Review: United Airlines First Class B737-7, Vancouver – Chicago

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The first leg of our journey was on the first flight of the day between Vancouver International Airport and the United hub, George Bush International Airport in Houston, Texas, United States of America. While it was the first leg of our journey, it would also turn out to be the first leg of a fourteen flight adventure on this mostly free African trip.


This post is one chapter on our trip to South Africa, a Safari in the Maasai Mara in Kenya and Mauritius. This trip was redeemed through Air Canada’s Aeroplan and through Starwood Preferred Guest (Marriott Bonvoy) and Hyatt Gold Passport. For more information on how this trip was booked, please see our trip introduction here. For other parts of the trip, please see this index.

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Review: United Airlines First Class B737-7, Vancouver International Airport – Chicago O’Hare International Airport

At about T – 45, we left the Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge Vancouver Transborder for the gate. Today’s flight was departing from E78, one of Vancouver’s swing gates (which can be shared with International Departures).

Empty YVR Gate Areas
YVR Gate E78

On Board United Airlines First Class:

After boarding Group 1, we settled in on board.

United First Class B737-7 Seats

A Pre – Departure Beverage offering of water and orange juice in the usual classy United Airlines picnic plastic cup.

Pre-Departure Picnic

Getting Underway:

The lunch meal orders were taken at seat while we were still at the gate in YVR.

We had beautiful mountain views on the climb out of YVR thanks to recent snows and the cold air temperatures in the morning. These photos are of the Cascade Mountains in Washington, USA.

Gorgeous Pacific Northwest Snow Capped Mountains
Snow Covered!
At cruise altitude at 31,090 feet

A towel service was offered, with a pretty tired looking nuked towel.

For entertainment, free Direct TV was offered, although there isn’t much to watch with only 6 movies available and a few TV channels of each category loaded with commercials. It seems a shame to have to pay for channels if in economy, only to have to sit through all the advertising.

Direct TV – not super exciting
Hugh Jackman faces another challenge

Food and Beverage: A light lunch

The Wine on offer today were the Two Oceans Sauvingon Blanc in the tiny thimble glass. It was a little funny since the photo on the Two Ocean’s bottle of Cape Point was exactly where we were headed. This was offered prior to the lunch course, along with the warmed nuts.

Two Oceans Sauvingon Blanc with Mixed Nuts

There were no printed menus today with a verbal choice given of the infamous shrimp salad w/ croutons and a balsamic vinaigrette, or a chicken sandwich. Tomato and red pepper soup was offered as a starter. The catering was very “American” and everything you’d expect from a North American carrier.

Srhimp Salad and Tomato and Red Pepper Soup, served all at once

While I had the Shrimp Salad, Mrs WT73 had the alternate, the Chicken Sandwich. As some of you may know, Mrs WT73 and I have vastly different food tastes. I’d consider myself a foodie, whereas Mrs WT73 prefers the tried and traditional foods. Today’s food fit into the “traditional” category and that was putting it generously. The chicken sandwich looked pretty depressing. It reminded me of something I would expect to get in my kids grade school cafeteria. It was deemed “OK” for Mrs WT73 although eating this on a repeated basis commuting would probably get tiring quickly.

The Alternate, Hot Chicken Sandwich

For dessert, the United Airlines freshly baked chocolate chip cookie was offered. It was quite tasty, despite the McDonald’s fast food wrapping. 

Made Fresh, Especially for You

We had good wine refills all afternoon on our flight with today’s SFO based crew. 

Touching Down:

We arrived in Chicago after dark and with a minimal holding pattern without much incident ready to start the next leg of our adventure. 

Parked next to another United Narrow Body

My thoughts on United First Class Medium Haul:

After reading many trip reports, I’d have to conclude with many others that American Airlines seems to have United beat in terms of Domestic First Class. It’s an interesting choice too with United’s Direct TV, since you can’t watch a movie start to finish unless you’re organized enough to catch it right from the start. I think it fits into background entertainment as opposed to a genuine way of passing the time with a true Advanced Video on Demand system.


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