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United’s new Polaris business class is getting a lot of fanfare as it gets ready to launch on long haul international flights December 1st.
That’s the day new inflight service begins and a dedicated Polaris lounge opens in Chicago, though actual Polaris seats won’t be flying that day.
Even without the seat, the improvements should make the United MileagePlus 57,500 mile business class award to Europe an even better value for your miles, though if you’re paying cash for tickets, you’re going to want more than just modest improvements to move your business back to United.
Recently, United flew a test “flight” at Newark airport for flight crews to get used to the new service. The flight didn’t actually leave the ground, but enough employee passengers shared the experience on social media to give a glimpse of exactly how the new Polaris experience will look on board, at least with the old seats that will be flying around for a while.
Here’s how it goes…
There’s champagne with a truffle to start during boarding.
— Juan Manuel Munoz (@Juan_M_Munoz) September 8, 2016
Then…the bloody mary cart comes through
— Todd Traynor-Corey (@ttrayco) September 8, 2016
Followed by the appetizer, salad, and main course.
— Max A. Gonzalez (@maxagonzalez) September 8, 2016
Or pick an express meal all at once.
— Jimmy Samartzis (@JimmySamartzis) September 8, 2016
There’s the long familiar cheese course after dinner
— Victor Gonzalez (@vicgon88) September 8, 2016
Dessert includes Eli’s pastries and the traditional ice cream sundae in a globe glass
— Sarah Cassidy (@SarahHCassidy) September 8, 2016
So what’s changed?
There’s extra attention to detail, but the service looks very familiar to anyone who’s flown United BusinessFirst class over the years. Same course flow, but with more modern, albeit smaller looking, plates and glasses. Plus some more creative ingredients.
But the main course above looks awfully similar to what United’s been serving for years under names like “Short Rib of Beef” and “Tenderloin of Beef.”
— Crewiser.com (@Crewiser) December 5, 2015
Thankfully it looks like we’ll finally be saying goodbye to the iceberg lettuce and croutons.
— Travel Womble (@TravlWomble) May 14, 2015
And having something other than ice cream for dessert is an improvement.
But, at least on the surface, this looks a lot like what American Airlines has been serving lately.
— Henrik Olsen (@heolsen) August 19, 2016
United promises fresh ingredients and seasonal menus that will wow us:
“It’s not just the launch of a new menu, but an entirely new experience. We’ve conducted 28 menu workshops in 16 cities on 5 continents to ensure that we are developing cuisine that showcases the flavors of the destinations we fly from,” according to their executive chef.
So withhold judgement until you actually taste it.
And no word yet on what the wines will be like, as those are still being selected, but you will be able to get a mini flight of 3 wines served at once, a signature Polaris touch. United hasn’t even offered a wine menu onboard in years, so even mentioning what the wines are in print would be an improvement.
The real promise of Polaris is sleep.
And you’ll get lots of nice, fluffy pillows and blankets from Saks, which isn’t quite known for its bedding prowess, but is certainly a step up from the hospital grade pillows being offered today.
— Sarah Cassidy (@SarahHCassidy) September 8, 2016
And if you fly out of Chicago, you’ll be greeted with a fancy new Polaris lounge with its own restaurant service, and more lounges coming online in the years ahead.
And, also in the years ahead….a much better seat, which is the real star of the show.
— Nick Depner (@nickdepner) September 7, 2016
Though other than saying a dozen or so new 777-300ER aircraft will come delivered with Polaris seats starting in December, there’s no concrete word from United on how quickly the seats on the remaining aircraft will be retrofitted, other than it won’t near completion until 2021, five years from now. So the new seat could be in the minority for a few years to come, though that hasn’t stopped some people from making guesses about timing.
It’s all a welcome and long awaited change, and United is paying attention to details in refreshing new way, which bodes well for the experience.
But until those seats get installed and lounges built, the full Polaris experience will be just a dream to many who buy a United business class ticket or book an award with MileagePlus.
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