I was flying on a Wednesday afternoon, and the airport was empty. One of the first things I noticed when I boarded was how clean the plane was. United isn’t one of them. Airlines are bleeding money, and it’s difficult to justify high-end services for a handful of premium passengers per flight. Flying has lost a lot of its luster, even in premium classes. 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. Business class "suites" are roomy and comfortable. 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. I selected a gin and tonic with my lunch, which was served in a sealed bottle and can. We use MailChimp as our marketing automation platform. The COVID-19 pandemic has profoundly altered international travel, and it’s still unclear when the situation might stabilize. 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? Most guests snack and drink and therefore have a legitimate reason to take their mask off. 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). (Those who follow me on Instagram know that Polaris is one of my favorite biz products.) Contact the business for more information about recent service changes. Spin COVID-19 and hygiene all you want, nothing justifies serving a meal without linen or a tray in international business class. 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. Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater. 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 … Happily, apart from a wider, more modern-look seating configuration and some rejigged amenities, you'd hardly spot the difference. I hadn’t been on a UA transcon since March 5, and I was excited to see how my pandemic experience compared. 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. Welcome … The entire Economy Plus section had just one passenger. 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. Before JetBlue introduced Mint, cross-country business-class airfares could easily climb to well above $2,000 each way. 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. For one, I chose to fly midweek with the hope that it wouldn’t be too full. Fortunately, it worked well on my flight. Even though travel demand has declined significantly, the carriers are still offering their top products on these cross-country routes. In fact, common sense would suggest that providing linen helps enhance hygiene. The new acrylic barriers on display at SFO are currently being installed at airports across the country. I selected the pasta, which was served all on one tray with foil and seals intact. You can unsubscribe at any time. CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 2X points on all travel and dining, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners. 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. There is no lounge for connecting passengers. I love the Polaris seat. 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. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). Even the tray tables and lavatories looked spotless. All rights reserved. The airline is also building a … Edit. Boarding the United 777 was so exciting. Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates on airport lounges! Travelers flying United will soon be able to enjoy a bit more room to catch some inflight snooze time. Mask use was spotty at best during our stay, and it is difficult to enforce. Going forward, you’ll find me in the last row of the cabin in the single seat flush with the window. Related: How to determine if your flight is full. United’s rather loose commitments include a partnership with the Cleveland Clinic and Clorox, “having the goal of disinfecting seats after each use and upon request,” “elevated pre-packaged food offerings,” and “innovating for a healthier tomorrow through our United CleanPlus commitment,” whatever that means. SFO is home to four United Clubs, as well as a flagship Polaris Lounge. And so was the cookie (which is traditionally served at the end of the flight.) I noticed that she first asked Global Services and Premier 1Ks for their meal preference, before going to other customers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. That doesn’t make too much of a difference for transcon UA flyers. Of the major U.S. carriers, United is doing a great job at attempting to deplane passengers in a socially distant manner. It felt like there were many more passengers in Polaris than there were in the back of the plane. That particular plane only re-emerged from a stint in Wilmington last week. ” in 21 reviews “ If I ever need another 6 hr layover in Chicago, I wouldn't hesitate to book the flight. We have so many questions about this meal. On a more positive note, we arrived early. We send up to one email a week and never resell your information. Stay up-to-date on major lounge openings, exciting developments, and ground service innovations. At a cost of $2.48 million, I was surprised that the security agent wasn’t using the new barrier. ), Welcome to my new favorite @united Polaris pod! Clear and PreCheck queues were open, but I was funneled into the main security line after the ID check. All guests are given a small to-go bag stocked with water and some snacks. The lie-flat seats are 52cm wide and 198cm long, made all the more comfy by those velvety Saks Fifth Avenue bedding, specifically that irresistibly cloud-like pillow and baby-soft light… And why so much “bread” when there’s rice already? At the United Club Newark, the bar area is now entirely clear of furniture, in favor of social distancing markers on the floor. Onboard dining in Polaris business class is at economy class levels, and nothing can justify serving breakfast directly on a tray table without a tray or linen. BA (2-4-2 or 2-3-2) still charge for seat selection in business class unless you’re an elite. Might we suggest at least stocking up the bar, offering full mini-bottles, and perhaps serving quality sandwiches or cold plates? To combat its industry-lagging reputation, United Airlines will overhaul its current intercontinental business class with United Polaris. That’s why I was keen to check the seat map and monitor the loads on my flight. The bathrooms, however, were abysmal, just like in pre-pandemic times: old, cramped, and of questionable cleanliness. Polaris Lounges nationwide remain shuttered, and all eligible passengers are invited to use the standard United Club. COVID-19 Updates. 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. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page. 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. And you get the Polaris lounge at ORD. The most noticeable difference was the dessert. It isn’t as extensive as JetBlue’s Hayward-branded kits, but it’s definitely better than nothing. It was always a nice touch to get a drink after the inevitable chaos that comes with boarding. If you choose the right flight, you don’t necessarily need to splurge for the extra space in Polaris. Read user reviews for United Boeing 777-200 (772) Layout 5. We will use information provided on this form to be in touch with you. The amenity kit has been through a few iterations though, and the latest version is a plastic pouch with a limited selection of goodies. They then confused everyone by rebranding even their old business class product … However, there’s a full assortment of traditional liquors available upon request. 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. Expect to see reviews of American Flagship First and Delta One shortly. See, 7 ways the United Club experience has changed due to the pandemic, international travel is largely off-limits, The cheapest way to upgrade transcon United flights, legacy-United 757-200s with a 28-seat biz cabin, Why more lie-flat seats on United flights isn’t necessarily good news, adjustments to the meal and snack service, Here’s what food and drinks you can expect on your next flight, United improves onboard beverage service, trims Saks amenities, deplane passengers in a socially distant manner, The one major social distancing challenge I’d like to see airlines fix, Marriott reinstates elite benefit guarantees effective immediately, Check your American Airlines accounts: 2021 rollover elite miles, dollars and segments now posting, Travel industry reconsiders political donations following Capitol siege, Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express, Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. Upon seeing our Polaris business class boarding passes, the lovely United Club front-desk agent brightened up and cheerfully welcomed us. But even if you can’t find an inexpensive fare, scoring an upgrade has never been easier. How does the airline fare with a single, capacity-restricted club? Also, if United can provide proper silverware for dinner, why is breakfast all plasticware? This didn’t bother me too much on the daytime flight, but I would certainly miss the duvet on redeyes or longer hauls to Alaska or Hawaii. Related: The cheapest way to upgrade transcon United flights. Related: The one major social distancing challenge I’d like to see airlines fix. 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. There were no other options available. Each window seat is either flush with the window (my preference) or the aisle. With an extremely light load aboard our 787-10 from Newark to Paris, boarding was swift. 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. After staying mum on the topic for months, United released late July a video highlighting the new United Club experience. United isn’t providing meals for most domestic flights (even if you’re sitting up front). Before the coronavirus, pre-departure beverages were offered in Polaris. Flying on a nearly empty widebody is thrilling. share Read Article. 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. Though the meal service has been trimmed, at least it’s still available. The TSA is contracting Lavi Industries to build an additional 1,230 units at 37 airports nationwide. We passed. As such, your flight could easily be booked full. Now, due to JetBlue’s Newark expansion and the depressed travel market, flights have dropped to $399 each way. United’s worldwide lounge network virtually shut down on March 17th. Instead, the flight attendant came around asking for orders. Had we visited during the morning or evening departure banks, it likely would have been a different story. 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. Despite the relatively straightforward approach highlighted in the video, the supporting PR pitch is a master class in creative writing. On transcon flights, you used to receive a pillow and Saks duvet. After all, it’s likely one of the riskiest (and costliest) components of the inflight experience since flyers are allowed to take off their mask for eating and drinking. There’s a postcard themed to a United destination, as well as an eye mask, toothbrush, lip balm and earplugs. The intention is good, but execution was unremarkable. In April, United pulled most lie-flat seats from its transcon flights. The seat converts to a lie-flat bed and features plenty of personal space. {"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. Submitted by SeatGuru User on 2020/02/04 for Seat 7D . Hand sanitizers were readily available, and the reception and customer service counters were equipped with plexiglass shields. It was my first time in a Polaris pod since March, and I couldn’t contain my excitement as I boarded. The security checkpoints were all consolidated into one screening lane. The United Airlines Fleet Website. One of the highlights of flying in Polaris is the On The Rocks Old Fashioned. In an effort to boost consumer confidence, airlines are aggressively touting enhanced hygiene protocols. 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. Is butter supposed to go on crackers? The premium lounge closings come after United … For more information, review our our Privacy Policy. 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