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United’s new Business Class, Polaris, is being aggressively marketed by United.
It’s a big step up from the current United BusinessFirst product, offering features like:
That’s going to make United a more attractive option for award travel and more.
Polaris is advertised as coming on December 1, 2016. But that’s just the date United rolled out the upgraded food, wine, and pillows / blankets.
United has over 100 planes that serve these international routes, and that’s too little time to install brand new seats on all those aircraft.
The official line on actual seat refurbishment in its June announcement was:
“The United Polaris business class seat will first take flight in December on Boeing 777-300ER aircraft and subsequently on Boeing 787-10 and Airbus A350-1000 aircraft, as well as on Boeing 767-300 and 777-200 retrofits.”
On the Polaris FAQ page all that’s stated is:
“We’ll take delivery of our first Boeing 777-300 featuring the new United Polaris seats and cabin design in December of 2016, and the aircraft is scheduled to begin service in early 2017.”
But United has started showing off the seats at events for United fliers in several hubs, and attendees of those events are getting a better sense of how the rollout will take place, sharing information on Flyertalk.
The best guess at this point by aircraft…
The 777-200s are the biggest part of the international fleet, at about 50 aircraft, followed by the various versions of the 787.
Based on this, over half of United’s fleet could be in full Polaris mode within about 2 years. And the 777-300 will be a ‘guaranteed’ Polaris ride shortly, most likely on routes from Newark to Asia and India.
What’s still unclear is how the Polaris seat will adapt to the various aircraft types, with the 787 a more narrow aircraft than the 777.
There is now a full featured Polaris lounge ready for passengers at Chicago O’Hare in the C Concourse, next to the existing United Club.
Other Polaris lounges are coming to the Newark, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Houston, Washington-Dulles, London, Hong Kong, and Tokyo airports. Here’s what we’ve seen so far on the timing of lounge openings:
The remaining clubs in London, Hong Kong, and Tokyo will be ready by the end of 2018.
The lounges will offer…
If you love wine and good spirits, you’re going to love what’s on tap at the Polaris lounges.
Wines include premium selections like The Prisoner and Moet & Chandon Rose, while spirits include Auchentoshan 12 year scotch, Hangar 1 vodka, Four Roses Yellow Label bourbon, and WhistlePig rye.
Only same day Polaris passengers (either connecting to/from a different airport, or arriving/departing the same airport as the lounge), and passengers in Business or First Class on long haul international Star Alliance flights (only if the long haul flight is departing or arriving the same airport as the lounge) can access the lounges.
These will not be marketed as Polaris flights, so you won’t get Polaris lounge access while flying Business Class on a ticket that only involves domestic P.S. flights. These flights will get Polaris pillows and blankets, but other major changes aren’t planned yet.
United awards in Polaris class are (for now) still the same price as regular Business Class awards, so you can fly Polaris for just 57,500 miles one way from the U.S. to Europe for example, making them a great use of United miles, or Chase Ultimate Rewards points that transfer to United miles.
United is offering every Polaris passenger pajamas on routes where the flight time averages 12 hours over the course of a year. Here are the routes that will get pajamas:
San Francisco to/from…
Los Angeles to/from
Notable routes that won’t get pajamas because they don’t cross the threshold include Newark – Tel Aviv, Newark – Sao Paolo, Houston – Buenos Aires, Denver – Tokyo, Los Angeles – Tokyo, and San Francisco – Tokyo.
6 kinds of wine will be offered on each flight – 3 white and 3 red. Within each group of 3, there will 2 be to traditional ‘favorite’ varieties like Chardonnay or Cabernet Sauvignon, and one ’emerging’ variety like Grenache – Syrah.
Sample wines that may appear onboard include…
Food will look familiar, with a small appetizer and salad to start, followed by a choice of 4 to 5 main courses, and a choice of cheese, ice cream sundae, or pastries for dessert. You’ll also get a truffle with champagne before taking off.
Mid flight snacks will offer the usual cold snacks on shorter flights, and on longer 10 hour+ flights one or two hot options will be offered like lobster mac and cheese or tomato soup with grilled cheese.
The big change will be the number of choices in rotation, so you’re less likely to be stuck with the same meal on different routes.
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