reviews and experiences on planes and destinations as I travel travel through the world ----- twitter: https://twitter.com/0504Traveller ------ TripAdvisor: http://www.tripadvisor.com/members/0504Traveller
Trip Report: United Airlines, Amsterdam to Washington
comment below and let me know your thoughts :)
In the past, I have tried to avoid taking American carriers
long-haul. Their service, seat comfort,
and overall experience fall short as compared to their international
competitors. The US carriers realized this
and have started to invest in their international product, and have been providing
discounted fares on their international routes.
For these two reasons, I decided to try United International from
Amsterdam to Washington, DC.
United serves Amsterdam from its hub in Washington Dulles
and flies the Boeing 767 on this route.
The plane contains Business Class, Economy Plus, and Economy sections. Given it was an almost 9 hour flight, and I have
previously experienced United economy to Punta Cana (review here: United Airlines - Punta Cana) and
it was uncomfortable, I decided to purchase an economy plus seat. In choosing the upgrade, there were two
options available – the first was just the economy plus seat while the second
was the economy plus seat, priority boarding, and access to the lounge. There was a price difference between the two
options, and in my opinion the higher price did not the extra options available. For that reason, I choose just the economy
The flight was scheduled to take off from Amsterdam at 12p
and arrive into Dulles around 3p. I was staying
at the airport (review: Sheraton Amsterdam Airport) so I was able to quickly get to my checkin
counter 2hours prior to departure. When international
flight included one free checked bag at 23kg, and when I got to the checkin
counter there was no one there. I was
checked in, got my boarding pass and checked my luggage all within 5
minutes. This gave me more opportunity
to explore School airport.
I arrived at the boarding gate around 11am and the plane was
already there (it had come from DC earlier that morning). Even though I had purchased Economy Plus
seating, I noticed I was in the last boarding group so I went to ask the agent
if I could get into the earlier group – she replied that it didn’t matter as
there were only 46 people on the entire flight! A plane that can hold more than
200 people is flying today with only 46 passengers. Given the light load, we did not start boarding
until 11:30am and we were done with boarding by 11:40am.
There is one section of economy plus seats and one section
of economy seats, and both are laid out in a 2-3-2 setting. I had initially purchased the bulkhead seat,
which is the first economy plus seat as that provides more room (although it’s restricted
as no moveable armrest). Given the light
load, everyone in the plane could have an entire row to themselves, so I switched
to an empty two seater for more room and comfort. Overall, the economy plus seats provided very
nice legroom. The legroom was plenty so
that you could easily stretch out, especially on the long-haul flights. During the flight I went and tried out the
economy seat – the legroom there was decent, but it would be tight for the
longer flight and even tighter if the person in front of you reclined their
Each seat on the plane had its own PTV system, which was
controlled both by touch and remote. USB
ports and headphone jacks were available next to the PTV and plugs were available
beneath the seat. The entertainment system
was immediately available, which is a nice thing and I am not sure why some
airlines only turn on the system once they reach airborne, and the movie selection
was very good. In fact, the movie selection
was a lot better than I had expected – there was definitely enough there to
keep you occupied for the flight duration.
The TV selection wasn’t as great, but still provided some nice episodes
of selected TV shows.
Given the light load, the flight attendants said it did not
make sense to bring out the
service cart so they individually took orders and
brought items. Prior to departure, the
attendant came around asking our drink order.
Once we reached cruising altitude, drinks and a snack mix were served
while the main meal was being warmed.
Once warmed, the main meal was served.
The meal was decent but the portion was definitely smaller as compared
to other airlines – both the size and quantity of food was compact; the flavors
were alright (I’ve had better, but I have also had worse). Ice cream for dessert was also served. Tea, coffee, drinks, and water were offered
when the meal trays were cleared. After
the service, the cabin lights were dimmed for people to relax for the flight.
The attendants were visible in the aisles,
and water, fruit, and small snacks were available into the galleys. One strange
note: I asked if hot chocolate was available, and I got the following response “normally
hot chocolate is only available for first class, but given the light load I
will make an exception, but not this is not usually available”. It was very offputting, and if it’s that much
of an effort just say that hot chocolate is not available. Given all the effort, I was expecting really
good hot chocolate, but when it came it was the same hot chocolate that Southwest
offers for free on every flight. Prior
to landing, a small snack and drinks were served. Again, emphasis on small as the portion size
on United are very small. Because we left early, and we had strong winds behind us, we
made it to DC almost 30 minutes ahead of schedule. We quickly landed, taxied to the gate, and
Overall, it was an interesting
flight with United. While the
entertainment selection and availability of USB ports exceeded my expectations, the food size was small, the
service was decent but could be better, and I had to purchase seat
comfort. Given all this, would I choose
to fly American carriers long-haul? I am
not sure; before I had avoided American carriers as much as possible. Now, I would not seek them out but I would
not avoid them. If the price is right,
and the flight time short, and the international carrier option is longer or
not as feasible, then I would not avoid American carriers.