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United Airlines Premium Plus review

On my recent trip to the US I travelled with United Airlines in their Premium Plus cabin. Every flight choice I make comes down to pricing and when comparing airfares, United Airlines was the cheapest. I initially was looking at United Airlines economy class but knowing I’d be departing exhausted and returning on a flight leaving San Francisco at 11pm I decided to upgrade to United Airlines Premium Plus. It was a good choice, but in retrospect, perhaps I could have simply booked extra legroom seats. I’ll let you decide after reading my review of United Airlines Premium Plus.

United Airlines Premium Plus review

United Airlines Premium Plus review

United Airlines Premium Plus review - Have Wheelchair Will Travel

Space is the thing I most value when flying on long haul flights and this is ultimately what decided me on booking United Airlines Premium Plus. I was flying Sydney to Los Angeles with a flight time of around 13.5 hours and returning from San Francisco to Sydney with a flying time of 15 hours. The ability to stretch out and not arrive at my destination resembling a pretzel with a crick in my neck and a sore back was key. I booked my flights around 30 days before departure and the seating choice was limited. For my flight Sydney to Los Angeles there was no option of booking the bulkhead seats in Premium Plus so I chose an aisle seat on the side so I was able to get up and move freely during the flight without disturbing another passenger. The seating configuration was two seats on the side, three seats in the middle and two seats on the other side.United Airlines Premium Plus review - Have Wheelchair Will Travel

The flight was not full and I was fortunate not to have anyone sit in the window seat so once we had taken off I swapped to the window.

United Airlines Premium Plus review - Have Wheelchair Will Travel

I was pleased I could swap as the aisle seat’s leg room was somewhat reduced by a leg of the seat in front.

United Airlines Premium Plus review - Have Wheelchair Will Travel

A footrest is provided and I did tend to use this at times but I found the bicycle pedal style of this less comfortable than a solid footrest.

As I walked up the aisle of the plane for a bit of exercise and checked out regular economy class seating I was grateful for the additional leg room afforded to me in Premium Plus seating. I’d give the United Airlines Premium Plus seat a 10/10 for comfort.




United Airlines Premium Plus catering & entertainment

United Airlines Premium Plus review - Have Wheelchair Will Travel

Soon after take off from Sydney we were served pretzels and a drink.

United Airlines Premium Plus review - Have Wheelchair Will Travel

The flight’s departure from Sydney was at 9.30am so my body clock was playing catch up when a meal was provided soon after. The option was chicken or a vegetarian meal. I’m always wary of eating chicken on flights so I went for the veggie meal which was quite tasty. I felt it was a good size portion and we were offered a variety of drinks to accompany our meal. I went with bubbles based on the theory that it was five o’clock somewhere in the world!

United Airlines Premium Plus review - Have Wheelchair Will Travel

Later in the flight we were offered a snack of a small roll which quietened my hungry stomach along with some chips and cookies. The roll was meh but fine.

United Airlines Premium Plus review - Have Wheelchair Will Travel

Breakfast was welcomed as it was not only substantial but also tasty. I chose the hot breakfast which was a frittata, sausage, baked potatoes and cooked tomato. It was accompanied by a fruit muffin and a bowl of fruit. United Airlines don’t offer a separate service for tea or coffee so I learnt to order my juice and tea on the initial run.

United Airlines Premium Plus review - Have Wheelchair Will Travel

The entertainment system on United Airlines offers a good variety of movies, TV series and family-friendly viewing. The touch screen system is 13 inches (33 cms) in size and despite the passenger behind me feeling the need to punch his choice in each time he changed shows, it only needs a light touch to use. I watched the romantic comedy, Anyone but you which was filmed in Australia and was light-hearted enough to keep me engaged for the duration of the movie. I absolutely loved the documentary, David Holmes The Boy That Lived, which highlights the story of Daniel Radcliffe’s (Harry Potter) stunt double who sustained a spinal cord injury during the filming of one of the Harry Potter movies. It’s moving and such a tribute to positivity, perseverance and friendship. I highly recommend this documentary movie.

United Airlines Premium Plus review - Have Wheelchair Will Travel

The blurb on United Airlines Premium Plus promotes the Saks Fifth Avenue amenities including a pillow and light blanket. While they were comfy I’m not sure they particularly enhanced my experience more than the usual airline amenities. They were pretty though.




United Airlines Premium Plus bulkhead seats

United Airlines Premium Plus review - Have Wheelchair Will Travel

On my return trip from San Francisco to Sydney I was fortunate to sit in the bulkhead row of United Airlines Premium Plus. This takes Premium Plus to the next level with so much space to stretch out.

United Airlines Premium Plus review - Have Wheelchair Will Travel

Slouching down in my seat I could just touch the bulkhead pocket in front of my seat but it was a real stretch, so I was thrilled with the space offered in this position. I would happily sit in the window seat in this row as you can easily get up without disturbing your neighbouring passenger.

There was a foot rest which came out from under the seat but unfortunately mine was broken so it just sat flat on the ground. Not a problem considering I had space galore to keep my circulation pumping.

United Airlines Premium Plus review - Have Wheelchair Will Travel

There are disadvantages to sitting in the bulkhead row of seating in any position on the aircraft but for me it’s worth it. Keep in mind in these seats, all bags, including handbags, must be stowed in the overhead lockers for take off and landing. The entertainment system, which is positioned on an arm which extends out from the arm rest, must also be stowed at these times. So, if you are in the middle of a movie it’s too bad but I just swap to some downloaded entertainment on my phone. For me, the space these seats offer is worth any minor inconvenience. I’m assuming by now you have gathered that space is king for me!

United Airlines Premium Plus review - Have Wheelchair Will Travel

Departing San Francisco at 11pm at night service was speedy. Before we had even taken off the flight attendants came around restaurant style taking a note of passenger’s meal choices. I went with butternut ravioli over the chicken meal on offer. It was tasty and was accompanied by a salad, roll and a little cake.

A snack came around in the middle of the night but I slept through the service. Flight attendants left what I assume was a warm chicken roll beside me but again, chicken! United seems to really lean towards chicken for their meal services.

United Airlines Premium Plus review - Have Wheelchair Will Travel

Breakfast was served about 90 minutes before landing in Sydney and again was hearty fare. I chose eggs which came with spinach, sausages, mushrooms and potatoes. It was a quite filling when accompanied by a croissant, fruit and yoghurt. I certainly didn’t land hungry.

I did notice during the night cups of water being offered to passengers but everyone was provided with a bottle of water early on in the flight so I didn’t need extras.




United Airlines Economy Plus (extra legroom seating)

United Airlines Premium Plus review - Have Wheelchair Will Travel

While I loved travelling in United Airlines Premium Plus, there is a cheaper alternative. United Airlines, like many other airlines, now offers the option to upgrade from an economy class seat to a seat with extra legroom. On United Airlines it is called, Economy Plus. In the old days it was simply a lottery as to who got these lovely bulkhead row seats that offer extra legroom but the airlines have all found that they can add to their revenue by charging for these seats. From memory it was around $200 more per flight to upgrade to these seats. If they are available when you board the flight you can also upgrade using the United Airlines app. Make sure you download the United app before boarding any United Airlines flight. It should also be noted that United Airlines does not accept cash.




Accessibility on United Airlines

United Airlines boards its passengers in groups however like other airlines passengers with a disability or those with young children board first.

United Airlines Premium Plus review - Have Wheelchair Will Travel

In Premium Plus there is a button at the front of the aisle seat’s armrest that allows for it to be lowered (see the above photo where the armrest is full height and below where it is lowered)

United Airlines Premium Plus review - Have Wheelchair Will Travel

Although the armrest lowers, without a slide board this would be quite uncomfortable to get over for a person transferring from an aisle wheelchair to the plane seat. Something to keep in mind.

United Airlines Premium Plus review - Have Wheelchair Will Travel

It’s pleasing to see accessibility features on the entertainment system including captioning, adjustment of text size and contrast settings.

United Airlines Premium Plus review - Have Wheelchair Will Travel

There is an accessible bathroom on the plane which has a 10cm (approximately 4 inches) wider doorway for entry. The doorway also opens out rather than pushing in. Within the accessible bathroom there is a grab bar, and if needed the flight attendants are able to open up the space further. The partition on the right side of the photo below can be opened to make the space larger within the cubicle.

United Airlines Premium Plus review - Have Wheelchair Will Travel




What I liked about travelling United Airlines

Whether a flight is on time or not is obviously a bit of a lottery but both my flights were on time and in fact, both arrived at their destinations early.

Again, it is a lottery who your fellow passengers are on a flight but both my flights were quiet and orderly. The aircraft cabin was kept as spotless as it comes on a long haul flight by the cabin crew.

Meals exceeded my expectations and the crew were incredibly efficient at both serving and removing the finished meal trays. There’s nothing worse than not being able to move for ages because your tray is lingering. I wouldn’t have minded a snack bar to raid on my flight to Los Angeles when sleep proved elusive but I was prepared with a few nibbles in my carry on. Perhaps I missed a snack bar?

I like the fact that on the entertainment screen you can alert the crew to whether you want to be woken for meal service or if you want to be left snoozing.

The crew were friendly and efficient. When passengers engaged in a bit of casual chatter, crew members engaged and if you were a headphones on I don’t want to engage kind of person that was respected too.

United Airlines Premium Plus airfares include two 23kg (50lb) pieces of luggage in the airfare which is an advantage to this shopper. The standard economy class allowance is one piece of luggage.

Premium Plus also offers priority on luggage so it comes out quicker at the baggage carousel and it also offers priority boarding of the aircraft.

Lastly, I love the fact that the United Airlines Premium Plus cabin is relatively small with fewer rows of seats making it feel more intimate but due to the space between the seats it’s also roomy.

Would I travel United Airlines Premium Plus again?

The short answer is yes, I would travel United Airlines Premium Plus again. I would add though, that if you are just looking for extra space, Economy Plus is a good alternative and a lot cheaper. Of course, my ultimate goal is to try United Airline’s Polaris class (business) where I get to lie down! Ahhh, a girl can dream.

This is not a sponsored post. I paid for my airfare in full and the review is reflective of my flights travelling with United Airlines on a 777-322 (ER) aircraft from Sydney to Los Angeles and San Francisco to Sydney.

If you’ve travelled with United Airlines I’d love to hear about your experience.




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