United Polaris Review
On Tuesday September 27th I was invited to the premiere of United’s new business class at Dogpatch Studios in San Francisco CA. This revamp has been years overdue, as not only does United currently have one of the oldest fleets for their international long haul flights (think 777-200ERs, 747s from the Continental merger, etc), their International Business class is sometimes barely comparable to other airline’s Premium Economy.
As a United 1K member for the last 5 years, I’m not a total United hater. There’s a lot to like about flying United, such as United being extremely strong out of their San Francisco hub, which I am based out of. It also has the most flight plans around the world, great mileage program (as compared to other Star Alliance partners), and my personal favorite, which is tons of code share flights. This is where one would buy a United ticket but fly on SkyTrax 5 star airlines such as ANA and EVA. Here’s my United Polaris review:
So what is Polaris? Named after the North Star, it’s supposed to the “Shining New Star” that represents a new standard in Luxury for United. At a high level, it features a 6’ 6′ front facing, fully reclining, seats, with upgraded food inspired by the Trotter Project, Saks 5th avenue bedding /pajamas, and Cowshed by SOHO house amenities. I’m not going into those details too much as you can just go here and see on your own.
United Polaris Review – Reveal Event @ Dogwatch Studios, San Francisco
Let’s talk about the SF event. I was definitely impressed by the event that United put together. Not only did you get to fully experience every aspect of Polaris, but also the food, music, and drink variety was top notch. I ate plate after plate of food from lamb chops, kale salad, Chinese dimsum, Indian curry, washed down with Moet & Chandon Champagne. Of all the features that they showcased, the two most unique that I saw was 1) they have a dedicated flip out stand for your tablet device on the seat tray. I can’t tell you how many times my iPad has fallen off the table on my own. 2) The memory foam eye masks. United historically have the worst eye masks where they didn’t even block all the light, and smelled of cheap plastic. Even with the strange look/design these eyemasks molds perfectly to your face and is super comfortable.
While we were leaving, they handed me a gift bag. Much to my surprise, it included a Saks 5th avenue blanket, a box of Truffles, and a notepad.
United Polaris Review – GTE’s Thoughts
So what are my thoughts on the changes? Well, it’s pretty much what the United First Class Cabin experience is and besides the two tidbits I mentioned earlier. There is nothing else that is game changing in terms of features and amenities. Furthermore, another thing is that United mentioned nothing about improvements in terms of actual service. Unless you are Global Services, overall preflight/inflight service is quite poor and inconsistent compared to other airlines. If I were United, this is a stigma that I would have address and showcased head on. I am hopeful though, based on how they treated their guest at the actual event that we might be in for a pleasant surprise in terms of service.
In typical United fashion, they make it difficult to access some of the best features such as making memory foam pillows available “upon request”. This could either lead to a flight attendant never coming by and checking in on you or them running out. To me, what is also a bit disappointing is that the pajamas only available on flights longer than 12 hours. In SFO hub terms, this would be from SFO -> TPE at minimum. To be honest, upgraded food and wine selection still does not compare to other StarTrax 5 star airlines. There is still no Vueve Cliquot or Dom champagne served. On top of that, it’s also blasphemy how they are marketing front facing lie fat seats when every other airline does this already
Availability of the service will be extremely limited, which is something they have been quietly low key throughout the heavy marketing. Reasons being that it will take quarters for revamp their existing fleet with the new seats. Just look how long it took for united to add wifi to their planes! To top that off, only the new 777-300ERs will be equipped with it out of the factory. Delivery of those planes are due in March of 2017. For the lounge, work hasn’t even started in my local hub in San Francisco. Chicago O’Haire is going to be the only airport to launch with the Polaris Lounge.
Even with all this, I’m definitely going to give it a try so that I can give everyone some actual feedback. In conclusion, I hoped you enjoyed my commentary on my United Polaris Review!
Until next time,
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