Flight Check

United Airlines: Auckland to San Francisco

Route: Auckland - San Francisco
Airline: UA - United Airlines
Wifi : Available

Cabin Class: Business
Aircraft Type: Boeing 777-300 ER

Flight #: UA 916
Seat #:4L

Flight

Service

Meals

Entertainment

Truly Hot
Comfortable seat and premium food offering.

What's Not
Being charged for wifi

Overall
Excellent product and service.

With one of the most comprehensive global networks and outstanding reach across the United States, flying United Airlines from Auckland to San Francisco gives you great access to North America and beyond.

I flew United on a daily non-stop flight from Auckland to San Francisco which was operated on a Boeing 777-300 ER. Long range 777s are spacious and comfortable specially across the south pacific trans-oceanic flights where it can get turbulent.

United Airlines currently operates Boeing 787-10 on the San Francisco route from Auckland.

United Airlines departs from Auckland International daily at 3.30pm for San Francisco. Premium check-in at Auckland International Airport is at the Polaris check-in counter.

Priority check-in and checked baggage:
Business Class (Polaris) and Premium Plus passengers on United Airlines enjoy priority check-in privileges, with a checked baggage allowance of 2 bags up to 32kg each.

Carry-on baggage allowance:
Hand luggage cannot exceed 22cm x 35cm x 56cm including handles and wheels.

Frequent Flyer Programme:

United Airlines and Air New Zealand have a frequent flyer loyalty agreement as members of the Star Alliance. MileagePlus and Airpoints members have reciprocal benefits to earn and redeem on both airlines. There may be reciprocal miles accrual on other Star Alliance partners as well.

Lounge access for United customers is provided by Air New Zealand’s International Lounge at Auckland International Airport.

In San Francisco, premium travellers can access the Polaris Lounge at San Francisco International that was adjudged the Best Business Class lounge by Skytrax in 2019.

With an on time departure on a cloudy day out of Auckland, at 3.30pm,  the flight had a turbulent climb before settling at 37,000 feet, for a smooth cruise across the mighty Pacific. Flight time to San Francisco averages a touch under 12 hours, touching down early morning at 6.40am.

With a favourable jet stream, my flight arrived ahead of schedule just before 6am.

United Airlines launched its Polaris product in 2016 and since then its arguably one of the top-notch premium business class products in play today.

The Polaris seating layout on United’s Boeing 777-300ER is across two cabins of equal size providing for ample room in the business class cabin. Acumen Design are the creators of the innovative 1-2-1 dovetail layout with a combination of angles , forward facing seats offering aisle access to each seat.

Polaris is an abundance of privacy and space – in fact the most I’ve experienced on my recent travels. This is attributed to how the seat is placed which is angled away from the aisle and set in its very inclusive cocooned wrap-around shell. As a solo traveller, a window seat would be ideal on row L and if travelling with a partner, odd-numbered D and G seats are closer to the centre and nearer to each other with a divider between the seats which be lowered.

The furnishings of the seat are par-excellence in signature Polaris blue and silver with a white faux-marble table top giving an opulent look and feel. The cabinet on the side contains the noise-cancelling headphones and an amenity kit with a mirror. The IFE controller is below the cabinet and also the AC/USB power socket and the headphone jack. There’s a second USB charging point beneath the video screen.

The tray table is of adequate size with its width to accommodate the large dining trays as well as for work with space for large screen laptops. A well thought of handle mounted above the video screen on the top RH corner, which makes it easier to climb in and get out specially when in sleep-mode.

The seat provides for sufficient lighting with well thought of both ambient and bright light. A reading lamp with adjustable brightness as well as a larger lamp next to the benchtop provides pleasing ambient light and a classy look to the cabin.

A control strip along the edge of the seat includes an intuitive dial. This enables for the adjusting the seat from take-off and landing mode into a full-flat bed. Do Not Disturb button is also on this panel for added privacy.

Polaris pyjamas are a highlight on the flight as you hit night soon after take-off above the south pacific. The loose, lightweight pyjamas are perfect to slip into for a comfortable night.

To celebrate the last episode of Star Wars, Polaris included a special Star Wars Kit containing toothbrush, eye mask, earplugs and socks, along with face cream, hand cream and lip balm from Sunday Riley. United Airlines has made a considerable investment in soft furnishings for Polaris business class.

There is also a mattress cushion provided ny Saks Fifth Avenue for the bed that adds to another layer of comfort. The soft, fresh bedding is lightweight and comfortable.

Shortly after take-off, beverage service commenced and there was an exclusive choice of champagne, spirits and soft drinks on offer served together with a generous serving of warm nut bowl.

For the entree, I chose the tomato and mozzarella with a crisp garden salad. The entree was fresh and light  and a great start to the evening.

United still have a tray service in business class rather than individual plates for each dish which is a little less premium as most airlines in business class now offer individual plated dishes in premium class.

My main was snapper with a lemon sauce, beans and mash potatoes. Although the dish tasted good, the presentation of the dish was anything but. There was no finesse to plating the dish and it was evident that the dish was in the oven for ages together that gave a dry, over-cooked look to my mains.

The let-down was made up by the excellent dessert off the Polaris dessert trolley. The hot-fudge sundae with a generous serving of legendary Ghirardelli chocolate fudge and fresh cherries finally made my day. Not to mention the excellent and attentive service of the crew that made the experience totally worth it!

Overnight the galley was stocked with munchies, cheese platters and chips along-with refreshments if you’re in the mood of a mid-night snack.

Before touch-down in San Francisco, breakfast was served. Fluffy omelette with crispy potatoes, sausages and crisp croissant which was a great before landing.

Polaris business class are serviced by an own 16-inch touchscreen which are paired with noise-cancelling headphones. The content is diverse and has a great mix of latest Hollywood releases and classics flicks.

There is also a generous upload of quality TV and US TV shows with recent release seasons that are not necessarily available across IP services and make for a generous binge watching across the South Pacific.
The Boeing 777-300ER includes a satellite Internet service with three time-based sessions:

  • One hour costs US$1.99
  • Two hours costs US$3.99
  • Full flight costs US$16.99

Sessions can also be purchased using MileagePlus Award points. Timed sessions can be paused offering better flexibility and also able to be switched between devices.  The Boeing 777-300ER’s inflight as ‘Basic WiFi’, download speeds averaged around 4Mbps with peaks as high as 11Mbps (uploads were consistently around 1.2Mbps) – making this more than sufficient for email and web browsing. Internet video isn’t supported.

Summary

In all an exceptional experience on-board the United services to San Francisco from Auckland. The highlight was the business class cabin, seat and the furnishings that are matched with warm and hospitable United service of the crew to offer comfort and value that is to a top class standard.

The author travelled as a guest of United Airlines