Since I noticed a lot of questions about United's 747 economy flight from US-Australia,I wanted to post a review of my experience,hopefully will answer future questions. Also,I flew out on March 4,day after the whole system change. I also wanted to post about issues I had with UA and trouble with return flight and how they handled it. I've seen a lot of posts on here and other sites with negative reviews on the merger. I have both good and not so good things to report,hopefully can provide a balanced view.
Anyway...as I said, i flew UA 863 JFK-SFO-SYD on 3/4. On 3/3,the new website gave me a different res #,took forever to load,and changed my seat assignments. At times,the mobile app even said the flight didn't exist. I spent 75 minutes on hold that afternoon trying to get it straightened out,and it turned out all right-my seats were the same after all,just didnt show up right on the site,and of course the flight was valid:) Later,reading this forum,I was thrilled to find out that my hold time was increased so that others could reassure themselves that breakfast would be served on their flights two months from now:)
(I'm sure most other calls were legitimate though...)
On D-Day,I left for JFK WAAYYY early,and was pleased to have a smooth check in with no problems. I should also add,I booked my ticket through a lesser known consolidator,Travelpapa.com,that had few but negative reviews on here.This was ill advised at the time I booked,but I knowingly took the risk b/c the price was too good to beat($1380 for multi-city JFK-SYD-CNS-JFK). With the merger,i was really hesitant that all would go well,but,as i said,even with the system issues day 2,I had no problem checking in.
The first leg of the flight was the United PS service,where economy is actually economy plus. Upon finding my seat,I noticed a little more legroom,but I am short,so it's never been a huge issue for me.They also gave out pillows and really thick blankets on each seat. I got lucky and had the row to myself during the flight! They still charged for food in economy,which I turned down(I had eaten before and brought snacks). There were two power ports underneath the set of three seats,a little hard to find but otherwise easy to use. There was also the option to use WIFI via GoGo for $14.95 for the flight,which I took advantage of. As for the overhead monitors,they were the older,bulky TV's every 10 rows or so,and they showed 1 movie and a few sitcoms,but I didn't watch.
Upon landing in SFO,I was able to easily get from Terminal 3 to the Intl terminal,didn't have to go through security again. I did,however,waste 10 minutes attempting to check in again at the gate(had to do this for Continental in EWR for London),only to find it wasnt necessary.
They did board the flight by groups,and of course I was group 8 on both flights. On this leg,however,i could tell that the seatmaps rang true and it was going to be a light load. My group boarded within 5-7 minutes of the initial call-glad I didnt waste $$$ on priority boarding!
Once on board,my seat of choice was 59J,where I had the seat next to me empty. Per others recommendation,I chose this one out of the other 3 2-seat sets. There was a nice bit of legroom in front,next to 58J. There was also about 6 inches of space between the seat and the fuselage.
As the flight finished boarding,the FA told the family in the row across from me that it was practically empty,and they could move around if they wished. I then ended up moving to row 57,the next set of 3 ahead of me,and had a nice lie-flat bed of my own for the flight!(Actually,every row in economy turned into a one person row as I noted later on during a stroll,whereas E+ had at least 2 people per row...I'm sure they weren't too pleased at that turnout)!
We had blankets and pillows for this flight too,although they were the thin blue ones,not the nice ones that E+ had,but I actually came prepared with my own,so it wasn't bad. I had an old pillowcase that i used to bunch up a few of the airline pillows-which,with my typical travel pillow made for a very comfy TPAC bed:)
The monitors for the TV were flat screen on this flight,but once again,I didnt pay attention. I passed out soon after dinner(some sort of lasagna) and woke up a couple hours later to some MAJOR turbulence. I am an anxious flier,which one of the FA's must have noticed,and she told me that "the ride to Sydney is always rocky." She even had another FA come over and give me the turbulence speech,which was nice,but I've heard it before:) I slept some more.
About halfway through the flight,I woke up and decided to take a stroll(when i saw the aforementioned rows). I stopped by the galley by exit row 45,where I surprised the FA's,but they were nice and when i asked if i could have a "beverage," the FA proceeded to pull out a huge tray of those little liquor bottles. I took a Bacardi and Coke and settled back into my row. A few minutes later,the FA's walked through the cabin handing out snakcs to those awake-a turkey sandwich,chocolate bar,and fruit.
A little while later,an announcement came over the intercom,asking for a doctor if on board. I'm an RN,so I hit the button just in case,but figured that I probably wouldnt be needed. However,the FA excitedly took me up to the business class galley,where two other FA's began chattering about two different issues-one was a panic attack,another was a passenger who was in an altered state of conscious. I went to the latter first,and basically the passenger had taken a ****load of narcotics on an empty stomach. I didnt do much just verified that she wasn't in distress other than being snowed. Back in the galley, a doctor did come forward for the other passenger(which was good since I prob wouldnt have been the best passenger to advise them LOL!)
The business FA's were incredibly polite and thankful,and took down my name and address. I offered my MP number,have hoping for rewards on the return flight,but she shook her head. The other FA took me to the business snack bar,and i scooped up some more chocoaltes and chips. he also asked what type of wine I liked,which i thought was odd,since we DID have free liquor back in steerage. However,he later came back and presented me with a full size bottle of Chardonnay!
I gobbled my snacks and got more rest. In total,i got about 8-9 hrs of sleep,which i know is rare for an economy passenger on this route! i woke a little before breakfast,which was scrambled eggs,some quiche and more fruit. The flight landed about an hour late(turbulence? we took off on time) and it was empty in customs at SYD. Also,my bag arrived despite the 90 minute layover in SFO(something I was concerned about!) Unfortunately,this wasnt the case on the way home...
I'm splitting this into 2 parts due to length...hope its helpful,thanks to those who have read!