A straightforward weekday improve: A assessment 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 12 months, I have not had the identical improve karma — from January to July, simply two of my 24 eligible United flights acquired 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 older, 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 usually 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 manner, 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: primary economic system, economic system and United Enterprise.

United primary economic system fares from Puerto Vallarta to Denver begin at $186.15 one-way for the time being, however with the varied restrictions on this reserving class, together with no upgrades and decreased MileagePlus Premier credit score, I paid an additional $40 to ebook a regular economic 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 economic 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 no less than 11,700 miles or 30,000 miles in economic system or enterprise class, respectively, plus $78.05 in taxes and charges. Needless to say United Premier members aren’t eligible for Complimentary Premier Upgrades (CPUs) except you’ve a cobranded United bank card with an annual price.

As talked about, my CPU to enterprise class mechanically 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 staff acquired upgrades, which was an incredible rarity touring this 12 months.

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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 International 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 hassle.

Since there is no passport management upon your departure (aside from a passport examine by the gate agent), each home and worldwide passengers cross by way of a physique temperature screening space earlier than clearing the identical safety checkpoint. There was no precedence lane, and the safety corridor was slightly 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 way of the screening machine, I received an brisk “apúrate” — or “hurry up” — from the safety officer.

After clearing safety, all passengers weave by way of a duty-free retailer earlier than getting into the primary 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 positioned steps from my departure gate.

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

Nevertheless, the lesser-known downstairs space of the lounge was practically empty. This house 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 primary degree.

About 10 minutes earlier than the scheduled boarding time of my flight, I acquired 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, not like 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 a regular 19 inches of width with 6 inches of recline, however the actual spotlight was the beneficiant 39 inches of pitch. Being simply shy of 6 toes tall, these additional inches meant that I may stretch out correctly.


A divider between rows 3 and seven separates enterprise class from the economic system cabin, which has 138 seats: 42 in Financial 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 airplane featured the most recent 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 possibly can stream leisure to your private gadget. (Extra on private gadget leisure later.) There have been two energy retailers per row between seats within the United Enterprise and Financial system Plus sections. That signifies that enterprise class passengers every had their very own energy retailers, whereas the three passengers within the Financial system Plus rows needed to negotiate between two retailers.


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 haven’t got under-seat storage, however since I used to be engaged on the flight, it was extra necessary to make sure that a seat in entrance of me would not recline and probably harm my laptop computer.

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

Associated: Flight assessment: United’s A320 in Financial 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 accessible upon request, although they had been nowhere close to as comfy 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 is no seatback leisure on United’s Airbus fleet, although streaming leisure by way of the United app labored seamlessly on my flight. I counted a formidable 194 accessible films by way of the United app together with latest releases like, “King Richard” and “High Gun: Maverick.” On the TV entrance, there have been some fan favorites like “Gray’s Anatomy” and “The Huge Bang Principle.”

As soon as within the air and after connecting to the Wi-Fi, passengers are directed to, the place they’ll activate free inflight messaging (like iMessage and WhatsApp). Full-flight Wi-Fi was additionally accessible 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 choice 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 accessible (aside from once we hit some bumps midflight) from takeoff to landing. I could not run a pace take a look at, 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 toilet behind the flight deck. Not like 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 hen with orzo on one other flight, so I made a decision to go along with the Not possible meatless meatballs with broccoli and couscous.

The flight attendant got here by way 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 regarded, significantly 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 chew out of the pie within the sky between the fruit and predominant course.

Whereas the overcooked broccoli was extra mush than inexperienced, I loved the meatless meatballs. They’d 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 a few of 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 offered.

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 a regular characteristic on premium-cabin United flights.

Total impression

In my ebook, 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 are 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 elements of United’s A320 service, each of which might be loved in each economic system and enterprise class.

So whereas I used to be completely satisfied to have the complimentary improve, because of the 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 value for a one-way fare on this route.

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

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