At 15 hours and 30 minutes in duration and nearly 13,000 kilometres in distance, the flight from Hong Kong to Newark (one of three airports servicing New York City) isn’t for the faint of heart. Coming third on the list of longest flights departing from Hong Kong — behind Washington, D.C. and Dallas — this is a seriously long-haul flight, which calls for the ultimate in in-flight comforts. So for our latest visit to the Big Apple, we documented our business class experience with United Airlines to give New York-bound travellers the details they ought to know before booking their next flight to the other side of the world.
Airline: United Airlines
Aircraft: Boeing 777-300ER
Checked Baggage Allowance: 2 pieces at 32kg each
Flight Duration: 15 hours, 30 minutes
Route: Hong Kong (HKG) to Newark (EWR)
Mileage Program: Star Alliance
Checking in for a flight has never been as convenient as it is now thanks to technology. The online check-in system is literally at your fingertips and and can be accessed via the United website or app. At Hong Kong International Airport, the United Airlines counter is located in aisle G, where you can conveniently drop off your checked luggage and pick up your Polaris Lounge pass.
Having visited the United Club and Polaris Lounge, it’s safe to say that the lounge in Newark is one of the best lounges you’ll come across in any airport in the world. There, you can freshen up in the spacious shower suite while your clothes are steamed by professional valets. Afterward, head over to the bar overlooking sweeping views of Newark and enjoy full bar service, with professional mixologists stirring up an extensive cocktail list to take the edge off the upcoming flight. Make sure to grab a quick nibble either at the international buffet or private dining area before heading to your gate.
Space & Comfort: 9/10
With four seats per row, every seat has aisle access, making it easy to move in and out of your seat without disturbing anyone, and vice versa. The highlight of the Boeing 777-300ER aircraft is that everything has been designed to give business class passengers optimal sleeping conditions, so surprise given that the airline claims to “put the legacy of weary business travellers to bed”. The 180-degree lie-flat seats and mood lighting offer a great sense of privacy in the individual suite-like pods, which allows for some quality shut eye.
Food & Beverage: 7/10
As far as in-flight business class meals go, we know what to expect. The choices available were limited as per usual, and the food itself was probably as good as it will ever get. However, there’s a treat for those on board with a sweet tooth. United is known for its extremely over-the-top, made-to-order ice cream sundae. A large scoop (or two) of ice cream is topped with all the bells and whistles you can imagine that come with it: peanuts, sprinkles, gummy bears, chocolate sauce, and whipped cream.
Upon boarding, we were welcomed by the friendly flight attendants with a menu, pre-flight drink, hot towel and pyjamas to change into. As we eased into our seats, we munched on some snacks before the flight attendant returned to take our orders for the flight. Meals were served in a professional and attentive manner which made the lacklustre food slightly more enjoyable.
The entertainment system on board isn’t exactly something to write home about. The 16-inch high-definition screen is operated by touch, though it would be nice to also have the option of using a remote control as even sitting up and fiddling with the controls is too much effort when you’re all cozied up in your blanket. When it comes to the offering of movies, television shows, music and games, it’s comparable to other airlines, especially in terms of variety and audio/visual quality.
With a good night’s sleep in mind when designing the aircraft, it only makes sense that the best bedding is on offer. We were not disappointed as we tucked ourselves into the lush Saks Fifth Ave custom bed equipped with duvets, day blankets, mattress pads and gel-cooled pillows for a proper deep slumber — not to mention comfy slippers and pyjamas you can slip into to get you feeling right at home. We were also given an amenity kit, and not just any amenity kit, but a Spider Man: Far From Home amenity kit. The little blue pouch embossed with the Marvel superhero designs fit all the in-flight essentials: Spider Man motif sleeping mask and flight socks; ear plugs; dental kit; and lip balm, face cream, hand cream, and facial cleansing cloth by eco beauty brand Sunday Riley.
For those looking to get some work done en route, there are multiple surfaces available and storage areas for laptops, gadgets and cords. In-flight WiFi is also available for a small fee, but do bear in mind that the connectivity level is low, so only expect to access basic email and light browsing.