For the international leg of the first part of our trip from JFK – SFO – HKG, I used US Airways miles to book business class (known as BusinessFirst) on United 747 flight # 869, which leaves at 1:25pm and arrives in HKG at 6:40pm, a 12 hour flight. There was a tight connection, even with our first flight arriving on time – good thing we weren’t late (or didn’t check bags!). We probably could’ve stopped in the lounge for pictures, but what would be the point of a lounge review if we didn’t actually “lounge” there?
We took our time through the terminal, and when we got through the passport control at the gate, they’d already started boarding, but fortunately there was no line for business class boarding, so we whisked down the gangway. I had picked our seats on the second deck; this flight has 52 business class seats, divided into 32 on the first deck and 20 on the upper deck. I’ve never before been on a double decker plane, so this was pretty cool.
The upper deck had a 2-2 configuration, which I’m not a huge fan of; if you’ve got a window seat and need to get up, you need to pounce over your seatmate. On the seatmap, some of the seats are facing each other, but you actually cannot see over the divider in the middle (unless you’re like 7 feet tall!).
The seats were completely lie-flat in sleeping position, and 20 inches wide. There were large monitors, and a separate area between the window seat and the window for storage, such as laptops or headphones. The seat controls were easy and intuitive, and the movie selection was quite good, although I spent most of my media time listening to music and reading Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand, which I can’t recommend enough – I could not put it down!
Immediately after we sat, the flight attendant offered us a libation; I went with champagne (not sure what kind – unfortunately I’m not very sophisticated). We received a cheapish-looking amenities kit, along with socks – not the cheap-o emergency-room-booty kind fortunately.
The amenity kit had the usual stuff – eyemask, toothbrush, earplugs, comb, lotion, handwipes, etc. Not quite as nice as the EVA amenity kit…(later).
Meal service came fairly promptly after reaching cruising altitude, and it was actually quite good! Starters were a good salad, hot bread w/ butter, and a fruit plate. For the main entree, I opted for beef, which was decent, and my wife got shrimp, which was also very good. Over the course of our 12 hour flight, the food was actually quite good, contrary to what I’ve read before. We only had two meals because of some (more) melatonin to get into Hong Kong timezone. I have to say – the combination of flying West and taking melatonin got me into that timezone right away, and my wife only had a day of jet lag.
During the middle of the flight, a call went out overhead asking for a doctor – so of course I had to respond! With all the flying I’ve done, this is actually the first time I’ve heard a call for a doctor. I went back to the rather large flight attendant area to speak to the patient. I won’t say what was wrong with him, but he was better after about 20 minutes, and the crew was incredibly grateful. In fact, as I was exiting the plane, the lead flight attendant gave us 3 bottles of wine to take with us! Perfect, as we were meeting with friends that night at a BYOB! Overall, I’d say the flight was an A-. It wasn’t up to par with the top tier of Asian or Middle Eastern carriers, but it was a very lovely experience, and one I would definitely do again!