Flight Check: Houston to San Juan, Puerto Rico on United Airlines

By Leighton Luke

Leighton Luke flies from Houston to San Juan, Puerto Rico on United Airlines UA1981.
Photo / Thinkstock
Photo / Thinkstock

The plane: Boeing 737-800.

Seat: 2E.

Class: United First (Business Class); 20 seats in a 2-2 configuration.

Price: From $1569 for a mid-week return airfare.

Flight Time: 3 hours, 50 minutes.

On Time: After a somewhat chaotic boarding process, we were right on time for an 8am departure.

How Full: A completely full flight. Not a seat to spare anywhere.

Fellow Passengers: A mix of North American holidaymakers and Puertorriquenos returning to the island.

Entertainment: A fair selection of movies and cable TV programmes were available free to business class passengers on United's Direct TV in-flight entertainment channels.

Some additional drama was provided by animated discussions between a passenger and the crew over the need of the former to visit the bathroom during the lengthy time that the captain kept the seatbelt sign on.

Food and drink: Breakfast service was delayed by more than an hour because of the crew needing to remain seated during the prolonged turbulence. All things considered, the meal held up pretty well, but the delay meant that the scrambled eggs betrayed their origins as being of the powdered variety.

Service: Polite enough. To be fair, though, the crew were operating under quite adverse conditions; it was extremely bumpy and not all passengers were happy to go without using the loo during the rough conditions.

Baggage: For Business Class, a generous allowance of two bags, each weighing up to 32kg (or 70 pounds in US-speak). Allowances in economy class are quite rigorously enforced, however, as most US carriers like to charge for second bags (if not the first), in a nasty practice that should have been stomped on by customers the moment it was introduced.

Toilets: One up the front and two at the back of the bus. Rather busy for a relatively short and bumpy flight.

Airport experience: Houston Intercontinental has any number of shopping and dining options to pass the time before a flight (and some are even quite good). Compared to airline lounges in our part of the world, though, the two United lounges are underwhelming: crowded with limited seating and food selections. It is just as pleasant to pass time in the rest of the terminal and the quesadillas at Rocket & Rye in Terminal C are good.

Would I fly this again? Yes. Despite the bumpy conditions, it's an easy hop to all that Puerto Rico has to offer.

- NZ Herald

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