United Domestic First Class Atlanta to Denver to Sacramento



After enjoying the Atlanta Sky Club in the F terminal we took the underground train back to the T terminal. Total time to the gate was approximately 25 minutes. After reaching gate T13, we waited another 5 minutes before United started to board the aircraft. Pre-board was first, followed by group 1 which included the first class cabin. The process was orderly and, ahem, civilized. More so than the Delta flights I’m use to boarding.

Introduction: Sales Meeting With HQ
Review: Delta Domestic First Class Sacramento to Atlanta
Review: Delta Ground Services Atlanta
Review: Atlanta Evergreen Marriott Conference Resort
Review: Delta Sky Club Atlanta F International Concourse
Review: United Club Denver – West Location
Review: United Domestic First Class Atlanta to Denver to Sacramento

t13Gate T13


Entrance to Jetway


Everyone entered from the first door in from the jetway. On entering the cabin I took my seat in 2A. Everyone shuffled into the plane and filled up the first class cabin or walked on through to their coach seat. I was speaking with a United elite while waiting to board and he mentioned that only one upgrade was available on this flight, and he didn’t get it. The reason Paul and I had first was because of the reasonable price we were able to buy when planning our trip.

The first class cabin on the united Boeing 737-800 was made of 16 seats in 4 rows of a 2×2 configuration. The large soft leather seats were dark charcoal grey in color (almost black). They have 38″ pitch, and while not the 40+ on other configurations it is very acceptable for a 3-hour flight. After being seated the flight attendant handed out United blue first class blankets, and also took beverage orders.

United Airlines 453
Atlanta (ATL) – Denver (DEN)
Tuesday March 1st, 2016
Departure Time: 4:10pm
Arrival Time: 5:50pm
Flight Time: 3hr40min
Aircraft: Boeing 737-800
Seat 2A, Medium Haul Domestic First Class

our-flight-r1Our flight this afternoon cabin-2First class cabin

cabin-view-2Behind 2A

seat-2bSeat 2B

knee-roomKnee Room

seat-backSeat Back

united-blue-blanketLarge blue blanket

side-viewSide view

The plane boarded complete in a little over 30 minutes. Door close and came at 4:11pm, which was almost exactly on time. Push back was a couple minutes later. Making our way to the runway for took another 12 minutes which is pretty good for Atlanta. Of the 3 large legacy carriers United has really taken a lot of criticism for their operation during the last 6 years. I’ve only flow with them domestically once during that time and it was into Chicago. Everything on that flight went well. This flight was also proceeding smoothly including the service from the flight attendants.

club-sodaPre-departure club soda

tarmac-viewView out the window

runway-outRunway view

deltaPassing on the way out

busy-atlNice view of ATL

wing-shotClimbing out of Atlanta

Take off and ascent were without issue. At fifteen minutes after takeoff the flight attendants started working the cabin. Service started with a warm towel and an initial beverage order. Since this was an afternoon flight dinner service was a “light meal” of shrimp and rice with a salad. The female flight attendant was professional and personable as she worked the forward cabin, and confirmed if we would be enjoying a meal on the flight.

Our beverage was severed with warm nuts. American also does this on their medium haul flights. Delta does not do warm nuts at all – even on long haul Delta 1 transcontinental flights. Delta in-lieu of warm nuts hands out a pre-packages bag of Sahale “gourmet” snack nuts. I really enjoy the old school warm nuts in a ceramic ramekin bowl. I think it’s a nice touch and reflects well on United for doing this on a medium hall flight.

Service on this flight was very good. Sometimes flight attendants will hide after the meal service, but that was not the case on this flight. The female FA working our cabin was attentive and checked on us several times during and after the meal service. Her demeanor wasn’t overly warm but was always professional. For a late afternoon flight, it was perfect.

towelHot towel

wine-and-nutsWine with warm nuts

light-dinnerLight entrée

cookieHot cookie

viewsViews on the way

The meal was enjoyable and it was nice to relax and watch the world go by after a couple days of meetings. Paul was relaxed also, which is good thing because he can be real fidgety. Paul and I are fortunate to have discretion over our travel budget, and we mostly don’t abuse the privilege. Being able to travel on a reduced price domestic first class fare when going from east to west does take the sting out of a long work day. Soon enough we descended into the Denver and prepared to land.

denverDenver International Airport

next-to-usNext to us

Descent and landing went without any issues, and we arrived 10 minutes early to our gate B47 (on the east side of terminal B). The flight was smooth, and Paul and I appreciated the nice service after working 2 days of meetings. The food was nothing gourmet, but it was light and tasty which works for a medium haul afternoon flight. The seat and cabin were in good shape, and I felt like we had plenty of room for our journey.

After exiting the plane, we walked to the United Club West location. After spending 30 minutes at the lounge Paul and I left to walk over to gate 33, which is next door. Our next flight was already boarding, and we jumped into the last section of group 1 and walked into the plane.

cabinNearly identical cabin

legroomKnee room

The second flight was a night flight and I wasn’t able to get as many photographs as the first one. It was almost identical to the first segment in that we had the same plane, cabin, seats, and similar duration. There were some differences between the two flights, which will be covered in this second portion.

United Airlines 450
Denver (DEN) – Sacramento (SMF)
Tuesday March 1st, 2016
Departure Time: 6:51pm
Arrival Time: 8:30pm
Flight Time: 2hr39min
Aircraft: Boeing 737-800
Seat 2A, Medium Haul Domestic First Class

 our-flight-tody-r1Our flight tonight

Boarding door close and push back occurred on time. We were again offered a beverage as the cabin loaded and the service from the cabin female flight attendant was punctual and professional. It took us almost 20 minutes from push back to take off, and I’ve heard this can be typical at Denver.

next-to-usNext to us

denver-at-nightDenver at night

It wasn’t very long after takeoff that the cabin crew began the evening’s fight service. Again we had a hot towel service and beverage order. Since this was an evening flight there was a full dinner service which included a hot beef wine reduction dish, or a seasoned chicken with string beans. I choose the beef, which was tasty and better than the pictures of the entrée.

The dinner service lasted just under an hour. The rest of the flight I relaxed and drifted in and out of sleep. Both flights had gogo WiFi available, and I used it on the second flight. It was similar to Delta, American and Alaska flights were I’ve used the service, which is to say it works decent 80% of the time with 20% intermittent stalls.

subdued-led-lightingSubdued evening lighting

center-consoleMiddle drink holders wine-and-warm-nutsWine and more warm nuts

dinnerHardy dinner

After our dinner service Paul and I spoke with our flight attendant for a few minutes. The topic of Oscar Munoz, United’s new CEO came up. She mentioned that she and most of her associates at the airline are optimistic now he is at the helm. She seemed very genuine in these comments, and it was another positive experience on this United flight.

This United first class cabin had subdued evening lighting that was used for the majority of the flight. It’s nice from a relaxing stand point. The in-flight duration of this segment is slightly over 2 hours, and it wasn’t long before we came into Sacramento area for landing. There was little to no turbulence while coming in, and as with our first segment everything went well. We pulled up to our gate A14 at Sacramento’s terminal A. I noticed that our priority tagged luggage was some of the first bags on the carousel.


In Summary:

The reason Paul and I took a United First Class flight from Atlanta to Sacramento was 1) Delta did not have a direct evening flight, and 2) United was selling their first class cabin at a significant discount. I have heard negative stories about United’s inflight product, but our experience on these two United flights was very solid experience. Was it perfect? Again no, but it was good and certainly on pare with my Delta and American experiences for medium haul first class.

This year I’ve had the chance to fly United, American and Delta first class medium haul product – and they are all more similar than different. United doesn’t have bottled water, Delta and American do. Everyone has a blanket; Delta has a pillow as well. United and American have warm nuts, Delta does not. Of the three only American had an at seat video display.

My sample size was very small, and as I try other products over Delta I’m sure to get a more accurate picture of up front cabin products. As of now, United Airlines offers a good medium haul first class product.





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