When I was booking this trip in late December, I was able to find business class upgrade space on United 924, the late evening redeye from Washington to London operated with a 777. Unfortunately, the United 777 fleet is in a state of flux as they update the cabins: Not all planes have received the new lie-flat business class yet and the forward cabins are smaller than the ones they are replacing. Further, equipment swaps between the two 777 types can happen at any time.
At booking, I was in the old configuration 777. For an upgrader, an equipment swap can be disastrous as one could fall from a confirmed business class seat to an undesirable middle seat in economy minus.
The day of my flight, I glanced at the mobile United site over lunch to figure out the nose number of the plane I would be on, from which I could back out the tail number. The FlyerGuide wiki maintains a reasonably up-to-date page for the state of United’s fleet. Given nose number 2481, I could determine that I was going to be on N781UA, which by January 12th, had the new business class.
I checked the full United site to figure out my new seat assignment, finding that I couldn’t see it online until I called an agent. Fortunately, I was still in business class and had managed to get a rear facing aisle seat. Having tried out the forward facing lie flat seats of United and Air New Zealand on my trip in December, I was looking forward to trying out the rear facing experience.
While my trip originated at New York Kennedy and I did choose to visit the United Club there, those details are written up in my December trip report.
Washington Dulles (IAD) – London (LHR)
Thursday, January 12th
Duration: 7 hours, 13 minutes
Aircraft: Boeing 777-222 (N781UA)
Seat: 7B (Business Class)
The flight show is an important part of any long-haul trip (especially when on an Embraer regional jet).
The menu read as follows:
Concerned for the potential worst of Skychefs, I had ordered a vegetarian meal.
For desert, I opted for the ice cream.
By this time, I realized we were about two and a half hours into the flight with a predicted early arrival to London due to strong winds so I began my attempt to get ever last moment of sleep that I could. I skipped the breakfast but remained quasi-conscious as the sounds of the breakfast service kept me from falling back to sleep. Needless to say, I’ve now concluded that meal service on transatlantic redeyes is a trap.
Passport control was quick, although the UK officer felt compelled to guess that my purpose of travel to Ireland was to “visit family” based on my red hair.