Home > Star Alliance, Trip Reports, United Airlines > Asia 2012 Trip Report: United Global First, San Francisco to Frankfurt

Asia 2012 Trip Report: United Global First, San Francisco to Frankfurt

Part 1: Introduction

Part 2: United Airlines LAX-SFO, United International First Class Lounges at LAX/SFO

Part 3: United Airlines Global First Class, San Francisco to Frankfurt


United 900, SFO-FRA
1:55pm-9:45am +1 (10h50m)
Boeing 747-400
Seat 1A, Global First

I have to say “Global First” because United now calls their Business class “BusinessFirst.” What a crock. Their Business Class has 8 seats in one row …

Anyway … the GLOBAL First cabin feels almost utilitarian. A lot of gray and then some more. I took my seat in 1A, and checked that item off my bucket list. Unfortunately, 1A is very close to seat 1K, and looking to my right side, I could made direct eye contact with seat 2K. A bit awkward.

The seat has a bunch of nooks and crannies to store things in; a large storage bin between the seat and aisle, a headphone stowage mini-closet, and a storage bin between the seat and window. The screen is a good size and very sharp. The IFE worked on the ground, so I started watching the movie “Hugo” (although with my own headphones, since the ones supplied by UA are rather pathetic).

As a first-timer in the nose section, I was glued to my window, facing partially forward due to the curvature of the fuselage. What a view. I would later be given a front row seat to the Aurora Borealis later that night. Unreal.

View down the runway, before the turn to takeoff (Seat 1A is in front of the front wheel).

The plane I really wanted to fly from SF to Frankfurt, but alas, no award seat availability 😦

Service began shortly after takeoff and the meal was somewhat decent. I’ve heard that UA’s First menu is simply the Business menu with another choice added on there, and I believe it after the meal. Perfectly edible, but no excitement in it either. I’ve had better lunch meals on Delta’s transcon business class from LA to New York.

Table setting

Chilled Appetizer – Jumbo shrimp cocktail with wasabi-infused sauce.
Soup – Mushroom Brie.
Fresh Seasonal Greens – Roasted tomatoes, Kalamata olives, mozzarella and croutons with blue cheese dressing.

Grilled Filet Mignon – Port wine demi-glace, roasted rosemary potatoes and sautéed asparagus with sun-dried tomato
Pomegrandate-glazed Breast of Duck – Pomegranate sauce, jasmine rice with cashews and Chinese broccoli with carrots
Grilled Fillet of Mahi Mahi – Mushroom-Sherry wine sauce, sweet potato pie and sautéd spinach with garlic
Portobello Mushroom-filled Mezzaluna Ravioli – Tomato vodka sauce, sautéed mushrooms and Parmesan cheese.


International Cheese Selection – Amablu St. Pete’s Select Blue, Four Year Aged Cheddar and St. Rocco Triple Creme Brie. Served with seedless grapes, crackers, and Graham’s Late Bottled Vintage Port
Dessert – Ice cream


Jumbo shrimp cocktail with wasabi-infused sauce. A bit colder than I’d like, but pretty good.


Mushroom Brie Soup. Looks plain, but incredibly delicious. Probably the best part of the meal.



Portobello Mushroom-filled Mezzaluna Ravioli. In hindsight, the duck and mahi mahi look like good options, so I don’t know why I chose the ravioli at the time. It wasn’t that great of an option, but I wasn’t hungry enough to ask for another option.


I figured that one thing United couldn’t mess up was ice cream and they didn’t! It was a great cap to an okay meal.

After the meal, I lazed around and watched another movie, Ocean’s 12, before going to sleep for a few hours. After awaking, I noticed the crew had placed a few snacks at the small bar area between 2A and 2K. It took about 25 minutes for an flight attendant to notice I was awake (with my lights on) to come by and ask if I wanted anything. I didn’t, and I don’t mean to sound like a spoiled brat, but I’m just reporting on the trip. You wouldn’t get that wait on a foreign carrier, as I’ll show later. She did ask about why I had my camera out, taking pictures of the outside while it was so dark. This was why:

I just wasn’t sleepy, so I kept on with the in-flight entertainment and got this panorama of the view from the seat:

A couple of hours out of Frankfurt, breakfast was served. I think breakfast is probably the worst meal to eat on a plane, and this was by no means an exception to the rule. I ate just a bit, knowing I’d have an upcoming feast in lounges and upcoming flights.


Fresh Seasonal Fruit and Cereal
Swiss Cheese Omelette – Brocolli-potato gratin, turkey sausage and tomato.


I ate just the egg and the bread. The rest was mediocre.

Clouds over Europe

Approach into Frankfurt was just as good as the departure from San Francisco. If you haven’t yet been able to sit in row 1 on a 747, you absolutely need to. On products like United’s, you are literally up against the nose and the view is spectacular. Just get it done once. It’s a bit less space, but it’s an experience.

United’s Global First hard product is good, with a lot of space, storage space, and a good in-flight entertainment system. Lots of movie selections, in all sorts of languages. The service of the flight attendants is on par with an average business class – no sour attitudes as I’ve heard about, but no sense of proactive service either. No “thank you for flying United” at the end. There really wasn’t much to say about this flight.

We arrived around 10am and were given a remote parking bay. The crew shepherded all passengers into a waiting bus, even keeping us waiting for Business and Economy passengers to get on and fill up the buses. Needless to say, it was a scrum once we got to passport control.

I knew that United wouldn’t be an overly fantastic experience, but there was a reason why I transited Frankfurt. An amazing experience, next part …

  1. Rusty
    July 26, 2012 at 12:39 pm

    Is there enough storage space for a 22″ roll-aboard in the Global First seat? If not where do you store it? Thank you.

    • Amol
      July 26, 2012 at 12:40 pm

      For a roller board, you’d have to use the overhead bins. Be careful that row 1 of the 747 has limited overhead space.

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