Good morning everyone, and welcome to a new flight review! This trip was a huge trip in terms of flights that had me tackling three different airlines and four different aircraft types based in different areas of the world. The details of the trip can be found here.
This first portion of the trip was from Newark to Nairobi via Frankfurt. On the first segment, we happened to be able to fly United’s new 777-300er Economy Class. I was excited about the new plane but nervous at the same time given reasons you will read about below.
Anyways, enjoy the review!
We arrived at the airport about two hours before our scheduled flight. Check in went smoothly, but Newark TSA screening was long. Nothing new. As we were walking to the gate after security, we got a glimpse of the new Polaris lounge.
We went straight to gate 138A and saw our ride for the day, the behemoth 777-300er. This was the biggest plane in Terminal C while we were there, so it made all the other planes look like babies! This new-ish addition to United’s fleet is also the largest plane it
Unfortunately, as is typical with United and Newark, boarding was delayed by a bit. In this case, it was only about half an hour.
The gate area was extremely crowded and disorganized, and it was not clear where each boarding group was supposed to stand.
United Airlines 960
Newark (EWR) – Frankfurt (FRA)
Plane Registration: N2138U
Plane Type: Boeing 777-300er
Flown: June 2018
Flight Time: ~6 hrs 30 mins
Flight Distance: ~3,868 mi (~6,225 km)
While these 777-300er aircraft are usually reserved for ultra long-haul flights and the most premium routes (such as San Fransisco to Hong Kong), earlier in the year, United announced that it would fly this plane from Newark to Frankfurt daily in a period between March and July instead of the regular 777-200 or 767-400.
This plane has a whopping 60 lie-flat seats in Polaris, as well as 102 seats in Economy Plus and 204 Economy Class seats.
When boarding, first we walked through the sleek Polaris cabin. This change will likely be extremely popular with regular United flyers on this route, as the normal aircraft features United’s older seat. Unfortunately, I could not find any good free images of either seat to post.
Soon, we were at my row, in the front Economy cabin. While the Polaris cabin is a huge improvement overall, the Economy cabin went from a 3-3-3 configuration to a 3-4-3 configuration with new slimline seats. This arrangement necessitated a width decrease of over one inch, and the new slimline seats only offered three inches of recline.
While noticeable, I did not find the decreased width to be as big of a deal as the lower recline and harder seats. While the design is similar, I found the seats on United’s 767 to be far more comfortable.
Now, for the few good things about the new economy class. For one thing, the plane had mood lighting (even though it was not used much).
There were individual air nozzles over every seat, so I was not sweating.
The plane also had a newer inflight entertainment system than the ones found on most 777-200s (but the same as on most 767s and 787s). We will take more of a look at that after taking off. There were both USB ports and power plugs, and earbuds were included (albeit low-quality ones).
The seat also had good legroom.
The seatback contents included the safety card, the “Hemispheres” magazine, and an airsickness bag.
While at the gate, we were treated to a gorgeous sunset.
Soon we pushed back, and the safety video started playing. The video had German subtitles.
The sun kept setting as we were taxiing.
At one point while taxiing, we had to stop because an inbound plane had an emergency. That was resolved pretty quickly though.
Soon, we lined up with the runway and started our takeoff roll. Wheels were up at 8:54 PM.
It might have just been me, but I thought the engines sounded very quiet for a 777.
Our cruising altitude was 35,000 feet.
Now let’s take a look at the entertainment selection. The selection was really good and had 222 movies and 156 TV shows in many different genres. They also had other types of videos, such as Headspace meditation and United-related documentaries.
There was also a pretty interactive moving map.
Personal device streaming and WiFi was also available if you prefer that. As mentioned earlier, both USB ports and power plugs were available.
Soon, dinner was arriving. The choices were chicken, pasta, or Indian vegetarian. While Indian vegetarian seems like an odd choice to me for a flight between the USA and Germany, it always seems to be the best option on United, so I ordered that. The main meal, a channa masala dish with rice and dal, came with bread and butter, a side salad with dressing, and a bottle of water. The meal tasted great.
Dessert was a vanilla bean gelato.
After the meal, it was time to get some sleep. Before sleeping, however, I went to the lavatory. The tabs on the toilet seat are very appreciated!
By the way, here is a look at the limited recline. In this photo, my seat is fully reclined, and my brother’s is fully upright:
I fell asleep over the Atlantic and woke up as we were flying over the English Channel. Unfortunately, I missed the snack service, but here is my dad’s:
Soon we commenced our descent.
We touched down at 9:42 AM local time, 22 minutes late.
While taxiing to Terminal 1, we saw some interesting traffic. Unfortunately, for some reason, I did not take any pictures.
We were excited to finally be off this flight and going into the city of Frankfurt for our five-hour layover!
Overall, this flight was pretty nice by United’s standards in terms of the soft product and the entertainment. However, although the technology is nice, overall the seat on this new plane is pretty subpar. More and more airlines including top carriers are squeezing in an extra seat into their 777s, but the lack of recline and firmness of the seat itself just was not very comfortable for me, and being comfortable is the most important thing on a redeye.
Other than that, though, the crew was great, the food was great, and the mood lighting and entertainment were so nice. So other than the delay, disorganized boarding process, and seat, I do not have much to complain about.
Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoyed this post. Stay tuned for another new flight review very soon!