A few months ago, my wife and I decided to take a quick trip to Maui since I was able to find some award availability at the Andaz in Wailea (stay tuned for that review). Given that the trip was a bit last minute, we cashed in 90,000 Aeroplan miles for 2 round trip economy class tickets from Denver to Maui on United. While there are cheaper points options to get to Hawaii (i.e. Singapore or Korean Air miles), my Aeroplan account was pretty stacked and I had better uses for those other miles.
Our original itinerary was DEN – SFO – OGG in United Economy Plus on a 737; however, the weather in both Denver and San Francisco was not cooperating. See below:
Delays, Delays, Delays…
When we arrived at the airport, we were told that our leg from DEN to SFO was delayed by 2 hours due to weather, which meant we were going miss our flight from SFO to OGG. After talking to an unhelpful check-in agent about possible rerouting, I decided to take my chances with the United customer service desk on the other side of security. Thankfully, this agent was very nice and helped us secure seats from Denver to Honolulu then on to Maui on Hawaiian Airlines. I was just thankful that they were willing to essentially buy us tickets on Hawaiian even though we used Aeroplan miles.
As the agent was printing our tickets, she asked us if we were celebrating a special occasion. I said, “Yes, we’re actually celebrating our anniversary.” She congratulated us and I didn’t think much about it until she handed us our boarding passes, which were for seats 3A and 3B on our DEN – HNL flight. She gave us a complimentary First Class upgrade on a United Economy award flight booked through Air Canada…. I was floored by the gesture.
While the First Class Cabin United operates on this 777-200 route is pretty basic, the seat was more comfortable than a standard recliner and allowed me to put my feet up. Very few flights to Hawaii actually operate fully lie-flat seats. No complaints here though as I was just thankful to get out of Economy on this 7 hour flight.
The seat was also equipped with power outlets and some very
old basic controls. There was also no built-in, in-flight entertainment systems and the movies through the United app were spotty the whole way. Again, I was just thankful for the extra room, but had I actually paid for the seat, I may have been slightly disappointed.
Ah yes, the food. While no menu was available, the Purser informed us that there were 3 options on this flight: a chicken tamale, beef tips and a vegetarian pasta. I asked for the beef tips, but was given my second choice, the chicken tamale. The couple behind us pushed very rudely explained to the Purser that since they “actually paid for their seats” that they should be given their first choice of entrees….
The first course was a salad, which I didn’t care for too much. It was also served with a roll, which was better than the salad.
The chicken tamale didn’t look very appetizing, but it actually tasted okay. It was a stuffed piece of chicken on a corn husk served with some fried plantains. All in all, pretty filling, but not an exceptional in-flight dining experience. I guess the couple behind us got the beef tips instead of us.
Next, we were served the lemon sorbet for dessert, which tasted like bathroom cleaner. Again, not complaining just stating a fact.
United recently changed the configuration on this route to a 777-200, which has lie-flats. Hopefully more airlines will continue to move their Hawaii bound flights to lie-flat seats. They have yet to do so because they really haven’t needed to. These routes are very popular and most people don’t really seem to mind all that much. Overall, this was just a nice surprise and I have no right to judge United for operating an older 777.