Chicago O’Hare (ORD) – Tokyo Narita (NRT)
This was the first of three flights on our way from Chicago to Brunei. We booked this flight as a one way saver award on united.com for 80,000 United MileagePlus miles and $18.90 per person.
United Global First on a 747-400 is located in the nose of the plane on the main deck. Its location gives it an interesting configuration – the cabin has a triangular design. Although unique, we found the location in the nose of the plane made this first class cabin a little less private.
The first class cabin has a total of 12 seats in four rows. The first two rows have a 1-1 configuration with only window seats. The last 2 rows are 1-2-1 configuration.
Below is a screenshot of the seat map from our reservation.
None of the seats in United Global First have floor storage so all bags, even small personal items, must be stowed in the overhead during take off and landing.
Speaking of overhead, only some seats have overhead storage directly above them. The only seats with storage directly above are the window seats in rows 2 through 4 (although row 2 has less space).
Originally, we chose middle seats so we can chat during meal service but ended up switching to seats 2H and 3H before the flight. We prefer to store our carry-ons and personal items above our own seats.
Our advice on choosing a seat would be as follows: The best seats for privacy are row 2 as those seats are separated by a small closet so there is no one right next to you. If traveling with someone you would like to sit next to, choose either the two middle seats in the 3rd and 4th row or the two seats in row 1.
We found the seats in United Global First to be very comfortable and spacious.
In addition to the usual lap belt, a shoulder strap must also be worn during takeoff and landing. We’re guilty of sometimes forgetting that.
The seats have plenty of compartments to tuck away belongings.
Power ports and USB ports are available for charging portable electronics.
Seats reclined to a comfortable, fully flat bed.
Amenities and Service
Blankets, noise cancelling headphones, slippers and two amenity kits were available for use.
The regular amenity kit included Philosophy products and the standard toothbrush, earplugs, eye mask, socks, etc. Bonus points for including a small bottle of Purell.
The second amenity kit was a limited-edition commemorative tin showcasing United’s global route network.
Unlike American Airlines, United does not offer pajamas in first class. Wi-fi is available for $16.99.
Service was good enough – we had no complaints. We made our own beds, which we actually prefer doing. The major plus in flying first class is the flat bed so we like to use it as soon as possible.
Food and Drink
The food was pretty good although to be honest, we’re not picky eaters.
Below are photos of the menu and what we ordered.
Overall, we were pleased with United Global First class. The seats were comfy, spacious and had plenty of compartments to store items for in-flight use. The limited-edition amenity kit was a cute little bonus. Minor negatives included lack of floor storage, lack of overhead space above each seat and that not all seats in the cabin seemed very private. Again, these were minor points to us and did not stop us from enjoying the flight.
Update: United is retiring the Boeing 747 on October 29, 2017.
Index (rest of series):
Brunei, Singapore and Japan: Planning and Booking
Review: United Global First Lounge – Chicago O’Hare
Review: United Global First, ORD to NRT (this post)
Review: United Global First Lounge – Tokyo Narita
Review: United Global First, NRT – SIN
Review: Singapore Airlines Economy Class, SIN – BWN
Review: Radisson Hotel Brunei Darussalam (Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei)
Things To Do In Bandar Seri Begawan Brunei
Review: Royal Brunei Airlines Sky Lounge – Brunei International Airport
Review: Singapore Airlines Business Class, BWN – SIN
The Best Free Things to do in Singapore
Eating Like a Local in Singapore
Review: Pan Pacific Serviced Suites Beach Road, Singapore
Thaipusam In Singapore: Piercings and Hooks and Skewers, Oh My!
Review: Singapore Airlines The Private Room…You Weren’t Very Private
Review: Singapore Airlines Suites, SIN – PVG…Slumber Party In The Sky
Review: Air China Business Class Lounge – Shanghai Pudong
Flight Review: ANA, All Nippon Airways – Business Class, PVG -NRT
The problem with UA (and AA) first is that it is really just a very good business class. Not a true international first class experience.
That’s definitely true! Even though it is not really a true international first class experience I like that United miles are easy to earn using credit cards and the fees on award redemptions are low. Also, in my experience award flights on United are fairly easy to find.
Flew the same plane from Seoul to SFO; it was quite nice up in Global First. Great service and no issues for my spouse and I. Really good food, I thought.
Had no complaints about the food. Really enjoyed my ice cream sundae!
Thanks for the review. Actually looking at this flight in a couple weeks. Very timely!
Just throwing this out there for comments. Would you rather fly United Global First, or Biz on ANA or Lufthansa to Asia?
We have not flown Biz on ANA or Lufthansa so can’t compare. We did fly ANA first class (pre United devaluation) using our United miles and really enjoyed it!
I’ve flown both UA Global First (IAD-DBX 777) and ANA Business (NRT-ORD 777), and I’d take United’s GF offering given the choice. At 6’3″, I found ANA’s seat to be incredibly tight/short. They also seem to keep their cabins very warm.
We are nowhere near 6’3 so will have to take your word on the tight spacing;) Completely agree that the ANA cabin was very warm- we’re usually cold on flights but found this one way too warm.
The is not true international First Class. Even the cheap us sundae appears out of place. Many carriers in the states use PR puffery, marketing, /propaganda to give the illusion of “quality.” Sad.