United A320 first class is becoming less and less appealing IMHO

United A320 first class is becoming less and less appealing IMHO

I’m on a roll now! I’ve been flying a lot of domestic US first class recently (mostly stuff I’ve never reviewed before) and I just added another one to my list: United Airlines A320 first class. I know. I’m surprised I haven’t flown it before either.

The good news is that the first class experience on the United A320 is fantastically similar to what you would get on other domestically-configured aircraft in the United fleet. The bad news is that… It’s fantastically similar.

Anyway, the following is what I experienced on a 1 hour and 19 minute flight from San Diego to San Francisco. Please attempt to reel in your excitement before proceeding.

San Diego, CA (SAN) – San Francisco, CA (SFO)
Tuesday, July 19, 2022
Aircraft: A320
Registration: N497UA
Duration: 1 hour 19 minutes
Seat: 3A (First Class)

United Airlines A320 side view illustration
United Airlines A320 side view illustration by NorebboStock.com
ua1107 flight track
Our route from San Diego to San Francisco today as UA1107.

My full review of United A320 first class from San Diego to San Francisco

If you read my United A319 first class review, this is going to seem awfully similar. The seats on the A320 are exactly the same, and my thoughts on seat comfort and in-flight service won’t be much different. Gee…I really know how to sell an airline review, don’t I?

Arrival at Terminal 2 West at the San Diego International Airport

In an effort to show you images that are different from what you saw in my recent United 737-900 first class review, I decided to enter the airport from the arrivals level (as opposed to the departures level). I mean, there’s only so many unique angles of the entrance to this airport, and it’s getting harder and harder for me to do it differently every time.

SANspotter selfie arrivals level terminal 2 San Diego airport
Departing from the arrivals level? That’s how I roll.
Terminal 2 baggage claim exit San Diego airport
If this were any other time of day, I’d be like an Alaskan Salmon fighting my way upstream through all the people exiting these doors.
terminal 2 west escalators San Diego airport
Great. Now I’m hungry, and I know of no restaurant here in T2 serving Alaskan Salmon. San Diego airport food is good, but not that good.
San Diego airport terminal 2 west inside
There’s no purpose for this pic other than to brag to you about how nice my home airport is. I just can’t help it. 
United A320 at SAN
A quick peek out the window reveals the *** end of the United A320 taking me up to SFO this morning (it’s the one on the right).
San Diego airport terminal 2 west interior
Yup, more subtle bragging as I make my way towards gate 42…
SANspotter selfie United gates San Diego airport
And that concludes the tour of the nice little airport we call SAN.

The boarding process for flight number 1107 to San Francisco

The thing that I don’t like about flying from San Diego to San Francisco in the early morning is the higher probability of delays. SFO is notoriously foggy all year round, and you almost have to expect a delayed flight. Thankfully, they started the boarding process right on time, and I was feeling good about getting to San Francisco exactly when they said I would (according to my itinerary).

Gate 42 San Diego international airport
Gate 42. You know what this pic needs?
United airlines SAN-SFO first class boarding pass
A big fat first class boarding pass, that’s what.
Zone 1 boarding United airlines San Diego airport
“Zone 1 you’re now welcome to board.” As usual, I’m dead last.
SANspotter United airlines jet bridge San Diego airport
It’s all good. Bringing up the rear is what I do best.
United airlines A320 parked at gate 42 San Diego airport
Passengers with carryon bags
Ever wonder what kind of weird stuff people put in their carryon bags? I’ve already told you what’s in my bag, but this dude has definitely got me beat.

My first impressions of United A320 first class

Of all the current domestic first class configurations in the United fleet at the moment, I prefer the Airbus aircraft. The older 737s have a completely different seat design, which are really showing their age. Be sure to read my review of United 737-800 first class to see what I mean. It ain’t pretty.

The first class seats on the A320 and A319 are basic – but similar to what you’ll see in first class on the 737 MAX 9 (and that’s a good thing). For now anyway. There’s an all-new United domestic first class product coming soon, which I’m very much looking forward to.

United Airlines A320 First Class Cabin
Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls…welcome to United Airlines A320 first class. 
United airlines A320 first class seats
Feeling a bit of performance anxiety here as my seatmate watches me take a picture of my seat from mere inches away.
United a320 first class leg room
Remember when we had the option of flying from San Diego to San Francisco in Virgin America first class? It made legroom like this feel like the back seat of a 1975 Camaro.
United a320 first class seat backs
Unlike first class on the 737-700, there are no video screens in these seats. But at least they dared to go two tone (which I dig).
United a320 first class seat details
Power outlets, storage bins, and magazine pockets. Right on. It’s everything you saw in my United A321neo first class review – just slightly more old school.
United airlines a320 first class jacket and coat hangers
Yup. It’s the same set of hangers (in the same spot) that you’ll see in American Airlines A320 first class. Who copied who?
United domestic first class pre departure drink
The lead flight attendant came by taking pre-departure drink orders. Based on my maturity level in this review so far, chocolate milk would have been the proper choice I think.
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The departure out of San Diego

It was really looking like it was going to be an on-time departure from San Diego this morning. We pushed back a couple minutes early, and I was feeling really good about having a nice (comfortably lengthy) layover at SFO.

United a320 pushing back from gate SAN
And we’re off! I can’t believe how well this is going so far.
United a320 first class passengers
Wait a sec. Did I just jinx myself by commenting on how well things seem to be going so far?

Just as re-reached the threshold to runway 27, the Captain pulled us over into the bullpen and informed us that we would be sitting in this spot for 45 minutes (at least). ****! Apparently there was runway maintenance going on at SFO. Why they didn’t tell us this before we boarded the plane I have no idea.

San Diego airport runway 27 bullpen
In the bullpen! Maybe next time I’ll learn not to celebrate an on time departure to SFO too early.
Runway 27 threshold San Diego airport
Thankfully we didn’t have to wait the entire 45 minutes. It only took 20 minutes before we were released. 
Takeoff from San Diego airport United airlines a320
At least now I won’t worry about who to send the strongly worded letter to. Not that I’ve ever sent a strongly worded letter to an airline or an airport, but (like an old man shaking his fist at the sky) I’ve mentally threatened to do it more times than I can count. 
Terminal 2 east view during takeoff San Diego airport
Liftoff! Here’s a nice view of Terminal 2 East…
View of ocean beach pier takeoff from San Diego airport
Then the Ocean Beach Pier…
View of Point Loma after takeoff from SAN
And then one final look at the entirety of Point Loma before making the right hand turn to the north. 

In-flight entertainment

I have a hunch that most people like to see video screens at every seat in an airline review. Especially a first class review! I get it. However, since I’ve already told you what you can expect in this review, you were no doubt prepared for the lack of video screens in these seats. That said, first class in-flight entertainment on the United A320 is still decent with the complementary streaming Wi-Fi.

United airlines video streaming content
SAN-SFO is too short of a route to watch a full movie, but if you don’t mind the feeling of being left hanging, there are a lot of great options to choose from.
United airlines in flight entertainment credit card advertising
Voicing my displeasure of having to sit through this same credit card advertisement after every click on the app. I don’t need another stinkin’ credit card!
SANspotter AirPods Pro
There are a lot of advantages of flying with a pair of AirPods Pro. Being able to use the gesture controls to mute credit card ads is one of them.

It’s also worth noting that text messaging is free. If you want to browse the actual Internet, that will come at an additional cost ($8 for MileagePlus members, $10 for everyone else).

United streaming in flight entertainment options
All the goodies you get with the United app in flight. It’s too bad there isn’t any information about credit cards though. I was really thinking I could use a new on as I was taking this pic. #missedopportunity
United airlines in-flight WiFi
If you’re the kind of person who would do anything to save $2…welcome to MileagePlus!

The food

United Airlines (just like all the other US airlines) serves hot meals in first class on flights 2 1/2 hours in length and longer. Since this flight from San Diego to San Francisco today clocked in at just 1 hour and 19 minutes, all we got were snacks. Actually, all we got was drinks. We were supposed to get snacks, but the flight attendant never came by with a snack basket. The hell?

United domestic first class glassware
I think that chocolate milk comment earlier sparked something inside of me just now. I’m totally going for it next time.
SANspotter taking a drink in first class
Although, with all the lactose intolerant people in this world, serving milk (of any kind) is probably a bad idea in confined spaces such as this.
United airlines a320 forward galley
So when exactly do the snacks come?
United airlines domestic first class drinks
Me thinking about my seatmate: “you’re so stupid for drinking everything before the snack basket comes!”
SANspotter in United a320 first class
Y’all should know by now that it’s always me who ends up being the stupid one. The snack basket never came and I basically saved my drink for nothing.
United airlines food domestic first class
For those of you who are curious, this is the kind of food you can expect in domestic United first class on flights longer than 2.5 hours. Assuming they feel like serving more than drinks, that is.

Yeah, but how comfortable are the seats?

I don’t really have much to say about seat comfort here in United A320 first class other than what I’ve already said in other recent reviews. In summary, these seats are absolutely fine for short hops like this from SAN to SFO. I’d sure hate to do a 5 hour transcontinental flight one of these bad boys though. Reclining the seat does absolutely nothing to increase comfort.

United airlines a320 first class seat comfort
Full disclosure: I’ve got a thick pair of shorts wadded up between my lower back and the seat to help reduce the pain. Otherwise, the seats are fine.
United airlines a320 first class row 3
I haven’t seen anyone being carried away on a stretcher yet, so the seats ain’t all that bad I guess.

The worst part about the experience is that no body part will be spared from potential suffering. Even your eyes might even get extremely tired if you’re watching movies and TV shows on your phone for the entire duration of the flight. 

The arrival into San Francisco

Arriving into the San Francisco International Airport from the south is always a simple process. There’s no twisting and turning, and it’s pretty much a straight shot right into runway 28R. Honestly, I can’t think of another time in my life that I’ve landed on any other runway at SFO. No matter what the weather is like, arrivals have always been on the 28’s.

Beginning the descent into SFO
That glorious moment when you hear the engines spool down at the beginning of the descent.
Making the descent into SFO
“You’re a little low Cougar, pull up…” (that’s a Top Gun quote for those who didn’t get it lol) 
Landing at SFO
Can you imagine the pressure you would feel as a pilot knowing that there are 150 people directly behind you judging your every move? “It was an ok landing, but I would have flared for 3 more seconds.”
Landing on runway 28R SFO
Welcome to San Francisco!
Arrival at SFO United airlines terminal
Apparently all the “runway maintenance” from earlier has been wrapped up. I didn’t see **** out there.
Old United a320 first class interior
Don’t worry. I promise not to do another United A320 review until the new interiors are installed.
United a320 first class aisle
Although at the rate they’re going, I’ll be dead and gone before we ever see new interiors on these things.
SFO jet bridge United airlines gates
And there you have it. The snarkiest United A320 first class review you’ve ever read. Sorry, it’s just been one of those days (lol). I promise more positive vibes in the next one!

Pros and cons of United Airlines A320 first class

I’m not going to lie. First class on the United Airlines A320 was so similar to my other domestic United first class experiences that I essentially wrote this review on auto pilot. I really felt like I was repeating myself on so much of this – which, thinking back on it, is both a good thing and a bad thing. This pros and cons list will explain why:


  • If you’re the kind of person who hates surprises (assuming you’re familiar with other United airlines first class products), A320 first class is your jam. It’s not all that different from what you would experience on any other domestically configured aircraft in the UA fleet.
  • There are only three rows of first class on the United A320, so you won’t have to wait long for drinks and snacks if you’re seated in the last row.
  • As a person who has a fear of rubbing elbows with complete strangers, I really like the wide armrests between the seats.


  • The seats are extremely basic. Not only that, they are showing their age with lots of scuffs and scrapes.
  • Leg room is fairly tight by domestic US first class standards. If you’re in the window seat, there’s no way in hell that you’re going to be able to squeeze by the person in the aisle seat to get up and use the lavatory. Unless you know that person very well, that is.
  • Although the first class seats on the A320 are wide with decent leg room, I can’t say that they are all that much more comfortable than the economy class seats. Both are equally firm with limited recline.
  • The seats are ugly. This is a completely subjective con, I know, but I’m just telling you how I see it.

Comments (4)

  1. Peter

    July 27, 2022
    • Scott (SANspotter)

      July 27, 2022
  2. Dave

    August 26, 2022
    • Scott (SANspotter)

      August 28, 2022

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