Please view our advertising policy page for more information. And all things considered, a benefit of a quick meal is that there is a bit more time to sleep on a short flight. On the 787-10, the biggest of the Dreamliners, the 44 business-class seats are spread across 11 rows in a 1-2-1 configuration. At the end of the day, cutbacks are understandable. Related: Here’s what food and drinks you can expect on your next flight. Seats are staggered, which means that the window seats alternate between being closer to the aisle and window. Related: The ultimate guide to United Polaris. But Premium Plus and coach, as well as Polaris, were all in tip-top condition. Boy, how times have changed. If you’ve got PlusPoints to burn, now’s a great time to consider using them — especially since international travel is largely off-limits for the foreseeable future. Before the pandemic, the major U.S. airlines competed fiercely on some of the popular and lucrative routes between the New York area and Los Angeles and San Francisco. The United Polaris Lounge is available to those holding a boarding pass for travel in United Polaris business class and those holding a boarding pass for long-haul international first or business class on a Star Alliance member airline. Most guests snack and drink and therefore have a legitimate reason to take their mask off. Many of the credit card offers that appear on the website are from credit card companies from which ThePointsGuy.com receives compensation. I was given a laminated card showing my PreCheck status, allowing me to keep my shoes on and my laptop in my bag. As such, your flight could easily be booked full. You’ll now find a mix of Boeing 757s, 767s, 777s and 787-10 Dreamliners flying cross-country. We never share or resell your information. If our experience at Newark airport is representative, the promise of an increased focus on hygiene remains unfulfilled too. Unlike American Airlines, United doesn’t admit premium transcon flyers to … They also have a serve yourself snack bar on the plane, that includes wine. Five months later, the Star Alliance carrier is trailing domestic competitors with regards to re-openings: Polaris Lounges are still closed, and only a few United Club locations remain in operation at key hub airports. On a more positive note, we arrived early. To combat its industry-lagging reputation, United Airlines will overhaul its current intercontinental business class with United Polaris. In addition to the United Club near gate C74, United normally operates a luxurious Polaris Lounge for intercontinental business class customers, a modern, full-service lounge in Terminal A, and a temporary pop-up club near gate 93. On the brighter side, the Polaris sleep amenities—gel pillow, mattress pads, duvets, and slippers—are still all available, and perhaps that’s ultimately all that really matters: the ability to sleep. Once the first group got off the plane, the crew called for another. In fact, common sense would suggest that providing linen helps enhance hygiene. We use MailChimp as our marketing automation platform. Read user reviews for United Boeing 777-200 (772) Layout 5. In April, United pulled most lie-flat seats from its transcon flights. The United Polaris Lounge is available to those holding a boarding pass for travel in United Polaris business class and those holding a boarding pass for long-haul international first or business class on a Star Alliance member airline. Great to be back in the air once again on @united ✈️, A post shared by Zach Griff (@_zachgriff) on Aug 21, 2020 at 3:01pm PDT. Even though the plane hadn’t flown in five days, I decided to clean my area again. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). For more travel tips and news, sign up for our daily newsletter. The amenity kit has been through a few iterations though, and the latest version is a plastic pouch with a limited selection of goodies. I selected a gin and tonic with my lunch, which was served in a sealed bottle and can. The sesame to this world of bliss: a (dated a numbered) card, to be presented to the bar tender. Unfortunately, to trim costs, United has removed the duvet from eligible domestic flights and replaced it with a day blanket. I recently flew United’s transcon Polaris product from San Francisco to Newark — a route I’d flown many times in the past. United Polaris Lounge This lounge is temporarily closed. How does the airline fare with a single, capacity-restricted club? Polaris Business Class passengers may also ask for an amenity kit like those that are offered on board. The deserted buffet area was a shadow of its former self, and for good reason: pickings were slim. But even if you can’t find an inexpensive fare, scoring an upgrade has never been easier. Most stores and restaurants were closed, so the majority of passengers were sitting by the gate. ” in 21 reviews “ If I ever need another 6 hr layover in Chicago, I wouldn't hesitate to book the flight. The Points Guy will not sell your email. There were no other options available. Dinner, however, was a simple affair. Upon seeing our Polaris business class boarding passes, the lovely United Club front-desk agent brightened up and cheerfully welcomed us. I selected the pasta, which was served all on one tray with foil and seals intact. As a comparison point: in North America, American Airlines is offering snack boxes and re-introducing hot food, Alaska has maintained their luxurious handcrafted coffee service, Delta is offering a substantial choice of packaged and fresh food items, and Air Canada is delivering shrimp roll, snack bags, and cold fare to guests at their seats. United is trailing behind competitors in virtually every regard when it comes to the lounge experience—in terms of lounge availability, food offerings, and showers. Search this site. The main coach cabin had just a handful too. United Airlines is closing its network of Polaris international business-class lounges, effective Wednesday. Polaris passengers are treated to limited complimentary libations, but the lounge isn’t cleaned regularly, mask usage is spotty, and pre-flight dining and showers are all distant memories at this time. To be fair, the salmon was tasty. While this sounds good in theory, passengers didn’t follow instructions on my flight. United will also open an exclusive portfolio of United Polaris business class lounges in nine locations around the world – the only lounge of its kind offered by a U.S. airline to business class customers – that will feature custom-designed chairs, private daybeds, spa-like showers, bespoke art installations by artist Wolfgang Buttress, and chef-inspired hot meals served in a boutique restaurant … The gel pillow, full-size pillow, mattress pad, duvet, and slippers make for a restful night, and it’s fortunate that they haven’t been sacrificed on the COVID-19 altar. The 16-inch entertainment screen was full of recent movies and TV shows, and there was plenty of storage for my electronics in the small cubby. Contact the business for more information about recent service changes. The food served on the flight, dinner and breakfast leaves a bit to be desired. However, UA is making an exception for premium transcons. Review Highlights “ Very clean; and going back to the size, the shower rooms were bigger than other lounge showers I've seen. But if those are the only cuts United is making to the experience, then Polaris remains one of my top choices for cross-country travel. There may be more travelers than a few months ago, but the severe cuts to the international flight schedule have significantly impacted demand. Now, due to JetBlue’s Newark expansion and the depressed travel market, flights have dropped to $399 each way. 2X points on dining at restaurants including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out and travel & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases. But they’re not shedding much ink on service cutbacks, and especially those that impact intercontinental premium cabins. While the Polaris Lounge remains shuttered, he explained that Polaris passengers are eligible for enhanced amenities, including “top-shelf alcohol” and additional food options such as a cheese plate. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). United Polaris business class offers aisle access to every seat and full beds to every passenger ... WHO commits to ensuring equal access to COVID-19 vaccine. Related: Why more lie-flat seats on United flights isn’t necessarily good news. As it turns out, there was none, unless we’d settle for rosé, which we gladly accepted. After much anticipation and a few delays, United Airlines says it will open its fifth Polaris business class lounge at Los Angeles International Airport's Terminal 7 on January 12, 2019. Related: 7 ways the United Club experience has changed due to the pandemic. Excited to experience United Polaris Business Class? Get 25% more value when you redeem for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. United’s signature Saks Fifth Avenue-branded sleep amenities were still available. With an extremely light load aboard our 787-10 from Newark to Paris, boarding was swift. The club was certainly the cleanest and emptiest that I’ve seen it, but there wasn’t much reason to hang out there for so long. As of August 15th, 2020, the following United Clubs are open: The United Club Newark was the latest to re-open, just a few weeks ago. United Airlines flight review form London Heathrow to Houston on United Polaris Business Class. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page. © 2021 Sound Imagineers, LLC. Had we visited during the morning or evening departure banks, it likely would have been a different story. It isn’t as extensive as JetBlue’s Hayward-branded kits, but it’s definitely better than nothing. The bar is equipped with plexiglass shields, though they cause so much glare that communication with the bartender is almost challenging. Avoid any middle row seats in aisles 7 and 8. (But, so much for “any top-shelf alcohol.”) The bartender opened a mini bottle, poured into plastic cups, and promptly stashed the bottle away. BA (2-4-2 or 2-3-2) still charge for seat selection in business class unless you’re an elite. So what is it currently like to fly business class to Europe with United? There was no cleaning staff in sight, despite the fact that the club has many touch points. The entire meal was presented wrapped on a single tray, express style, to minimize health risks. They crowded the aisles, making deplaning one of the least safe elements of the flight experience. Back in June, United announced a long-awaited overhaul of its international business-class service and amenities, including new seats. There are no more printed menus—despite the fact that single-use copies don’t pose a safety risk. One option is the United Polaris lounge in Houston, the airline's luxe international business class lounge. Economy Plus passengers used to be served a small meal on this flight, but that’s been temporarily suspended. There were just a handful of people checking in for United flights. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel. While domestic travel in the US is slowly ramping up—flights are increasingly full, and security lines have returned at most airports—COVID-19 has decimated international travel. As a side note, the United Club Newark still hands out Star Wars-themed kits (which aren’t available onboard anymore) for those who collect them. Unlike American Airlines, United doesn’t admit premium transcon flyers to its business-class-only Polaris Lounges. share Read Article. At Newark airport, United’s supposedly “elevated pre-packaged food offerings” consist of shrink-wrapped pretzels and cookies. The entire Economy Plus section had just one passenger. What follows are 15 thoughts on what’s changed since my pre-pandemic Polaris review. First Class customers benefit from a dedicated area in London with a higher-end menu. We passed. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. A RED VENTURES COMPANY. Just note that you won’t find any of the legacy-United 757-200s with a 28-seat biz cabin, since those planes are parked in long-term storage. The security officers’ workstations just received a major upgrade. After the meal, there was a snack basket available for those seated in Polaris. On transcon flights, you used to receive a pillow and Saks duvet. That’s why I was keen to check the seat map and monitor the loads on my flight. Visit our COVID-19 resource center for information on how the pandemic is impacting airport lounges. If you choose the right flight, you don’t necessarily need to splurge for the extra space in Polaris. The two things I missed most were the old fashioned and Saks duvet. The JetBlue Mint review has already published. I’ve always slept great in the Polaris pod. View our latest valuations here. We left the United Club Newark near gate C74 and made our way to our departure gate. Breakfast was the lowest point of the service: it consisted of a hot sandwich (typically offered as a buy-on-board option in economy) served on the tray table. You’ll receive a pre-packaged snack for midflight and a fresh packaged meal for pre-arrival on select flights. 1. I hadn’t been on a UA transcon since March 5, and I was excited to see how my pandemic experience compared. Options were “beef, fish, or pasta”, with Economy undertones. Given that United is booking flights to 100% capacity, most flights are leaving with empty biz seats (even after clearing all the airline employees on the standby list). Here’s what the cramped C74 space looked like mid-afternoon, when the bulk of European flights would normally depart. Editor’s note: This is the second in a series of four reviews of premium transcontinental flights during the pandemic. It felt like there were many more passengers in Polaris than there were in the back of the plane. Edit. I would like to subscribe to The Points Guy newsletters and special email promotions. Members of the loungereview.com team report on their recent experience traveling in United Polaris business class from Newark to Paris. Because of the pandemic, United has consolidated its lounge operations to a single location in Terminal F. Polaris Lounges nationwide remain shuttered, and all eligible passengers are invited to use the standard United Club. In an effort to boost consumer confidence, airlines are aggressively touting enhanced hygiene protocols. Seats are arranged in an alternating 1-2-1 configuration. For one, I chose to fly midweek with the hope that it wouldn’t be too full. Under normal circumstances, Newark airport is a hive of activity, and United’s lounges struggle to cope with the crowds. Boarding the United 777 was so exciting. This was our first time flying in United Airlines' Polaris Business class! Instead of operating swanky widebody jets, the carrier put more efficient planes on the routes. United re-opens first non-hub lounge at Honolulu airport . United Airlines' new Polaris business class cabin will be available on long-haul flights between the US and destinations such as London and Tokyo starting later this year. Clear and PreCheck queues were open, but I was funneled into the main security line after the ID check. Even though travel demand has declined significantly, the carriers are still offering their top products on these cross-country routes. Upon entering the plane, every passenger was given a sanitizing wipe and gloves by request as part of United’s CleanPlus initiative. The credit card offers that appear on the website are from credit card companies from which ThePointsGuy.com receives compensation. Every airline is making adjustments to the meal and snack service. There is absolutely no reason—beyond cost—why the airline cannot offer healthier or more diverse options while still meeting CDC guidelines. You can learn more at united.com/Polaris. We're very excited about our brand new international premium cabin service — United Polaris SM first and business class — which offers comfort and relaxation for restful sleep in the sky. The arrangement is a much more effective measure than signage encouraging customers to keep seats open. The United Airlines Fleet Website. In United Premium Plus ® and United Polaris ® business class, your entrée, bread and single-serve cup of ice cream will be served together. The flight attendants—who outnumbered paying business class passengers—were truly gracious and attentive, and did their best with what they had to work with. CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 2X points on all travel and dining, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners. In fact, it was even quieter than when I visited at 4:30 a.m. to review the Amex Centurion Lounge before the pandemic. At least the Christie Cookie Company snickerdoodle cookie was good! Is butter supposed to go on crackers? On Business Class, United wins. Furthermore, schedule changes are happening quite frequently – I was booked to fly the flagship Boeing 777-300ER, but it was swapped to a 777-200 at the last minute. Paris Charles-de-Gaulle airport Terminal 1 is still closed, leading to minor confusion; so we disembarked at Terminal 2A, on a bus (so much for social distancing.) The airline is also building a … Welcome Aboard/Updates; United Mainline Fleet; Aircraft in Maint/Mod; Parked Aircraft/Coronavirus; Polaris Update/ Mod Schedule; Globe Evolution Progress; UA Fleet Deliveries; Mainline Config/Upgrade Progress Totals; United Express Fleet; UA Mainline Aircraft Removed (2011-2020) UA Express Fleet Removals ; Navigation. This is the perfect place for distancing — far from others and limited crew disruptions. It was served with a side salad, roll (so long bread basket), mixed nuts and a cookie. Along with a revolutionary onboard product, JetBlue also upended the legacy pricing strategy for the transcon market. That doesn’t make too much of a difference for transcon UA flyers. Image zoom I was flying on a Wednesday afternoon, and the airport was empty. As it turns out, just fine. (Those who follow me on Instagram know that Polaris is one of my favorite biz products.) It was social distancing at its finest—and a sad reminder that Americans can only travel to 20 destinations worldwide. But, veggies, anyone? The only available wines were mini-bottles from Economy (other airlines manage to open regular bottles without a health risk.) At worst you’ll have 5 across (2-1-2) on their 767s and quite likely 3 across (1-1-1) with the Polaris planes. Also, if United can provide proper silverware for dinner, why is breakfast all plasticware? Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates on airport lounges! (I wasn’t surprised to learn that Christie is the same company that created the legendary Doubletree cookie.). All guests are given a small to-go bag stocked with water and some snacks. Airlines are bleeding money, and it’s difficult to justify high-end services for a handful of premium passengers per flight. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. But the overall experience was terribly disappointing and reeked of cost cutting. It's not going to be easy to come up with an all-aisle access configuration on a single aisle aircraft like the 757, without going 1-1 and cutting the number of business class seats (or cutting the legroom on the economy seats). The selection included gummy bears, pretzels and kettle chips — much more limited than before the pandemic. We send up to one email a week and never resell your information. The club was so quiet that it was almost unrecognizable from its former incarnation. The seat converts to a lie-flat bed and features plenty of personal space. As a Premier 1K, I’ve had plenty of experience with United’s often unreliable Wi-Fi network. The 777-200 is configured into four classes; United Polaris business, Premium Plus, Economy Plus and Economy. That also left a … Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. Stay up-to-date on major lounge openings, exciting developments, and ground service innovations. Submitted by SeatGuru User on 2020/02/04 for Seat 7D . Related: How to determine if your flight is full. Pre-pandemic, fares started at around $600 each way. Going forward, you’ll find me in the last row of the cabin in the single seat flush with the window. Before JetBlue introduced Mint, cross-country business-class airfares could easily climb to well above $2,000 each way. Flying United’s best domestic product was exhilarating. The takeoff roll was one of the fastest I’ve ever experienced on a 777. Featured user comments. It could especially impact United Airlines’ sub-fleet of “High-J” 767s, outfitted last year with 46 Polaris business class seats instead of the normal 30. That particular plane only re-emerged from a stint in Wilmington last week. As for United’s “goal of disinfecting seats after each use and upon request”, it was indeed merely an aspiration. 1:24 . Flight attendants called groups of rows to deplane together. And why so much “bread” when there’s rice already? ), Welcome to my new favorite @united Polaris pod! It was always a nice touch to get a drink after the inevitable chaos that comes with boarding. And so was the cookie (which is traditionally served at the end of the flight.) United Airlines Click here to download. Flying has lost a lot of its luster, even in premium classes. Travelers flying United will soon be able to enjoy a bit more room to catch some inflight snooze time. The premium lounge closings come after United … You can unsubscribe at any time. The new acrylic barriers on display at SFO are currently being installed at airports across the country. Our United Polaris® business class service is designed to bring a new level of quality to every aspect of premium cabin travel - from lounge to landing - and provide the best sleep in the sky. *Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. One of the highlights of flying in Polaris is the On The Rocks Old Fashioned. Spin COVID-19 and hygiene all you want, nothing justifies serving a meal without linen or a tray in international business class. « Airport lounges are re-opening: what to expect in the COVID-19 era, Flagship American Express Centurion Lounge opens at JFK », […] has lost a lot of its luster, even in premium classes. © 2021 THE POINTS GUY, LLC. But with low fares and easy upgrades, I certainly wouldn’t hesitate to do it again. And you get the Polaris lounge at ORD. Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater. We will use information provided on this form to be in touch with you. This lounge is temporarily closed. Overall, the meal was about as good as I remember it from March pre-pandemic. Business class "suites" are roomy and comfortable. In Europe, British Airways, who typically doesn’t shine in the lounge department, has rolled out a-la-carte service with mobile ordering and at-seat delivery, for all guests. At the United Club Newark, the bar area is now entirely clear of furniture, in favor of social distancing markers on the floor. Center pods are either adjacent to each other (great for couples) or facing the aisles. Why serve cloying syrup that masquerades as a fruit cup, when perhaps a shrink-wrapped piece of fruit would be tastier, healthier, and equally safe? The butternut squash mezzaluna was better than I expected. There is no lounge for connecting passengers. I noticed that she first asked Global Services and Premier 1Ks for their meal preference, before going to other customers. In addition to the new cabin, United is unveiling Polaris business class lounges in eight airports around the world, including Chicago O’Hare’s lounge, which opened in December. At Newark airport, the United Club near gate C74 offers a quiet place to work, but not much else. Polaris Lounges nationwide remain shuttered, and all eligible passengers are invited to use the standard United Club. You don't have to wait. Related: The one major social distancing challenge I’d like to see airlines fix. The Polaris business class cabin was deserted, and the Premium Plus cabin completely unoccupied. This summer, we reviewed the watered-down United Polaris experience to Europe—it was a tale of shrink-wrapped snacks and an eerily quiet business class […]. Aside from the comfortable bed, I’ve enjoyed United’s pajamas and Saks Fifth Avenue-branded bedding on international jaunts. Before the coronavirus, pre-departure beverages were offered in Polaris. By clicking on Subscribe, you agree that we may process you information in accordance to these terms. Fortunately, it didn’t take long for United to restore lie-flat service. Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. There’s a postcard themed to a United destination, as well as an eye mask, toothbrush, lip balm and earplugs. On the flip side, there is no provision for families traveling together. Flying on a nearly empty widebody is thrilling. United is staying clear of making any groundbreaking adjustments, focusing instead on the fundamentals: mandatory masks, touch-free check-in, social distancing, cleanliness and electrostatic spraying, plexiglass shields at the bar and reception counters, shrink-wrapped snacks, and hand sanitizer dispensers. Unfortunately, the drink is unavailable for the time being according to the crew on my flight. {"bg":"","mt":"","mr":"","mb":3,"ml":"","pt":"","pr":"","pb":"","pl":"","border":"","rounded":"","rounded_size":"","shadow":""}, Air New Zealand relocates to TBIT at LAX; now uses the Star Alliance lounge, New Lufthansa Business and Senator Lounges in Newark, NJ (EWR), New Star Alliance lounge in Sao Paulo, Brazil; London lounge partially closed, Priority Pass, over 1,000 lounges at your fingertips, United Club and Polaris Lounge COVID-19 closures, The COVID-19 United Club Newark experience: seating and cleanliness, The COVID-19 United Club Newark experience: food and drinks, The COVID-19 United Club Newark experience: exclusive Polaris amenities, United Polaris Business Class COVID-19 international service, San Francisco, CA (SFO) – Terminal 3, Concourse F, Chicago O’Hare, IL (ORD), Terminal 1, Concourse B, gate B6, Houston Intercontinental, TX (IAH), Terminal E, New York/Newark, NJ, Terminal C, gate C74, Washington Dulles, VA (IAD), Concourse C, gate C7, modern, full-service lounge in Terminal A, United re-opens first non-hub lounge at Honolulu airport | LoungeReview.com, United re-opens first non-hub lounge at Honolulu airport, WestJet flagship lounge opens at Calgary airport, Lufthansa permanently closes 12 airport lounges, Flagship American Express Centurion Lounge opens at JFK. This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. Just one of them (N670UA) is in the most premium-heavy Polaris configuration, with 46 business seats. Despite the relatively straightforward approach highlighted in the video, the supporting PR pitch is a master class in creative writing. Everything is served packaged or covered for you to unwrap. Once airside, there were plenty of hand sanitizer stations located throughout the airport. Expect lie-flat seats with plenty of personal space on the 777 and 787-10. What are the tortilla chips for? United Polaris® Business Class Named for the North Star, the brilliant point in the nighttime sky that travellers have looked to as their certain guide, Polaris is the shining star of business class that flyers can look to and depend on for true comfort and a sleep experience like no other. Finding a United Club that’s still in operation is like finding a unicorn. It was my first time in a Polaris pod since March, and I couldn’t contain my excitement as I boarded. It was a long walk to the international area, past the still-shuttered Polaris Lounge and the future site of the new United Club. The security checkpoints were all consolidated into one screening lane. Take one of our seats for a spin in full 360. The COVID-19 pandemic has profoundly altered international travel, and it’s still unclear when the situation might stabilize. Much to the chagrin of my sweet tooth, the ice cream sundae cart has been temporarily removed. A handful of airlines are blocking seats on every flight to promote social distancing. The intention is good, but execution was unremarkable. S been temporarily suspended former self, and the depressed travel market, flights have to! 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