It’s not a bad flight, at least the direct, non-stop. The two cities are not geographically polar opposites, but they are on opposite sides of the earth, exactly 12 hours apart.
Working for a larger corporation, flying long-haul flights as a company expense was made significantly more pleasant in executive type cabins. But pulling cash out of your pocket for airfare makes it a little tougher to spring for the extra service. The difference between economy and business class on this flight is a whopping $6,500, all for the pleasure being able to get horizontal (which is huge), and food served in courses. Over a 15 hour flight, that difference equates to about $430 per hour. For that price, most people who foot their own airfare are content sleeping upright and scarfing down some form of aluminum foil wrapped chicken or pasta.
The cabin crew always seem like they are in a hurry when they are in serving mode. Perhaps because, like most businesses, airlines have learned to do more with less. Not long ago, this flight was maintained by 16 crew members. These days they down to 11, sometimes less, which is why food service is wham bam thank you ma’am.
Even though the aircraft and employees are United Air Lines, the merger agreement with Continental a couple of years ago stipulated that crews stick with their “metal.” In other words, since this flight was originally a Continental flight, only prior Continental employees can work it, not other United employees. Strange (or not) how a company can be strangled to operate less efficiently because of union contracts.
On prior direct flights between these cities I thought we flew either east or west, depending on winds. The flight maps make it look that way. But actually, the flight heads north then south — up almost directly over the north pole and down the other side.
Leaving home at 7 am and arriving at my other home at 7 pm the next day, makes this 24 hour door-to-door commute not something anyone but a flight attendant would want to do every week. The physical cost factor of flipping nights and days is payment enough.
There are lots of longer flights out there, but if you’ve got to get half way around the world sitting upright, then fill your carryon with plenty of entertainment or bring your heavy eyelids. And if you happen to fly between New York and Shanghai, in either direction, it’s hard to beat this flight.