Checking out

United Airlines, Business First

by Andy Hoskins | February 2016

"The 26-seat Business First cabin was fully occupied (whereas the economy cabin was sparsely populated) but the service didn't suffer for it. Dining options were good and, at Heathrow, United's lounge is a great asset. The flight arrived and was at the gate 30 minutes early – something of a bonus"

THE FLIGHT: Flight UA929 from London Heathrow's Terminal 2 (10.05 departure) to Chicago O'Hare International Airport (13.20 arrival local time), operated by a B767-300. I travelled in Business First which had a 2-2-2 seating configuration.

THE CHECK-IN: I'd tried checking in via the United app the day before travelling but was unable to scan my passport, so at the airport I went directly to the staffed desk (there was no queue) behind several rows of self check-in kiosks and was soon heading for fast-track security.

THE LOUNGE: It's a bit of a hike to Terminal 2's satellite terminal for long-haul flights where United's Club (and Global First Lounge) lounge are located. It was the first outside the US to feature the airline's new lounge design concept when it opened in 2014 and it's pretty impressive too. It has capacity for up to 280 guests, there's a variety of seating options, floor-to-ceiling windows, buffet area, long bar, TV lounge, shower suites and free wifi access. Cooked and continental breakfast was available at the time of my visit.

THE SEAT: I was in one of the centre two seats of the 2-2-2 configured cabin, facing forward, (alternate pairs face backwards) and had direct aisle access – those in window seats do not. It was a contemporary grey and silver design with simple controls for the flatbed seat and little sign of wear and tear. There was a reasonable selection of new film releases and plenty of TV and audio content on the IFE system.

THE SERVICE: My jacket was taken and hung up upon boarding and drinks and newspapers were offered pre-take-off. Dining menus and amenity kits were also distributed while blankets, pillow and noise-cancelling headphones were already laid out on seats. There was a round of hot towels and drinks once in the air and lunch (three courses with choices, plus cheese and biscuits) followed soon after. I also enjoyed a good deli plate before landing. Wifi access was available for $16.99.

THE DETAILS: United flies from Heathrow to Chicago three times a day. Fares in Business First start from £3171.85 return (inc. taxes).

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