Rear View: United’s rear facing Business seats

Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to fly in a United 767-300, International Configuration. It was a short domestic flight, but it was serviced by a 3-class International Configuration aircraft. The final destination after the domestic hop, I understand, was Zurich. I have travelled in large United twin-aisle planes domestically before. But they have always been 777s, with the old configuration or domestic 2-class 767s. This was a first for me. Another first for me was sitting in a rear facing seat. I have been in International Business class on other airlines before, including lie-flat seats, like the one United had on this 767. But, rear facing seats were a new experience for me.

Lie Flat Seats.JPG

The Seats:

The International Business Class seats on United’s fleet are a part of their ‘Dream Suites‘ offering. I think they are truly world class. They have ample width and pitch. Have great, comfortable seat cushions. Come with a nice, good sized pillow and most importantly, go 180 degree flat. Absolutely fabulous. I was sorry that my flight was so short. I could have slept all thru the night on it. Right now these seats are available on United’s 747 and 767 aircraft. They have just started outfitting their 777s with them. Only the International configuration, 3-class 767 and 777 have these seats. I hope they finish the 777s soon. I tend to fly more on them than the 767s. I would have loved to have this seat on my round trip last year from Washington Dulles (IAD) to Dubai (DXB). Those 12 plus hours would have been much more easier to pass.

In-Flight Entertainment:

United 767 IFE.JPG

The In-flight Entertainment (IFE) system was great too. Screens were 15.4 inches. Multiple channels with Movies, TV, Documentaries, Music, Audio books and games. There was even a jack to hook up your iPod/iPhone and display your video from there. The seats also had 110V standard electric sockets. No need for the EmPower adapter to power your laptop or mobile device. There were noise reduction headphones for each seat. Not as good as my Sony’s, but decent. I was torn between watching a movie or taking a nap on the flat bed. I chose to experience the bed.

Rear View:

The rear facing seats were different at first. I have heard other people complain that they felt sick during take-off. I had no issues. Actually got a very different and almost exhilarating view of the ground moving away from us as the plane took off. I took a picture of the take off view from the window, that I am posting here. I thought it was great to see the ground below rather than the sky while taking off. We did have the magazines fly out of the holding bin between the two seats. We realized that they had to be secured before take off. Every alternate row of the business class cabin were rear facing seats. I am glad I could pick one.

Rear facing takeoff.JPG

My opinion:

Worth the upgrade. This one was a complimentary upgrade for me, as a 1K Elite. But if I was flying international on an eight hour plus trip, I would gladly pay to upgrade (cash, miles or instrument) for this seat. I always doubted the value of paying to upgrade to a ‘regular’ business class seat. They do not go flat and sleeping is still a pain in the neck – literally. These seats are worth the price for the comfort.

Next time I want to try out the First Class Suites.

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  1. I flew in the new C seat, rear facing, on 747-400 from FRA to SFO, which is almost a 12 hour flight. The seats were great! You can sleep very well. Rear facing did not bother me at all. It was somewhat novel, but that soon wore off and it really wasn’t very different. During take-off and landing it felt a little different, but not once airborne.

    I love the new seats and I try for 767 and 747 when I can. I hope they finish the 777’s quickly.

    One thing that I understand can be awkward on the 747 is that there are 8 seats, with four in middle section, and the person in the center seats needs to cross the aisle seat. I guess that’s true at the window, too. I traveled with my wife so it wasn’t an issue for us. I also understand the upstairs seats are shorter. Since I’m tall I opted for downstairs, though I always liked the upstairs cabin.

  2. Carl, Thanks for sharing. Now I have to travel on a 747 to check it out for myself… 🙂

  3. Other than their orientation, are the front- and rear-facing seats exactly the same?

    Are you looking at the person facing you, or is there a wall in between each row?

  4. Mike,

    Seats are all the same. And no, you don’t face the person in front of you. There is a section wall.

  5. If i travel alone with this configuration, and am at window must i climb over aisle sleeper in this conFiguration?

  6. Unfortumately, yes you do. Or ask them to put their seat in the upright position.


  7. United’s Business Class is barely any better than Economy. Four across in the middle is no Business Class. It is as dense as some economy classes! I won’t fly UA or BA for that very reason. When many airlines went with three middle seats on the 777’s, I was surprised, but I guess that is a whole lot better than the new 4 across design!

  8. Do the front facing seats not recline to 180?? Looking to pick a seat now but only the rear facing seats indicate that they lay flat.

  9. @Stefani, all the seats in International Business class recline 180 degrees

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