Singapore to San Francisco Nonstop in 15.5 Hours: The United Airlines Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner On-board Experience20 June, 2016
Travelling to the United States of America (USA) usually means an almost 24-hour flight including a stopover (of about 2-4 hours) at Hong Kong or Tokyo – by the time we reach the States for our holiday, we would have been super jet-lagged. Thus, I was glad to hear about United Airlines’ first ever nonstop flight service between Singapore and San Francisco that shortens the flight time significantly, saving four hours’ journey time each way between the two cities, as compared to other flights operating with connections. This flight also happens to be the only nonstop service to the United States from Singapore.
With this flight, the flying time is now approximately 15 hours 30 minutes from Singapore to San Francisco and 16 hours 20 minutes from San Francisco to Singapore, and also importantly, with no stopovers!
The Singapore to San Francisco eastbound UA2 flight departs Changi Airport at 8.45 am daily, arriving at San Francisco International Airport at 9.15am the same day (no – this is not a 30-minute long flight J ; San Francisco is 15 hours behind Singapore in time difference). The westbound San Francisco to Singapore UA1 flight departs San Francisco at 11.25pm, arriving at Singapore 6.45am two days later.
United had also used the world’s most advanced passenger airplane, the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner to operate this Singapore-San Francisco flight and this means improved lighting, bigger windows, lower cabin altitude and enhanced ventilation systems, making the flight a much more comfortable experience for passengers.
I have an even better news for readers of PassportChop.com – I am partnering United to give away one return United Economy flight ticket to San Francisco to one lucky PassportChop.com reader. Read on for more details on how to participate in this giveaway, what you can expect on board this United flight and some tips to help make your flight with United a more enjoyable one.
The United Pre-flight Experience – Useful and Informative United App
My experience with United got off to a great start even before I reach the airport. The United Airlines app (available on Google Play and Apple app store) is a very useful tool that allows you to manage all your flight matters e.g. selecting seats, online check-in, check standby/upgrade waiting list, on the go. I have never seen a more useful airline app than this United one. There is no need to check at the counter or call United about the wait list for upgrade or flight standbys – the wait list queue with passenger initials are indicated in the app itself. You can also check where the plane for your flight is coming from and whether the flight will depart on time.
Checking in for your United flight is made so much easier using the United app – you no longer need to key in your passport details. Using the app “Scan your ID” function, your information e.g. passport number, passport expiry, name are all automatically populated once your scan your passport! This works even for Singapore passport.
Enjoy More Legroom and Comfort with an Upgrade to United Economy Plus
The Singapore-San Francisco flight is operated with the new Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft, featuring a total of 252 seats – 48 in United BusinessFirst and 204 in United Economy, including 88 Economy Plus seats with added legroom and increased personal space. I recommend an upgrade to an United Economy Plus seat as you get more legroom (up to 7.6cm of extra legroom) – as you can see in the picture below, I am 1.75m tall and there is quite a lot of space for me at an Economy Plus seat. The fees for an upgrade to United Economy Plus vary based on the location of the seat e.g. an emergency exit seat and those at the bulkhead (Bassinet) area will cost the most. In general, you can expect to pay about 160 to 200+ USD one way for an upgrade to an Economy Plus seat for your Singapore-San Francisco flight.
Do note that the United Economy Plus is not exactly the same as Premium Economy in other airlines. For example, your Economy Plus seat width is the same as that of an Economy seat and there are no special perks e.g. priority boarding, special Premium Economy menus, calf-rest and foot-rest. You just get more legroom, a seat that reclines a bit more than an Economy one and being at a cabin just behind United BusinessFirst, you also get to exit from the plane earlier than the Economy class passengers upon arrival.
Catch Up on Movies/TV Shows with United’s On-Demand Inflight Entertainment System
Each United Economy and Economy Plus seat is equipped with a 22.8-cm personal seat-back monitor delivering a multi-channel on-demand inflight entertainment system. There are lots of movies – both Hollywood blockbuster as well as international movies from around the world. You can also catch up on an entire season of TV shows e.g. Game of Thrones and Dexter. For an overview of the movies/TV shows you can catch during your flight, check out the movie/TV listings (in downloadable pdf files) at this United inflight entertainment page.
They also did away with the annoying controller that was usually integrated in your armrest (the one which you can use to call for attendant help or switch on your reading light). You can control all that using the touch screen monitor in front of you. You can also your own more comfortable headphones to connect to the in-flight entertainment as they use the same headphone jack. The USB charging port is also right in front of you just below the monitor.
Surf the Internet, Check Your Emails, Call Your Loved Ones With United Wi-Fi
Besides in-flight entertainment, there is another way to keep yourself occupied throughout the 15-16 hour flight – Wi-Fi internet! For 16.99 USD, you can get connected to the in-flight United Wi-Fi for the entire duration of your Singapore-San Francisco flight. This works out to just about 1 USD per hour of your flight which is great value for money. There are no data caps but it is explicitly stated that live video and internet streaming services are not supported – although I was able to use the United Wi-Fi to do a short WeChat video call with my son (the sound quality was not the best and laggy at times but not bad for an in-flight video call!).
All you have to do to connect to the Internet is to first connect to the on-board United Wi-Fi – you will be directed to the United Wi-Fi page where you can pay with your credit card for internet access. Only one device can be connected to the internet you paid for.
One thing I recommend you do before flying with United is to sign up for a United Airlines Mileage Plus membership. Remember the United app I mentioned above, you will require your Mileage Plus membership to manage all your flight matters too. With a Mileage Plus membership, you can use that as your login for United Wi-Fi and to switch the internet access to another device.
The internet speed depends on the number of connections to United Wi-Fi and type of usage – if you are just checking Whatsapp, emails, the speed is ok but surfing the web like checking IMDB for your in-flight movie reviews might be a bit slower. What differentiates United Wi-Fi from other in-flight Wi-Fi services by other airlines is that it pulls data from satellites rather than from land-based towers so the data you get online is always real-time even when your flight is over the Pacific Ocean.
One thing to note is that the United Wi-Fi service is available after the flight has taken off until just before landing – as a guide, when use of portable electronic devices e.g. laptop is permitted.
Experience Greater Comfort with Bigger Windows and Enhanced Ventilation Systems
United customers on this Singapore-San Francisco experience greater comfort with improved lighting, bigger windows, larger overhead bins, lower cabin altitude and enhanced ventilation systems. Just take a look at the picture below – the windows are huge and there is no window panes – you can control the opacity of the window from your seat but please note that there is a 1-2 second lag for the window to adjust to the opacity you choose – don’t keep pressing the button impatiently.
Savour Better Tasting In-Flight Food and What/When You Can Expect to Eat on board the Singapore – San Francisco Flight
Food served on board tend to taste a bit bland due to the humidity (or lack of it). With the enhanced ventilation systems of the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner, the air feels less dry and theoretically, this would make the food served on board the plane taste better. Having experienced it during the flight, I was pleasantly surprised that the food did taste better! Try it for yourself. J
Just to provide you with an overview of what and when you can expect to eat during your flight (after all, there is nothing much you can do except eat, sleep and watch movies).
About 2 hours after take-off, we were served brunch – Chicken served with noodles and potato salad as an appetiser – not a surprise (the other option was a vegetarian pasta) since the Singapore flights feature additional amenities and services designed for Asian customers e.g. Chinese-language services for in-flight entertainment and Asian-style cuisine.
About 10 hours into the flight from Singapore to San Francisco, we were offered ham and cheese sandwiches with a kit-kat snack.
About 2 hours before landing (at the 13th to 14th hour mark), we were served breakfast – omelette with sausage and potato wedges – an American breakfast to get ourselves started on an American journey at San Francisco!
United has timed this Singapore-San Francisco flights to connect conveniently at San Francisco with an extensive network of service throughout the U.S., Canada and Latin America. United operates more than 250 daily flights from San Francisco to more than 90 destinations throughout North, Central and South America and the Caribbean.
[Only for United Global First and United BusinessFirst passengers] Freshen Up at the San Francisco Arrivals Lounge Before Exploring San Francisco
You will arrive at San Francisco at 9.15am – too early to check-in your hotel and you are feeling tired and in need of a shower after a 15.5- hour flight. Well, if you are United Global First or United BusinessFirst passenger, then you should check out the Arrivals Lounge in San Francisco, located in Terminal 3 on the baggage level.
The Arrivals Lounge is a retreat where United Global First and United BusinessFirst customers arriving by noon on a same-day ticket may freshen up with a shower. Guests can enjoy a breakfast and use complimentary Wi-Fi.
Do note that United Global First and United BusinessFirst customers must ask a United representative at the airport to access the Arrivals Lounge. Access is subject to availability. Customers cannot bring guests into the Arrivals facilities.
All the amenities you need e.g. shampoo, shower gel, hairdryer and dental amenity kits are available in the United Arrivals Lounge – you can also request for a bathroom slipper from the staff. If you have a shirt that needs pressing, they can also offer this complimentary service. The shower/toilet room is spacious – large enough to put your luggage to retrieve the clothes you need for your onward journey.
PassportChop.com Giveaway of One Return Economy Air Ticket on United Airlines Direct Flight to San Francisco (Contest Ends 30 June 2016)
Well, you have read a review of my awesome flight experience with United. Now it is your turn to experience this San Francisco-Singapore direct flight yourself. One lucky reader will win one return Economy air ticket (approximately S$1600 in value) on this United Airlines direct flight to San Francisco in our giveaway here.
There are 2 steps to participate in this giveaway:
1. Share this blog post at Facebook
2. Leave a comment below to tell us why you should win this return ticket to San Francisco and what will you do at San Francisco – the best comment wins (as decided by me).
This giveaway ends 30 June 2016 11:59pm Singapore time and the lucky winner will be announced here at this blog post by 5 July 2016.
Before participating, do note these terms and conditions of the prize:
- The winner is liable for all applicable taxes, fees and surcharges (approximately S$120), which must be paid by credit card
- The winner will be responsible to obtain visa for the travel where necessary
- Valid for round-trip transportation between the origin (Singapore only) and destination (San Francisco only). If issued for one-way travel, any unused portion will be forfeited.
- All travel must be completed by 31 May 2017. Extension of the expiration date is not permitted under any circumstances
- Open to Singapore Residents only
For inspirations on what to do and see in San Francisco, check out our next post on our 4 Day 3 Night shopping, eating and street art exploration itinerary in San Francisco.