Million-Mile Flight Review: United BusinessFirst, Seoul to San Francisco

[This is the final installment of my Million-Mile Trip Report. I’ve included links to the other posts below:]

United Airlines Million-Mile Trip Report: Introduction and Background

Flight Review: United Airlines BusinessFirst, San Francisco to Seoul

Hotel Review: Conrad Seoul, Executive Floor King Room

Lounge Review: Asiana Business Class, Seoul Incheon Midfield Concourse

Whenever possible, I try to head to the gate early to watch the inbound flight arrive. Mostly because I’m an #avgeek and like to get several pictures of every aircraft I fly on, and this particular United 747 would be the one to carry me over one million lifetime miles in MileagePlus.

a large airplane on a runway

N104UA pulling into the gate

It arrived on-time from San Francisco and after watching it block in at the gate, I walked around the concourse a bit more since it was still a couple of hours before my departure.

an airplane at an airport

Gate 123 at Seoul Incheon

When boarding time came around, I was rather shocked to see empty lanes for each group number.

a woman standing in front of a gate

Zero gate lice here

No “gate lice†for this flight, and it wasn’t until they opened the jetway and made a start-of-boarding announcement that people (myself included) began lining up.

Once onboard, I headed up the stairs, stowed my rollaboard in the closet and took my BusinessFirst window seat, 15A.

a seat in an airplane

Seat 15A on a United 747

Amenity kits and noise cancelling headphones were already at each passenger’s seat, and a flight attendant later brought around the menu (posted below). A selection of newspapers was also available on the credenza near the stairs.

The American flight to Dallas was parked one gate over and it pushed back about 20 minutes before we did.

an airplane at an airport

American’s flight to Dallas

After takeoff, service began immediately with hot towels, a beverage and the usual ramekin of heated nuts.

an aerial view of a city

Departing Seoul

a bowl of nuts and a glass of water

Water & nuts to begin

Here’s the beverage list from the menu – it’s identical to the one from my outbound flight review.

a menu of wine and champagnea menu with black textThe purser later came around to take main course selections and I was pleased to see a Korean dish offered.

a menu of a restauranta menu of a restaurantI selected the lemon aioli dressing on my salad, and a choice of bread was offered. I opted for garlic, which was a mistake as it was barely heated and the butter was a solid lop in the middle.

a plate of shrimp and vegetables

Chilled appetizer

a salad with dressing on it

Salad with lemon aioli dressing

As I mentioned above, I was pleased to see a Korean dish offered and I ordered the Sam Gye Jjim, but oh my was I disappointed.

a plate of rice and meat

Sam Gye Jjim entree

Disregarding the terrible plating and presentation, the chicken was dry and the sauce was noticeably cooler (almost cold). A little container of hot pepper paste was provided, which added a bit more flavor. One positive note: the second round of garlic bread was much better.

After the main course, I was rather tired and I passed on dessert and cheese.

a close-up of a menu

Dessert and mid-flight menu

I slept solidly and woke up only about 15 minutes before the pre-arrival service began. It’s incredible how fast some of my long-haul flights seem to go in the comfort of a lie-flat seat. 😉 And I love upper-deck window seats on United’s 747s since you can let an arm and/or knee dangle on top of the side storage console after lowering the armrest.

a menu of a restaurant

Pre-arrival menu

Even though it was breakfast time, the Asian-style noodles appealed to me most.

a plate of food on a tray

Asian-style noodles

It was quite good, actually, though I’m sure it contained two days’ worth of sodium. My seatmate had the quiche, which also looked pretty decent.

Service was professional and mostly attentive, so that’s above average for United. If you had this crew on a foreign carrier, though, they would be largely forgettable. The purser helped out with service upstairs from time to time and he thanked me for “taking your headphones off when I’m speaking to you.†A bit strange, but he went on to say that so few of his passengers ever do that.

I absolutely love arriving from the north into San Francisco. The views are incredible as you head down the coast before turning back around for final approach.

an airplane wing with water and land below

Golden Gate Bridge

an aerial view of a city and water

San Francisco

And with that, my one million-mile flight was complete. As I mentioned in the introduction to this trip report, I wanted to make it a special one by flying on my favorite airplane, as well as in style. I selfishly tweeted out my milestone when I landed and received a fantastic reply of congrats from United’s social media team.

United has historically been my preferred carrier, though I’m happy to have finally locked in lifetime status. It frees me from my former logic that I HAVE to fly United every time being so close to the million. So now, especially with the new revenue requirements for elite status, I feel a bit freer to select an airline for any particular trip that suits me best.

– Follow Darren Booth on Twitter, @FrequentlyFlyin, for more airline, hotel and travel industry news, reviews and opinions.


United Airlines Million-Mile Trip Report: Introduction and Background

Flight Review: United Airlines BusinessFirst, San Francisco to Seoul

Hotel Review: Conrad Seoul, Executive Floor King Room

Lounge Review: Asiana Business Class, Seoul Incheon Midfield Concourse


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