United Trans-Atlantic Economy Class Review

Last week, we reviewed United’s Boeing 767 Business Class. In this United Economy class review, we compare it to the other end of the plane on a United trans-Atlantic flight from Washington to Amsterdam.

Flight Details

Flight number UA946
Route Washington D.C. (IAD) to Amsterdam (AMS)
Aircraft type Boeing 767-300
Class of travel Economy
Seat number 18F (Economy Plus seat)
Route on-time performance 73% (my flight was on time)
Star rating 3 stars out of 5

The route

UA946 route map

Flight Cost

This was the return leg of a round-trip booking from Europe to the United States which cost AU$493 return in Basic Economy. This was a sale fare price during the off-peak season.

Airport Experience

This flight departed from Concourse C of Washington Dulles International Airport, which is used exclusively by United Airlines (for both domestic and international flights). There are several United Club lounges to choose from in this concourse, but none of them are particularly good. Instead, I caught the train to Concourse B and enjoyed the superior Lufthansa Senator Lounge, which I could access with my Star Alliance Gold status. There is also a Turkish Airlines lounge in Concourse B, but I did not use it.

Boarding started a full hour before the 5.35pm scheduled departure time, with priority boarding implemented effectively.

The Hard Product

Economy class on the Boeing 767 is laid out in a standard 2-3-2 configuration. United’s regular Economy seats have 31 inches of seat pitch, but there are seven rows of Economy Plus seats at the front of the cabin with a generous 36 inches of seat pitch and in-seat power. These seats can be selected for an additional fee, but are free for Star Alliance Gold frequent flyers.

I was able to select a United Economy Plus seat and found it to be comfortable, with very good legroom.

Economy Plus is not to be confused with Premium Plus, which is United’s Premium Economy product. United Premium Plus is a separate cabin with larger seats and more service.

The photo below shows Economy Plus seating on United’s Boeing 787s, which are used for all United Airlines flights to Australia and New Zealand. The Economy Plus seats on the Boeing 767 are the same, except that they’re slightly wider.

Economy Plus seats on United's Boeing 787
Economy Plus seats on United’s Boeing 787

The in-flight entertainment selection was good and the touch-screen was responsive. Wifi was available on this flight for a fee.

The Soft Product

The service on this flight ranged from friendly to rude and hostile. Unfortunately, many of the flight attendants looked like they didn’t want to be there and the service was often abrupt.

A round of drinks was served with pretzels after take-off. Beer and wine were available free of charge, but there was an additional charge for spirits.

This was followed by dinner, which was described to me as “some chicken thing with rice and cheese”:

United Economy class dinner service on UA946
United Economy class dinner service on UA946

This United Economy class meal was truly awful. I’m not sure what it was supposed to be, but it was greasy and bland. It was so inedible that I couldn’t finish it.

After dinner, the rubbish was cleared away and the lights were switched off so we could try to get some sleep.

A few hours later, the lights were switched back on and breakfast was served. By this time it was around midnight in Washington DC, which with the time difference was 6am in Amsterdam. It was a short night, with very little time to actually sleep!

Unfortunately, breakfast was no better than dinner and not worth being woken for. We received a warm but stale croissant and a tub of preserved fruit with a choice of drinks.

United Economy class breakfast
United Economy class breakfast

We landed on time in Amsterdam just as the sun was coming up. Having barely slept, I felt like a bit of a zombie going through passport control. As far as timing is concerned, these short, eastbound trans-Atlantic redeye flights are a cruel and unusual form of punishment.

United Boeing 767 Economy Class
  • Airport Experience
  • Hard Product
  • Soft Product

Final thoughts

The Economy Plus seating on United was quite comfortable for this overnight flight. Unfortunately, the service and the food was sub-standard.


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Matt Graham
The editor of Australian Frequent Flyer, Matt's passion for travel has taken him to over 60 countries… with the help of frequent flyer points, of course!
Matt's favourite destinations (so far) are Germany, Brazil, New Zealand & Kazakhstan. His interests include economics, aviation & foreign languages, and he has a soft spot for good food and red wine.

You can contact Matt at [email protected]