Review: United Economy SFO-HKG

Trip Report: A Week in Hong Kong


TL;DR: 15 hours in economy is tolerable for daytime flights. Bring extra food with you, and pray for an empty middle seat.

  • United 869
  • SFO – HKG
  • Aircraft: Boeing 777-300ER
  • Seat: 35J (Economy)
  • Depart: 1:15pm Mar 2, 2018
  • Arrive: 8:30pm Mar 3, 2018

Screen Shot 2018-03-20 at 9.58.12 AM

We arrived at SFO International Terminal at 10:30am for our 1:15pm flight to Hong Kong. The International Terminal is split into two sections, A and G, which are not connected airside. Our United flight departed from G94, and the G side of the terminal is connected airside to Terminal 3 (United’s terminal at SFO).

There was no line for check in, so checking my bag was quick and easy. After security, we immediately turned right to cross into Terminal 3 to use the Amex Centurion Lounge.

Our flight to Hong Kong was 15 hours, and I was extremely skeptical of the food offerings in economy. Terminal 3 has great dining options, so I decided to stop at Pie Five Pizza before the flight. I grabbed a personal pizza which ended up being a great decision (more on the in-flight food below).

Our flight was delayed about an hour, so we finally started boarding at around 1:30pm.

Seat

Economy seating is 3-4-3. I had selected seat 35J in the aisle, while my friend selected seat 35L at the window. Though the flight was pretty full, we luckily had an empty middle seat between us. 🙏

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Our row was the antepenultimate row in the first economy cabin.

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row.jpg

The economy seats are 17″ wide with 31″ of pitch. There’s not a lot of legroom if you store a bag under the seat in front of you. The seat also comes with a power outlet, located between the seats.

 

Entertainment

Each seat in economy had a seatback entertainment screen. There were a ton of newly released movies, so there’s definitely enough content to keep you entertained on the flight.

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Additionally, there was wifi for purchase (though it was noted that access would be unavailable over Chinese airspace).

in flight wifi

Food

This is a 15 hour flight, departing at 1:15pm. So you’re on the plane for lunchtime,  dinnertime, and maybe breakfast time.

The first meal was served about an hour after takeoff. I selected the vegetarian dish, which was noodles with vegetables. It was served with some sort of barley and lettuce salad and a roll.

 

It was edible, but I was glad that I brought a pizza with me. After dinner, there was ice cream 😋

gelato.jpg

Around 7 hours into the flight, a snack was served. It was a small sandwich.

sandwich

It was fine, but it was so small. Definitely not a sufficient dinner.

Finally, breakfast was served about 1.5 hours before landing. There was a choice between eggs and pancakes. I got the eggs, which were fine, while E got the pancakes, which she said were pretty good.

Bottom Line

When it comes to longhaul economy on United, don’t expect much. Since this was a daytime flight and I didn’t want to sleep, I found this flight tolerable. If possible, bring your own food.

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