After a great time in Ghana, and a long layover in Lagos airport, I finally was headed towards the gate for the flight back to the US.
United from Lagos to Houston on the Boeing 787 Dreamliner
Boarding time was listed at 7:30pm for a 9:45 departure. That seemed a bit crazy, but it is at least partially due to poor boarding lounges. I got to the gate about 8:30, and there was quite a line, but I took advantage of the Premier Access line, which only had a few people in it. My timing was poor, however, since the entire flight crew cut the line just as I was about to get through. Once past the security boarding pass check, there was a quick security screen, and then standing room only in a crowded boarding hall. Boarding didn’t actually begin until 9pm. The photo below shows this area, but it was from my flight to Accra that had only 10 passengers, not the 200+ that were flying on the 787. It was very crowded.
Lagos Airport boarding lounge
Soon boarding was called, and I took advantage of boarding early. I quickly found my seat in row 1. Like on the outbound flight, the 787 BusinessFirst cabin wasn’t full, but rather than moving to an open seat pair, I opted to stick with my bulkhead seat for the increased room in the footwell.
Seat map before departure
After the outbound flight on the 787, I had a pretty good idea what to expect for the inflight service. A nice flat bed seat, hopefully decent service from the crew, and mediocre food. My expectations were met on all of items. The menu seems even more bland than on the outbound. (To be honest I copy/pasted from that report and only had minimal changes. That is quite uninspiring for premium cabin travel.)
Prawns with lemon and dill
Fresh Seasonal Greens
Tomatoes, cucumber, bell pepper and olive with your choice of creamy chive dressing or vinaigrette
Tenderloin of Beef
Peppercorn sauce, potato gratin, carrots, mushrooms and squash
Breast of Chicken
Mushroom sauce, rice pilaf, carrots and mixed bell peppers
Nigerian-style Fish Stew
Yam porridge and plantains
Creamy pasta sauce, broccoli, mixed bell peppers and Parmesan Cheese
Meals do not contain pork
International Cheese Selection
Served with Port
Ice cream with your choice of toppings
Turkey sandwich, fruit and light snacks are available at any time following the meal service. Please help yourself or ask a flight attendant for today’s selection
Prior to Arrival
An appetizer of smoked trout, feta cheese, cucumber and tomato with your choice of:
Smoked turkey, potato wedges, sautéed mushrooms and grilled tomato
Cereal and Banana
Served with Milk
Fresh fruit appetizer, yogurt and breakfast breads
The Business Class seat on the United 787 is a nice fully flat seat. Its somewhat narrow, but not too bad, and its long enough for me to fit without too much trouble. It isn’t great privacy-wise when traveling alone, and its not the best business class option out there currently. I’d probably prefer reverse herringbone as the best option, then staggered (such as on Austrian or Brussels among others). The United seat would fall somewhere after those. A version of this seat is the business class seat on Delta and American transcontinental aircraft; and other airlines are using it as well, so its not going away any time soon.
United 787 BusinessFirst seat (from Rocky’s trip report)
Once we leveled off, the main meal service began. The opening courses were served together, with the prawns directly on the salad, which seemed odd to me. The salad was fresh, but the lettuce was a bland mix of mostly iceberg and romaine.
Prawns and salad combined into one course
Even more strange to me was the salad dressing. The creamy dressing tasted just like tartar sauce. I still wonder if this was a catering error. I’m glad I requested it to be served on the side.
Is it salad dressing or is it tartar sauce?
None of the main courses were too exciting, but I opted for the chicken as a safe choice. It was fine, although hardly ‘premium’. United is really cutting corners with regard to catering.
Chicken breast main course
Next I had the cheese course, which was one of the best parts of the meal. A nice mix of some soft cheeses with cheddar and feta was served with crackers and mixed nuts and a dried apricot.
‘International Cheese Selection”
Finally, the meal was completed with the dessert course. It is hard to screw up ice cream, and I’ll eat it most any day. But to me, this is a nice dessert on a domestic flight in first class. On longhaul premium cabin travel, I would appreciate at least the option of something a little more interesting.
United Business class dessert: ice cream sundae
After the meal, finished up a movie, then reclined my seat to sleep. The fully flat bed made it pretty easy. Oddly, my seatmate fell asleep sitting up, and I don’t think he ever fully reclined his seat throughout the flight, but it made getting up from my window seat easy…
The beautiful 787 wing soon after takeoff
I didn’t sleep as long as I was hoping, but I at least got relatively well set to hopefully beat jetlag to some extent. Once awake, I further explored the in flight entertainment. The interface is good, and there is a large selection of movies and TV programs. Unfortunately, United is still in a contract dispute of some sort, so there is no audio available. I have my own music, of course, but this is another example of the countless little things that help the inflight experience that United fails to deal with. They still show music options on their website, but from my experience (including flights in July 2014 on internationally configured planes), there is still no music available onboard.
About 90 minutes prior to landing, a second meal service was offered. Unlike many westbound longhaul flights, we were actually arriving in the morning at the destination, so breakfast was appropriate. The first course was a little bit different from typical United breakfasts, with smoked trout. Not really my thing, but at least there is some variety.
smoked trout breakfast appetizer served with fruit and yogurt
The fruit served with breakfast was a nice variety too compared with the typical selection. Lots of watermelon and fresh strawberries. Sadly there were no cinnamon rolls available, but the fresh croissant was a tasty substitute.
United BusinessFirst breakfast LOS-IAH
The main course was the standard United breakfast options on flights worldwide; either an omelet or cereal. I’m more than a little tired of this meal, but at least it tastes good. There was slight variety here in that the potato cake was replaced with fries and the sausage (sometimes called the hockey puck) replaced with a piece of smoked turkey.
My breakfast main course on United BusinessFirst LOS-IAH
I reclined again after breakfast trying to get a little more sleep, but soon we were descending and I put my seat up for landing. Our slightly late departure caused a small arrival delay. There was no wait for large bank of Global Entry kiosks in Houston at this time of day. I re-cleared security and was on my way home through Chicago.
This trip was great in many ways. My first visit to Africa. Good to see some old friends and make new ones. I’d definitely go back to Ghana, and there is so much more of Africa to explore. Just as a reminder, I paid cash for these tickets, including an upfare to get to a W fare class so I could upgrade with a Global Premier Upgrade. All segments cleared at booking, which was great.
A Trip of Firsts
Initial thoughts on my trip to Ghana
United 787 Dreamliner BusinessFirst from Houston to Lagos
An extended layover in Lagos Nigeria and a flight on Africa World Airways
Cash only in Accra, Ghana, and Africa in general
The drive from Accra to Cape Coast with a van full of wedding guests
A stay at the Ko-Sa Beach Resort, Cape Coast, Ghana
Exploring history of the slave trade in Cape Coast
Travel to Kakum National Park and being the only obruni on the bus to Accra
Arik Air from Accra and lounge hopping during a long layover in Lagos
United 787 Dreamliner BusinessFirst from Lagos to Houston (this post)