Road Warrior Tested: United Airlines International Business Class
Clocking in at more than 14 hours and 7,000 miles, nonstop flights to Australia from the West Coast are among the longest commercial airline journeys.
I've flown to Australia more than a dozen times and have experienced the long-haul trip in all classes of service. Flying first class is pretty much effortless and coach can be a bit tough. Here's a review of my United Airlines flight two weeks ago in business class in this installment of "Road Warrior Tested."
Route: Los Angeles to Sydney, Australia.
Aircraft: A Boeing 747-400 seating 12 passengers in first class, 52 in "BusinessFirst" (business class) and 310 in economy.
Cabin/Seat Assignment: BusinessFirst seat 14K, a lie-flat window seat on the upper deck, which offered 74 inches of space between rows and a 23.5-inch wide seat.
Comfort: All of United's 747 offer lie-flat seats in business class, offering a more comfortable ability to sleep than some of their other international aircraft that have older generation lounger-style seats. A large pillow and ultra soft duvet cover are provided, as well as an amenity kit with skin care products, toothpaste, toothbrush, eyeshades, earplugs and other items.
I've flown in this seat many times in the past and never had trouble sleeping. But I had some difficulty on this flight. The multi-position headrest is fantastic in upright mode, but I was particularly bothered by its sturdy design when lying my pillow over it to sleep. Some people can scrunch down to avoid it, but being 6'1" tall, I end up needing the entire seat space and found it too rough on my neck this flight. Reader tip: the business class seats on the lower deck offer three more inches of space between seats and taller passengers might be more comfortable there.
Otherwise, I found the seat incredibly comfortable in all other positions.
Entertainment: This aircraft features on-demand entertainment in business class, including up to 150 movies, 185 television shows, thousands of songs and 20 interactive video games. The large 15+ inch screen is positioned directly across from the seat above the footwell (as pictured left).
My only gripe as a frequent United flier is the television shows haven't been refreshed with new episodes since May, at least. Many of the movies are recent releases, however, and they also offer some classics and other box office hits worth a second viewing if you've already seen them.
In-seat power (110V) and a USB port for connecting Apple iPods and other capable devices are also available at each seat.