United Airlines 757-200 Premium Business Class (P.S.) Los Angeles to Newark

01. Introduction: United Airlines Premium Transcon Business Class vs. JetBlue Mint (hahahaha!)
02. United Airlines 737-900/ER first class San Diego to Los Angeles
03. United Club, Terminal 7 LAX
04. United Airlines 757-200 Premium Business Class (P.S.) Los Angeles to Newark
05. Sheraton hotel, JFK Airport
06. JetBlue A321 Mint (business class) New York (JFK) to San Diego

I remember very clearly when United Airlines first introduced their premium trans-continental business class service between LAX and JFK way back in October 2004. I was a much younger flyer back in those days who could barely afford to fly economy class, so although I had no direct experience with other business class products flying between Los Angeles and New York at the time, I knew immediately that this new P.S. service was the new king of the mountain. It looked so good, and I was totally jealous of all the people on flyertalk who were writing rave reviews about it.

Fast forward 14 years, and I finally found myself pacing terminal 7 at LAX ready to board my first ever United Airlines 757–200 premium transcontinental business class flight to New York. Yeah, I’ve been known to procrastinate a bit.

UA2118
Los Angeles, CA (LAX) – Newark, NJ (EWR)
Thursday, November 23, 2017
Aircraft: 757-222
Registration: N588UA
Duration: 4 hours 43 minutes
Seat: 4A (business class)

United airlines 757-200 side view

United Airlines 757-200 (N588UA) side view illustration by norebbo.com.

united airlines 757-200 seat map premium configuration

Seat map of this United Airlines 757-200 (courtesy of seatguru.com) showing my seat (4A) for this flight to EWR.

LAX to EWR route map

Our route from LAX to EWR this morning: ORCKA2 LAS Q70 BAWER DBL HCT DSM EVOTE NELLS KEEHO J584 SLT FQM3

Terminal 7 LAX

Terminal 7 LAX. Let’s go see what this fancy schmancy United P.S. thing is all about.

United terminal 7 LAX

It’s actually not so bad in here except for the complete lack of windows. It should be a rule that ALL airports must have clear and unobstructed views to the outside! Architects who fail to comply would be punished by having to fly the main cabin on Spirit Airlines for the rest of their life.

United terminal 7 lax no views

This is it. The only sliver of a view I could manage of the 757-200 that would take me to EWR this morning.

Not a lot has changed with P.S. since it’s inception, other than a cabin refresh in 2010. They also dropped JFK like a hot potato in 2015 and moved all of their premium flights to EWR to consolidate operations. But when it comes right down to it, this product hasn’t changed in 8 years, so at least United has given me ample opportunity to take my time before giving it a try.

The downside is that it’s been so long without an update that it’s no longer considered all that premium anymore – especially with American Airlines and their fancy new A321s on the scene, which features incredible business and first-class cabins. JetBlue Mint is just as good (if not better), and even Delta has got a strong product with Delta One. Sorry United, you’re no longer king of the mountain when it comes to a premium coast to coast business class experience.

Terminal 7 at LAX leaves a lot to be desired, so it felt kind of anticlimactic to be standing there in line to board a very premium flight in what felt like what was essentially a bus station. I realize that not everybody on this flight was flying up front of course, but still – I hope there are plans to renovate terminal 7 into something a lot more substantial than what it is at the moment. It’s dark and gloomy place.

United Airlines gates LAX

I wonder if they let Greyhound use these gates between flights? I’m kidding, I’m kidding! Sort of…

Boarding United Airlines flight to EWR

This boarding queue isn’t quite as glamorous as I had envisioned it 14 years earlier, but I’m here, and that’s all that matters.

Boarding for this flight to EWR started right on time, and as I was walking down the jet bridge I was starting to think about when my last 757-200 flight was. You may not know this, but the 757-200 is my most frequently flown aircraft with 102 segments under my belt so far. I’m not exactly sure how that happened, but I guess it makes a bit of sense considering that it used to be the primary aircraft flown between the West Coast in the Midwest / East Coast in the early 2000’s. I flew coast to coast a lot back in those days, so I guess it added up faster than I thought. If you’re curious, the Airbus A320 is closing in fast to overtake the top spot in my flight log. I am at 75 segments on the A320 so far, and it won’t be long until it knocks the 757 off the top of the heap. So sad. Oh yeah…back to my original point: December 27, 2014 was the date of my last 757–200 segment (ATL-SAN on – what else – Delta).

LAX jet bridge

I’ve waited 14 years for this. Some theme music would have been nice!

Boarding United Airlines 757-200

I’m coming! I’m coming! Don’t you dare leave without me…

Once on board, it felt so good to make that 757-esque left-hand turn towards the front of the aircraft. God I’m going to miss this airplane when it’s gone.

United Airlines 757-200 PS cabin

Keep in mind that this was Thanksgiving morning, so that guy’s shirt was totally appropriate and thumbs-up worthy.

My first impressions of the P.S. cabin was pretty much on par with what I was envisioning in my head. Keep in mind that I was purposely keeping my expectations low so as not to be disappointed, because as I said, this is a very old and dated business class product.

United Airlines 757-200 Premium Business Class (P.S.) seat

United Airlines 757-200 Premium Business Class (P.S.) seat.

United Airlines 757-200 Premium Business Class (P.S.) seat

United Airlines 757-200 Premium Business Class (P.S.) seat. I’d also like to take this moment to apologize for not getting the entire seat in one pic. I don’t know what the hell I was thinking – perhaps this moment was too much to handle for my tiny pea-sized brain.

United Airlines 757-200 Premium Business Class (P.S.) seat headrest

I’m usually pretty fussy about my photography, but I’m really scratching my head as I’m uploading these seat pics. Here’s a pic of the headrest…I guess. I waited 14 years for this and my pics are lousy!

United Airlines 757-200 Premium Business Class (P.S.) seat details

This is the cubby to the left of the headrest. I found it to be quite convenient during the flight actually (except during landing, when everything I had up there ended up in my lap).

United Airlines 757-200 Premium Business Class (P.S.) video screens

The view looking forward. I like the size of those video screens! And that burger.

United Airlines 757-200 Premium Business Class (P.S.) leg room

Gobs of leg room here. Feels like the state of Texas compared to what you’d find in Air Canada Rouge economy. #shotsfired

I think now would be a very good time to clarify that this is not necessarily a bad business class product, especially when comparing it with the standard first-class cabins found in most aircraft here in the US right now. It is indeed far better than standard domestic US first class. The problem is that United P.S. business class just doesn’t measure up to the coast to coast competition, and it’s in dire need of a refresh. I just wanted to call that out before I get slammed for complaining about what is essentially a premium airline product that is miles better than domestic US first class. It is better. Kind of. But I know United can do much better!

Amenity kits and menus were distributed while on the ground, and it was so cool to get one of those special-edition all-metal amenity kits which were part of United’s big farewell to the 747 celebrations that were going on at the time. That amenity kit eventually found a place in my display case in my office at home. The menu however, well…that was left behind (and not a tear was shed).

United airlines 747 amenity kit

Score! I’ve been seeing a bunch of people post pics of these things on Instagram, so I’m glad I finally got one of my own.

United Airlines 747 farewell amenity kit

Thinking back on it, I really liked how United airlines gave tribute the 747 before retirement.

Contents of United airlines 747 metal amenity kit

Why is there no 747 cologne in here? I mean, who wouldn’t want to smell like a 747?

United Airlines premium trans continental business class menu

Geeking out over that cool amenity kit has made me hungry. What’s on the menu?

United airlines premium service drink menu

As long as there’s water, I’m good.

It was a full load up front, which did surprise me a little bit considering this was Thanksgiving morning and most people I assumed were already where they needed to go for the holiday the day before. I guess not. We pushed off the gate right on time and from there it was a short taxi out to runway 25R.

United Airlines 757–200 safety card

Safety first! I’ve flown the 757 so many times that I should know this stuff by now. I’d like to say that I’m confident enough to be quizzed on it… but please don’t do that. I think know I would fail miserably.

United Airlines 757–200 safety video

How about a safety video to go with your safety card? It was information overload for me at this point, and I don’t think a single bit of it was retained in my brain. All I know is that if there’s a fire, I’m running to the nearest big hole in the fuselage while screaming hysterically like an eight-year-old girl.

United Airlines 757–200 pushback LAX

How stressful would it be to push back a large airliner like this 757 at a large airport such as LAX? It gives me palpitations just thinking about it.

LAX ground crew

For these brief two minutes, this guy has all the power. Do what he says or else!

Pratt and Whitney United Airlines 757

Somehow in all the excitement I missed the fact that this was a Pratt & Whitney powered 757-200 – which is actually a mega-rarity in the United fleet right now.

Taxi out to runway United Airlines 757–200 LAX

Other than this high-intensity drag race with that white truck, our taxi out to the runway was largely uneventful. We won by the way… but not by much. He was pulling on us pretty strong there at the end, and it was looking iffy.

Departing over Pacific Ocean LAX runway 25

Whoa. That was a fast departure, wasn’t it? Apparently I was too busy shooting video of the takeoff, because I can’t find a single runway pic from this flight in my archive. To be honest, you aren’t missing much. If you’ve seen one departure at LAX facing this direction, you’ve seen them all.

United Airlines 757–200 departure LAX

*click* *click* *click* *click* *click* – if my iPhone camera made noises, that’s probably what it would be sounding like right about now. Check out that awesome lighting!

View of Los Angeles after take off from LAX

A very typical late November sky over Los Angeles today. So beautiful.

Dense Los Angeles neighborhoods

Population density that would give Mexico City a run for it’s money.

United Airlines moving map entertainment system

Is it too early to check our position on the map yet? I get jittery if I can’t see our exact position at all times. Five minutes into the flight, and the map completely jives with what I’m seeing outside the window below. So far so good.

SANspotter selfie United Airlines 757-200

That’s me, doing my best “man” impression. Why do us guys naturally sit like this? I’m glad I’m not a girl, because I don’t think I could ever sit so lady-like with closed knees all the time.

Cabin service started nearly immediately right after take off, with hot towels and drink orders lickety-split. They also wasted no time in getting breakfast served, and as a matter of fact they got right to that even before coming through with drinks or snacks. Unfortunately for me, I was the very last person served, thanks to the fact that I was sitting in the very last row of the forward cabin. At least they still had my primary breakfast option!

United airlines premium trans continental service business class welcome message

“We hope that your travel today is a breeze.” Why thank you – other than the fact that I had to get up at 3:45 AM, things are going smashingly well so far.

United airlines PS business class breakfast

This is breakfast, which was actually quite tasty.

SANspotter selfie United Airlines 757–200 business class

Why the hell is eating on airplanes so much fun? The food isn’t that great, but it still feels like such a special occasion that I can’t help but to hold my fork with a raised pinky.

My seatmate passed on the menu items entirely, and instead chose to eat a meal that he brought on board with him from home. Now, this guy was super cool and I enjoyed making small talk with him, but I wasn’t quite agreeing with his culinary choices today. It stank. Well, to be honest, I’m sure it would have smelled very good in a restaurant or at home, but that concoction of what smelled like broccoli and garlic and other very strong spices was completely inappropriate to bring on airplane and it had my eyes watering at times. There should be a law against bringing smelly food on airplanes, punishable by opening the emergency exit door and kicking your smelly butt out to the wing so as not to disturb your fellow passengers. Making it worse was the fact that he seemed to be taking his sweet time and just nibbled on it for two full hours. I can still smell it now as I’m typing this…

SANspotter selfie United airlines 757–200 lie flat business class seat

It wasn’t until my seatmate finished his meal that I was able to put the seat in a lie flat position and catch up on some much needed sleep.

Flying over Denver Colorado

At one point I woke up just as we were passing Denver. I don’t know what is about Denver, but I always seem to wake up whenever we fly over.

 United Airlines 757–200 lavatory

About an hour later I got up to use the lavatory. Gee, isn’t this exciting? Hold on, this trip report is going to get better the closer we get to Newark, I promise.

Flyover states

Oh wait! One more boring poorly lit pic before things start to get a little bit more interesting. It would be completely wrong of me not to post at least one pic of the view out the window on our way across the country today. Here is that pic. #yourewelcome

I ended up sleeping for most of the way across the country, and by the time I woke up the sun was starting to set nicely behind us. Things were actually starting to get magical outside as we started our descent into EWR; the beautiful pinks and purples of the sunset mixed with the warm brown fall colors of the ground below were simply mesmerizing and it was hard to look away. I think the flight attendants came by with a snack service and hot towels during the time that my nose was pressed firmly up against the window, but I can’t quite remember. I can neither confirm nor deny that it actually happened.

United airlines entertainment system flight summary page

Good morning SANspotter! Here’s what happened while you were asleep.

United Airlines 757–200 wing and winglet

Things are starting to look really good out there as we begin our descent.

 Descending into EWR

Time for another map check. One can never check the map too often!

Beautiful sunset United Airlines 757–200 wing

OK, I like where mother nature is going with this…

Amazing sunset over Pennsylvania

Where is the eyeballs emoji when I need it? Just look at that sunset!

Landing during sunset

I was starting to feel mixed emotions at this point. On one hand, I was completely blown away by the beauty of that sunset. On the other, I was starting to realize that it was going to be too dark to get really nice pics of the New York City skyline our approach into EWR.

Amazing sunset view from airplane window

One more, just because. Just LOOK at that!

Approach into the New York City area

OK, well, I guess that’s it. Once we dropped below the clouds things were suddenly a lot less magical.

View of New York City on approach into EWR

An absolutely amazing view of New York City, ruined by the fact that the cabin lights were left on during the entire approach (window reflections galore), as well as the fact that there just wasn’t enough light to get a decent pic. Oh well.

 Landing at Newark liberty airport

Of all the times to leave the cabin lights on during the approach. Grrr…

Landing at EWR

This could’ve been a great pic if the cabin lights weren’t causing reflections everywhere, but…welcome to Newark!

It has been a very long time since I last flew into EWR, and I totally forgot how close the approach is to New York City. I couldn’t believe it when we skirted right past the edge of the city on our approach into the airport, and it was a bit of a shame that it was a bit too dark to get good pictures of it all. If you’ve ever wondered what airport has the best views of New York City on approach, it’s definitely EWR!

Sunset over EWR

The sun still hasn’t disappeared completely yet. One of the best and richest sunsets I’ve seen in a good long while!

As I was walking off the airplane and into the terminal here at Newark, I couldn’t help but to feel a huge sense of relief and satisfaction for having had the chance to fly an airline product that I’ve been dreaming about for 14 years. Unfortunately, as I said the beginning of the trip report, I waited a bit too long and this dream airline product has become old and crusty around the edges.

EWR jet bridge

Wow, it’s been so long since I’ve last been here – These jet bridges sure as heck don’t look familiar. And in case you’re wondering, yes, there are actually a handful of airports around the world that I can identify clearly just from an interior shot of a jet bridge. I’m kind of ashamed to admit that…yet at the same time, I feel oddly proud.

United Airlines 757–200

One last look at N588UA (with a creepy reflection of a random person floating about) before walking off into the sunset.

EWR airport terminal interior

This is what walking off into the sunset looks like at EWR, by the way.

Of course United P.S. didn’t quite live up to the expectations that I built up in my mind 14 years ago – but I knew that it wasn’t going to even before I stepped onto the plane at LAX. This flight was made simply to scratch it off my airline bucket list – just to say “I did it”. I’ve got a sneaky suspicion that this will end up being a good decision, as United seems to be more than determined to create a consistent Polaris business class product across it’s entire fleet and chances are pretty good that we will see a new premium transcon business class product soon. At least I hope so – not only for my sake, but for theirs as well.

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