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United’s new all-aisle access Polaris business class seats can’t come soon enough.
They’re already showing up on brand new 777-300 aircraft, but there are fewer than 20 of those. And the real action is on retrofitting United’s big existing fleet.
Initially, seats were to start being installed on United’s existing 767-300 and 777-200 aircraft this spring and summer.
But yesterday, Zodiac, the manufacturer of Polaris seats, announced a profit warning because of manufacturing challenges at its seat business, which is supplying the Polaris seats to United.
And today, United’s CEO Oscar Munoz spoke at an investor conference and confirmed the Zodiac issues are impacting the Polaris rollout, saying “we’re not happy, period” about the delays.
It’s now formally saying the first 777-200 aircraft retrofitted with new seats won’t be flying until the first quarter of 2018. But Munoz says it has representatives on-site to help expedite and accelerate the rollout as much as it can.
Additionally, the next Polaris lounges in Newark and San Francisco won’t be complete until the end of this year.
There’s no word on the handful of 767-300 aircraft which were slated to start retrofits in April, according to a United representative’s statement in February. Those might still be on track. The February statement also alluded to 777-200 retrofits starting late this year, rather than during the summer.
You’ll still be able to fly Polaris seats on the brand new 777-300 aircraft that are being delivered this year. San Francisco – Hong Kong and Newark – Tel Aviv are the first routes to see them, with more to come.
All flights already have Polaris bedding and meal service, but the seats and lounges are the real upgrades that United needs to push ahead.
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