Business Traveler (USA) - - TRIED AND TESTED - — Jerome Greer Chan­dler

This would be the first time I’d been in Hong Kong since the han­dover of the for­mer Bri­tish Crowne Colony to the Chi­nese in 1997, and I was ea­ger to see what had changed. From a busi­ness trav­eler’s per­spec­tive, the first thing that’s changed is how you get there. Thanks to ul­tra­long-range craft such as the 777-200ER you can make the trip in one fell swoop from the East Coast. That’s what I did.

Be­cause I’d cleared TSA for my do­mes­tic con­nec­tions, I didn’t have to do so again at EWR’s Ter­mi­nal C. I headed straight to the United Club ‘twixt C2 and C3 and re­laxed a bit. United has two clubs in the C com­plex, and they’re used a lot. On Fri­day af­ter­noons and other high travel pe­ri­ods they could use a third en­clave in C, their busiest Ne­wark ter­mi­nal. BOARD­ING On to Gate C121, and the await­ing Flight 117. Af­ter I showed my pass­port again, wait time to board was min­i­mal.

Upon board­ing what was in­stantly ap­par­ent was United’s mas­ter­ful use of space on this air­plane. The Busi­nessFirst seats ar­rayed along the star­board and port (right and left) cabin walls are an­gled a tad to­wards the win­dows, giv­ing the im­pres­sion of more space and af­ford­ing win­dow-seat afi­ciona­dos such as this writer great, non-neck-strain­ing views of the show out­side. The lay­out is a pretty stan­dard 2-2-2.

Af­ter putting my roller bag in the over­head, hand­ing the flight at­ten­dant Les­lie Es­panol my jacket, I set­tled into 9K, found the nicely-fit­ted amenity kit and sub­sti­tuted over­socks for shoes. About that time Ms. Es­panol of­fered me wa­ter or or­ange juice, the bet­ter to hy­drate with.

9K was bless­edly sit­u­ated near the mid-air­craft lava­tory, the one on the star­board side. It’s per­haps the largest air­craft lav I’ve en­coun­tered, and comes re­plete with a ful­l­length mir­ror.

The seat boasts five au­to­mat­i­cally-pro­grammed set­tings and a lovely ad­justable lum­bar bol­ster. I tend to judge a seat by how well it gets along with my spine. In this in­stance, it was love at first re­cline.

The workspace is ad­e­quate and log­i­cally laid out. The three-pronged com­put­er­charg­ing plug is lo­cated over the right shoul­der and there are am­ple nooks and cran­nies for stor­ing things.

If there’s one thing I’d change, it’s the 2-2-2 con­fig­u­ra­tion of Busi­nessFirst in UA’s 777-200ERs. In­stant aisle ac­cess would have been nice for win­dow seat fliers, rather than hav­ing to climb over your seat­mate’s legs.

Ris­ing above the clouds with the lights of Man­hat­tan re­ced­ing, I punched up a Gersh­win on the AVOD and set­tled in, as the cap­tain headed north, up and over the Arc­tic en route to Hong Kong.

I’d pur­posely skipped lunch ear­lier in the day, the bet­ter to ap­pre­ci­ate din­ner, a meal served up by Bryan Caswell, owner of a trio of Hous­ton restau­rants and a mem­ber of United’s Chefs ’Congress. Those chefs do ride-alongs from time to time to bet­ter ap­pre­ci­ate how to pre­pare sky-high cui­sine. Hav­ing been tipped off by Caswell be­fore de­par­ture that fish, be­cause of its fat and col­la­gen con­tent, fares best aloft I chose the seared hake and grilled shrimp in tomato sauce with mixed veg­gies. To com­ple­ment din­ner, I opted for a 2011 Wente Vine­yards Morn­ing Fog Chardon­nay. All was sud­denly right with the world.

In­ter­na­tional ser­vice man­ager Kathy To­tall-Burch was in charge of the cabin chore­og­ra­phy. Dur­ing this flight she and her 11 flight at­ten­dants would serve some 260-plus trav­el­ers. The ef­fort was savvy and at­ten­tive.

Af­ter the choco­late sun­dae it was time to kick back in the cud­dly, com­fort­able, fully-lie flat seats. That’s good, be­cause ac­cord­ing to the flight-track­ing au­dio/video on-de­mand (AVOD) screen, we were in for an 8,430-mile, 15-hour 40-minute trip. I con­sumed a num­ber of mu­si­cal selec­tions and movies on the flight. The ear­phones were par­tic­u­larly good; fidelity was fine and the pad­ding per­fect. AR­RIVAL Touch­down at Hong Kong was at 8:14 PM lo­cal time. Af­ter a fiveminute taxi to the gate we dis­em­barked and headed to a train for the trip to cus­toms and im­mi­gra­tion. The wait queue time was com­par­a­tively quick. HKG works. BT

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