New 2021 Review: United Airlines First Class 737-900 Washington to Seattle

It’s been exactly one year since I returned from my adventure in the South Pacific. Time flies, but no, I’m not having fun. All things considered, I’m still grateful that I made it to 2021 and I can see the light at the end of his horrific pandemic tunnel!

Normally, I travel abroad every two or three months. In 2020, I went on a single domestic trip – what a huge difference! That being said, I have no problem resisting my urge for traveling to stop the spread. I wouldn’t expect that travels will resume anytime in 2021, though I can see myself starting to pick up some trips in the summer – cautiously.

Last weekend, I went to Seattle on a direct United flight from Washington Dulles. For those wondering, my stance on avoiding American Airlines has not changed. I have not spent a dime on them since my trip last year.

Washington Dulles was pretty deserted at 4 p.m. on Friday. There wasn’t any line at the security checkpoint. Since I had about an hour to spare, I stopped at the Lufthansa Senator Lounge and the Turkish Airlines Lounge, which I will review in the next installments.

Fast forward to the gate, the agent didn’t process the upgrade until boarding started. I knew there were plenty of open seats in first class, so I didn’t board the plane until he cleared my upgrade. Even so, the first class cabin was about half full.

I find boarding during the pandemic better and more orderly than pre-Covid time. I spotted a few MAGAs on my flight – I was concerned they would make a scene, but fortunately, they didn’t. Note that this was the same week MAGAs stormed and vandalized the United States Capitol, so I felt a bit uneasy.

Moments later, I made it to my seat and later found out that I didn’t have a seatmate! Upon boarding, each passenger was handed a sanitizing wipe.

United’s Boeing 737-900 first class seats were pretty standard and the interior started to show signs of age. While this particular equipment didn’t have personal IFEs, free entertainment was available via Wi-Fi streaming on the United mobile app. Fortunately, I downloaded a few episodes of Schitt’s Creek before the flight.

The flight was scheduled to depart at 5:35 pm, though we began to push back at 5:27 pm. Eight minutes later, we were airborne.

Many airlines adjusted their in-flight catering throughout the pandemic. While United started to bring back snack to first class, it was no way near the pre-pandemic level which normally serve a full meal with two entrée choices on flights over 4 hours.

The choices were snack boxes or carved chicken on Italian flatbread. I chose the latter.

Surprisingly, it was quite good. The sandwich was prepackaged and heated when served. After I opened it, the bread was crusted and not soggy at all. The cheese was melting and the chicken was quite tasty. Before I forget to mention, service was also quite good – all flight attendants were attentive.

I’m personally reluctant to take my mask off, but I cautiously did, just enough time to take a bite. Once done, I quickly put my N95 back on for the remainder of the flight.

I managed to watch half a dozen episodes of Schitt’s Creek before we descended into Seattle.

Conclusion

If it’s not for a family matter, I would be content with staying home. I never really thought that flying would be a “chore” rather than a pleasure. I love flying ultra-long-haul flights (16+ hours), but not during the pandemic. Even a five-hour flight from Washington to Seattle felt like forever.

All things considered; it was a pretty uneventful flight despite my concern over MAGA public freak out. Thankfully, it wasn’t the case.

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