the moment the one flat mattress choice immediately out of Kona, and it’s additionally an extended sufficient flight that you would be able to get some actual sleep. The ticket wasn’t low-cost, although — we paid about $1,200 one-way per individual.

What considerably took the sting out of that is that we had vouchers from a United itinerary we canceled in late 2021, so not less than our out of pocket wasn’t fairly that prime. We ended up reserving the next, with the primary flight scheduled to be operated by a Boeing 787-8 with the brand new Polaris seats, and the second flight scheduled to be operated by a Boeing 737 MAX 9:

03/12 UA67 Kona to Chicago departing 5:55PM arriving 6:00AM (+1 day)
03/13 UA2129 Chicago to Boston departing 7:15AM arriving 10:30AM

A final minute United plane swap

The morning of our flight we obtained an e mail indicating that the plane for the Kona to Chicago flight had been swapped. It was initially speculated to be a Boeing 787-8 with the brand new Polaris seats, whereas it was now a Boeing 787-9 with United’s previous enterprise class seats.

Clearly that’s a big downgrade, however frankly we have been blissful to only have a conveniently timed enterprise class flight in a flat mattress.

No new United Polaris seats for us!

I strongly dislike Kona Airport

We arrived at Kona Airport just a little after 3PM, a lot early for our 5:55PM flight. We arrived early as a result of we had a rental automobile, and we had picked it up on the similar time 4 days earlier, and didn’t need to get charged for an additional day.

We simply discovered United’s check-in counter, which was empty. A pleasant agent helped us. After seeing our 4 Seasons baggage tags she talked about she additionally works on the 4 Seasons, and this was her different gig. Hah. The check-in space is totally open-air, and I nonetheless discovered this a part of the airport expertise to be form of charming.

United Airways check-in Kona Airport

Safety was only a brief stroll away, and oddly the TSA Pre-Test line had extra folks in it than the usual safety line. We nonetheless stayed in that line, and thankfully it moved fairly rapidly.

Kona Airport safety line

We had about two hours to kill earlier than our flight boarded, which is far more time than you need to spend at Kona Airport. Look, let me acknowledge that on the floor it’s cute for an airport to have an out of doors area, particularly within the coronavirus period. It’s superior to have the ability to go open air at an airport, as that’s not one thing you usually see.

The issue is that Kona Airport has virtually no indoor area:

  • The one issues which might be indoors are the 2 eating places; regardless that the airport was busy, just one restaurant was open, and it was packed
  • The airport has no lounges of any kind
  • The airport has very restricted seating, and far of it isn’t even coated
  • It began raining, and we mainly needed to take cowl
  • Then you definately add within the masks mandate; it was humid as might be, and there was no actual choice to go wherever to chill off

For those who’re departing Kona Airport, I’d advocate arriving as near departure as doable (effectively, with out lacking your flight). Whereas Hawaii typically doesn’t have world class airports, that is my least favourite airport I’ve visited within the state. Who is aware of, perhaps I used to be simply unfortunate.

Kona Airport terminal
Kona Airport terminal
Kona Airport terminal
Kona Airport terminal

United Airways enterprise class boarding

Boarding was scheduled for five:05PM, 50 minutes earlier than departure. Our flight was departing from gate two, and the view of the airplane from the gate was form of cool.

Kona Airport departure gate

Personally I discover United’s boarding course of to be unnecessarily sophisticated. The variety of completely different teams that they name previous to boarding first and enterprise class virtually jogs my memory of the beneath SNL skit.

Since Kona Airport has no jet bridges, you board through air stairs. That’s form of enjoyable to do when boarding a large physique, for my part.

United Airways Boeing 787-9 Kona Airport
United Airways Boeing 787-9 engine Kona Airport
United Airways Boeing 787-9 Kona Airport
United Airways Boeing 787-9 Kona Airport

United Airways Boeing 787-9 enterprise class cabin & seats

We boarded by means of the second set of doorways, and turned proper into the rear enterprise class cabin. United’s previous Boeing 787-9 format options 48 enterprise class seats, unfold throughout eight rows in a 2-2-2 configuration. The ahead cabin has 5 rows, whereas the rear cabin has three rows.

United’s previous enterprise class seats are Collins Aerospace Diamond seats. They’re about essentially the most environment friendly absolutely flat seats you’ll discover, because the footwell for every seat is to the aspect of the seat in entrance.

These seats are fairly good for a roughly eight hour flight while you’re touring with somebody, whereas I’d be a lot much less pleased with these seats if touring solo from San Francisco to Singapore, for instance (although a overwhelming majority of 787-9s have been reconfigured, so at this level that’s a moot level).

United Airways Boeing 787-9 enterprise class seats

I assigned us seats 8A & 8B, the aisle and window seat on the left aspect within the final row.

United Airways Boeing 787-9 enterprise class seats
United Airways 787-9 enterprise class cabin at sundown

I additionally glanced into the economic system class cabin, which appeared fairly customary.

United Airways Boeing 787-9 economic system class cabin
United Airways Boeing 787-9 economic system class cabin

There have been three bathrooms in enterprise class — one on the entrance of the plane, and two within the galley between the 2 cabins. The rest room on the left aspect between cabins was by far the most important.

United Airways Boeing 787-9 enterprise class toilet

For what it’s value, initially enterprise class had solely round 28 passengers (the capability of the 787-8’s enterprise class cabin), however there have been roughly 15 standby passengers (I assume largely non-revs) that ended up clearing into enterprise class. There nonetheless ended up being some empty seats in enterprise class.

United Airways enterprise class facilities

This flight had higher facilities than you’d sometimes discover in home first-class, however not fairly the usual lengthy haul Polaris facilities. There was a cushty Saks pillow, plus an honest blanket. The Polaris quilt wasn’t supplied on this flight, although.

United Airways enterprise class bedding

Every enterprise class passenger was given a small pouch with facilities, together with eyeshades, earplugs, and a dental equipment.

United Airways enterprise class facilities

Earlier than takeoff every passenger was supplied a mimosa or water. I wouldn’t sometimes drink airplane orange juice or United’s prosecco, however while you mix the 2, it’s not half dangerous.

United Airways enterprise class pre-departure drinks

United Airways enterprise class dinner

What was service like on this 7hr46min flight? Effectively, dinner was served fairly effectively after takeoff. Earlier than departure we have been requested for our choice, with the alternatives being described as hen strips with rice or pasta with crimson sauce and greens.

Based mostly on the hen I had on my final United flight from Hawaii, I made a decision to order the vegetarian choice, and inspired Ford to do the identical. To drink we each determined to order an quaint. United has “On the Rocks” pre-made cocktails, that are fairly superior for what they’re.

Every thing was served on a single tray. This included heat blended nuts in a ramekin, a wrapped pretzel roll, an appetizer (consisting of rice and… I’m undecided, perhaps hen?), a important course (I’m undecided “pasta with crimson sauce and greens” actually describes this effectively), plus a blondie for dessert (is that the appropriate time period?).

Was the meal gourmand or superbly introduced? No. However it was significantly better than the meal on my final United flight from Hawaii. The vegetarian important was fairly tasty however bland, although the sauce helped make it a bit extra attention-grabbing.

United Airways enterprise class dinner

The flight attendant caring for us supplied a refill of our cocktails, plus additionally proactively introduced us some water.

United Airways enterprise class drinks

I appreciated how rapidly after takeoff the meal service was performed, because the tray was cleared solely about an hour after takeoff. We have been additionally handled to a beautiful sundown throughout the meal.

United Airways 787-9 enterprise class cabin at sundown

United Airways Boeing 787-9 leisure & Wi-Fi

United has a reasonably in depth leisure choice on the Boeing 787-9, with loads of motion pictures and TV exhibits. Nevertheless, I solely watched the shifting map.

United Airways 787-9 leisure system
United Airways 787-9 leisure system
United Airways 787-9 leisure system

United additionally has Wi-Fi on the 787-9, although I didn’t find yourself utilizing it, on condition that this was an in a single day flight.

United Airways 787-9 Wi-Fi
United Airways 787-9 Wi-Fi

United Airways enterprise class breakfast

Once I flew United from Maui to Chicago final 12 months there was no breakfast service, whereas this time round there was. About an hour earlier than touchdown breakfast was served, with the selection of eggs or a fruit and cheese plate. We ordered one in every of every.

The egg dish got here with rice and sausage, a aspect of fruit, and a croissant.

United Airways enterprise class breakfast

The fruit & cheese plate had pineapple, strawberries, grapes, cheese, almonds, cashews, and a hardboiled egg. It got here with a croissant plus some form of a chilly oatmeal mango aspect, or one thing.

United Airways enterprise class breakfast

United Airways enterprise class service

What stood out to me most about this flight was the superb service. I discover service on United to be a blended bag, with each a few of the greatest and worst flight attendants within the trade. The flight attendant working our part was a delight.

She was form, attentive, pleasant, environment friendly, and genuinely appeared to take pleasure in her job. For instance, on the finish of the meal she’d say “what else can I get you?” She’s top-of-the-line United flight attendants I’ve had in a very long time, so big kudos to her.

Backside line

All issues thought of we had a reasonably nice United flight from Kona to Chicago. For one, United at the moment presents the one flat beds from Kona, and for that matter operates the one flight from Kona that’s additional east than Phoenix.

Regardless that we had a final minute plane swap that brought about us to get United’s previous enterprise class seats, the whole lot else about this flight was higher than my final United flight from Hawaii. The flight attendant caring for us was pleasant, there was a dinner and breakfast service, and the meals high quality was higher (which admittedly is a really low bar).

Whereas hardly a memorable expertise, this ended up being a cushty and environment friendly approach to return to the mainland.

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