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United announced the first international route that will have new Polaris all aisle access seats full-time is San Francisco – Hong Kong, with its daily nonstop flight starting March 25th.
They’ll be flying the route with the new Boeing 777-300 that comes delivered with Polaris seats, replacing the venerable 747-400 aircraft, and it will all be loaded into United’s system the weekend of December 10th.
The Polaris lounge in San Francisco should open by the summertime.
But if you want to use your MileagePlus miles for a 140,000 miles roundtrip Saver award you’re out of luck for now.
There’s no Saver award space in Business Class visible at the moment (and we’re not holding our breath it will appear when the new plane is loaded).
The 777-300 has 60 seats in Business Class, which is a lot.
But the 747 it’s replacing has 52 Business Class seats and 12 First Class seats, for a total of 64 ‘big’ seats.
4 fewer seats doesn’t seem like a lot, but with the airlines rarely releasing more than 2 seats at a time for popular business routes like this, losing them can mean the difference between snagging a Saver award and not.
As Polaris gets placed on more and more planes things might improve – 14 more 777-300s will be in the rotation in less than a year – and other 777s are being refurbished next year. But it will be about 2 years before the seats are pretty common on United international flight. In the meantime, if you’re on a flight with no Saver award space, remember the technique you can use to waitlist and get your waitlist to carry over all the way to the airport, so that you have a shot at the very last seats on the plane and still pay the Saver award price.
If you’re hoping for an upgrade, there are fewer coach seats on the 777-300 than the 747, but your real competition there isn’t cheap coach flyers, but high fare business travelers, and there will be plenty room for all of them on this plane.
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