September 22, 2023

A simple weekday improve: A overview of United Enterprise on the A320 from Puerto Vallarta to Denver

A simple weekday improve: A overview of United Enterprise on the A320 from Puerto Vallarta to Denver

As a Premier 1K elite with United Airways, I used to take pleasure in frequent premium cabin upgrades. However this yr, I have not had the identical improve karma — from January to July, simply two of my 24 eligible United flights obtained Complimentary Premier Upgrades (CPUs).

So when my improve on a latest flight again residence from a visit to Mexico cleared 96 hours earlier than departure, I used to be curious to see if United may ship a noticeably higher expertise in enterprise class than in coach on an growing old, ex-Ted (a low-cost United subsidiary that operated from 2004 to 2009) Airbus A320.

Here is what the expertise was like.

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United has recurrently scheduled service from Puerto Vallarta’s Licenciado Gustavo Díaz Ordaz Worldwide Airport (PVR) to Denver Worldwide Airport (DEN), Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH), Newark Liberty Worldwide Airport (EWR), San Francisco Worldwide Airport (SFO), Los Angeles Worldwide Airport (LAX) and Chicago’s O’Hare Worldwide Airport (ORD).

Except you are touring on the Newark flight, you are nearly assured to be on an A320 touring on United in or out of Puerto Vallarta.

No matter which Puerto Vallarta flight you select, the flights are all scheduled equally: Go away the U.S. for Mexico within the morning and return from Mexico again to the U.S. within the afternoon. I traveled on a day return flight from Mexico to the USA.

With flights scheduled this fashion, crews have lengthy days, so that you would possibly discover the service on the return flights from Mexico to be a bit lackluster in comparison with the flights out of the USA.

Passengers can choose from three fares on these flights, together with the one I used to be on to Denver: fundamental financial system, financial system and United Enterprise.

United fundamental financial system fares from Puerto Vallarta to Denver begin at $186.15 one-way in the intervening time, however with the varied restrictions on this reserving class, together with no upgrades and lowered MileagePlus Premier credit score, I paid an additional $40 to guide an ordinary financial system seat.


With my 1K standing, I earned 129 Premier Qualifying Factors (PQPs) and 1,419 MileagePlus miles, value $17.17 at TPG’s valuations.

Common financial system class fares begin at simply over $230 one-way from Puerto Vallarta to Denver proper now, whereas one-way business-class fares begin at round $490.

If you wish to redeem United MileagePlus miles, one-way awards will set you again a minimum of 11,700 miles or 30,000 miles in financial system or enterprise class, respectively, plus $78.05 in taxes and costs. Remember the fact that United Premier members aren’t eligible for Complimentary Premier Upgrades (CPUs) until you’ve gotten a cobranded United bank card with an annual payment.

As talked about, my CPU to enterprise class robotically cleared 96 hours earlier than the flight.

On this flight, there have been two empty seats in enterprise class in spite of everything Premier members and non-revenue United workers obtained upgrades, which was an incredible rarity touring this yr.

Associated: What’s United Airways elite standing value?

Floor expertise


After I arrived in Puerto Vallarta on my inbound flight from the USA, I used to be impressed with the airport’s effectivity. My departure was no totally different.

Crossing the road from the place my Uber let me out, there was no check-in line at United’s counters, which was a nice shock since United has about half-dozen afternoon departures from PVR.

Whereas there was a Premier Entry lane, there wasn’t a particular queue for United Premier 1K, Polaris enterprise class or World Providers clients. I checked my bag moments earlier than United’s 60-minute cutoff on worldwide flights. If there had been a line, I may have been in bother.

Since there isn’t any passport management upon your departure (apart from a passport verify by the gate agent), each home and worldwide passengers go by means of a physique temperature screening space earlier than clearing the identical safety checkpoint. There was no precedence lane, and the safety corridor was relatively hectic, with flustered safety officers ushering passengers round shortly. Passengers are requested to take out their liquids and take away laptops.

After I took out my second laptop computer earlier than pushing my baggage by means of the screening machine, I received an brisk “apúrate” — or “hurry up” — from the safety officer.

After clearing safety, all passengers weave by means of a duty-free retailer earlier than coming into the principle terminal. I adopted indicators for the VIP Worldwide lounge, which was a five-minute stroll from the duty-free retailer.

Sadly, United does not have a lounge, and Star Alliance Gold clients and United business-class passengers are also left lounge-less. However there are three Precedence Move lounges. The VIP Worldwide lounge was conveniently situated steps from my departure gate.

Regardless of a renovated lounge, the meals choices had been restricted, and there weren’t many open seats. Fairly just a few passengers had deserted their telephones in distant corners of the lounge to cost them up since energy shops weren’t conveniently situated at every seat. With just some tinted home windows, your entire area felt a bit cramped.

Nonetheless, the lesser-known downstairs space of the lounge was almost empty. This area did not have an elevator to entry it, nevertheless it was remarkably quiet and clear. This a part of the lounge featured showers (which had been closed), sofas, armchairs, high-top tables and cleaner loos than the principle stage.

About 10 minutes earlier than the scheduled boarding time of my flight, I obtained a textual content message from United that boarding was prepared to start. When preboarding was introduced for Premier 1K members, I used to be the one passenger who went towards the gate and was the primary particular person on board.

The gate agent checked my arrival passport stamp, and, in contrast to some passengers, I wasn’t given a secondary safety screening.

Cabin and seat

United enterprise class on the Airbus A320 has 12 seats organized in three rows of a 2-2 configuration. These seats have an ordinary 19 inches of width with 6 inches of recline, however the true spotlight was the beneficiant 39 inches of pitch. Being simply shy of 6 ft tall, these further inches meant that I may stretch out correctly.


A divider between rows 3 and seven separates enterprise class from the financial system cabin, which has 138 seats: 42 in Economic system Plus and 96 in coach.

With the tray desk prolonged from the armrest, I may simply match my 16-inch laptop computer. There was additionally a small stand for a cellphone constructed into the tray desk.

Whereas the aircraft featured the newest model of United’s short-haul business-class seats, United’s whole Airbus fleet lacks seatback leisure. After connecting to the United Wi-Fi community, you’ll be able to stream leisure to your private system. (Extra on private system leisure later.) There have been two energy shops per row between seats within the United Enterprise and Economic system Plus sections. That signifies that enterprise class passengers every had their very own energy shops, whereas the three passengers within the Economic system Plus rows needed to negotiate between two shops.


Regardless of being worn, the overhead bins had been spacious sufficient to accommodate everybody’s baggage, although solely 74 of the 150 seats had been occupied.


The flight attendants supplied an alcohol sanitizing wipe to every passenger who stepped on board.


For my journey to Denver, I chosen seat 1F. The bulkhead seats do not have under-seat storage, however since I used to be engaged on the flight, it was extra essential to make sure that a seat in entrance of me would not recline and probably injury my laptop computer.

With such an empty flight, passengers started to play musical chairs by self-upgrading themselves to Economic system Plus, the financial system class seats with round 3 inches of additional legroom situated near the entrance of the aircraft. The flight attendants put a fast finish to it by saying that they’d be pleased to course of an improve cost to Economic system Plus for any passengers. Economic system Plus seats value an extra $79 to $99. United Premier Silver members have entry to complimentary Economic system Plus seats at check-in, whereas Premier Gold and better members can reserve Economic system Plus seats on the time of reserving, freed from cost.

Associated: Flight overview: United’s A320 in Economic system Plus from New York to Denver

Facilities and Inflight Leisure

Since this wasn’t a premium transcontinental flight, there weren’t any amenity kits or paper menus. Blankets had been out there upon request, although they had been nowhere close to as snug because the luxe Saks Fifth Avenue duvets discovered on Polaris flights (Polaris enterprise class is United’s long-haul worldwide enterprise class).

As talked about, there isn’t any seatback leisure on United’s Airbus fleet, although streaming leisure by means of the United app labored seamlessly on my flight. I counted a formidable 194 out there films by means of the United app together with latest releases like, “King Richard” and “Prime Gun: Maverick.” On the TV entrance, there have been some fan favorites like “Gray’s Anatomy” and “The Large Bang Idea.”

As soon as within the air and after connecting to the Wi-Fi, passengers are directed to, the place they will activate free inflight messaging (like iMessage and WhatsApp). Full-flight Wi-Fi was additionally out there for buy for $10 — or $8 for MileagePlus members. There was additionally an choice to pay for Wi-Fi utilizing miles, however it’s best to keep away from that possibility if you wish to maximize your hard-earned MileagePlus miles.

After I used to journey to Mexico earlier than the pandemic, United’s planes would lose Wi-Fi connection south of the U.S. border, however on this flight, Wi-Fi was out there (apart from after we hit some bumps midflight) from takeoff to landing. I could not run a pace check, however the add and obtain speeds had been quick sufficient to run web searches and ship emails.

United business-class passengers have entry to a single designated bathroom behind the flight deck. In contrast to the seats, it hadn’t been up to date. The fluorescent lighting and wallpaper introduced again Nineteen Eighties workplace vibes. The sink additionally wasn’t touchless, which felt fairly out-of-date in a COVID-19 period.

Meals and beverage

The flight crew supplied a predeparture beverage service in plastic cups. Passengers got the selection of water or orange juice.

Since my improve cleared a number of days earlier than the flight, I may preorder my meal on the United app. I had tried the underwhelming zatar rooster with orzo on one other flight, so I made a decision to go along with the Unattainable meatless meatballs with broccoli and couscous.

The flight attendant got here by means of the cabin to take meal orders from passengers who hadn’t preordered and confirmed my preordered entree. Shortly after takeoff, passengers had been supplied a beverage in sturdy glass cups. Earlier than lengthy, lunch was served.

Lunch was offered with a cup of ripe fruit, which tasted nearly as good because it appeared, notably the juicy watermelon. Slightly below the fruit cup was a chilly wheat roll served on a shared saucer with the dessert — what United calls the pie within the sky. My seatmate, who did not know that the opposite baked merchandise on the saucer was dessert, inadvertently took an unwelcome chunk out of the pie within the sky between the fruit and primary course.

Whereas the overcooked broccoli was extra mush than inexperienced, I loved the meatless meatballs. That they had a barely gamey taste, which was complemented by the chewy, pearl-sized couscous. I would not hesitate to order this entree once more.

The flight attendant was fast to retrieve my tray once I completed my meal, which I appreciated because it let me get again to work shortly.

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I wasn’t anticipating Qatar Airways QSuite-caliber service on this flight — which was good, as a result of the service was nothing particular.

The flight attendants spent an hour conversing loudly, which appeared to disturb among the different passengers. Then, our flight attendant remained seated within the galley for the remainder of the flight.

At one level, I requested him for a drink refill, which he promptly supplied.

For the flight crew, it was the center of an extended day. The purser was on his second of three flights for the day: Denver to Puerto Vallarta, Puerto Vallarta to Denver, then Denver to Madison, Wisconsin’s Dane County Regional Airport (MSN).

The crew appeared exhausting at work and disinterested within the passengers, which was comprehensible. Nonetheless, I discovered it odd that the crew did not acknowledge my Premier 1K standing, which is an ordinary function on premium-cabin United flights.

General impression

In my guide, United Enterprise supplied two issues I could not get in coach: a bigger seat and a sizzling lunch. There weren’t any particular Mexican touches to make you’re feeling such as you had been in for a deal with particular to this route, however that was to be anticipated.

The zippy $8 Wi-Fi and beneficiant film choice had been one of the best components of United’s A320 service, each of which could be loved in each financial system and enterprise class.

So whereas I used to be pleased to have the complimentary improve, as a result of lack of a lounge for business-class passengers in Puerto Vallarta and lackluster inflight service, I would not spend greater than $75 or $100 to improve to United Enterprise sooner or later — a lot much less the $493 beginning worth for a one-way fare on this route.

Judging that the business-class cabin was filled with upgraded Premier members and non-revenue standby passengers, it looks like I am not the one particular person to suppose paying for United Enterprise outright is not value it on a route like this.

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