Review: United Global/Polaris First NRT-SFO on the 747

Boarding began promptly at 4:30pm for our flight to San Francisco. We were actually one of the last ones to board the aircraft because the flight was almost empty and because I was busy reviewing the United Club. This flight was on a United 747 (which have since been retired). The United Global First cabin on the Boeing 747 was located at the nose of the aircraft, below the cockpit. There were 12 seats in total on the aircraft and we had row number 4. The seats are rather similar to AA’s business class seats on the Boeing 777-300ERs except that the window seats face a little outward. While I did enjoy that I wasn’t sitting next to anyone for the flight over, I didn’t find the seat particularly private or more comfortable.

Waiting at the seat were United’s Saks 5th Avenue bedding and a pair of unbranded noise canceling headphones. While this flight was an overnight flight to San Francisco, Pajamas were not available and neither were the gel cooled memory pillows I received on the flight over from Houston.

After getting settled down, the purser came around and introduced herself and handed out the menus.

She also asked for my preferred drink, which as we all know is Diet Coke. She also brought out a chocolate to go along with the drink. United has apparently made the ability to order your drink of choice optional now and you have to go and beg for your soda or cocktail rather being proactively asked anymore.

This flight left Tokyo on a rather smoggy and cloudy day so views were nonexistent on the departure out of Narita. I started X-men Apocalypse or something on the entertainment system, which just put me to sleep. I was nudged awake by the FA laying out tray table for the dinner service. This began with some warm nuts and some more Diet Coke. Nothing too different so far from the regular Polaris business class service. I finished my snack fairly quickly and was offered a refill, which is very rare believe it or not.

The dinner service began with some fruits, warm bread, and butter. As usual, the pretzel bread is the better kindThe United Salt and Pepper shakers shaped like globes were certainly a nice touch.

United failed to load my Asian Vegetarian Meal on this flight so I ended up just ordering off the menu. The only difference between Polaris First and Business is the extra soup dish before the salad and main course. It’s a pity United got rid of it because the soup was the best part of the meal service after the ice cream sundaes. The carrot soup was excellent, but unfortunately they never came back with extra bread to go along with it.

The soup was followed by an extremely dry salad, which had far too many pieces of lettuce and nothing else. As usual, the salad wasn’t very good.

The main course was a spinach fusilli with alfredo sauce. The dish was extremely bland and nothing to write home about.

After the main course, we were offered some ice cream in a box. United was having issues with its glassware for sundaes at the time and this meant rock hard ice cream for passengers.

Anyway, after the not so great dinner service, I fell asleep for the greater part of the flight. The previous night’s incident had certainly made it tough for me to go back to sleep so that really helped me maximize my sleep on this flight. I woke up just as the sun was beginning to glaze over the clouds and the Pacific Ocean.

About 90 minutes out of San Francisco, breakfast was served. I chose the continental option, which included a burnt croissant, cornflakes, yogurt, and some fruit. I was really hungry at this point so I just had some cereal to keep me going.

Before we knew it, we were flying over the Northern California coast. The low clouds over the hills and the coast made the scenes look absolutely spectacular.

Just before landing, we flew right by the Golden Gate Bridge and the San Francisco skyline. I was just kicking myself for not taking my camera out before landing. he Golden Gate Bridge was peeking above the clouds, which would’ve made for one of those iconic pictures I’ve always wanted. It sucks that I didn’t get an image like that on my recent trip to SF.

Anyway absolutely gorgeous morning in San Francisco, with our flight arriving almost 45 minutes early. I just couldn’t get enough of the views on the descent, it was a cloud inversion galore.

This pretty much caps my first and last time on United Global First. While, I am glad I got a chance to experience it once more, before the product gets officially retired, I don’t think I was missing out on too much. I was hardly impressed by the soft product and the window seats felt a little exposed to the aisle. I suppose the Global First lounge in Tokyo was better than the United Club, but I could’ve just as easily visited one of the other Star Alliance lounges. If I were to get a free upgrade from the old Polaris business class in 2-2-2 configuration, I would take it, otherwise I don’t really care for it. Service on this particular United flight was above average, but nothing extraordinary. It makes sense that United is phasing out this product because it really isn’t competitive anymore.

On another note, I was sad to see that the 747 was retired a little after my flight. There’s something about flying on those behemoths that never seizes to charm.  


Japan Trip Report Index:

United Business Class DFW – IAH 

United Clubs @ DFW & IAH

United Polaris Houston – Tokyo (Narita)

Narita Express (Narita – Tokyo Station)

Focal Point: Tokyo Station

Ascott Marunouchi Tokyo

Focal Point: Tokyo in the Rain

Focal Point: The Secret Alleys of Tokyo 

A Tourist’s View of Tokyo: Sunday in Asakusa

JR Rail Review: Shinkansen Hikari First Class (Tokyo – Kyoto)

Airbnb Review: Townhouse in Kyoto’s Old Town

My Favorite Places To Visit in Kyoto During Summer

The Hyatt Regency Kyoto 

Conrad Tokyo

Exploring Tokyo: Where to go for Sunset

The Best Road Trip from Tokyo: Fujiyoshida

United Global First Lounge – Tokyo (Narita)

United Club Tokyo Narita

United Polaris/Global First NRT-SFO