Is it worth upgrading to business class on United’s direct flight between San Francisco and Tahiti?

As a member, you now get better savings when you book direct.

United recently started direct service between San Francisco, California and Tahiti, French Polynesia (airport code: PPT).

Earlier this month, I took advantage of the flight, and was able to snag an incredible deal for both flight and 4 nights in an over-water bungalow.

I was able to fly economy over and business back, so wanted to share my experiences in case you’re considering taking the same flight, and don’t know whether the upgrade to business class is worth it. (Unfortunately, I lost some of the pictures I took, so you’ll have to rely on my account below!).

The verdict: It depends.

As a lawyer, “it depends” or “maybe” is perhaps my favorite response to any question. But it’s especially true here.

Economy service, particularly is you are in Economy Plus, is decent. The flight is roughly 8 hours each way, which can be difficult for a business class flight — practically speaking, it meant that after dinner service, there was about 3.5 hours to sleep before breakfast service started. While United offers you the opportunity to skip breakfast (you can tell them before you fall asleep), I’ve found that even with an eye mask and ear plus, I can’t sleep through the smell of cooked food.

On the flight over, you’ll leave SFO in the early afternoon and arrive in PPT at around 8pm, which means that you’ll be sleeping soon after you land, anyway. I did this leg in economy, and am glad I did.

On the way back, you’ll leave at night and land in SFO early in the morning, which means you may benefit more from a bed (particularly if you want to go into work the next morning).

I was a little nervous about the 2-2-2 business setup on the business flight, but the new Polaris seats were really comfortable, and I love the Saks Fifth Avenue products. While I haven’t confirmed this, I think the new SFO to PPT route is pretty coveted and that the flight attendants working it were assigned to the routes based on seniority, so you can expect some pretty great service on the flight.

If your only (reasonable) option for flying to Tahiti is on economy, don’t let that deter you. But if you have the means or found a great deal in business, it’s definitely a nice way to treat yo’ self.

The U.S. travel ban: How taking away the ability to travel harms America

America’s freshly-implemented ban on people from 6 different countries traveling to the United Starts marks a new era and historic low for America, one where being from certain Muslim-majority nations alone is enough to take away the ability to travel freely to and from the 3rd largest country on the planet.

It matters that people from these countries (Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen) may no longer be able to visit the United States. And because travel rights are usually reciprocal, it matters that United States citizens will likely be unable to visit any of these countries.

Mark Twain is famously quoted as saying,

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow mindedness. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of people and things cannot be acquired by vegetating on a little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”

Travel is, at its core, the exchange of people. Although places can’t move, people can, and when they do they bring their experiences, values, worldview, thoughts, and culture. Not only do people themselves grow and change from the experience of travel, but an increase in travelers can change places as well, often (though not always) for the better.

As a gay man, I purposely travel to countries that aren’t tolerant of the LGBTQIA+ community, such as Singapore, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Morocco. Why? Well, I don’t (always) travel to get laid and some of these places have amazing sights, I want to expand my horizons, and I also want people in these countries to know that LGBTQIA+ people are out there and we’re awesome. To the same end, by cutting off our ability to interact with citizens from other countries, we are creating a larger divide between our cultures.

I was especially sad to see Iran on the list of countries subject to the travel ban, as I would love to travel there one day. My Persian friends speak so highly of it, the landscape looks stunning, and I bet the food is amazing. I even follow a few people living there on Instagram, so I can get idea of places to visit. When I tell friends I’d like to visit, they often think I’m crazy; but, in my experience, people are the same almost anywhere you go, and most people you’ll run into actually care very little about what America or Americans do.

By treating citizens from entire nations as harmful, scary, and unworthy of entry into our country, we all lose. The exchange of people, ideas, and experiences is essential to our growth as humans – and while there are people who should be banned from entering America, it should be based on screenings that specifically show that they are a risk to the safety and security of our country.

I don’t believe the ban makes America any safer and, if made permanent, it will seriously hamper the ability for people from those countries and Americans to interact and find common ground with each other.

Emirates CEO: U.S. travel bookings fell by 35% after first travel ban

There was a significant impact on travel booked to the U.S. after the country’s president proposed a travel ban from citizens of 7 majority-Muslim countries from visiting the U.S.

“The first U.S. travel order saw the booking velocity fall by 35% overnight. The effect it had was instantaneous,” Tim Clark, Emirates CEO claims.

The new travel ban proposed by the country has offered some clarity to cautious passengers, with Clark saying there has been a positive movement towards more U.S. bookings. However, Clark went on to say that he is uncertain about when (or if) bookings will return to their previous levels.