Here’s What United’s New Polaris Service Looks Like on a Flight

A View from the Wing reader flew Chicago – Shanghai on United in first class, and graciously shared some of his photos of the new Polaris inflight product on its first day in service.

United’s first class product is virtually identical to business — the food is nearly the same, for instance, though there will generally be an extra course and first class passengers will get first choice of entrees ahead of business class passengers.

And of course since we don’t have Polaris direct aisle access seats in service yet, first class seats — while they remain in the fleet — are much more desirable.

One of the signature service elements is the drink cart. In the morning it’s bloody marys and mimosas and in the afternoon wine. You can still have any drink you want, and flight attendants are supposed to make it right away (rather than waiting until cart service is over). Passengers in focus groups have reacted positively to the concept, and it is supposed to speed up service.

And why not have a tasting? Notice the custom dish holding three glasses of white wine.

The meal certainly looks like an improvement, and remember these are the same dishes outside of the soup that are being served in United business class.

Separately, reader Joel G. shared that on his Frankfurt – Chicago flight “steak and eggs for breakfast was nice” — I agree, if there’s one thing that US airlines haven’t done well (and there are many) it’s breakfast service! Amping up beyond just eggs, sausage, and potatoes is a good start!

Though the seats remain the number one item of importance for me and it will be awhile before those roll out broadly, the soft product looks like a nice improvement.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

More articles by Gary Leff »


  1. So basically they’re dotting the I’s and crossing the T’s the way they did back in the ’90’s. Improvement or just back to basics?

  2. Gary – what type of equipment ? first 777-300ER??

    Prefer American herringbone rather than this outward facing seat – too much aisle knocking!!.


  3. @WilliamJones you can tell from the pictures that it is F on the 747 with the nose tapering and the aisles combining into one.

  4. @William Jones, United doesn’t have the 777-300ER in service yet. This is the old global first seat.

  5. even if they build the seats in gold, it’s still US service attitude which is inferior to Asian airlines & will not see a day in sunlight.

  6. I love the Polaris marketing. It’s been great. The soft product, now that it’s officially launched, looks great. OK. Maybe not Gulf airline great but for a U.S.-flagged airline, absolutely it’s great.

    The issue, however, is the rollout. In my opinion, it’s an EPIC F-CKING FAIL to launch Polaris when the new business-class seats aren’t in service. I get that it will take months or years to retrofit all of the aircraft, but how many people are falling for the marketing, buying a ticket and expecting the new seats? I suspect the answer would be quite a few passengers. United should have waited until the first quarter of 2017, when the first aircraft with the new seats go into service.

    Beyond this, however, I’m still disappointed that a majority of United’s aircraft won’t have the new Polaris seats until 2021. The seats and hard product will hardly be “new” in 2021. In fact, by then Delta will have launched its new Delta One business-class featuring privacy doors at every seat. Who knows what American’s product will be.

    In the meantime, United passengers will fly for the next 5 years not knowing for sure what business-class product they will receive when paying for Polaris.

  7. I think many posters understand the issues, keeping the old tired seats but upgrading the soft product, major fail, hopefully, the FA’s attitude will change, i.e disappearing after meal service, taking pride in what they are servicing and not throwing the food on the plate. engaging conversation with the passengers. These are things that foreign carriers do.

  8. That first plate with the carrots and “funny pink stuff” (corned beef?) doesn’t look very appetizing….especially from a promoted first class product from US to China.

  9. This is no big deal. When United introduces comparable seats and service to Emirates and Singapore then let us know. That would be something worth reporting. This is nothing and the food doesn’t look any different or any better than it did before. United doesn’t know the definition of innovation.

  10. Not even close to Singapore’s biz or FC seat and I only fly first on Emirates. Even then the food on United is typically awful. The sundae looks tacky with a bunch of M&M’s on top. What high end restaurant would serve something that looks like that to their patrons? Looks like TCBY or Dairy Queen which is fine for a trip to the mall but in first class on a transpacific flight? Totally classless.

  11. The “funny pink stuff” is duck and was delicious. It was actually the best tasting part of the menu to my not so refined palate. I had the fish a Turbot with beure blanc and it was fine. Not bad; the sauce was good..the fish didn’t have any flavor by it self.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *