Review: United Airlines Business Class E175, San Francisco – Vancouver

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Our returning flight from Hawaii had us coming back to the mainland in terrific lie flat seats. Unfortunately, it ended up taking us to San Francisco which required a short flight to get back home to Canada. Our short return positioning flight was on United Airlines Express between San Francisco and Vancouver on their smaller Embraer 175.


This post is one chapter on our trip during the pandemic to Honolulu Oahu, Hawaii, United States. This trip was redeemed through Marriott Bonvoy and further enhanced through Marriott Bonvoy Elite Status. 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 Business Class E175, San Francisco International Airport – Vancouver International Airport


We arrived into San Francisco International Airport on United Airlines First Class Honolulu – San Francisco. After spending some time at the United Club Lounge “G” International Concourse and a quick spin through the United Club Lounge “E” Gates, it was time to board our flight back home to Vancouver.

Boarding involved a document check at the podium prior to getting on board. While it is typically common for flights to Canada, it takes some American travellers by surprise.  In today’s case, we had a negative covid check and an arrive CAN pass check form.

United Airlines
Business Class (P)
SFO – YVR (San Francisco – Vancouver)
UA 5689
October 10, 2021
Booked: Embraer 175
Flown: Embraer 175
Departure: 11:08 AM
Arrival: 1:40 PM
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On board United Airlines First Class on an Embraer 175:

The United Airlines First Class Embraer 175 is a 1-2 configuration in four rows of First Class for a total of 12 seats. We located our seats in 2C 2D today.

United Airlines Express Embraer 175 – First Class Cabin
United Airlines Express Embraer 175 – First Class Cabin
United Airlines Express Embraer 175 – First Class Cabin
United Airlines Express Embraer 175 – First Class Cabin

We were able to store our rolling suitcases in the overhead bins on the right hand side of the aircraft. As many Embraer flyers will recall, the Embraers only offer suitcase storage on the right hand side of the aircraft. The overhead bins on the left hand side are only large enough for purses and coats. As a result, if storage of a suitcase above your head is important to you, make sure you get there early so you can get the bin space.

The seats offered working Empower plug ins in the center console between the seats.

United Airlines Embraer 175 – First Class In Seat Power

The seats are reasonably comfortable for short to medium haul first class. The only disadvantage is that I find the seats slightly firm.

We received the usual United Clean Plus Sanitizing Wipe on arrival to the aircraft. We were also able to watch the last of the luggage being loaded into the hold of the aircraft.

United Clean Plus Sanitizing Wipe
The Last of the Bags Being Put Into the Hold
Including our Wrapped Beach Chairs from Costco

Pre-Departure Services:

There was no offer of a pre-departure beverage today. It seems that with the pandemic cost cutting, this welcoming feature was left on the chopping block during our flight today.

Departing San Francisco International Airport:

We had a sunny departure from the San Francisco International Airport. We had a very long taxi way to the runway behind another United Embraer 175 aircraft. Our views departing the San Fransisco Bay Area had us spotting the Golden Gate Bridge as we climbed to altitude.

Following a United Express Embraer 175 departing San Francisco International Airport
Views of United Airframes at SFO
Departure Views from San Francisco International Airport

The Meal: All – In – One Snack Bag

As we got to altitude, an All – In – One Snack bag was passed out. The bag was a substitution for any meal service that was offered on the flight. It was very similar to the bag that we had received on our flight down.

The bag contained another Dasani 237ml bottle of water, a small bag of Stellar Pretzels and a Daelmans Authentic Dutch Stroopwafer cookie. Thankfully, I had the Bacon and Cheddar Croissant at the Starbucks earlier in the day. The snack bag itself was pretty meager. For an international flight of almost two and a half hours, I frankly expected something a little more.

United Airlines Express Clean Plus – “All in One” Snack Bag
United Airlines Express Clean Plus – “All in One” Snack Bag

Thankfully, I took some actual food from the United Club on our travels that included a sandwich and a bag of Lay’s Potato chips. I would have been dead without the sandwiches.

Self Catering Lunch from the United Club Lounge
United Airlines Express Clean Plus – “All in One” Snack Bag Dasani Waters

United Airlines In Flight Entertainment:

The entertainment was available on the United App. The selection was pretty limited. There were only 2 comedy movies, 2 documentary movies and a few television shows. As a result, I didn’t bother draining the battery down in the device.

Instead of watching movies, I ended up staring out the window. As we passed Crater Lake in Oregon state, the pilot cam on to announce our view. We had a great view as we passed over Crater Lake.

Views from the Wing – Crater Lake National Park, Oregon

Arriving into Vancouver International Airport:

We arrived after our short two hour flight into Vancouver. Surprisingly, we arrived next to Air Tahiti Nui which is typically never seen in Vancouver, Canada.

Air Tahiti Nui had been operating its flights Papeete – Vancouver – Paris to avoid the landing restrictions in the United States that prevented aircraft and alien citizens from transiting the United States of America as a result of the pandemic restrictions. The typical routing is Air Tahiti Nui Papeete – Los Angeles then onwards to Paris. In order to continue their regular daily Paris services, they had been rerouting through Canada with Vancouver as the technical stop.

Spotting the Rarely Seen Air Tahiti Nui Boeing 787 on the Ground at Vancouver International Airport

We deplaned into Vancouver International Airport. We passed by the First Nations Eagle on our way to Canada Border Services Agency inspection.

Passing Under the Spirit Eagle at Vancouver International Transborder Arrivals

Our Canadian Arrive CAN app that we had to complete for admittance into Canada worked without issue. We passed by a Lower Level Vancouver International Airport covid testing set up.

Pop Up Covid Testing at Vancouver International Arrivals Hall

My Thoughts on United Airlines Transborder:

Our United Airlines Business Class flight from San Francisco – Vancouver was exceptionally bare bones for a Business Class experience. Despite being on a flight over two and a half hours in length, we only received a sanitizing wipe, a coffee and a pre-packaged snack bag. I got wise on my second time around and took a sandwich from the United Club to supplement the food and beverage on board.


If you travel between the United States and Canada, do you have any preference in air carrier ?

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