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Everything you need to know about United First Class
- Jonathan Chum
United Airlines First Class is the airline's premium class, and it's a great way to fly high. If you're considering upgrading your ticket or taking advantage of a first-class perk, here are all the facts you need to know:
You can earn United MileagePlus miles with credit card sign-up bonuses
If you're looking to earn United MileagePlus miles with a credit card sign-up bonus, the best options are the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and the Chase Sapphire Reserve®. Both cards offer 50,000 bonus miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening. The annual fee for both cards is $0 for the first year then $95 (waived for active duty military members).
The advantages of these cards include:
- Free checked bag for you and up to four companions on domestic flights (a savings of up to $200 per round trip)
- 2x points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide (1x point outside of those categories)
You can upgrade to first class for free on domestic and international flights
- You can upgrade to first class for free on domestic and international flights
- If you're a MileagePlus Premier member, you get a free upgrade on all flights.
- You can do this at the airport or online before your flight.
United offers a special check-in area for first class travelers at San Francisco International Airport (SFO)
You can access the first class check-in area at SFO by walking to the end of Terminal 2 and taking the escalator down. You will then see a sign that says "First Class Check-in."
You'll be given a dedicated line with only three agents, so you'll never have to wait in line again!
Bring your passport and photo ID with you as well as proof of your roundtrip ticket (e-tickets are fine). You may also need additional documentation depending on your country of origin. If you don't have it already printed out, bring along any necessary forms for customs and immigration processing at your home airport. If possible, avoid printing them out until after you pass through security so that it doesn't take up too much room in your bag or get crumpled up by TSA officials.
You get access to the United Club, Red Carpet Club, or Star Alliance Lounge before your flight
You get access to the United Club, Red Carpet Club, or Star Alliance Lounge before your flight. There's a complimentary meal and drink available for you and up to two of your guests. You can also bring along one pet (excluding birds) if they are small enough to travel in a carrier that fits under the seat in front of you.
In addition to all this, there is free wifi so you can catch up on your email while waiting—no need to worry about bringing an extra charger with you!
Your boarding pass will list "1" as your boarding group if you're flying in first class
First class passengers are seated first, and they board before all other classes. On a United flight, that means you'll be the first passenger to board. You'll also find yourself standing in front of everyone else as your group is called (and if you're paying attention, you may even see them loading those delicious flatbreads onto your flight).
Your boarding pass will list "1" as your boarding group if you're flying in first class.
You'll receive complimentary alcoholic beverages when you fly in first class
- You can order drinks on the plane. If you choose to fly in United First Class, you'll receive complimentary alcoholic beverages during your flight. At the beginning of your trip, a beverage service attendant will ask what you want to drink and bring it to your seat within minutes. If you don't see him when he first stops by, just call out his name ("David") or wave him down as he moves through the cabin.
- You can order drinks at any airport lounge that offers food and beverages—even if it's not an official United Club lounge. The only difference between ordering at a club and ordering anywhere else is that there will be someone nearby who can make sure everything goes smoothly—whether that's checking IDs or answering questions about flight times or anything else.
- If there aren't any clubs nearby but there are restaurants with wait staff available (like Chili's), then those restaurants are also fair game for ordering!
First class flights usually have lie-flat seats on overnight flights
If you're flying in first class on an overnight flight, you can expect to have a lie-flat seat that looks similar to what you'd find in business class.
If you'd like to take advantage of this amenity, there are some things you should know:
- You can request a bed. If your flight is long enough (more than six hours), the crew will make up a bed for you with sheets, pillows and blankets. Just ask! You can also request other items (like extra pillows or blankets) when making your reservation online before your departure date.
On longer international flights, you'll be served meals and snacks on china with real silverware
United First Class passengers enjoy meals and snacks on china with real silverware. You'll also have real plates and glasses for your drinks and can request additional food items if you're still hungry after your regular meal service.
After the initial meal service, the cabin crew may offer you more food or drink from their trolley, which contains a large selection of appetizers, desserts and other snacks that you can order as much or as little of as you like. The trolley also features a full bar with wine glasses, so ask your flight attendant for any beverages that aren't already available in first class.
Domestic flights may include 1 to 2 checked bags for free when flying first class
When you fly United First Class, you can check up to two bags for free when flying domestic. This is an especially useful perk if you're going on a long trip and need more than just a carry-on bag or two. Note that the normal checked baggage limits apply when traveling internationally (usually 50 pounds per bag and 100 pounds total).
United First Class domestic
A seat in the United First Class section will run you about $3000 for a round-trip ticket.
As far as leg room goes, you're looking at an extra inch or so of space between your seat and the one in front of you, but that's pretty much it—the rest is the same as what you'll get when you upgrade to Business Class.
The recline feature on your United First Class seat is about another half inch more than what's available with regular economy seats—again, not a lot—but it does make all the difference when it comes to avoiding having someone's elbow digging into your side while they sleep during flight time.
In order to be eligible for this elite member-only perk (and before being upgraded by airline personnel), members must have frequent flier miles that add up to at least 25K points within any four-month period; they also must meet certain travel requirements like being booked on an international flight with multiple legs (so no direct flights qualify).
United First Class international
- United First Class international is the first class service that United offers on international flights.
- It's a more luxurious experience than other fares, with a wider range of services and amenities.
- The main benefit is access to the International First Class Lounge, which allows you to use private check-in desks, enjoy complimentary food and beverages (including alcohol), and relax in comfortable seating areas before your flight departs.
- Additionally, you'll be able to select your seat ahead of time so that no one else sits in yours. You'll also get complimentary upgrades if they're available at check-in time or if someone cancels their ticket after booking with you—so it's worth using if you're not sure when exactly your trip will happen!
United First Class lounges
United has a few different lounges at their hubs. If you're flying out of one of their international hubs, chances are you'll be offered access to one of these lounges.
- United First Class Lounge - O'Hare International Airport (ORD)
- Hawaiian Airlines First Class Lounge - Honolulu International Airport (HNL)
- Air New Zealand Koru Lounges - San Francisco International Airport (SFO)
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United First Class classes
United's first class is called United Polaris, and it's the top of the line service. On board your United First Class flight, you'll be treated to lie flat seats that come with added privacy, a premium bar that serves craft beer and wine, a spa where you can get treatments, and much more.
United's Polaris service is available on long-haul international flights from Chicago, Houston and Los Angeles to London Heathrow; New York City (JFK) - Hong Kong; Los Angeles - Tokyo; Newark (EWR) - Mumbai; San Francisco (SFO) - Auckland; Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD) - Sydney; and both business class cabins on Boeing 787 jets traveling between Honolulu International Airport (HNL), Maui Kahului Airport (OGG), Kona International Airport (KOA) as well as Kauai Island in Hawaii.
In addition to these routes there are also some domestic routes which offer this service including Boston Logan International Airport (BOS), Chicago O'Hare International Airport (ORD), Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport - Miami International Airport - Newark Liberty International Airport if flying on an Airbus A330 or Boeing 777 aircraft respectively.
United First Class seats
First class seats are wider, have more legroom and recline further. As the first line of United's international fleet, you can expect an exclusive cabin with floor-to-ceiling windows for an incredible view. The premium menu includes a pre-flight cocktail hour, full meal service from top chefs and wine paired with your meal.
United First Class will be available on select long haul routes within North America including San Francisco to Los Angeles as well as New York JFK - London Heathrow and Newark Liberty - London Heathrow beginning December 1st 2019.
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United First Class frequent flyer and points
What are United MileagePlus miles worth?
MileagePlus miles can be redeemed for flights on United, its affiliated airlines, and partners. They can also be used to purchase a variety of other products and services.
How do I earn United MileagePlus points?
You can earn points by paying for your flight with a credit card that earns points for United or by taking advantage of special promotions in which you are offered the opportunity to earn bonus points. If you're an existing member, there may also be ways to earn additional rewards through the MileagePlus program. For example, if you live near an airport that offers shuttle service from one terminal to another or if you take public transportation within a designated zone near an airport where cars aren't allowed (such as Los Angeles), then these activities could qualify as qualifying activities within the United MileagePlus program and get you more points faster than normal.
And that's everything you need to know about flying first class on United Airlines. If you have any other questions, or if we missed anything, please let us know in the comments below!