Sunday, February 12, 2006

United Airlines: UA 925 from London (LHR) to Washington (IAD) on February 12, 2006 (Business Class)

The steak was cooked as a medium. Although probably an intelligent way to cook for a plane full of people, it is simply not to my taste.

I also thought that the cheddar over the otherwise good mash potatoes was an unnecessary addition to the dish. It seemed to add greatly to the fat and calorie content without doing great things to the taste.

I really liked the vegetables!

"Smoked Halibut" and Goat Cheese. I am almost certain that this was smoked salmon rather than halibut. In any case, it was very good.

I thought this United Airlines flight was going to be late because the East coast had heavy snow this weekend, but everything was absolutely on time. The plane was a Boeing 777, and it was configured with seats that I think are not quite competitive for Business Class on an international airline although I think they are better than Lufthansa's seats on its old 747s. They are comfortable enough, but you really cannot lie down as you can on Singapore Airlines, British Airways, or Virgin.

The plane seemed to be fairly full with few empty seats in business and economy. Early in the flight, the crew announced that they had two fewer flight attendants than usual and asked for our patience. If they had said nothing, though, I don't think I would have noticed the difference. They were attentive and very friendly.

Sparkling wine (I don't know what it was, but it was not Champagne!), juice, and water were served to business class passengers before take off. I was in a window seat (14A) hoping to take pictures of planes, but it was a dreary London February day, and all you can see are rain spots on the windows.

The flight attendants gave us drinks with assorted nuts shortly after take off. I had the delicious Duval Leroy Champagne, which is the same as what is served on Lufthansa in Business Class. This is an excellent champagne that I had not tried before this trip, and I am definitely going to seek it out. The bubbles are tiny and beedy. The taste complex and reminded me of baked crackers. There was also a distinct vanilla taste that I found most attractive. The fruit was something like a good tart Granny Smith apple, but a sweetness seemed to emerge after swallowing. Seek out this champagne! (I suspect that it is good value as well as being excellent.)

Menus were distributed with the drinks. Dinner choices included:

to begin
Smoked halibut and goat cheese with sun-blushed tomato
Chunky tomato Compote

Fresh seasonal greens
Sun-dried tomato or Caesar dressing

main course
Filet mignon with roasted garlic demi glace
Cheddar cheese mashed potatoes and Somerset-style mixed vegetables

Roasted breast of chicken with sweet chili glaze
Green beans with sun-blushed tomato and mixed pepper risotto

Harmonica Provençal pasta with Paemsan cheese
Creamy mushroom, tomato and crème fraîche pesto with pine nut sauce


International cheese selection

Stilton and Roubillac cheese

Haagen Dazs ice cream

I had the smoked fish (which I think was actually salmon) and the steak. See my comments above. I also had the cheese but no ice cream.

We had a snack "prior to arrival" with the following menu.

British Tea Service
Crayfish, sweet chili vegetable and chicken with basil sandwiches

Cheese Plate with fresh seasonal fruit
Wensleydale with Cranberries and Red Leiccester cheese

I chose the British tea service, which came with scones and clotted cream. Lovely!

The wines on this flight were interesting. There was an excellent Chablis from Laboure
-Roi, but I found some of the other wines a bit disappointing. They offered a Medoc, Chateau Lalande (Vieilles Vignes) 2002, which I found one-dimensional and somewhat vegetal in taste.

I also did not like Pedroncelli Three Vineyards, 2002 Cabernet Sauvignon although I think I will try it again as I have had quite a few Pedroncelli wines that I liked. I was a little thrown because the description says "the wild character of Zinfandel shows through with black cherries, plums, spice and cloves," and I was not getting any of those tastes. I was so disconcerted that I decided to poke around a little on the Pedroncelli site and the description of this wine says that it is made of Cabernet Sauvignon (87%), Cabernet Franc (9%), and Merlot (3%). Isn't that odd!

I also found the Wente Vineyards Livermore Valley 2003 Chardonnay to be over oaked and obvious particularly when drunk beside the wonderful Chablis.

Perhaps the best aspect of this flight was the staff. They were wonderfully attentive despite being understaffed. I always find United flight attendants to be so nice and friendly. I asked if I could have a menu from First Class. Not only did they bring one, but they also brought wine from First Class as well. So I was actually able to taste a very nice red Burgundy -- I will make my comments in another entry.

A final comment on the flight is that the in-seat power seemed to require a strange adapter so I did not even bother to turn my laptop on. I wish everyone would put standard sockets on the planes!


theinebriantgrape said...

enjoying the read.

1. i would LOVE to visit london. never have.

2. i always fly coach and order 2 beers to begin with. i have two fists so i see no problem with this.

3. linking you

happy v day (that's happy vineyard day!)

Fraser said...

Interesting read, as a more regular traveller on British Airways Club World I flew United between Washington and London a couple of weeks (9th Feb) ago en route to Cape Town and again on the way back (20th Feb) in Business Class for the first time.

Found the crew to be excellent on the IAD-LHR segment and disappointingly absent on the return leg. Read my views on the United flights here:

Moyey said...

Fraser, thank you for giving me the link to your fascinating account of your trip!

It is interesting that you got such bad service. My experience with UA in general is that the flight attendants are cheerful and helpful despite the cuts they are forced to make in the service!

I love flying on BA, but I don't anymore for the reasons I explain here: