In-flight: Mumbai to Newark in United Airlines BusinessFirst


Back in July I had a quick business trip to India and I managed to make it work with my United GPUs clearing in both directions at booking. That’s rare enough that I consider it a special trip no matter what. But beyond that it was also my first time transiting the new Mumbai airport which added to the fun. Alas, the meal during the flight mostly killed that euphoria.

The new Mumbai airport was legitimately one of the nicer airports I’ve transited in recent years. Yes, there is still ridiculous queuing which Indian airports are famous for but it is also beautiful. And, more than just pretty, the facilities inside are quite nice.

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The lounge situation is a bit funky right now; the main lounge isn’t open yet so they’re using some otherwise unassigned gate space to handle those needs. Decent-ish food (both hot and cold) and the beer was cold.

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From there is was out to the gate, back through security again and then on to the United 777-200ER for the long schlep home. I really, really enjoyed the architecture in the terminal.

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The seat is the same legacy Continental seat that has been flying for many years now. I happen to like it and I even ended up moving back a few rows from the bulkhead to another row and was still OK with the foot space. What I was not OK with was the meal.

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The appetizer options were rather, umm, interesting. The tomato and cheese salad was particularly awful, though none of it was particularly tasty to me. I sent most of it back uneaten. The flight attendant was not surprised as all. Lots of empathy there but still pretty hungry.

United usually does a mix of US-ish meals and “local” meals in BusinessFirst. I loved the food in Ahmedabad but I was ready for some typical western food. Not really an option on this trip. I ended up with the trio plus potatoes and veggies. Bland and boring doesn’t begin to describe it.

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At least the dessert options are the consistent version I’m used to on all the BusinessFirst flights. I ate (and drank) all of that with gusto.

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And then I slept. Something like 10+ hours, I think. It is always entertaining when the flight attendants comment on just how much I slept on the flight, and more than one did on this trip.

I woke up as we were approaching the Canada/US border and peeked out the window where I was entertained by an awesome lightning storm.

And then arrival into Newark, accompanied by sunrise.

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Don’t get me wrong – I know that this flight was much, much better by virtue of being in BusinessFirst rather than coach. And this was definitely the most affordable way to get the trip at a reasonable price. And the value I got from the sleeping was completely worth it. But, damn, that food was bad.

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and .

10 Comments

  1. Really enjoyed the video clip and the amazing thunderstorms captured. Great editing and layover music!

    1. I can’t believe there is only one comment on the video. I think it is jaw dropping the music provides nice contrast.

    1. That’s a broad generalization, Oliver2002, and there are plenty of examples I can come up with which counter it. The appetizers were not by choice; there was only those options and they were not “western.” They also were not good.

      This was just an awful in-flight meal. And the FA offered up that many pax send back mostly full plates. Unfortunate in many ways.

  2. What was that first plate?

    I’m finding the BF food to be a very mixed bag these days. I’ve had some great food – Indian spiced shrimp out of FCO last month was particularly good. And some has been boring – not awful, just uninspired – like the chicken I had out of ORD on the same trip. But there were other things coming out that weren’t quite as good. My partner was not happy with the brunch entrée out of FCO and sent most of it back uneaten. It’s sad that things are so inconsistent now. BF used to have dependably good food.

  3. Seth
    I was always told this is a tough one to get GPUs to work on.
    What was your experience? Was BF full?
    or was it all opups or paid biz tech types outsourced to India?

  4. Funny! I on the same flights in May! Going over the food was fine, but coming home, you are spot on, it was BAD! There may have been options, but everything was bad. My plate went back full. For some odd reason, mid flight 1/2 the Business class cabin was awake, so they offered us a “snack”. They said it was a brownie, but it was like no brownie I’ve ever seen. Lucky for the guy sitting next to me, I was willing to share my my emergency food stash. The look on his face when I pulled my big old ziploc of food out of hiding. PRICELESS!

  5. Delhi is no better on multiple occasions.

    Once had a flight out of there that was delayed about 9 hours and the crew voted to override the union work rules so it wouldn’t cancel. So crew served breakfast first and the dinner later.

    Not once did I even get a drink on that flight. But yes, it’s all there for the bed.

  6. I’m headed out right now on that flight. I miss the goat cheese, Sprite Zero, good red wine selection that isn’t Californian or French, and the music selection. Otherwise, it is good rest.

  7. UA BF has consistently a good seat, decent IFE, ok sundae with good toppings and a nice snack basket. Apart from that it is all hit or miss. I eat gluten free and more often than not they don’t load up my meal so I always carry enough stuff with me to keep me well fed.
    Would love to see some consistency and a little more care for special meal requests.

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