Before I was supposed to fly, I randomly checked my flight status and the seat map to make sure I was getting a row to myself on this red-eye (since that's the only reason why you would take a red-eye, right?).
However, I noticed that it was pretty cheap to pay cash for an upgrade on Business. So I just went ahead and did it! Usually, I don't splurge like this but I thought it was worth the experience and was glad I did it.
Before The Flight
The flight I was taking was from San Francisco to Newark (UA 1931) on a red-eye. I paid for 2 one-way flights (one from Orange County to Santa Ana, and the other was San Francisco to Newark) with a total of ~$210. The upgrade to business on the SFO-EWR segment was only $388, which is a steal! Usually cash upgrades on this route can easily be thousands of dollars.
Before upgrading, I made sure to check the aircraft type since if I'm paying good money, it has to be on United's Polaris product. I was specifically looking for the Boeing 777-300ER or the Boeing Dreamliner 787-9 aircraft, and this flight was on the former. So, I went ahead and booked it. The total for the 2 flights plus the upgrade was shy of $500, which isn't too bad!
The seats are in a 1-2-1 configuration, so I made sure to pick the "1" seat because I was traveling by myself. I also made sure to pick an odd numbered row, because the seats bordering the windows could either be more "towards the window" or "away from the window". I wanted to be closer to the window, which are the odd-numbered rows.
Booking Business allows you to utilize Premier Access and 2 free checked bags. But, I didn't really use these benefits since I already had TSA PreCheck. However, you get group 1 boarding, which is nice.
The flight itself
When I got on the plane, I was pleasantly surprised at how spacious the seat was. I suppose it's because I'm short, but I was happy to see the different offerings. While I was getting myself situated, a flight attendant came around and offered me water or champagne.
Each seat had 2 pillows and a blanket, all wrapped in Saks Fifth Avenue branding. One pillow was soft, and the other pillow seemed to be more hard (like memory foam). When I sat down, the IFE screen in front of me was decently big with a USB charging outlet. If I pushed at the metal thing below the IFE, a table popped out where you could unfold it.
To the right, there were buttons for adjusting the seat. To the left, there was a little thin shelf where they put the in-flight magazines. To my immediate left, there was a little landing area where I can put a few things, a plug and the remote for the IFE. A little "cabinet" opens when you push on it and inside, there was a water bottle and headphones. There was also an amenity kit and coat hook.
So far, the seat seemed quite ordinary but the bedding felt impeccable. I was very excited to lie down and fall asleep. The amenity kit was also a nice touch. Overall, I had a lot of leg room.
The headphones were nothing special. While waiting for takeoff, I got myself adjusted by looking inside the amenity kit and tinkered around with the seat buttons.
For now, I put the kit away in my bag since I knew I wouldn't use it right away. However, I liked how it was heavily catered for this red eye since I used the facial cleaning cloth and the sanitizing wipe before landing and felt much more refreshed.
For the seat buttons going from left to right...
Right before takeoff, a flight attendant came around and was taking meal orders. The 3 options were "an option I don't remember", Thai chicken, or they could let you sleep. My original plan was to sleep but I wanted to try the meal. So, I told them I wanted the Thai chicken. They told me it would be served around 1-2 hours into the flight.
To pass the time while we were taking off, I set up my bedding, got myself comfortable, and nibbled on the small bowl of nuts that another flight attendant gave me. I chose to watch a few episodes of The Office before the meal came.
The meal was served much quicker than expected. Initially, I wasn't expecting much (since how good can Thai chicken be on an airplane?) but I was pleasantly surprised. There was actual silverware, the chicken was flavorful, and the vinaigrette they gave me to pair with the salad was also decent.
Since it was getting late, I chose to save the cookie and the bread to eat right before landing. The FA saw that I finished my meal and actually offered to give me another one, which I politely refused. In any other time, I would had said yes though but I really needed to sleep.
So I pretty much zonked out until landing, and then the FA woke me up. I ate the cookie and break as the plane was landing (cookie was quite good, bread was just bread). Outside the window, you could see suburban Newark and New Jersey but I was hoping for a better view. Oh well, next time. Then, we landed!
Overall, I was impressed with the experience. On a red-eye, all you really want to do is sleep and the product delivered. The bedding was comfortable and I was able to fall asleep. The food was an added bonus. However, I would probably only fly Business again if I got a deal like this time around. I wouldn't had wanted to use miles or pay more cash for this upgrade. But, if you do get a chance I would jump on it!
Read all about my experience in economy class on United Airlines as well as the United Club at LAX right here.
Ever wondered how you could travel all around the world without spending too much money? Take a look at all my tips and tricks in the four part guide!