Continental BusinessFirst New York EWR Tokyo Flight 79 – Review

By Jonathan Spira on 20 January 2012
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Newark Liberty International Airport is the New York area’s busiest in terms of flights and it is a major hub for United-Continental.  It’s also the airport the furthest distance from my residence.

There is nothing like leaving home with plenty of time to catch a flight, and watching your car’s navigation system predict your arrival to be 15 minutes after your flight will have departed.

Luckily, I had arranged for Gateway Special Services, a company that offers VIP meet-and-greet services at numerous airports around the world, to whisk me from curbside through security to my gate so my arrival 45 minutes prior to departure was a non-event.  Indeed, I even ended up having a few minutes to relax in the spacious and comfortable United Club lounge and take a few photos of some aircraft since the lounge afforded a particularly good view.


As I arrived at the gate, boarding had almost been completed.  BusinessFirst passengers had been invited to board first but that was well in advance of my arrival.  United also has Premier Access (née Continental Elite Access and United red carpet) lanes for BusinessFirst passengers so premium passengers can board at any time without having to wait.  I was one of the last passengers to arrive at the gate and soon I was on board and comfortably ensconced in my seat (11E), in the last BusinessFirst row.


The BusinessFirst cabin in this Boeing 777 aircraft (United, incidentally, was the launch customer for this type back in 1995) was configured in a 2-2-2 configuration, and I chose 11E (one of the middle two seats) to ensure not only direct aisle access but also that no one would be climbing over me to reach the aisle.

This was my first ever Continental Airlines flight and I had heard that the BusinessFirst seats were very, very comfortable.  It turns out that what I heard was correct.  The seats were extremely comfortable, both for sitting, reclining, and sleeping.  Each seat is 6’6” (198.1 cm) long and 27” (68.9 cm) wide.

There was plenty of storage including generously-sized overhead bins and an under the seat shelf (think owner’s manual shelf in your car’s glove box, but larger) suitable for storing a laptop or tablet computer when not in use.

The seat’s electrical outlets will accept virtually any plug without an adapter but the placement of the outlets (behind my right shoulder) was somewhat inconvenient.

The seat was very adjustable, including a lumbar control (reminded me of my car) and fully-adjustable headrest.

The entertainment system had a large fixed display and an excellent selection of movies. While normally I rely on my iPad for entertainment, I noticed my neighbor watching The Help, a movie I had wanted to see.  Since I had 10 more hours of time on the aircraft, I availed myself of the opportunity to watch it.

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