United's schedule shows the San Francisco-Sydney flight UA863 moving up to the Polaris-equipped Boeing 777-300ER from Tuesday December 3, with the corresponding UA870 Sydney-San Francisco flight primed for Polaris from Thursday December 5. Wizard of oz munchkinland slot machine. This continues through to Friday March 27, with UA870 bouncing back to a Boeing 787 as of Saturday March 28. United’s first Polaris aircraft will begin service between Newark and San Francisco on Thursday. It is one of 14 777-300s that United will add to the fleet this year.
United Airlines Polaris class merges previously separate First and Business cabins into one upper class flight experience on most transatlantic and transpacific routes. Pros: Excellent award availability through United Mileage plus reward program, true 180 degrees lie flat bed, Wifi onboard. Cons: service average at best, run out of food choices during dinner, 19” wide seats in 2-4-2 configuration are one of the narrowest in the business. Bottom line: good choice when redeeming miles and looking for direct flights with lie flat bed, not so much if you want a memorable luxury flight experience.
For our return flight from touring Iberian peninsula, I chose Turkish Airlines Business class Booking through United Mileage plus reward site is a breeze and after deduction of 140000 miles and $106, my wife and I had a reservation taking us from Barcelona to Istanbul, Houston and Jacksonville.
About 1 month before our travel, United changed timing on the Houston connection, and rebooked us in Polaris cabin from Barcelona to Newark, NJ, lowering the cost of the tickets to 60,000 points per person and $48.16 in taxes. ( I had to wait till trip was completed to get back 20,000 United Rewards miles).
I wasn’t completely disappointed, since I did want to review Polaris Class, and it got us home few hours earlier.
Barcelona International airport is very well organized. Check in and security was as easy as it gets, and unlike some other airports that do double screening of travelers flying to US on American based airlines (Dublin, Toronto etc.), here everything was super smooth. In less than 30 min we were entering VIP lounge.
VIP Lounge Barcelona
VIP lounge at Barcelona airport serves most Starwood Alliance flights as well as some other non-affiliated airlines. It is spacious, has a good choice of food and drinks, both alcoholic and non. I has a shower facilities and quiet are as well.
VIP Lounge Barcelona
Boarding took place on time, and B777 has separate walkways for Polaris class and economy. This way boarding was completed relatively fast. Champagne, water and snacks were served upon seating. Flight attendants seemed stressed and overworked.
United Polaris Class on B777-200 utilizes 2-4-2 layout as comparing to 2-3-2 layout for airlines outside US and Great Britain. By squeezing an extra row, seat width is reduced to 19”. This can be narrow for a full size person these days, especially if you tend to sleep on your back. Seat cushion, however, was very comfortable and sleep quality once the bed was in full flat recline was great.
As far as storage goes, these seats are not most generous. Fortunately there is plenty overhead bin space to use in the premium cabin, so for take-off and landing I just stored our things there. Seat controls are easily accessible and straight forward.
I’m not a big consumer of the in-flight entertainment opting instead for good book or audiobook. For the purposes of this review, I tested the system. Noise canceling headphones worked great. 19” tv screen provided plenty of viewing area, and choice of movies and TV shows was very good.
You can also use Wi-Fi for free in combination with United App for more in flight choices of entertainment. There are USB ports and electric plugs easily accessible.
The seats were stocked with a full-size pillow, a thick rolled-up blanket (from Saks Fifth Avenue) , an amenity kit and noise-cancelling headphones. The amenity kit contained a face mask, socks, a plastic-wrapped toothbrush and toothpaste, plastic-wrapped ear plugs, lip balm and face cream. No thrills.
Food and Service
As I stated before, during dinner service, flight attendant informed us that they run out some menu choices. Neither my wife nor I consider airline food a must have experience, even if it is a first class flight, however, this can be very annoying for most travelers paying full price for a business class seats and experience. Big no no. Flight attendants were also unfamiliar with their wine choices, again not a good “Polaris” experience.
Food that was served, however, was very good. Nice touch was a dessert tray with cookies and ice cream as well as selection of cheeses passed with after dinner drinks.
Between meals a snack bar with serve serving drinks was set up in the front galley.