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United Airlines Boeing 777-200 Economy Plus Review [LAX to IAD]

Ryan Smith's image
Ryan Smith
Ryan Smith's image

Ryan Smith

Content Contributor

63 Published Articles

Countries Visited: 197U.S. States Visited: 50

Ryan completed his goal of visiting every country in the world in December of 2023 and now plans to let his wife choose their destinations. Over the years, he’s written about award travel for publicat...
Edited by: Keri Stooksbury
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Keri Stooksbury

Editor-in-Chief

29 Published Articles 3091 Edited Articles

Countries Visited: 45U.S. States Visited: 28

With years of experience in corporate marketing and as the Executive Director of the American Chamber of Commerce in Qatar, Keri is now Editor-in-Chief at UP, overseeing daily content operations and r...

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Airline: United Airlines (UA)
Aircraft: Boeing 777-200
Flight #: UA2032
Route: Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) to Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD)
Date: February 4, 2024
Duration: 4 hours, 40 minutes
Cabin and Layout: Premium economy class (Economy Plus), 3-4-3
Seat: 41G
Cost: $168.90

To commemorate completing my goal of visiting every country, I had an appointment for a special tattoo near Washington, D.C. That’s pretty far from my home in Southern California, however.

To get there, I went from Los Angeles to Washington, D.C., with United, receiving an upgraded seat in Economy Plus and enjoying a decent deal on this transcontinental flight. There were several mishaps along the way, and I wouldn’t choose this seat again, but it was a good flight overall.

Here’s a look at the highs and lows of my recent trip and how to choose a less frustrating seat on this plane.

Booking United Airlines

I paid cash for this round-trip booking. The total was $337.80 — $168.90 each way. I could’ve saved $20 each way by flying in basic economy, but as a United MileagePlus Premier Silver member (courtesy of my Marriott Titanium Elite status), I’m eligible for preferred seats so long as I’m not flying in basic economy. Choosing a better seat and not getting stuck in a middle seat across the country was worth the extra $20 for me.

Round trip United flight cost LAX IAD LAX non stop
Cost of my round-trip booking. Image Credit: United

If I’d redeemed miles, most days would cost 15,000 United miles in each direction. You can find cheaper pricing, but it’s spotty. Redeeming 15,000 miles would give me a redemption of 1.09 cents per mile, and I try to redeem my United miles for more than that.

United award calendar economy non stop LAX IAD
Calendar view of the cheapest United economy awards on this route. Image Credit: United

Since this was a paid flight, I earned 7x MileagePlus miles for 1,182 total miles. And since I paid with The Platinum Card® from American Express, I earned 5x Membership Rewards points on my airfare.

Hot Tip:

Even when redeeming miles, you’ll always have a cash co-pay. Paying with the right credit card for airline purchases can earn you extra points and miles and add important travel insurance protections to your trip.

Los Angeles International Airport

Check-In

United flies out of Terminal 7 at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). If I’m being honest, it’s always pandemonium in the check-in area.

United check in at LAX for flight to IAD
The main check-in area at LAX’s Terminal 7.

If you’re flying with carry-on bags only, skip the main check-in queues and head to these kiosks near the window, closer to the security checkpoint. If you haven’t checked in online or using the United app, there’s usually no line here.

United carry on only kiosks at LAX for flight to IAD
“Carry-on only” check-in kiosks at LAX.

As I’d checked in using the app and wasn’t checking any bags, I headed straight to the security checkpoint. I zipped through the line with just 1 person in front of me at TSA PreCheck.

Boarding

My flight to Washington-Dulles departed from gate 77. We actually managed to depart 2 minutes early and arrive 7 minutes early in D.C. Given the extremely disorganized boarding, these numbers were surprising.

United gate 77 for flight LAX IAD
Our gate at LAX before boarding started.

After preboarding for those with lap infants and in wheelchairs, anyone and everyone boarded next. As a United MileagePlus Premier Silver member, I was assigned boarding group 2. The people in front of me were in group 6, and the couple in front of them had group 5. Gate attendants made no announcements or any semblance of effort to enforce boarding groups. You got on when you got on. Though this picture looks like there’s a line, people were cutting in whenever they felt like it.

United boarding line at gate 77 for LAX IAD flight
It looked like a line, but it was disorganized.

The gate agents were friendly, but the lack of organization made me feel like I was boarding a rural airline in a third-world country again, not at a major airport in the U.S. After flight attendants greeted passengers at the boarding door, they gave big smiles and directed passengers to the correct aisle to use to find their seat.

On Board United Airlines’ Boeing 777-200

This plane was an old Continental aircraft, recognizable by the 2-4-2 layout in business class. This wasn’t the plane we were slated to use when I checked in online 24 hours before departure. That created further chaos during boarding.

United Boeing 777 200 seat layout from Seat Guru
The seating layout of my plane. Image Credit: SeatGuru

Instead of United just swapping the aircraft, they marked the flight as “canceled,” which was alarming to wake up to on the morning of my flight. Interestingly, I’d been rebooked on a new flight at the same time on the same route, also flying a Boeing 777-200, just with a different layout.

During boarding, people arrived with tickets for seats that didn’t exist on this plane. The other plane (the original one) had a 3-3-3 layout in economy with lavatories in a different row. Flight attendants had their hands full, finding seats, upgrading a few people, and then getting everyone situated. Luckily, no one had to de-plane. How the gate agents boarded people with non-existent seat assignments is anyone’s guess.

Premium Economy and Economy Class Cabin

Economy and Economy Plus seats were laid out in a 3-4-3 configuration on this flight, with restrooms in the middle, creating a front and rear economy cabin. Seats furthest to the front and at the bulkhead behind the restrooms had extra legroom and were designated as Economy Plus.

United Boeing 777 200 economy seats rear cabin
Seats in the rear economy cabin of the plane.

Despite being in boarding group 2, everyone around me had already boarded by the time I got to my seat, located in the first row after the mid-cabin restrooms. I had an aisle seat, 41G.

United Boeing 777 200 premium economy seat 41G
My seat (41G) on arrival.

However, I wouldn’t recommend this seat. Given the zig-zag in the aisle here, what looked like a lot of space turned into many opportunities for people to bump into me throughout the flight.

United Boeing 777 200 view from seat 41G premium economy
The view from my seat.

Sitting at the bulkhead, I had ample foot space, plus the added benefit of no one reclining their seat in front of me.

United Boeing 777 200 foot space at bulk head in row 41
Spacing around my feet at the bulkhead.

Overhead, we had air nozzles and reading lights. Despite closing all of them, arctic cold air flowed out of the overhead compartment throughout the flight. I put on my coat and used the hood during the flight.

United Boeing 777 200 seat 41G air and lights overhead
Overhead, we had air vents and lights.

The overhead bins on this plane were smaller than I’m used to on jumbo jets. I had to turn my roller bag sideways to fit into the bin, which wasn’t deep enough to hold larger carry-on bags. This ate up more space, so passengers spent extra time jostling items around and procuring bin space if they boarded near the end of the process.

United Boeing 777 200 overhead bins
Overhead bins were smaller than other 2-aisle jets.

We had a screen for the safety video on the bulkhead walls and signs for when the restrooms were occupied.

United Boeing 777 200 screen on bulkhead wall row 41
Lavatory signs and a screen for the safety video.

There was a pocket at the bottom of the bulkhead, and it easily held my 13-inch laptop.

United Boeing 777 200 storage pocket on bulk head row 41
The storage pocket on the bulkhead held my laptop easily.

My armrest held the tray table. Normally, you’ll find a knob or string of some type to pull the tray table out, but this one had neither. Getting it out was tricky.

United Boeing 777 200 premium economy bulkhead seat tray table in arm rest
Finding my tray table in the armrest.

The table came out folded with a divot for a cupholder.

United Boeing 777 200 seat 41G try table folded position
The tray table in the folded position.

When unfolded, the table was a good size, but it wasn’t very sturdy since it only had support on 1 side (the side from which it folded out).

United Boeing 777 200 seat 41G tray table unfolded
After unfolding the tray table.

However, the table easily had enough space for my laptop.

United Boeing 777 200 seat 41G tray table with laptop
When unfolded, the tray table held my 13-inch laptop easily.

Food and Beverage

As a domestic flight in the economy cabin, no meal service was included on this flight. Instead, we had a selection of drinks and snacks. Snack options included pretzels or a chocolate quinoa cookie. This sounded weird the first time I heard of it, but I’ve grown to love the latter option.

Drinks included coffee, hot tea, water, and sodas. Catering forgot to load apple juice and orange juice on this flight, from what a flight attendant told me, so the only juice was tomato juice.

There were also various snack boxes for sale if you wanted something more to eat.

Given the location of my seat and the number of people who bumped into me or my tray throughout the flight, I wound up holding my drink with a death grip until it was finished. Otherwise, someone would’ve tripped into my laptop as I worked during this flight. That’s why I wouldn’t choose this seat again. Instead, I’d aim for a seat not located next to where the aisle zig-zags, something not in the front row after a lavatory, or at the window instead.

Amenities

This flight wasn’t replete with amenities, but it did have a few worth highlighting.

Entertainment System

Each seat had a personal entertainment system. A control was built into the plastic molding on the aisle side of my seat (next to the button for reclining). All this controlled was the flight attendant call button and overhead reading light.

United Boeing 777 200 tv control on moulding seat 41G
This remote for the inflight TV in the molding didn’t control the entertainment system.

At foot level, under the armrest, a personal entertainment screen is folded out on an adjustable arm.

United Boeing 777 200 entertainment screen at bulkhead seat
The fold-out entertainment system at my seat.

However, getting it out was a bit tricky. When it wouldn’t come out, I assumed there was a button or latch to release it, which I found at the top of the arm.

United Boeing 777 200 latch for opening arm with entertainment screen
Finding this latch took a bit, but it was important.

The home screen showed your seat number and allowed you to choose your preferred language.

United Boeing 777 200 personal entertainment system welcome screen
My personal entertainment system.

The entertainment system had a ton of options. There were numerous movies.

United Boeing 777 200 personal entertainment system movies
Lots of movies to choose from.

And you could read the latest news in multiple categories.

United Boeing 777 200 personal entertainment system news
The news section of the entertainment system.

You could check the weather for countless places.

United Boeing 777 200 personal entertainment system weather
Weather information in the entertainment system.

TV options were abundant, as well.

United Boeing 777 200 personal entertainment system TV
Lots of TV options here.

The audio section was a bit odd, however. You could listen to mixes, podcasts, and the flight deck. However, you couldn’t just listen to an album by a particular artist.

United Boeing 777 200 personal entertainment system audio
The audio selection was a bit odd.

The wellness section had relaxation elements, such as scenes of nature.

United Boeing 777 200 personal entertainment system wellness
Wellness option in the entertainment system.

You also could turn the screen to relaxing imagery.

United Boeing 777 200 personal entertainment system relax mode
The relaxation options were a nice touch.

There were a handful of games available as well.

United Boeing 777 200 personal entertainment system games
There were a few games here.

And there was a dedicated children’s section.

United Boeing 777 200 personal entertainment system kids materials
There was a dedicated kids’ section.

Lavatories

We had 6 lavatories for economy passengers. There were 4 in the mid-cabin and 2 in the rear. They offered the standard features — a toilet, sink, and mirror — but nothing beyond that.

United Boeing 777 200 economy lavatory
One of the economy lavatories on the plane.

Onboard Wi-Fi

You could access complimentary messaging or pay to use Wi-Fi during our flight. Wi-Fi costs $10 for the general public or $8 for MileagePlus members.

Wi Fi options on United flight LAX IAD
Wi-Fi options during the flight. Image Credit: United

Upload speeds were pretty slow at 3.53 Mbps, but the downloads were decent at 16 Mbps. It was enough to complete my work without interruptions or lag, and the connection was stable throughout the flight.

Wi Fi speed on United flight LAX IAD
Wi-Fi speed during my flight. Image Credit: Speedtest.net

Service

Once we closed the boarding door and everyone was seated, the flight attendants were friendly and did a good job. However, getting to that point was a long time coming.

I can’t understand why United “canceled” our flight when swapping the aircraft, and it continues to confuse me that passengers boarded with tickets for seats that didn’t exist. The boarding process was also extremely disorganized.

The flight attendants took what they were given and made the best of it, remaining cheerful and helpful throughout the ordeal. They upgraded a few passengers to create seats for those whose seats didn’t exist, which made people happy. And I’m sure flight attendants fielded a few complaints when there was no orange or apple juice, but the flight was pleasant overall. They made lemonade out of lemons.

Arrival

Once we landed at Washington-Dulles, we had a quick taxi to our gate. We used the middle door, which was located between economy and business class. The process was efficient, including announcements about where to find baggage claim, which door to use for getting off the plane, and how to find information at the airport.

Final Thoughts

I chose my seat poorly, and the elements of the flight before the boarding door closed were odd, to say the least. However, the actual flight was good.

Flight attendants were friendly, all of the features at my seat worked as expected, the Wi-Fi was reliable, and I arrived safely (and a few minutes early!) at my destination. All this at a fair price.

For rates and fees of The Platinum Card® from American Express, click here.

Frequently Asked Questions

What terminal does United use at LAX?

Nearly all United arrivals and departures are in Terminal 7.

Is the Boeing 777 an old plane?

The first Boeing 777 flew in 1994. However, not all 777 models are that old. Additionally, the interior of your plane may have been renovated since then.

How many seats are on the United Boeing 777-200?

The answer: it depends. United has 5 different seating layouts across variants of the Boeing 777-200.

Does United 777-200 have lie-flat seats?

Yes, all of United’s various seating layouts on Boeing 777-200 planes have lie-flat seats in the front of the plane, matching what you might expect on international business-class flights. If you look at the seat map and see seats that look like they’re at an angle, these will be the newer Polaris model with more privacy and extra features. If they’re all lined up parallel to each other, these will be older seats from the Continental Airlines days.

Ryan Smith's image

About Ryan Smith

Ryan completed his goal of visiting every country in the world in December of 2023 and now plans to let his wife choose their destinations. Over the years, he’s written about award travel for publications including AwardWallet, The Points Guy, USA Today Blueprint, CNBC Select, Tripadvisor, and Forbes Advisor.

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