United Airlines to upgrade Boeing 787s with Polaris business class

By David Flynn, June 7 2016
United Airlines to upgrade Boeing 787s with Polaris business class

United Airlines will bring its all-new Polaris business class seats to the airline's Boeing 787-8 and 787-9 fleet, although those relatively new aircraft will to take their place at the back of the refit queue.

"We are still working on plans for the Boeing 787-8 and -9, and the Boeing 767-400" United Airlines' spokesman Koji Nagata confirmed to Australian Business Traveller.  "We are first reconfiguring the 777-200 and 767-300 fleets."

The Boeing 787-8 and -9 refits will see these 'Business First' seats...

... replaced by this new Polaris design.

Right across the fleet, in fact, Polaris will become United's new business class brand, while also replacing first class as each of the Boeing 767s and 777-200s roll into the factory for their mod make-over.

"As we update our fleet over the next several years to incorporate our signature United Polaris direct-aisle-access seating, we will be phasing out the first class cabin and moving toward a two-cabin experience for international travel," United explains.

In the same way, Global First first class lounges will be revamped to become exclusive business class-only Polaris lounges – with no entry for top-tier MileagePlus or Star Alliance frequent flyers travelling in anything less than the pointy end of the plane.

Read: United Airlines clarifies Polaris airport lounge access rules

The rolling upgrade is the sharp end of a sizeable investment by United, which starts with the new Polaris seats making their debut on the airline's factory-fresh Boeing 777-300ER by year's end.

UA spokesman Nagata also confirmed to Australian Business Traveller that there would be no price differentiation between Business First and Polaris aircraft flying on the same route, saying "business class fares will be what they are, notwithstanding whether flights have our current flat-bed product or the new one."

 

David

David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

14 Jan 2015

Total posts 29

Interesting - so no "Premium Economy" product for United coming up ? They will be left behind by Delta and even American.

I know they are not an airline of choice but the new Polaris hard product does look really good IMO.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

07 Dec 2014

Total posts 167

Considering both Delta and American already fly jets with 'all aisle access' seats on their Australian services, United have already been left behind.

Having another competitor with decent hard product on the Australia - US route will be welcome, although who knows how long it'll take to get around to the 787s. 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

04 Dec 2012

Total posts 38

It is surprising they didn't announce a Premium Economy cabin with their 773s. Even if they didn't retrofit a Premium Economy cabin onto the existing 767/787 fleets, they could have easily done so on the factory fresh 773s and future 787-10s - and maybe even gotten around to the 772s later. I feel like UA is famous for 'put 'em in and rip 'em out' though so who knows, maybe they will in a few years' time again? :D

My other question is, yes all the fleet types are gettting the new Polaris seat up front - but is Y getting new seats as well? On the 787s Y is already new (albeit the tighter config), and the 772s if they are going to 10 abreast to match the 773s I assume those will be new seats, but there hasn't been any announcement along that. And the 763s, well, their Y seats are a generation behind now but seeing as AA never redid them either I'm guessing the plan is not?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

21 Aug 2014

Total posts 513

So AA and even UA have significantly lifted up their game, now just waiting for DL. It's a shame that we will never be able to experience a service on par with Pan Am, but we are getting there.

31 Mar 2016

Total posts 644

"..now just waiting for DL."

Waiting for what?  In case U are unaware of what actually happened in the J mkt, DL has been using flat bed with direct aisle access produt std since day1 of LAX-SYD launch 7yrs ago and remained as the only carrier to offer such J std till early this yr.  It's AA and UA playing catch-up to DL in the AU-U.S. Trans-Pcf mkt, not the other way around.

AA and VA matched DL only in recent mths and no timetable yet fm QF and UA.

"..we will never be able to experience a service on par with Pan Am..."

Service-wise, debatable.  Hard product-wise, Polaris and the best intercon J seat of AA, DL, QF and VA today are all light yrs ahead of the best FIRST class seat ever deployed by PA decades ago....similar to how much more advanced+capbale A350(On order by UA) is relative to A300(Operated by PA).

Mal
Mal

14 Jun 2013

Total posts 360

Tnx fr yr xprt analysis FLX but why do U write so weird? Is it really that hard to write 'year' and 'from' and 'market' that you have to write yr and fm and mkt?

31 Mar 2016

Total posts 644

Feel free to nit-pick on my typing style instead of the subject matters /contents on hand. 

21 Jul 2012

Total posts 127

Agreed.  It detracts from the content of a post when I have to try and decipher it.

Lv the abrevs 2 12yo gurls txtng.

31 Mar 2016

Total posts 644

Or adapt to this century and leave the inability to understand abbreviated handheld digital communications to 82 years old retirees?

Let's end the back and forward here as it's not at all relevant to the topic of the article.

FLX: Obvious abbreviations are fine ('&' instead of 'and', for example), but please write in sentences that are easily understood – SMS abbreviations and other jargon are both best avoided.

Now back to the topic, please.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

21 Aug 2014

Total posts 513

I was talking about DL not yet announcing a new international J product to counter AA and UA.

31 Mar 2016

Total posts 644

And my point is that DL won't need to because it's AA and UA which needed to come up with their latest J to counter DL's current.

Before the latest J designs debuted @ AA and UA, they had nothing in the same J product generation /stds as what DL has already launched in 2009.  Both had been too busy playing the mega-merger game(In contrast, DL+NW merger was wrapping-up by 2010) and had no time to deal with J product development.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

22 Dec 2015

Total posts 2

Will they be installed on the 777-200s flying from mainland USA to Hawaii?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

04 Dec 2012

Total posts 38

ant8, no, those will be the domestic configuration which are being 'upgraded' as we speak from 9 abreast to 10 abreast seating in Y and I believe at least a seat cover refresh in J. If you Google "United high-density domestic configuration" you should find articles on that from last month.

31 Mar 2016

Total posts 644

"Will they be installed on the 777-200s flying from mainland USA to Hawaii?"

Nope but frankly, ask yourself this question:  Should they?

1.  Polaris is clearly targeted to compete in the intercon J mkt where similar product std used by competitors is the norm.  In contrast, no competitor in the Hawaii-U.S. mainland mkt has EVER deployed(Nor planned to) a premium class seat with direct aisle access on a regular basis.  In fact except HA, a recliner chair is typically the best U can buy for F/J fare in that mkt.

2.  Typical intercon J fare is multiple times higher than domestic F/J fare on Hawaii routes.  Deploying Polaris on those routes are equivalent to commercial suicide by UA.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

19 Feb 2014

Total posts 451

Why do I have the feeling that these Polaris seats will still be in existence into the 2030s....

31 Mar 2016

Total posts 644

"Why do I have the feeling..Polaris...will still be in existence into the 2030s.."

Probably because of the followings;

1. U're unaware of (Or refuse to acknowledge) the fact that UA's oldest intercon J design today has been in service for 7yrs and now as reported by this article, will be retired by UA starting with 772ER fleet possibly within 2-3yrs....i.e. maximum 10yrs in existence and 2030 is @ least 14yrs from now.  Interesting contrast:  We can still fly in a Skybed I seat of QF(e.g. SYD-HNL) today which has been in existence for 13yrs.

2. Pre-conceived notion /hard-wired criticism towards anything UA stuck in the mind and remain as a favorite sport regardless of facts.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

15 Dec 2014

Total posts 286

I'm liking the sound of this so far...

 

Major step up of what they've got now!

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 Apr 2012

Total posts 306

Pity they didnt announce this with the delivery of their 787s... they must have heard all the grumbles and dissapointment when the aircraft came into service.

31 Mar 2016

Total posts 644

"Pity they didnt announce this with the delivery of their 787s."

Pity time-machine does not exist so airline leaders can alter the actual sequence /chronological order of events.

1st 787 delivery to UA occurred 3.5yrs ago with J design confirmed @ least 1.5yrs earlier to ensure supplier production capacity was available and on-time delivery for cabin installation.  Typically, airlines commit to buy a single J seat design for multiple(Even dozens of ) airframes of a single type.  Polaris project did not really started until UA confirmed its 77W order only 15mths ago.

So without the benefit of a time-machine, how could UA possibly knew what would Polaris even look like in early 2011(let alone today's UA were 2 independent companies with 2 separate leadership teams until Oct2010) and announced it for 787 back in 2012?


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