United Business Class - Chicago to Paris


After spending most of the day in Chicago, I was ready for my first flight to Paris! With no lines at the check-in counter, and the Nude-O-Scopes roped off, I was at the Red Carpet Club in record time. The evening European departure bank was underway, so it took me about ten minutes to find a seat that had access to a power outlet. Although all of the business class seats on the flight to Paris would have an AC power outlet, I wanted to get my work done before I boarded the flight.

United 942 ORD-CDG

3/18/2010

Business Class - Seat 8A

Boeing 767-300

Once on-board our 767, the flight attendants came around with the standard pre-departure beverages. Choices included orange juice, water, champagne, or a mimosa. I took the orange juice, as I waited for the rest of the passengers to board. About fifteen minutes later, the gate agent asked all ground personnel to disembark, and the cabin door was closed.

Before take-off, we were given another chance to see the Jeff Smisek welcome aboard video. For those of you that are unfamiliar with Jeff Smisek, he is the new President and CEO of United. Previously the President and CEO of Continental Airlines, Smisek was given the position as head of the new United, after the United/Continental merger closed on October 1st, 2010. If you are interested in seeing his intro speech, feel free to watch it here:

Twenty minutes after departure from O'Hare, dinner menus and wine lists were brought to all passengers. For tonight's flight, we were given the following meal options:

Dinner List

The menu on this flight was identical to the menu on my flight to Frankfurt, two weeks earlier, so I decided to go with the steak, which I also had on the flight to Frankfurt. Drinks and hot nuts were served, and I reclined my seat to the "lounge" position, as I waited for dinner service to be started.

While I was waiting for dinner to be delivered, I decided to play around with the various features of the IFE system. Unique to United, Channel 9 is a live link between Air Traffic Control and the Flight Deck. For a number of reasons, many UA pilots keep Channel 9 turned off, so the Live Map is very useful for determining where in the world we are. Below are photos from the old Live Map, and the new Live Map.

image from friendlyskies.smugmug.com
image from friendlyskies.smugmug.com
Unlike many international airlines, United starts the appetizer and drink service via cart, as opposed to hand delivering the items. I honestly do not care if they wheel out drinks via a cart, or hand carry them, but some people criticize United for this practice. Jeff Smisek has mentioned that he wants to end this practice, so people may get their wish, once the airlines are operating as one.

image from friendlyskies.smugmug.com

Moments later, dinner service began. The shrimp appetizer was very fresh, considering that it was being served aboard an airplane.

shrimp

When it comes to salads, United seems to have a strange fascination with the salad pictured below. Not only have I had this salad before, I have seen it being served on United for more than a few years. This salad is also served on many domestic first class flights.


image from friendlyskies.smugmug.com

The bread basket, which contained three different types of bread, followed the appetizer service.

image from friendlyskies.smugmug.com

As I mentioned earlier, the steak below is the same one that I had on the way to Frankfurt, only two weeks before the flight to Paris. While it did not taste bad, I was hoping that United would have served something with more of a French influence. However, I do have to compliment UA on the fact that the steak was not drowning in sauce. The steak was also cooked medium-rare, so it was pretty tasty.
image from friendlyskies.smugmug.com

Similar to the chocolate chip cookies I have mentioned before, there is something about having ice cream on a plane that I enjoy. This dessert really hit the spot, and was a perfect way to wrap up the meal.
image from friendlyskies.smugmug.com
In United's new First and Business class cabins, each seat has more than 150 hours of AVOD (audio/video on-demand). Although I had watched most of the tv shows on my flights to and from Frankfurt, I decided to watch "Unstoppable". Starring Denzel Washington and Chris Pine, their task is to stop a run-away train, carrying thousands of gallons of hazardous chemicals, before it derails in a densely populated area. I'll save the ending, for those of you that have not seen the movie, but this an excellent nail-biter! I first saw it on a flight from Orlando to Denver, and was on the edge of my seat the entire flight. As reported by FlyerTalk member joedish:

"Earlier this week I took an early morning PHL-SFO on UA. Flight was good and I was watching the inflight movie, "Unstoppable", starring Denzel Washington. Pretty straightforward plot: runaway train with dangerous cargo.

Movie was pretty captivating and just as the main character manages to manually engage the train brakes, saving the town, I punched my fist in the air and say, "yeah!".

The guy sitting next to me must have been a mixed martial arts master or something like that because he grabs my fist and in one motion twists my arm behind my back and then shoves the thumb of his other hand into my solar plexus, knocking the wind out of me." Ever had exuberance on an airline met with force by a nearby psgr?

About 2,500 miles away from Paris, I reclined my seat to the lie-flat position, and got three solid hours of sleep. After a full day in downtown Chicago, I was pretty tired, so this little bit of sleep made me feel much better. About ninety minutes from Paris, the flight attendants brought around the breakfast service, which consisted of a fruit dish, yogurt cup, and a croissant. Unfortunately, I was a bit disoriented, so I did not take a photo of the meal.

Moments later, we began our initial descent into Charles DeGaulle airport. What was a beautiful morning at 35,000ft, became a dreary day as soon as we got below the clouds. Luckily for me, it was not raining.

image from friendlyskies.smugmug.com
The Captain asked for the flight attendants to be seated as we began our final approach. I was excited to be visiting France for the first time, and was also interested to see how many emails I had received while I was flying to Paris. Moments later, we landed at CDG, and I got a chance to see the largest passenger plane, the Airbus A380.

image from friendlyskies.smugmug.com

My next stop was the Park Hyatt Paris.

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