When comparing United Airlines vs. Emirates in Business Class, you may assume that Emirates is better, and this is incorrect. The new United Polaris seats (it MUST be the Polaris seats for United to win hands-down) are the best and are far better than Business Class on Emirates, and here’s why.
Emirates Business Class Is Not Emirates First Class
Emirates has an impressive First Class Suite & seats which I have reviewed. The First Class on Emirates is pretty amazing. But Business Class is not First Class, and Emirates benefits from all the positive publicity from its First Class seats, resulting in the impression that they are the better airline with better Business Class. They have not, however, been concentrating on improving their Business Class product. Their new 777 planes don’t even offer First Class, and their new Business Class seats don’t have direct aisle access.
United Polaris Business Class
United launched its new Polaris Business Class in December 2016. 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.
You can read my latest transatlantic flight review of United B787-9 Dreamliner Polaris Business Class. In a nutshell, it’s pretty great. When you arrive, you get a large pile of bedding. A Saks Fifth Avenue pillow along with the same brand of light and a heavy blanket. You will also have some united branded headphones and plenty of trays and storage units. The United Business Class seat itself is similar to the one that Qatar Airways installed on its A330 planes. It’s soft, has a generous pitch of 78 inches, with a width of 22 inches, and is comfortable, even for a 10+ hour flight.
Crucially, the seats do go fully flat, and all seats face forward with direct aisle access, except for the window seats (see photo above). Your sleep comfort on United will depend on the seat you choose. Except for the bulkhead seats in rows 1 & 6 (which come with large ottomans), the footrests are very narrow, so not super comfortable.
United also give pajamas on request and a mattress cushion to improve your sleep on these seats.
Emirates A380 Product Is Good. Their 777 Is Not
Unfortunately, Emirates has more Boeing 777s than A380s. Their 777 currently only offers angled seats, not even flat seats. Brand new 777 planes will get a brand new lie-flat Business Class with a pitch of 72 inches in a seven across, 2-3-2 arrangement. Lie-flat is great. The lack of direct aisle access remains a problem, plus the seats are thin. This Business Class seat is not as good as all of American Airlines Business Class products (with the exception of the international Boeing 757) or United Polaris (with the new seat). Air France’s Boeing 777 seat is also better, as is Business Class on Singapore Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Qatar, and Etihad.
The Snack Bar On The New 777
A snack bar is good, right? Not if you are sitting anywhere near it! Any seats near their self-service snack bar (pictured in the scroller above) are definitely the worst ones to choose as passengers may stand about here rustling and talking. This means that you won’t get sleep and that there will be a lot of “bad” seat choices on this aircraft. The best seats are those far away from the bar.
The best seats are the middle seats, as they avoid having to climb over anyone, and you will not have anyone climb over you. It is worth reading all my Emirates Business Class flight reviews and American Airlines Business Class reviews to compare what you will experience on each airline and plane type.
Whichever airline you choose to book with, always check with our Luxury Travel Concierge before booking to get further discounts and free upgrades on luxury hotels and premium flights.
I have flown with United Airlines a number of times and have reviewed their long-haul Business Class and First Class flights. My trip reports can be found below. Read More.
I have flown with Emirates in Business Class a number of times and have reviewed their long-haul flights. My trip reports can be found below. Emirates Business Class offers comfy seats, excellent amenity kits, a huge entertainment selection, delicious airline… Read More.
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