In this trip report, I review my flight in Polaris Business Class (including the new seats) on United’s Boeing 777-300ER from Hong Kong (HKG) to San Fransisco (SFO). This flight cost just over $7,000 USD one way and earned 35,130 miles.
Background to United Polaris
United launched its new Polaris Business Class in December 2016, replacing their BusinessFirst; and Polaris First replacing Global First cabins. The brand new United Polaris Pod concept is the company’s most drastic product transformation in more than a decade. This upgrade has been driven by high benchmarks set by rival airlines, especially Emirates, Etihad and Qatar in the Middle East. United Polaris Business is comparable to Delta One and American Airlines Super Diamond Business Class, which also both launched several years ago. I discuss which American Airline Business Suite is best separately. You can also read my flight review of United Polaris in First Class.
Before the flight, I had access to the United Club Lounge at Hong Kong airport.
New Polaris Cabin Review
The first aircraft with the completely new Polaris cabin are United’s B777-300ER, so I was excited to experience the full Polaris product including the seat. The new United Polaris cabin on the 777-300ER is huge, with 60 seats. The seats can be converted into 180-degree fully-flat beds measuring six foot six inches.
Picking seats: The Best & Worst United Polaris Seat
The best and worst United Polaris Seats on B777-300ER are outlined below. The Polaris pods are arranged in a 1-2-1 configuration, ensuring direct aisle access for all customers. Both aisle and window seats alternate between being closer to the aisle and being further from the aisle.
The single window seats that are further from the aisle are consequently closer to the window, so if you like looking out of the window and you don’t like to be interrupted or woken by passing traffic in the aisle, I would strongly recommend the odd-numbered seats. These seats are more private as they are further from the aisle and closer to the window. They are the most private and best seats on the plane and ideal for watching take-off and landing, as well as looking out to the horizon and down at the clouds. The even-numbered window seats are a much worse choice as they are closer to the aisle and further from the window.
In the centre section, it is the even-numbered rows which are closer to the aisle and are angled. The odd-numbered rows have seats much closer to each other in the centre and are separated by a partition which can be lowered.
If you are travelling alone, your best bet and by far the best seats in the cabin, are the window seats with odd numbers that are close to the window (and far from the aisle).
If you are travelling as a couple or with a companion, I would pick the two centre seats in the odd rows as you can lower your partition and enjoy the flight chatting to them.
The worst seats for single travellers are the same odd rows in the middle as you are much closer to your neighbour than in any other seats, and even though you can keep your partition up, you may still feel that these seats aren’t quite private enough.
Bedding and Seat
When you arrive, you will be greeted by a large pile of bedding. A Saks Fifth Avenue pillow along with the same brand of light and heavy blanket. You will also have some united branded headphones and plenty of trays and storage units (see photos). The new seat also comes with power outlets, USB charging ports, reading lights and a premium amenity kit filled with Cowshed products which I photographed for more detail in the scroller above. My slippers could be found in the footrest area. Mattress pads, pyjamas and memory foam pillows were also available on request.
Polaris Amenity Kit
Included in the Polaris amenity kit were:
- Cowshed toiletries: a relaxing pillow mist, lip balm, and hand cream
- There was also a toothbrush and paste, socks and earplugs
- I like getting the free pyjamas and these ones were dark grey with navy trim
- I think the most impressive bit of the amenity kit was the stylish wash bag with a nice zipper that I will continue to use beyond my flight
Polaris Wines, Beers and Soft Drink Menu
Almost immediately after boarding the plane, I was offered a drink with a pack of two luxury chocolates. Drink choices included various sodas and juices. The list included cola, sprite, ginger ale, cola zero, spite zero, Minute Maid orange juice, apple juice, cranberry juice, tomato juice, Bloody Mary mix, lime and soda sparkling water and ordinary bottled water. Beers included Miller Lite, Heineken, Samuel Adams Octoberfest, Blue Point, and Belgium Voodoo Ranger. You could also have Bourbon, either Jim Beam Devils cut or Buffalo trace, Bacardi rum, Dewars or Glanfarclas Scotch, Vodka, Jack Daniels whiskey or Crown Royal, Cognac, Baileys or Disaronno Amaretto.
There were also a variety of wines and Champagnes that you can see in the menus I photographed above.
Before the main meal, tablecloths were put out and you were offered a second drink from the drink menu. My drink came with a little and lovely bowl of nuts. The nuts were in a ceramic pot, the drink was in a real glass. At this point, you can also choose the “Wine Flight” where you sample either all the whites or all the reds.
Polaris Food Menu
The main meal or “Welcome Dining Service” offered a choice of:
- Chilled Appetiser: Parma ham, semi-dried tomato, melon, caramelized pecan, port reduction
- Salad: Mixed greens, radish, orange served with dressing and bread
- Seared Beef Tenderloin with demi-glace, potatoes, asparagus, bell pepper, pumpkin
- Chicken Satay with coconut rice, bok choc, carrot, eggplant
- Miso-Glazed Salmon with steamed rice, snap peas, pumpkin, zucchini
- Stir-fried Noodles with vegetarian oyster sauce, baby corn, green bean, pumpkin
- International cheese assortment
- Signature Sundae with a choice of toppings
- Sweet Treats (ask your flight attendant)
The evening meal or dinner service took just over 2 hours. The food was good but not outstanding.
About 90 minutes before landing, breakfast was served, from the choices above. You can see what I chose from my photos. All choices were served with yoghurt, breakfast bread, butter and fruit preserves (jam). You could choose between:
- Frittata: Sun-dried tomato served with pork sausage, potatoes, spinach and fruit
- Chinese congee: Rice porridge with corn, savoury garnishes and fruit
- Fresh seasonal fruit served with cereal and milk
The crew also distributed cinnamon rolls with breakfast (which I love!).
Onboard Snack Bar
During the flight, fresh fruit and snacks are set out in the galley- it’s not really a bar as such but you can fill up here if you are still hungry. They have a very good grilled cheese sandwich.
The Anytime A La Carte Menu offered snacks included:
- Seasonal fruit and sweet and salty snacks along with assorted sandwiches
- You could also order a hot bite like grilled cheese
Is The New Polaris Seat Good For Sleep?
Make sure you ask for a mattress pad, a cooling gel pillow, pyjamas as soon as the meal service is over as these are can be limited. The mattress pad is great and will really help you sleep. The bedding is also excellent and of high quality (better than most Business Class airlines) as are the pyjamas.
There were four toilets in the Polaris cabin. Two between the two cabins, and two at the very front of the plane. They were small but nice enough with cowshed soap and moisturiser.
Wi-Fi costs $8.99 USD for one hour, $14.99 USD for two hours, or $29.99 USD for the whole flight. Speeds are decent.
United’s brand new 777-300ER and new Polaris seats were excellent. The seat was comfortable for sleep, the bedding great and the mattress also a must. Food was good but not noteworthy.
If you want to fly in the new United Polaris seat, beyond the Hong Kong to San Francisco route, United Airlines first Boeing 767-300ER with its Polaris business class seat has also just entered service on 7th September 2017, flying between Newark and London Heathrow. United is retrofitting 14 of its 35 767-300ERs with Polaris by the end of 2018. The Polaris retrofits will simplify United’s 767-300ER fleet to a standard two-class configuration with 30 business class seats and 184 economy seats. The carrier’s upcoming B787-10 and A350-1000 aircraft will also offer the new product, while United is also looking to retrofit its B777-200s.
It is worth reading my tips on how to find cheaper First or Business Class flight tickets to and from North America for a way to save around 20% on your next First or Business Class flight booking.
If you are planning to book a flight, don’t book through the airline’s website direct, our flight experts will quote you cheaper for Economy, Premium Economy, Business and First Class long-haul flights.