First of all, words can not express how grateful I am to even have the opportunity to experience the .001% of travel. I give all that credit to the travel bug that bit me years ago, and all of the wonderful people I’ve met over the course of the years that I’ve been able to share my passion of miles and points with.
I remember that feeling of my first time I ever flew in first class. I took my first flight up front from Newark to the Bahamas in March of 2011, and I felt like I was on top of the world. Since then, I appreciate the fact that life had blessed me with many more opportunities to travel luxuriously.
I understand that traveling is a privilege, but I also know that it’s a competitive market out there. Some of my most out-of-this-world and memorable flights included flying first class on Singapore Airlines and Cathay Pacific, where the experience is so surreal that you forget you are 37,000 feet in the sky all together. It makes getting to Asia a pleasant experience rather than something that’s dreadful. That’s not exactly how I felt after returning from Seoul on United’s GlobalFirst product.
Ok maybe dreadful is a harsh word, but when they’re marketing round trip tickets in the 5-digit range, you set the bar high. Granted I purchased the ticket for 4-digits during a mistake fare, I almost wish I would have just used miles to get to Asia.
Here’s where United falls short in GlobalFirst:
THE FOOD: I put much emphasis on this one because I’d be lying if I said the food was edible. There’s so much to say about the embarrassing catering that I almost feel like it deserves a post of its own. You know the catering is terrible when the flight attendant can’t even identity the the meat that’s floating around in the atrocious dumpling soup that I’d been grossly burping up for days later (TMI, I know). You know catering is not right when the way the main course looks is equivalent to 3-day old elementary school lunch. You know something’s missing in the catering department when minestrone soup is advertised on the menu and you’re all of the sudden you gag as you sip the saltiest mushroom bisque(??) that somehow made its way onto your tray table.
Let’s also not forget that there’s absolutely no rhyme or reason to the menu design. To start – one coconut shrimp with a middle-eastern quinoa salad on the same plate, followed by a spicy Mexican soup, followed by a beef skewer with a side of Asian vegetables, and then the same, boring “create your own sundae” for dessert. You’re also invited to an “array of mid-flight snacks” which include bags of Cape Cod potato chips (which seemed to be the best thing the entire flight was stocked with… no wonder why they ran out after an hour), packaged vending machine cookies, frost-bitten bananas, and some chocolate candies.
As a simple solution, I truthfully would have enjoyed a $10 soup and salad combo from Panera Bread instead… or even a Whopper value meal from Burger King. I’m not even kidding.
The Service: To be honest, some flight attendants should not be in the service business at all. I may be shooting myself in the foot (because I’m also in the SAG-AFTRA union), but there’s something about union members that feel they’re entitled to a continuous increase in pay and benefits without ever increasing their output. In my opinion, while there are exceptions, I find most of United’s flight attendants to be outright rude, snobby, and genuinely annoyed while doing their jobs. For instance, there’s been many occasions where I felt like I was “inconveniencing” them for simple service requests. I never felt that way on other foreign carriers. In fact, the service is so good and over-the-top on other carriers, that at times, I felt “undeserving” of any kind of special treatment. At the very least,
good decent, attitude-free service should be expected on a “competitive” first class product.
Missing “Luxury”: There’s nothing luxurious about United’s GlobalFirst service. Infact, in a previous post I wrote, a reader left a comment saying this: “And there lies one of the issues with UA, in my opinion. Nobody is debating whether 20k miles is “expensive”, but rather if the difference between UA’s J and F is worth the small cost. If the benefits of UA’s F cabin only marginally outweighs it’s J cabin, then what’s even the point?”
Aside from a slightly-larger seat, United seriously lacked in the “luxury” department. Caviar? No. Expensive champagne? Nope. Heck, Pajamas?! Of course not. Sorry to sound like a diva, but when Singapore Airlines offers all of the above, PLUS designer bedding (not that I really cared, but…), then I think it’s time to step up the game.
I know there’s a lot of “first world problems” in this rant, but their lack of in-flight amenities truly made the flying experience completely underwhelming in my opinion, and the catering is down-right embarrassing (trust me, I this is me being nice). I don’t intend for this post to rip UA a new a**hole, but perhaps if enough people actually express their opinions about their dissatisfaction with something, then maybe there will be some changes. Maybe.
After all, in recent news, American Airlines does deserve their kudos for listening to catering complAAints and doing something about it…
Please feel free to share your thoughts and experiences…