Review: United Airbus A320 First Class (SFO-DFW)

To head home after a week in the Bay Area, I flew from San Francisco to Dallas/Ft. Worth in United Airbus A320 First Class. Mrs. ATX was flying to Dallas separately in American Airlines Economy due to a last minute flight change. She was initially scheduled to fly home the next day from San Jose but moved her flight because of weather.


I booked a one-way Economy ticket from San Francisco (SFO) to Dallas/Ft. Worth (DFW) for $319 on A few days before departure, United had an upgrade offer in the app for $250 which I jumped on for this 4 hour flight.

I’ve flown United’s A320 many times in Economy but this would be my first trip in First Class on the jet. I was hoping we’d get one of the few aircraft featuring the new “NEXT” cabin but we got an older one for this flight.


My flight was departing from Concourse G, which is located in the International Terminal (Terminal 1) at SFO. Our Uber dropped us off curbside and I found the United check-in desk just to the right. The check-in area was deserted at 2:45p on a Thursday and I strolled right up to the desk.

San Francisco International Airport Terminal 1 Check-In hall
San Francisco International Airport Terminal 1 Check-In
United Check-In counter San Francisco
Where are all the people?

Mrs. ATX’s flight was arriving at DFW before mine so I checked her bag for a couple of reasons. First, DFW no longer has a train between terminals pre-security and we needed to meet back up on arrival. Secondly, thanks to my First Class ticket, I had free checked bags (I would have also received this thanks to my United status).

With our luggage dropped off, we headed towards the security checkpoint for Concourse G.

a person walking in a large airport terminal
San Francisco International Airport Terminal 1 Security Checkpoint

Like the check-in area, there was no line at security and we were airside in under a minute.

a large airport terminal with a large sign
Airside in Concourse G


Having your flight depart from the international terminal at an airport is a great thing thanks to the wide variety of food and beverage options. In the case of SFO, the international terminal has plenty of shops, restaurants, and even an outdoor terrace.

There is also a United Club and a Polaris Lounge located in the concourse. Passengers on domestic United First Class tickets don’t have access to either lounge (though a United Club membership can be purchased) so we headed over to the nearby American Express Centurion Lounge.

a glass building with a staircase and a blue door

We were able to access the Centurion Lounge thanks to my American Express Platinum card and managed to find a couple of seats to relax prior to our flights.

After our visit to the lounge, Mrs. ATX and I parted ways and I headed for my gate 45 minutes before the scheduled departure time. The connector between Concourses F and G provided some great, up close plane spotting opportunities.

A United A320 at San Francisco International Airport
Up close and personal with a United A320


My flight to Dallas/Ft. Worth was departing from Gate G8. The concourse level in the International Terminal is higher than boarding so an escalator was necessary to reach the boarding gate.

San Francisco International Airport Concourse G Interior
San Francisco International Airport Concourse G
an airport with an escalator and a sign
Escalator to Gates G7 and G8

Boarding was scheduled for 5:50p and I arrived at the gate a few minutes prior. Passengers were already queueing for boarding and I was able to catch a glimpse of our waiting A320 through the window shade.

a group of people sitting in a room with large windows
Our waiting aircraft, N477UA, ready to take us to Dallas/Ft. Worth
a group of people in a terminal
All queued up and ready to board.

Pre-boards began a few minutes ahead of schedule and Group 1 was invited to board right at 5:50p. After a quick scan of my boarding pass I headed down the jet bridge to our waiting A320.

United Airlines
UA 1342
SFO-DFW (San Francisco International – Dallas/Ft. Worth International)
Seat: 1F (First)
A320-200 (N477UA)
Scheduled: 6:25p-11:59p
Actual: 6:28p-12:06a (+1)

people looking out of an open door of a vehicle
Next Stop: DFW

United Airbus A320 First Class Seat

United is currently in the process of retrofitting their fleet of Airbus A320 aircraft which means you may find yourself on the older or newer version. My flight was operated by an aircraft with the older cabins and featured a 2-2 layout in First Class. With only three rows, the 12 seat First Class cabin makes for a tough upgrade. The retrofitted aircraft have an extra row of First Class seats, bringing the capacity of the cabin up to 16.

United Airbus A320 First Class Seats
United Airbus A320 First Class Seats
United Airbus A320 First Class Cabin
United Airbus A320 First Class Cabin

The seats were quite spacious and there was plenty of legroom for my 6’2″ frame. While some people, including Mrs. ATX, don’t like bulkhead seats, I really appreciate the extra space.

United Airbus A320 First Class Legroom
United Airbus A320 First Class Legroom

Between the seats were nice, wide armrests that also served as the covers for the tray table latch. By lifting the armrest the tray table could be removed using a pull latch. It was also here that I began to notice the aircraft interior was showing its age with lots of scuff marks.

a hand holding a black case
United Airbus A320 First Class Tray Table Latch

The tray was sturdy and could be folded over in half or extended to hold a full size laptop or meal tray.

United Airbus A320 First Class Tray Table
United Airbus A320 First Class Tray Table
United Airbus A320 First Class Tray Table
United Airbus A320 First Class Tray Table

With the tray table fully extended, there is a small flap that can be used as a device holder. I didn’t use it on this flight but it is a nice feature to have.

United Airbus A320 First Class Tray Table Device Holder
United Airbus A320 First Class Tray Table Device Holder

At the front of the center armrest is a small tray that was perfect for drinks or a small snack.

United Airbus A320 First Class Beverage Tray
United Airbus A320 First Class Beverage Tray

Underneath, there are small cubby areas that only seemed good at collecting crumbs. 110V power outlets were also located at each seat.

United Airbus A320 First Class Power Outlet and Storage
United Airbus A320 First Class Power Outlet

Overall, the seat was very comfortable and featured plenty of space to spread out and relax.

United Airbus A320 First Class Seat
United Airbus A320 First Class Seat


As soon as we stepped on the plane I knew we were in for a good flight. The crew was absolutely electric and I made note of the fact that they were one of the best I’ve had in a long time. They engaged with every kid that stepped onboard and had a great, energetic attitude.

As boarding wrapped up, the flight attendant working the First Class cabin came around with pre-departure beverages. The options consisted of water or prosecco from the tray though, I’m sure this crew would have gladly served open-bar PDBs.

United Airlines First Class Pre-Departure Prosecco
United Airlines First Class Pre-Departure Prosecco

We had a slightly delayed departure due to a hold for late arriving passengers. We ended up pushing back three minutes behind schedule next to an Air New Zealand Boeing 777.

Air New Zealand Boeing 777 at San Francisco International Airport
An Air New Zealand Boeing 777 at San Francisco International Airport

Due to ongoing construction, we had a 20 minute taxi out to Runway 1L. This gave us the grand tour of San Francisco International Airport as the sun was setting.

A United 777 at San Francisco International Airport
View taxiing at San Francisco International Airport
Alaska Boeing 737 at San Francisco International Airport
View taxiing at San Francisco International Airport

After a short hold due to arriving traffic, we were cleared for departure. We rocketed off of Runway 1L and went airborne over San Francisco Bay.

a road with grass and buildings in the background
View Departing San Francisco
a runway next to a body of water
View Departing San Francisco

As we climbed out of SFO, we crossed over San Francisco Bay and the edge of the runway at Oakland International Airport (OAK).

an aerial view of a body of water with a runway and a city
View Departing San Francisco
Overflying Oakland International Airport
Overflying Oakland International Airport


As we climbed out of SFO we encountered a few bumps after take-off. The Captain came on the PA system and informed us that we had leveled off at 25,000 feet to avoid turbulence. The seatbelt sign remained on as we passed over mountains east of San Francisco.

an airplane wing and a view of the snow covered mountains
View Departing San Francisco

Roughly an hour after departure, we climbed up to 27,000 feet and the Captain turned off the fasten seatbelt sign as we overflew the Utah/Nevada border. The last rays of sun were visible as me chugged eastward.

an airplane wing and clouds and a sunset
Sunset Over the Sierras from a United A320

With the seatbelt sign off, I headed to the forward lavatory. It wasn’t particularly spacious but it was kept clean and tidy throughout the flight.

United Airbus A320 First Class Lavatory
United Airbus A320 First Class Lavatory


The meal service began an hour and thirty minutes after departure with hot towels being distributed.

a hand holding a white cloth in front of a laptop
United First Class Hot Towel

Prior to the main meal service, we were served a ramekin of warm nuts. To accompany this, I ordered a Bell’s Two Hearted IPA.

a can of beer and a bowl of nuts
Bell’s Two Hearted IPA and warm, mixed nuts

For my main, I preordered the burger in the United app. I ordered this meal primarily out of curiosity as I’d read many reports online where people seemed to have a love/hate relationship with it. The burger was served on a single tray along with fries, cheesecake, and a roll.

a tray of food on a table
United First Class Hamburger

The fries may have taken the cake for the worst airline food I’ve seen in recent memory. They were bland, soggy, and lukewarm at best.

a bowl of french fries
United First Class French Fries

The menu also indicates that the fries were supposed the crinkle cut. I can only assume that the flight was incorrectly catered in San Francisco. On the other hand, the burger was very good especially given the presentation.

The flight attendants were coming through the aisle regularly and proactively offering refills. I switched from beer to a vodka-soda in an attempt to drown out the screaming child in 1A/C. He wasn’t crying but rather his parents were letting him treat the cabin like a playground.

a glass with a straw in it
United First Class Beverage

With the meal service completed, I popped in my AirPods and reclined my seat. I managed to sleep for roughly an hour and soon, we began our descent into DFW.


I felt descent begin before it was announced by the flight crew as we were overflying Amarillo, TX. The Captain advised us to expect some chop on our approach and asked the crew to prepare the cabin early.

aerial view of a city at night
Overflying Amarillo, Texas

As we approached Dallas/Ft. Worth International Airport there were a few bumps on descent as we passed through the remnants of a thunderstorm.

a city at night with lights on the water
View Approaching DFW

We landed from the north and touched down on Runway 18R a couple of minutes before midnight. After a short taxi over to the east side we arrived at Gate E9 next to a JetBlue A220 at 12:06a.

a JetBlue plane on the tarmac at night
JetBlue A220 at DFW Airport

Since I was seated in the first row, I was one of the first passengers off the plane and reunited with Mrs. ATX who was waiting for me at the gate. We had a short walk over to baggage claim and my priority tagged bags were some of the first off the belt.

a sign in a building
Early Morning at DFW Airport
a conveyor belt in an airport
DFW Baggage Claim Terminal E

United Airbus A320 First Class Summary

While I have flown on the United Airbus A320 many times, this was my first trip in the First Class cabin. Though I had one of the older planes that doesn’t yet feature the new interior, I found the seats to be comfortable and spacious. The cabin surfaces were clean but showing a lot of wear and tear.

The crew were the real stars of this flight and were proactive and attentive from takeoff to touchdown. United’s catering on the other hand continues to be an issue and I can’t think of a recent flight with the carrier where I’ve had a good meal.

All in all, as a United frequent flyer, I’m sure I’ll find myself on another A320 in the near future. I just hope they upgrade the catering and I can try out one of the retrofitted aircraft.

In This Trip Report

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