Flight Check: Newark to San Francisco on United Airlines

By Audrey Young

Audrey Young flies United Airlines flight 1885 from Newark to San Francisco.
Audrey Young flies United Airlines flight 1885 from Newark to San Francisco. Photo / 123RF
Audrey Young flies United Airlines flight 1885 from Newark to San Francisco. Photo / 123RF

Check-in: Fastest check-in ever, from arriving at kerb to getting past security in 10 minutes flat. No kidding.

The plane: Boeing 757-200. For the plane spotters - cruising speed is 609mph; propulsion: two Pratt and Whitney PW2037 engines rated at 37,250 pounds of thrust each (Travel Ed: Thanks for that).

Wingspan: 124ft and 10 inches. I know all this because I downloaded the United app and accessed all the relevant data on my Flight Status updates.

Class: Two classes: 28 seats in First Class and 114 in Economy. I was in Business First Class, part of the United p.s. (premier service) flight. The p.s. service is United's attempt to elevate domestic US travel to match the experience of premier classes on international flights. Here's how United describes it: "Our p.s. Premium Service flights offer the features and comfort of long-haul international flights for an exceptional transcontinental travel experience between New York/Newark and Los Angeles or San Francisco."

Price: You can get a one-way ticket for around $880.

On time: Ten minutes early on a six-hour flight.

My seat: Perfect. 3B, which stretched out to a proper 180-degree flat-bed of 6ft 4 inches long with the touch of a button. Seat width is 21 inches.

Fellow passengers: Mr K was returning home to San Francisco from a friend's 40th birthday party in New York. Pleasantries exchanged at beginning and end of journey, with not much in-between. Just how I like it.

How full: Very, not that you'd know when you're up front.

Entertainment: Seatback movies and entertainment on demand on 15-inch monitor. Watched Tina Fey/Martin Freeman movie Whiskey Tango Foxtrot set in Kabul. Could not resist testing the in-flight internet access with Wi-Fi packages provided by Gogo (US$9.50 for 30 minutes or $33.95 for the whole trip but is cheaper if you buy a package before flying).

The service: Exceptional and attentive with a small ratio of staff to passengers. The p.s. Premium Service flights are available on the transcontinental run between New York/ Newark and San Francisco and Los Angeles. United's p.s. is more like service on a long-haul flight than a usual transcontinental service.

Food and drink: Very good, though they ran out of turbot at Mr K so I had to have my second choice: beef short rib with bordelaise sauce, roasted parsnips and carrots and goat cheese grits. Poor me.

The toilets: Roomy and clean.

Luggage: Two 32kg bags allowed. It was one bag over and two bags home.

Would I fly this again? Absolutely. Standing by for the next invitation.

- NZ Herald

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