Membership has its Rewards: United Business Class San Francisco to Sydney

After finishing exploring the Star Alliance lounges of SFO, I left for the gate to snap some predeparture photos of the plane in old-new livery.  I was slightly foiled by the pattern in the glass.

United 863

San Francisco (SFO) – Sydney, Australia (SYD)

Saturday, December 24th

Depart: 10:39PM

Arrive: 7:51AM

Duration:  14 hours, 12 minutes

Aircraft: Boeing 747-422 (N197UA)

Seat: 14K (Business Class)

Ordinarily, I’m an aisle seat person, but I chose a forward facing window seat on the upper deck.  Extensive analysis on FlyerTalk puts the length of the bed in this particular seat at 75 inches.  My laptop bag and a book from my rollaboard suit case comfortably fit in one half of the window bins of the seat.


The overhead bins on the upper deck are quite small, however, and could not accommodate my suitcase.  The flight attendant noticed me staring at the overhead bins for a moment before suggesting I remove anything I might want during flight and he would stow it in the closet.

After stowing my bag, the flight attendant returned with a tray of predeparture beverages (water, orange juice, and sparkling wine).  I picked the sparkling wine and settled in.

As the third passenger to board the plane, I had some time to kill before boarding finished.  I started by reading the menu before turning to a book I had with me.

As I had requested a vegetarian meal, I was served an off-menu first course with the on-menu vegetarian ravoli.

For dessert, I chose the ice cream.

I played with my laptop for a bit prior to going to bed.  The amenity kit was simple yet practical.  Honestly, with my suitcase in the upper deck closet, the only essential I needed was a toothbrush.

I woke up around 6AM Sydney time from a combination of the sun and a crying baby.  Both of these are largely my own fault as I left my window shade up and chose not to use an eye mask nor ear plugs.  Nonetheless, it was a reasonably high quality six hours of sleep as I made it through the next day and evening without feeling prematurely tired.  I prefer to sleep on my side, so my only complaint with the lie-flat bed is that there’s a smallish headrest that sticks out near the very top of the bed.

A flight attendant was by soon after to offer a hot towel and to start serving breakfast.  The vegetarian breakfast omits the yogurt listed on the menu for some reason.


Just prior to landing, it was time to checkout the air show.

Customs was quick thanks to the Express Path cards handed out to business and first class passengers.  Of the fifteen or so minutes I spent getting landside, most of it was walking from the plane, through the duty-free store, and then ultimately out of the customs/immigration area.

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