First Chance to Fly the New United Polaris Business Seat February 16 and Where To Next.

United unveiled its new business class – Polaris back in June, and they launched the soft product on December 1.

Here’s what that service looks like inflight and what its first Polaris Business Class Lounge at Chicago O’Hare is like.

The new fully flat direct aisle access seat isn’t fly yet, though. We just got more details about the first plane to have it and where it will fly.

Credit: United

United shared in a release that their schedule load this weekend will add their first Boeing 777-300ER (with Polaris business):

  • Between Newark and San Francisco, one round trip six days a week, February 16 – May 4.

  • Between San Francisco and Hong Kong starting March 25 (replacing the current Boeing 747 on the route).

United will be taking delivery of 14 new Boeing 777-300ERs in 2017 with 60 new Polaris business class seats, 102 Economy Plus seats, and 204 regular economy seats. While business class will be fully flat direct aisle access, economy will be 3-4-3 … 10-abreast like American, Air France, and Emirates but certainly a tight fit.

Here’s the seat map:

(Click to enlarge)

United will begin retrofitting existing Boeing 767s and 777-200s in 2017. Boeing 787-10 and Airbus A350-1000 deliveries will come equipped with Polaris seats from the factory.

You won’t know whether a retrofit aircraft will be on your route until day of departure. So if you want to ensure you get the new seats you’ll want to book a route where a new aircraft, equipped with the seats you’ll want to book a route with a plane that comes equipped with them from the factory. For now that means a Boeing 777-300ER.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. I think it was a mistake to launch the soft product before the hard… There’s going to be confusion now and a “this is it!?” reaction from a lot of people who don’t follow the industry closely enough to know that they’re only getting the soft product enhancements.

  2. @Justin: I disagree. The soft product improvements serve all customers immediately and (hopefully) generate goodwill and increased business. For the next two years it’ll be a crapshoot on if you get the new hard product or not, so that’s no incentive to fly.

    I’m so looking forward to the end of 2-4-2 business seating! I’m going to miss the 747 upper deck, though. The seats are slightly shorter than the downstairs ones, but it has a cozy, private feeling that’s unmatched by any other equipment.

  3. I really want to like Polaris but as someone whose travel amounts to 75% long-haul (Europe and Asia) I just can’t make the switch from Delta to United without knowing for certain what product I will receive with my $3,000-$7,000 business-class airfares. A majority of United’s fleet won’t have the “new” Polaris until 2021 by which point it will no longer be “new.”

  4. @FNT Delta Diamond – The fleet conversion to Polaris will be completed by 2021 (possibly earlier) so a majority (+50%) will probably be completed years before that. With the conversion being done by fleet type, there should be some predictability by 2018.

  5. @Matt, United itself has said only a “majority” of its fleet will have Polaris by 2021.

  6. I guess we’ll know once we see how fast they start reconfiguring planes, but I’ve taken their comments (along with most analysis on it) to mean the fleet will be done by 2021. If they only hit the 50% mark by 2021 we’d be looking at almost 10 years to configure the international fleet.

    With 777-300s, A350s, and 787-10s delivered with new seats and non-Polaris 747s retired in less than two years, along with the announced 767s and 777s to be reconfigured starting in 2017, I think it is realistic to be approximately halfway done with the fleet by the end of 2018/beginning of 2019. There will also be a higher level of predictability as to which flights will have the new seat since certain fleet types are targeted for earlier completion.

    We’ll have a better idea of what the future holds within the next year.

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