I'm about to book a flight from San Francisco to Sydney and wondered if anyone had any recent experiences (good or bad) with United on this leg, economy or business.
I've flown the segment between SFO and SYD four times so far this year in Business. It is my preferred way to go. You will run into the same operational issues out of SFO that all airlines run into. One of the downsides of UA economy is that there are no personal screens in the seatbacks, so you should avoid the bulkhead rows. On the plus side is the presence of E+. Having an extra few inches is a big plus for that length of trip.Edited: 5:51 am, April 18, 2013
regularly use this route/airline.
older 747s. cabin screens not seat back in economy.
plenty of music to choose from.
crews are usually good. food can be patchy.
E+ is worth the extra money.
never had any real problems witb UA on the ground or in the air for over a decade. any small blips have been quickly and efficiently dealt with.
united are my choice of airline across the pacific and around the usa.Edited: 5:57 am, April 18, 2013
I haven't flown that route, but have flown many times on the United 747 (and have another flight Saturday). I endorse what both Geo and lien say. Business class is great on the upper deck, and economy is roomy if you can stretch to Economy Plus (if you can get it, the row 45 exit row by the galley is IMO the best). I'd just add that United's flight attendants (especially on their international flights) are very friendly and professional. They're not the "youngest/prettiest" that you see on Asian/Middle Eastern carriers, but on a par with the likes of Lufthansa. I I noticed a massive improvement in service about 2 years ago and it's been maintained.
I've flown the SYD-SFO/LAX route six times over the last 12 months. All in Economy Plus so I can't comment on Business. I keep on doing it so you can take that as a recommendation and apart from last week's hiccup which I've posted about its always gone smoothly. As I wrote the other day United dealt with that hiccup at SFO as well as anybody could/would.
I have Platinum status with Virgin and could go with them to LAX. I don't because I'd have to pay a lot more to move up to their Premium Economy compared with United's E+ (free in my case as Premier Gold).
I have done this route both in economy and business.
Business was great and I would happily fly again. Economy was dreadful. To this day my economy flights on United remain as the worst flights I have ever taken.
I've never done this route in economy, but the service in business is very good. The upper deck is very quiet, and I have only ever booked seats up there. I've never sat downstairs, but when passing through the downstairs cabin, the 8 across seats in business just appear crowded (even though the seats are actually a few inches longer than those upstairs). The inflight entertainment is good, with nice large screens. The only thing I don't like about the in-seat video is that the screens don't pivot, which is sometimes nice if you're getting glare from somewhere. Overall, I don't have any complaints. It's a good product, I've flown it a number of times, and would have no issues about flying that route again.
The route is okay. It's the equipment that stinks. I've done the UA 747 SFO-SYD and will never do it again. Actually, I will never do UA 747 economy anywhere again.
I go out of my way to avoid UA 747 service in Economy. Economy Plus helps a little with the leg room in the 747. IMO, normal economy would induce claustrophobia. UA 747 economy service brings out the fleet minimum of 17" width and the 3-4-3 economy layout with non-existent/obsolete AVOD/IFE options.
I did this last year in March,in economy(not one of the wealthy folk,Im afraid!!) Is it flight 863?
I did a review on here afterwards of the flight,which you can search for under my name. I actually got quite lucky,in that the flight was half empty and I lucked out with a row of three to myself.With that being said,i originally booked seat 59B(aisle,letter might be wrong),one of the two seaters in the back.The window of that pair has the most extra legroom youll get without paying for E+ b/c of the angle of the plane,and also has a nice gap of space between the window and seat.The very last row has enough of a gap that if you are average sized,you could potentially squeeze out that area behind the seat to reach the aisle/bathrooms without disturbing your neighbor.
Like others said,there was no inflight seat entertainment,only overhead monitors,but I had done my research and came prepared with my laptop,,iPhone,and books. you can always rent a DVD player in the airports too,if you dont have any of the above. The service was decent,the food is your basic airline food(bring snacks)but there is free alcohol.
Be warned,it is a VERY turbulent ride. The FA's told me that "the ride to Sydney is always bumpy."
To me,it was worth it to save $$$ and make accommodations as far as entertainment,meals,etc. E+ is probably not a bad ide if you are tall,but the seats are the same size width wise,and you dont get any extra amenities.
Now,that being said,my flight from SYD-SFO was canceled,and I was placed on Qantas A380 on the return.While my experience on United was perfectly fine,I do have to admit,Qantas was AMAZING,and if its the difference of only a couple hundred or so,i would try them,but if you are like me,and trying to save,don't worry,United is fine.
"Be warned,it is a VERY turbulent ride. The FA's told me that "the ride to Sydney is always bumpy."
Agree with lien, not true, normally. Last week SYD-SFO we barely had a bump and that's been our general experience. It happens though, the time before there was probably an 8-9 hour stretch where it was like being in a speedboat over choppy water.