United Global First – Shanghai to San Francisco (and return)

Shanghai to San Francisco

Check-in at PVG was relatively easy, although the First Class desk appeared to be occupied by a couple checking in 10-15 pieces of luggage, and whilst totally ignored by the staff at the bag drop desk, I was eventually served by an agent when she had finished with the Business Class line. United appear to use China Southern staff at Shanghai and there was no visible United presence. After obtaining my boarding passes I left to my own devices to get to the Lounge – Lounge 77.

At Shanghai there are lots of steps to get to the lounge:

  • Check to see you are a passenger
  • Boarding pass check
  • X-ray before Immigration
  • Immigration
  • Security /X-ray check

It is usually fairly fast and friendly, but allow 15-20 minutes as the line for immigration can be long.

There is a priority Security/X-ray check. Laptops/iPads out – liquids in – shoes on, is the norm at Shanghai.

The lounge is nothing to write home about – a reasonable selection of seating options – including some small ‘day rooms’ that never seemed occupied on my two visits last month.

Food Options:
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View from the Lounge:
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United flight being pulled on to stand:
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Day Room:
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I went to the gate at normal boarding time and it was the scrum that United have created since their boarding group changes. Announcements and signs were held up to illustrate that Uniformed Military and Global Services board first, followed by what appears to be the rest of the plane, but is in fact Group 1. This seems to consist of passengers in Business and First, and elite members in Coach, as well as people who have purchased early boarding. It makes the whole boarding process feel very uncomfortable.

The menu was:

Sauteed shrimp skewer with walnut and blue cheese souffle and red pepper-jalapeno sauce
Creamy wasabi or balsamic vinaigrette
Grilled Filet Mignon
Preserved Lemon and Herb Poached Fillet of Salmon
East Coast-style Crab Cakes
Stir-Fried Chicken and Cashews in Gong Bao Sauce
Cheese and Crackers
Ice Cream with choice of toppings.

Mid-flight they offered Asian-style noodle soup or dessert

Prior to Arrival
Spinach and Cheese Frittata
Cereal and Banana

On arrival at San Francisco we were the only international arrival and parked at the closest gate – 92. This meant a five minute walk to Immigration, immediate processing and being out of Customs 15 minutes after landing. I went to the Arrival Lounge at SFO, but will write about that in another report later in the week.

My return flight a few days later was slightly late leaving owing to the unusual take-off/landing pattern being used at SFO on the day. We took off towards the South on the longer runways, whilst inbound aircraft landed on the cross runways, usually reserved for take-offs.
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The United Global seat has plenty of leg room and is pretty comfortable, and felt a lot less hard that the business seat I had experience on my previous flight over:
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The menu on this leg was:
Vegetable-filled pastry and shrimp tempura with Asian barbecue sauce
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Mushroom Brie Bisque
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Salad with buttermilk ranch or classic Caesar dressing
Main Course
Grilled Pork Chop
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Mongolian-style Beef
San Francisco-style Cioppino
Stir-Friend noodles
Cheese with Crackers
and the inevitable United Ice Cream Sundae.

Mid Flight it was Noodle soup with Braised Beef or Cherry custard cake

Prior to Arrival
Herbed Scrabled Eggs
Cereal and Banana

Perfectly pleasant flights with reasonable food – I still miss the old days of flying when the food was special, but we won’t see those again. The United First seat is comfortable and I was able to sleep for a good 6-7 hours on each segment. The cabin temperature was excellent, and the crew friendly and attentive. The major complaint is really the rubbish boarding process that United has adopted.




  1. I don’t understand UA. It is as if they are trying to scare away anyone that would want to pay cash for bus or first travel. There is no way i would accept UA’s dissrespecting of premium.customers if I was paid F, and if paying C then why not fly another? those thatt can get out are.

  2. That pork chop looks mighty familiar…it was the dinner they served us on the 787 STARMegaDo in November. Yum! And so do those hot trays in the horrendous Shanghai Airlines lounge (F side). I found the labels on some of the offerings rather wild: “The white juice fungus”, “Preserved Meat FriedFice” and “Italic Noodle with Meat Sauce”. Fortunately SQ provides its F passengers with a voucher for real food at one of the restaurants elsewhere in the terminal!

  3. Although the boarding progress is pathetic, if you are choosing carrier based on boarding process you are doing something wrong.

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