United operates from check-in desks in Area 3 at Amsterdam. There were lines for Priority and Economy and each passenger went through a security check before getting to the check-in desks. Mine was remarkably short – only two questions – ‘Why are you going?’ and ‘How long are you staying?’.
After that I was directed to security and the gate.
Located on the floor above check-in the security line was short when I arrived and I was through in about four minutes. The line at immigration was longer but as a holder of the Schipol Airport’s Privium iris recognition system I did not have to wait.
The lounge is about a ten minute walk as United uses the Aspire lounge, near the British Airways lounge at Schipol. The lounge is large but about a third was blocked off for Singapore Airlines passengers. There were plenty of electrical outlets and a selection of drinks and snacks were available as self-service. By the time I was due to leave for the flight the lounge was getting pretty busy. It is a Priority Pass lounge also.
We left from D4, a five minute walk from the lounge. Security at Amsterdam is understandably strong after the Underwear bomber boarded a flight from there. At check-in (at the gate) you go through the questions I mentioned above. Once you have been through that there is an additional passport check and then a check of your boarding pass and passport.
The inbound flight was late so we were about 50 minutes late leaving. 45 minutes before the new departure time they started to line us up, doing the second passport check and confirming that stickers showing that the first check had been done. Then there was a further delay but the staff at the gate would not let anyone leave the metal corral they had lined us up in. Everyone had to stand and wait.
Except, well except Global Services passengers who were plucked from the line and escorted to the seats. There were plenty, they could easily have allowed the elderly and children sit down, but that was not in their protocols.
Eventually we boarded.
Once I sat down I was offered water, orange juice or champagne.
United’s 767-300 aircraft has BusinessFirst in a 2-1-2 config and I was in the first row in the single central seat. There was plenty of bin space and everyone got their bags stowed and we were soon taxiing out to the runway.
Each seat has a screen (below left), which had a reasonable range of movies and TV programmes. Noise reducing headsets were provided at each seat on boarding and I watched a movie whilst I ate.
The meal started about an hour after take off.
The starter was a shrimp and salmon skewer, followed by a salad with croutons, all served from a cart.
The beef tasted good, although the veggies were a bit soggy. Both fruit and cheese was offered with the ice-cream sundae which I skipped.
The staff were friendly enough and available when needed for drinks during the flight.
After dinner I reclined the seat for a nap. There was a pillow and blanket at my seat on boarding and these were sufficient for a reasonable nap. Ear plugs and eye shades were provided in the amenity kit.
About 90 minutes before landing the crew came around with a cold meal – my choice (above right) was a salmon fillet and the alternative was a meat and cheese plate.
We came in to a gate at Terminal B and I cleared immigration quickly using the Global Entry kiosk and was on the Airtrain to Terminal C for my connection about 25 minutes after landing.
A perfectly serviceable, but unspectacular flight on an airline I used to love, but is now entirely average.