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Bali 2014 – EWR to ZRH in United BusinessFirst, Swiss Business

Flights:

UA44 from EWR to BRU (Boeing 767-400) United BusinessFirst

LX787 from  BRU to ZRH (Airbus A320) Swiss Business

This day couldn’t come soon enough! We were so excited to finally embark on our Bali trip that we booked earlier this year! Our flight on November 8th was at 6:30pm. We arrived at Newark airport at around 3:45pm to check in. Here begins our journey to Bali! We have 3 connections on this route, Brussels, Zurich and Bangkok, and we arrive in Bali on November 10th, losing a day in the process (we gain a day on the way back). We kept our fingers crossed that all the flights will be on time and we wouldn’t experience any delays which could majorly screw up our trip.

a suitcase

My traveling outfit: yoga pants, comfy long sleeved t-shirt, sneakers. My trusty carry-on bags, the Lo & Sons OG Tote, and the Rimowa Salsa Deluxe IATA cabin multi-wheel. Not pictured is my packable-down coat which is my favorite coat for travelling as I can roll it up and it stores away compactly or doubles as an extra pillow.

Check-in was pretty painless since we were on the premier cabin line, but even the economy line was short. We made sure our bags were checked all the way to Bali. (For advice on what I packed, I pretty much did the same thing in my What to pack for Hawaii post). We spent the next few hours in the United Red Carpet club at Newark. This is a large club but is nothing exciting. Refreshments were limited to a a few snacks: cheese, dip, some apples, crackers, crudites, a coffee machine, juice and water. It’s nothing like the lounges we would experience in other countries (and most domestic lounges are just as lackluster with the exception of the Amex Centurion lounges). There were many seats but they were mostly taken, especially those near an outlet for charging. We managed to find seats then had to move to get one with an outlet nearby. There is Wifi and it was decent, other than that, it was just place to wait and get something to drink. I didn’t explore the duty free in Newark that much as I just wasn’t impressed with the offerings.

Standard boring snacks, coffee, tea, juice, and water available in the United Red Carpet lounge at Newark Airport.

By the time we boarded it was dark outside. It was nice to be able to board the plane and turn left into the Business First area. Our plane was a Boeing  767-400 with a 2-1-2 configuration in Business First. Our seats were window seats in the fourth row. This was a last minute change in planes because we had originally been scheduled on a 777-200, but either way our seat assignments did not change.

United Business First (Continental plane pre-merger that was updated with latest flat bed seats)

I thought the seats were quite comfy and “ergonomic”. There was plenty of leg room when we were in an upright position, however when you made the bed lie-flat the tiny boxy compartment to put your feet in was rather small and you wouldn’t be able to move your legs around too much. (For reference I am 5’6″)

Lots of leg room but it’s a little tight when you have to put your feet in that space.

IFE (In-Flight Entertainment) which featured on demand movies, TV, music, and games.)

Good outlets behind the seat to charge your phones/tablets etc.

The amenity kit was waiting at our seat too, along with a fluffy pillow and a blanket. Here’s what the United Amenity kit looked like:

United Businessfirst amenity kit. I liked the Philosophy products and the mini hand sanitizer packets. Also appreciated the Purity facial wipe.

Before takeoff, they provided menus and some drinks. I opted for water because I needed some hydration and Steve got a gin and tonic.

Drinks pre-takeoff. Steve’s already snoozing.

Here’s our menu for the trip.

We’re gonna get comfortable! Only 31 more hours to go!

On the ground, the purser took time to introduce himself and told us if we needed anything to just let him know. I thought all the flight attendants were friendly and warm. As soon as we took off and at a stable altitude, service for dinner began. As in most premium cabins, meals are a multi-course affair.

Warm mixed nuts and a glass of white wine.

Tray table was set up with a tablecloth, and rolls were passed. I selected a pretzel roll. Pretty good.

Appetizer of smoked salmon with maple hoseradish mustard – I enjoyed this.

Salad with an Asian vinaigrette. The other dressing choice was blue cheese.

My entree of the pork chop. It was ok. Some parts were tender enough but other parts were too tough. It needed a bit more sauce. The accompanying veggies were fine but the shiitake mushroom bread pudding was a bit dry.

Steve opted for the chicken osso bucco which was kinda meh. I didn’t really care for his sauce and his mushrooms, which I usually like, didn’t taste like mushrooms….odd.

I enjoyed the cheese course, which had a selection of a hard and 2 softer cheeses with grapes. 

United’s signature ice cream sundae. I opted for the walnut, strawberry and whipped cream toppings.  I don’t think you can go wrong with an ice cream sundae, it was yummy.

After dinner was cleared, we all got ready for bed. I actually tried to stay up as much as I could in order to beat jet lag quickly and it wasn’t hard to do so. The IFE had a good selection of recent movies so that entertained me for a while. Steve got some sleep whereas I felt a bit cramped in the cone-shaped lie-flat buy propecia online india seat so I ended up in a lounging position and stayed awake for most of the flight anyways. I also felt that the cabin temperature was too warm. I wish I could be like Steve and sleep anywhere!

Right before landing, we were served breakfast. It was a standard continental breakfast.

Breakfast on United business first

After 6 hours and 45 minutes, we landed in Brussels, Belgium. Overall, I liked this United flight in Business First. I thought the hard product still looked new, and the service was warm yet efficient. The seats were a little cramped though. I’ve read some not so stellar reviews of United International Premium cabins before so I guess I wasn’t expecting much, but I was pleasantly surprised. I didn’t think the bed was as comfortable as it looked, but you have to appreciate a lie-flat seat when you are traveling abroad. The meals were actually what I was expecting, and I liked the appetizer and dessert during dinner the best. 🙂

It was early morning in Brussels and we were required to go through passport control and security check again. This was actually a big pain as the lines in Brussels were really long! We only had a little more than 2 hours before our next flight and I really felt I could use a shower. So after what felt like an eternity in line, we finally made it through to the connecting terminal for our Swiss Air flight to Zurich.

We wandered around the terminal before figuring out where the lounges were. We actually had access to a few lounges because of my Priority Pass Select membership (from Amex Platinum card), Lounge Club membership (from Chase Ink Bold cards), as well as flying in first/business cabins for this trip. We passed by The Loft by Brussels Airlines and saw that it was a Star Alliance member and it looked really brand new and sleek so we stopped there. We got processed and we immediately asked to use the shower facilities. This lounge was great. It had a modern, open concept, and there were a ton of seats and outlets for charging (you need an adapter so remember to travel with one internationally. I used this one which was a lifesaver.). The shower rooms were very new with glass-enclosed showers, and they supply towels, shampoo, body wash, and they even had toothbrushes and toothpaste just in case. This shower was very much needed and we felt so good after we had one!

The Lounge by Brussels Airlines is a sleek lounge with lots of space, and excellent shower facilities. It’s brand new and super clean. It was a welcome sight. I felt like I was in some posh advertising agency rather than an airport lounge. 

After our showers, we felt so refreshed we just kind of chilled. I wasn’t running on much sleep at that point so I got a few latte’s from their cool machines. The food on offer was quite nice, a selections of cold cuts, cheeses, fruit and vegetables, cereals, yogurts (finally, European yogurts!!), muesli (which I love), fresh croissants, breads, and pain au chocolate (had a few of these, yummy), as well as some hot offerings such as soup (a carrot one which was actually really good). They had bottles of sparkling and still water too. Why do simple things such as cold cuts and cheese taste so much better in Europe? After a quick bite to eat it was time to board our next flight.

Our flight to Zurich was on an Airbus A320 which is pretty much your basic regional jet in a 3-3 configuration. The only difference in business class is that there was a bit more leg room and the middle seat is always left open. The flight was only an hour long so it didn’t really matter how we sat. I was even surprised we got a meal! I would usually never expect any meal service on a flight less than 3 hours but I guess it was an international flight in business so there would be something offered. Service was friendly and efficient and everything was cleared on time. Our hour long flight went by quickly. There was no IFE so we just watched the scenery outside. Steve was very excited to see the Alps.

Continental breakfast served in an hour-long flight. I was kinda full since I had already eaten 2 breakfasts but I still ate as I don’t like to waste food. The bircher muesli was good!

Looking at the scenery

Saw a bit of the alps peeking through the clouds. I think it’s the alps. I’m not that good with geography. :0

In exactly an hour, we landed in Zurich airport where we once again had to go through passport control. This time however, the lines were much quicker. We had to get our boarding passes for our next 2 flights (EWR could not issue them) from Zurich to Bangkok and then Bangkok to Bali so we headed to the Thai Airways counter at our gate.

After getting new boarding passes, we headed to the Panorama Lounge to wait for the next 45 minutes or so until our flight started to board. The Panorama lounge was nothing special, it was crowded and there was barely any space to sit. There were no in-lounge bathrooms so you had to go outside to use them and they were rather crappy. They had some hot foods like pastas and soups but they only looked ok. Steve tasted the pasta and said it was not very good. There were plenty of drinks though, but it was crowded around the food service area so getting anything can be a bit of a hassle. I had yet another latte and Steve had a beer before we had to leave for our next flight…our highly anticipated leg on Thai Royal First Class! Stay tuned…

Read more about our Bali trip here



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