I ended up in first class for a trip because the first class fare and economy fare were the same price. It was terrible.
When traveling internationally, United was OK. Qantas was better. Emirates was the best. It was only a 4 hour flight from NZ to Australia, and we still had a full meal in economy on Emirates and it was great.
Also, on the the United boarding groups:
1 - Global Services, 1K, First Class
2 - Premier Platinum & Gold
3 - Premier Silver & higher end credit cards
4 - lesser credit cards
5,6,7 - general boarding.