A review on my trip on board United Airline's Boeing 777-200ER in Economy Plus from Washington Dulles to Frankfurt Am-Main.
How it was paid-
The one-way ticket was purchased using 40,000 United plus points, and because my father has platinum status, we were able to select Economy Plus for free.
We arrived at Washington Dulles a little early, at around 7:40 p.m. (UA932 to FRA was scheduled to depart at 10:10 p.m.). Check-In was a breeze through the priority lane, and we were lucky enough to have TSA-Precheck which allowed us to clear security in 5 minutes. In fact, by the time we took the train to the C-gates (where the majority of United’s international flights depart from IAD) it was 7:55, a mere 15 minutes since we had arrived at the airport!
After doing some plane spotting and spending 20 minutes at the United Club lounge we boarded N793UA, an ancient 21-year old United 777-200. We were greeted with a friendly hello at the door, and were directed to our seats. On our way we walked through their ‘old’ business class cabin, with their infamous 2-4-2 layout. We were seated in the second row of economy plus and I decided to take the risk and book seats 21A and 21C with the hope that the middle seat would be empty, and lucky for us, it was! Unlike many premier airlines, like Lufthansa and Singapore Airlines, United’s economy plus has the EXACT same seat and service as economy with the only difference being an added few inches of legroom.
Even though I am 6’1’’, there was still plenty of room for my legs.
Parked next to a United 767
As I said, the legroom is a real big benefit to flying economy plus, and it is a really noticeable difference. Upon boarding you receive a pillow and a blanket and are offered earbuds (I opted for my own). Below the seat there is a universal power outlet which is useful for charging your devices. As for the comfort, it is below average. The seats are showing their age and are quite uncomfortable.
Pillow and blanket
United's IFE was half decent with a reasonable range of movie and TV show selections. But the thing that won me over was the ability to listen in on the cockpit and ATC radio. As far as I know, United is the only airline that offers this, and for any av-geek like me, this feature is a HUGE bonus. The actual TV screen was tiny, my hand was literally bigger than it... But, it was so cool to hear ground control clear us for taxi, and then ATC to clear us for takeoff which was at 10:55 (45 minutes behind schedule).
This picture doesn't even show how small the screen was...
Around 30-45 minutes after takeoff they came around with a hot-meal. I opted not to eat as I was exhausted and had eaten at IAD, so I fell asleep. When I woke up we were almost across the Atlantic, and around an hour and a half before landing the crew came around with 'breakfast', which consisted of yogurt and a warm-croissant, which was actually quite dull.
My breakfast view
Around 10 minutes before we started our approach into Frankfurt's airport the crew had seen that my father, who was asleep during breakfast had woken up, they approached him and asked if he wanted any coffee or breakfast; which I thought was a really impressive move from the usually criticized United crew. Still, listening to the great ATC radio option on the IFE, I heard them clear us and the Air Canada 787 in front of us for approach on runway 25R. The coolest part about landing on 25R was the fact that we flew over the entire FRA airport, so we were able to do some major plane spotting from above. We landed at around 12:05 p.m., 5 minutes early. Unfortunately there was no space at any gates, so we had to park on a remote stand next to a Lufthansa A340-600 and one of United's new 777-300ER's. Although this did allow me to take some nice pics from the tarmac.
Old and uncomfortable but great legroom.
Tiny screen, but decent options and of course the ATC radio!
When yogurt is the main thing they serve for breakfast, you know you have a problem.
United's service is so inconsistent. I'd say half of the crew was excellent, the other half didn't want to be there.
Left late, but got there on time.