United Vs American Airlines: The Best And Worst Business Class


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I have already compared American Airlines Super Diamond Business Class with United Polaris to explain which is the best international Business Class. If your ticket price is comparable, does American Airlines or United offer the best new Business Class seat and experience?

The playing field has recently changed. Since launching Polaris, the airline has brought in a new President, Scott Kirby, from American. According to a United executive, Scott Kirby (who has a reputation for cost-cutting) “doesn’t believe in Polaris, and he knows it hasn’t created a [fare] premium”, suggesting that “The sun is setting on United’s Polaris Business Class”.

This is very sad, as we have been big fans of United’s Polaris Business Class. We had high hopes for the beautiful Polaris lounges, wonderful Polaris seats, and lots of lovely amenities. In fact, we have been lucky enough to review United Polaris Business Class on more than one occasion.

Sadly, the reality of the product is not as good as it originally seemed. The planned rollout has ground to a halt with the new Boeing 777-300ERs being kitted out with the new seats, but United has only retrofitted the new seats into 5 of their existing planes.

The Chicago Polaris lounge was great, but it is the only Polaris lounge that has opened. The new Saks Fifth Avenue bedding is in place for now, but the volume of pillows and blankets is diminishing, and other amenities are slowly disappearing, too.

This affects which American airline I would choose to fly on in Business Class. The likelihood of flying the new Polaris product in United is small. You are, therefore, far more likely to experience one of the new American seats or one of the equally excellent “older” Herringbone American seats (only the angled seats are really poor on American). The magical Polaris seat remains elusive on most United planes, which makes American the better choice almost every time.

United Vs. American Airlines Business Class
United Airlines Long Haul Business Class Flight Reviews
United Airlines Long Haul Business Class Flight Reviews


United Airlines has recently launched a new, upgraded business class soft and hard product, with improved seats, food and service. In my opinion, the United Polaris Business Class Pod cabins are probably the best looking of the seats in this category offered by the three main North American airlines - United, American and Delta. The fact that these cabins are complemented by matching ground facilities means that this entire product is more of a complete experience than the American Airlines or Delta offerings.

American Airlines Long Haul Business Class Flight Reviews
American Airlines Long Haul Business Class Flight Reviews


American Airlines, United Airlines and Delta are the three main North American airlines and all three have all recently launched a new, upgraded business class soft and hard product, with improved seats, food and service. We've discussed in more detail which of these new Business Class suites is best. In my opinion, the United Polaris Business Class Pod cabins are probably the best looking of the three seats and the fact that these cabins are complemented by matching ground facilities means that this entire product is more of a complete experience than the American Airlines or Delta offerings.

United’s swish and rounded United Polaris Business Class Pods are laid out in a staggered arrangement in the cabin. The walled compartments are not massively high but are stylish. They do have a couple of disadvantages. There is very little storage in and around these seats, and the seat feels pretty narrow. Choose a window seat, and you will get plenty of privacy, but the aisle seats are more open, and you may feel vulnerable to passing traffic. Regardless, this is a snazzy cabin environment (more “trendy” than American), but with only a portion of United’s fleet flying with these new pods, you are less likely to experience them even if you do book United.

American Airlines new Super Diamond Business Class seats incorporate a slightly less ground-breaking design of outward-facing herringbone seats with the BE Aerospace Super Diamond seats, but again, these are a huge improvement on most of their older Business Class seats. Having said that, the best seat AA offers can be found on its Boeing 777-300 (77W) in Business Class and Airbus 321 (321T) in First. These “older” seats are spacious and super comfy for sleeping. Why are they better? Not only are they comfy with loads of space, but the Super Diamond seats have a major disadvantage: they have a fixed screen, so it’s very difficult to watch a movie while you’re fully reclined.

Are United or American Airlines Seats More Widely Available?

In terms of fleetwide consistency, American Airlines wins hands down with the United rollout on a go-slow. Whether the plane you are traveling on has the new seats or not, on United, you will experience the new Polaris soft product with what were excellent bedding and new food and drink offerings. But these offerings are being downgraded, so don’t necessarily expect the proposed level of luxury to actually happen on your flight. Expect fewer pillows, fewer blankets, and fewer amenities.

The Super Diamond seat will be installed on the new American Airlines 787-9 and A350 planes. American should have received an additional 27 aircraft sporting the new seats by the end of the year. 777-200 retrofits are also ongoing, although it is not clear exactly when the new seats will be fitted. American has good Super Diamond and reverse Herringbone cabin designs (their angled are not so good). So you have two excellent seating designs on American.

Are United, Delta or American Airlines Airport Lounges Best?

For the pre-flight airport experience, I vote for the magnificent new United Polaris Chicago lounge. This is the only Polaris lounge that is currently open, so with the exception of flights out of Chicago, United’s first Polaris Lounge at Chicago O’Hare’s Terminal 1 is open and offers specialty cocktails, comfortable seating areas, slick showers, relaxation areas, excellent food, fast Wi-Fi and a stylish ambiance.

If you are flying out of Chicago, United may, therefore, be the best choice if the lounge is important to you. But this is the only Polaris lounge that is currently open, so if you are flying out of any other Airport, there is a good chance the American lounge will be as good if not better.

The American Airlines Flagship Lounge at JFK and brand new airline lounges in Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, and Philadelphia. American looks to be the better overall choice for pre-flight lounges, too.

Is United or American Airlines Food & Drink Best?

United offers Business Class food from Chicago chef Bill Kim and wines selected by United’s Master Sommelier, Doug Frost. An example of a meal from one of my recent flights included lemongrass shrimp with fresh greens, a choice from 4 mains; roasted chicken thigh served with a red bean curd sauce & rice, bell pepper, bok choy, mushroom, and water chestnut. There was also a beef and fish option. United’s main course portions are larger and more filling than typical business class mains. Afterward, a cheese plate was offered, followed by a run of the signature dessert card, which includes custom-made ice cream sundaes and a choice of three small sweets, including a salted caramel chocolate bar and mini tiramisu.

American Airlines offers less refined Business Class food and is not my first choice. On my last flight with American, dinner was served on a single tray. The starter consisted of Thai chicken with grilled five-spice pineapple, watermelon, and Asian mint dressing. It was served with a house salad with artichokes, roasted tomatoes, and feta cheese, with a choice of creamy Italian dressing or balsamic vinaigrette. As an entrée, I choose the seared halibut with gremolata, with sautéed tomato fennel, lemon risotto, and broccoli. For dessert, I ordered the Black Forest mousse cake.

Are United or American Airlines Pajamas Best?

United Airlines offers 100% cotton pajamas upon request (or pajamas as we say in the UK) on flights longer than 12 hours. There are not enough pajamas for every Business Class customer, so be sure to request a set. It is also looking likely that these will be cut back in cost-cutting; we shall see. Note that two sizes are available: small/medium and large/extra large. And what are they like? They are grey with a royal blue waist tie and buttoned neck. They have the United logo on the chest. They are soft and comfortable but also thin and light, which makes them easy to transport and they will not be too warm on the flight but, if like me, you get cold when you are tired, you might need to wear a jumper over them.

American Airlines pajamas are again grey and blue (grey top, blue bottoms- at least the ones I was given were), usually with a V-neck. The Pajama choice is not a deal-breaker when choosing between these airlines unless one airline stops supplying them.

Are United, Delta or American Airlines Amenity Kits Best?

United gives you an eye mask, earplugs, a Do Not Disturb sticker, tissues, Polaris-themed disposable socks, Cowshed hand cream, lip balm, pillow mist, a toothbrush, paste, floss stick, breath mints, comb, hand sanitizer, and pen. United’s new amenity kits aren’t very exciting- although I personally like the smell of Cowshed products.

American has also revamped its amenity kits. They offer different kits depending on whether you’re flying a transcon, business class, or first class, and with each kit, they partner with a different skincare provider. Their kits have discount codes for buying the skincare products from Cole Haan and the skincare partners. Again, neither amenity kit is significantly better than the other and should not be a deal-breaker. Find out which airlines I think offer the best Business Class amenity kits (clue, it is neither American or United).

Are United, Delta, or American Airlines Pillows Duvets & Bedding Best?

United offers Saks Fifth Avenue bedding, with a lovely blanket and comfy bedding. In fact, the bedding is so good that some customers have been walking off the plane with keepsake Saks blankets! These have more recently been cut back in volume, but they still currently offer the edge over United.

Are United, Delta or American Airlines Best For Personal Space?

American seats feel less claustrophobic, more spacious, and offer more storage, so, in this category, American is best.

Which Is Best?

So, to answer my original question, United Polaris Vs. American Airlines Suer Diamond: Which Is The Best Business Class? My vote has changed from United to American. American has lots of planes with great seats. United Polaris is rolling out slowly and without much enthusiasm, which makes it the worst choice.

American Airlines seats are super comfortable and less claustrophobic, and if you fly American, you are more likely to get a plane with a decent seat.

Note: Benefits & upgrades subject to availability. Benefits offered correct at the time of writing. Terms & conditions apply. Enquire for more information. Posts may be sponsored by the proprietor or brand being appraised. All opinions remain our own & are in no way influenced.