United 737-700 first class is basically the same ‘ol same ‘ol

United 737-700 first class is basically the same ‘ol same ‘ol

Is it wrong that I consider United 737-700 first class to be somewhat rare and exotic? I’ve been trying for years to put together an itinerary that would allow me to review it, but it never seemed to work out. Until recently.

In my defense, United doesn’t send the 737-700 to Southern California all that often. But – seeing one pop up as an option for some flying I was doing out east recently made me giddy, and therefore, I had no choice not to accept it.

I know. It’s a first class product which is nearly identical to the first class products of nearly every other aircraft in the United fleet. It’s old, slightly uncomfortable, and oddly colored. But it was satisfying as hell to to scratch off my list.

New Orleans, LA (MSY) – Houston, TX (IAH)
Tuesday, June 6, 2023
Aircraft: 737-724
Registration: N38727
Duration: 1 hour 10 minutes
Seat: 3F (First Class)

United Airlines 737-700 (N38727) side view
United Airlines 737-700 (N38727) side view illustration by NorebboStock.com.
ua2335 flight track
Well, that’s one way to get from MSY to IAH.

My full review of United Airlines 737-700 first class from New Orleans to Houston

Opening this review with a statement about how excited I was to try first class on the United 737-700 was maybe a bold choice. I mean, once you see how basic the seats are (and how much they look like other first class seats on other UA aircraft) you’ll start questioning my sanity.

Arrival at the airport

Let me just say this: the all new Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport (MSY) is impressive. Nay, it’s ******* rad. Seriously, they spared very little expense on the main structure (and it shows).

MSY airport departures level entrance
Welcome to MSY! If you think the departures level entrance looks curvy…
MSY airport main terminal interior
…just wait until you see the inside! This is a seriously impressive airport terminal.

Immediately after wiping the drool off my chin, I set off to track down the United ticketing counter in order to get checked in. Let’s just say that it wasn’t all that hard to find.

United airlines check in area MSY airport
The United check in area was slightly less impressive. Why does it look like they lost a bet and had to set up shop in the farthest / darkest corner of the building?
New MSY airport terminal inside
Once you make it through the security checkpoint, it becomes fairly obvious that this is where the budget for all the curves ran out. It’s nearly all straight lines from this point forward.
Inside Concourse C MSY airport
Straight can be beautiful though. Concourse C is lookin’ sharp!
United 737-700 parked at gate C5 MSY
That’s my ride to IAH this afternoon peeking out from behind the jet bridge (with all the grandiosity of a wee regional jet). 

The boarding process for flight number 2335 to Houston

The more I fly first class on United, the more I’m convinced that it’s America’s corporate airline. Taking a look at the queues for boarding groups 1 and 2 is all you need to verify this. The people in these lines just reek of being corporate business travelers, and it was no exception here at gate C5 in New Orleans today.

United 737-700 First Class mobile boarding pass
No offense to anyone who considers either MSY or IAH to be sexy and / or exotic (there’s gotta be at least one of you), but I’ve certainly taken pics of more exciting boarding passes in recent months. 
United airlines boarding group 1 MSY airport
That moment when everyone in boarding group 1 stares down the gate agent with persuasive glares that seem to say “Yo lady…we gonna do this or not?”
MSY gate C5 jet bridge
It worked! Sort of. Here on United, boarding group 1 is actually boarding group 6 (behind customers with disabilities, active military personnel, United Global Services, families with children age 2 and under, and Premier 1Ks).
United 737-700 boarding door
“I’m sorry sir, but all the overhead bin space has been taken by our Premier 1Ks, active military personnel, and families traveling with small children. Boarding group 1 is for losers.”
Stepping onboard a United 737-700
Loser crew checking in.

My first impression of the United 737-700 first class seat

If I was feeling lazy, I would just send you over to my United A319 first class review and call it a day. Everything you saw in that review (the seats, the colors, the textures, the legroom, etc) is identical to what I’m going to show you right now. Ironically, what you’re about to see is slightly better than what you saw in my United 737-800 first class review. I’m not sure how the -700 ended up being nicer than the -800, but it is what it is.

United 737-700 First Class cabin
The United 737-700 first class cabin looks great IMHO (very similar to United 737 MAX 9 first class actually). Not everyone is a fan though – the lady in the white sweater seems to be offering her seat to anyone who will take it.
United 737-700 First Class seats
There’s no way I’m giving up my seat though. Nice to see a solid wall separating first class from economy!
United 737-700 First Class leg room
Legroom is typical for US domestic first class, and very much appreciated. Spoiler alert: that appreciation fizzled once I realized they weren’t going to be serving any snacks on this flight.
United 737-700 First Class seat pitch
Of course, I didn’t realize that yet, so excuse me while I enjoy the **** out of all this space.
United 737-700 First Class video screens
How cool is it that there are video screens (featuring live TV) at every seat? I was so naïve to think that I’d have something tasty to snack on while keeping up with the latest news and entertainment later.
United 737-700 First Class Center console and armrest
I mean, I was already envisioning how I would arrange both my drink and snack on this scruffy little table in the center console. It was gonna be great!
United 737-700 First Class aisle access
If you’re curious, no, there’s no way for the window seat passenger to squeeze by the person in the aisle seat without it being an extremely intimate experience. A challenge for even Prince Charming, for sure.
United 737-700 First Class cabin view from seat 3F
Considering that I’ve got about as much charm as an adult diaper, let’s just hope I can survive this flight without having to get up to use the lavatory. First class is cozy on the 737-700!
SANspotter selfie United 737-700 first class
The moment you wonder why you never thought of wearing an adult diaper when flying before. 

The departure out of New Orleans

Pushing back from the gate on a United 737-700 is every bit as boring as it sounds. Today was a (slight) exception. Why? Well, somehow we managed to push out the gate a full 12 minutes early. I didn’t even know that that sort of thing was possible, but who am I to complain?

United 737-700 First Class window frame
I love the squared off window frames on these old Boeing 737s!
View from seat 3F united airlines 737-700
And if you’re wondering what seat offers the best engine views on the United 737-700, it’s hands down (without a doubt) 3F.
united airlines 737-700 pushing off gate at MSY
Guess what? We’re pushing off the gate a full 12 minutes early. Take that (and shove it up your nether regions) United haters!
OLD MSY airport terminal building
That’s the old (abandoned) MSY terminal over there – along with two parked Breeze Airways A220-300s looking as if they’re waiting for servicing. Should we tell them?
United 737-700 takeoff MSY airport
A quick check of my watch during the takeoff roll revealed that yup – we’re still 12 minutes early so far. Why can’t this sort of thing ever happen when I desperately need it? This extra time will be of no use to me and my upcoming 2.5 hour layover.
Old MSY airport terminal building aerial view
Nostalgia city, man! The last time I flew out of that terminal was on a Continental Airlines MD-82. Destination: IAH.
View of scenery after takeoff from MSY airport
Thing is, I don’t remember Louisiana being this beautiful. She’s been working out!
View of river after takeoff from MSY airport
Can’t say that I didn’t feel more than a little remorse for not booking a riverboat to IAH instead. Maybe next time.

In-flight entertainment

Even though the in-flight entertainment in United 737-700 first class isn’t all that great, it does exist. This isn’t the case for *all* aircraft in the fleet (which you saw in my United A320 first class review).

Basically, it’s live TV or nothing (courtesy of DIRECTV). The video screens are small, hard to see in bright sunlight, and the only way to interact with them is with a moody remote control permanently fixed to the center armrest.

DirectTV United Airlines 737-700 first class
Remember when watching TV meant choosing between whatever was currently showing on an assortment of individual channels? That’s exactly what you’ll get here on the DIRECTV-equipped United Airlines 737-700s.
DirectTV movies United 737-700 first class
< mom > You’ll watch whatever is on. And you’ll like it! < /mom >
United 737-700 first class video entertainment system remote control
To make matters worse, the way to control the screen is via a remote control permanently attached to to lower section of the armrest. I felt like it looked like I was picking something out of my butt every time I interacted with it.
United 737-700 first class video entertainment system screen brightness
FYI, the way to turn the screen off completely is to press and hold the brightness button on the remote until it goes to zero. You’re welcome.
United Airlines 737-700 first class video entertainment
Unfortunately you’ll still be at the mercy of whatever it is that the person in the row ahead of you is watching.
United Airlines 737-700 first class WiFi menu
There’s WiFi (and free messaging) too!
United Airlines 737-700 first class inoperable streaming entertainment
It didn’t work though. And nope, hitting the “Refresh this page” button over and over again didn’t do ****.
United Airlines 737-700 first class power outlets
Inoperable streaming entertainment and WiFi or not, it’s still nice to know that there are full sized electrical outlets in the center console. It’s not all doom and gloom.

The food

At the time of this writing, United uses their 737-700s on shorter regional routes. As a reminder, United doesn’t serve for meals in first class on any flight less than 2 1/2 hours in length. That means that most of the time, all you’re going to get is a drink and a small bag of snacks. However  – we didn’t even get snacks on this flight. So it’s never a guarantee.

United Airlines 737-700 first class drinks in real glasses
“Ok Scott, I know you’re thirsty, but don’t guzzle this down right away. Save some for the coming snack!”
SANspotter United 737-700 first class drink
I’ve got all the restraint of a 3 year old. Which ended up working in my favor today, because the snack basket never came. Boooo!
United airlines domestic first class breakfast tray
If for whatever reason you find yourself on a 737-700 flight that’s over two and a half hours in length, this pic of the breakfast from my recent United 737-900ER first class experience offers a good idea of what to expect. 

Seat comfort

I’ve written extensively about the comfort of these seats in other reviews, and I stand firm with everything that I’ve said in the past. Although not very attractive, these are perfectly fine seats for flights under three hours in length. They’re somewhat squishy, the legroom is generous, and the recline is decent. They ‘aight.

SANspotter United 737-700 first class seat recline
It’s logical to think that I’d know how to look cool reclining a seat by now. It’s not that easy, ok?
United 737-700 first class seat recline
Seat recline is pretty good by ‘crusty old airplane’ standards actually (almost as good as what you get in first class on their A321neo’s). No complaints from me.
United 737-700 first class comfort
This ain’t half bad! There’s enough room to cross my legs, seat recline is decent, and we’re still on schedule for an early arrival. The lack of a snack is unfortunate though, and to say that a bag of empty calories would be fantastic right about now is an understatement. 

The descent and arrival into Houston

Just prior to starting the descent into Houston, the captain made a doozy of an announcement. Essentially, he told us to “hold onto our butts” because it was gonna be a rough ride all the way in (I’m paraphrasing).

Not only that, IAH had been temporarily shut down due to storms in the area, so we were going to have to do laps out over the Gulf of Mexico for a bit. Yay.

United 737-700 engine and wing in flight view from seat 3F
“Gee, could the weather be any more perfect for flying today?”
Flying through thunderstorms united 737-700
5 minutes later, IAH is closed due to thunderstorms and we’ve been relegated to doing racetrack patterns out over the Gulf.
Approach into Houston united 737-700
5 minutes after that, and the weather is beautiful again. Talk about an emotional roller coaster!
Final approach into IAH united 737-700
I don’t need any more reasons for extreme butt clutching during the final approach anyway, so this worked out for the best.
united 737-700 landing at IAH airport
Welcome to Houston!
Taxiing to the gate Houston intercontinental airport
Would you believe that we still managed to arrive 8 minutes early? I thought for sure that all the sightseeing we did out over the Gulf would have squashed our chances at an early arrival today.
United 737-700 pulling up to the gate at IAH
Seems as if the ground crew can’t believe it either. Where is everyone?
Unbuckling seatbelt United 737-700 First Class
Scratching my testicles, or unbuckling my seatbelt?
United 737-700 First Class seat privacy
By the way, if it wasn’t obvious by now, I’m sorry to say that these first class seats aren’t anywhere near private enough to scratch your junk without anyone noticing. You’re gonna have to save it for later.
United 737-700 boarding door frame
Well, that got awkward. Good thing this review is just about over.
Credit card advertisements Houston IAH airport jet bridge
Speaking of awkward: never make eye contact with anyone who is trying to sell you a credit card!

Pros and cons of United Airlines 737-700 first class experience

Maybe the best way to sum up my feelings about first class on the UA 737-700 is to say that I would always choose this over any regional jet. It’s a choice that many travelers have to make on a daily basis actually, especially given the fact that United uses these aircraft on shorter regional routes (mostly). Having real first class seats (something many regional jets don’t have) is a huge plus.


  • They may be old (and a little ugly) but the seats are large enough to rightfully be referred to as domestic first class.
  • Having live TV at every seat is better than nothing.
  • The legroom is generous, and well worth the upgrade for longer flights.


  • Wear and tear on the seats is noticeable. Everything is scuffed up, there are paint chips everywhere, and stuff is going to malfunction.
  • The video screens are small and very hard to see in bright sunlight.
  • Interaction with the video screens is also quite difficult thanks to the odd (fixed) location of the remote control.

Comments (5)

  1. JCC

    July 5, 2023
    • Scott (SANspotter)

      July 5, 2023
  2. Peter

    July 7, 2023
    • Scott (SANspotter)

      July 7, 2023
      • Peter

        July 14, 2023

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