Review: United Airlines Business Class, Sydney – San Francisco

At the end of 12 days in Australia, my wife, three year old daughter, and I were set to fly back to the States on United award tickets in business class, Sydney – San Francisco. Flight UA870 was operated by a Boeing 777-300ER, the airline’s largest aircraft, and every seat was booked.

Here’s the experience in a nutshell: United Airlines business class is (usually now) a better seat than the airline used to offer, but one with less space than you’ll find on Delta, American, Air Canada or Air France. United has good bedding, an the wifi worked on my flight, but the rest of the soft product from food to service was subpar.

To be clear, I was grateful to be flying business class on such a long flight as Sydney – San Francisco, especially booking using miles. And United’s Polaris is a business class. It just generally lacked many of the touches that make the experience more than just ‘a better seat than coach’.

Check-in

We arrived at Sydney airport terminal 1, the international terminal, right when I’d planned. United counters were at the very far right end of the terminal, but easy to find thanks to a monitor showing which letter check-in desks they were using. We walked straight up to business class/1K check-in and were helped almost immediately.

The very friendly Aussie working the check-in desk told me all about her daughter returning to Australia once quarantine was no longer required, and about how good the coffee is in the Air New Zealand lounge. But it took her quite awhile to process baggage tags. Once we’d done that we headed straight for passport control. There’s no premium queues for government checks when leaving Sydney, so leave plenty of time.

United business class passengers have access to the Singapore and Air New Zealand lounges. There’s also a nearby American Express lounge. On this trip I visited none of those. Despite arriving at the airport two hours prior to departure, by the time I’d made it through passport control and security – the lines were very long on a Sunday morning – and out near the gate it was already four minutes to scheduled boarding. I used the time to buy a bunch of bottles of water, not trusting United’s flight attendants to keep me hydrated on a 13 hour flight.

Boarding – Masks Required?

As passengers crossed onto the jet bridge they were told they had to wear masks. This wasn’t because of Australia’s masking rule for flights, but in the words of the flight attendant because of airport rules about masks. Passengers were informed they could take off their masks once we’d pushed back.

One passenger pointed out, and pulled up on their phone, that airport masking rules in New South Wales had changed and were no longer in effect. The senior male flight attendant who had been scolding people about their lack of masks was visibly upset, but other cabin crew informed him he was wrong. He became very gruff with the passenger who pointed out the error for several interactions, scolding him about the placement of his shoulder belt and generally sounding sarcastic.

There were no menus. Upon boarding a flight attendant taking orders asked, “lamb, salmon, or vegetarian?” Often I’ll make a decision on which protein to order based on how it’s prepared, or the sides. And I’ll consult the list of adult beverages, and especially wine, to think about what I might enjoy with my meal.

At the seat, in the storage compartment, were headphones and a bottle of water. On the seat was a pillow, cooling gel pillow, and blanket. Predeparture orange juice, sparkling wine, and still water was offered. I requested pajamas and a mattress pad – those aren’t placed at your seat, and I didn’t want them to run out.

The Polaris Seat

The seat, announced by Oscar Munoz in 2016, was a Jeff Smisek special. It’s innovative for being able to squeeze seats into space, to ‘check the boxes’ as efficiently as possible. It’s not a seat to avoid the way old United business class (Diamond seats) are, with several planes still flying around six years into the new seat offering. But make no mistake that United’s business class is a lesser product.

Nonetheless it is a gorgeous cabin despite also being a dense cabin, and there were plenty of items at the seat – a blanket, pillow, cooling gel pillow, and new Away amenity kit.

Slippers are placed on the ottoman.

Odd-number rows of the Boeing 777 are great for families traveling together in the middle section, because while the center divider (electronically controlled) goes up and down between those seats the divider is much larger for odd-numbered seats.

There isn’t very much storage in the seat, but there’s a nice side table that fits a laptop when it’s not on your tray table. There’s also AC and USB power. The small cubby fits your headphones and some other sundry items. A water bottle was placed inside before passengers boarded.

Main Meal Service

After takeoff (room temperature) nuts were distributed, along with a beverage of choice. There would be no separate beverage service when meals were passed out, or even after the meal.

I had ordered the salmon and the piece of fish was quite good. The salad was lettuce and one cherry tomato cut in half. Bread was served room temperature. There was no separate appetizer, just the lettuce.

There was no napkin laid out on my seat’s tray. Instead the meal was served on a tray preplated with linen. It’s all about speed and efficiency, not a moment spared for extra interaction by crew at the seat. After all before the pandemic United removed a flight attendant from business class and there’s just no time.

After the main meal a flight attendant came around offering dessert – a choice of “cheese and crackers” (no mention of what cheeses were on offer), “lemon cake” or “ice cream.” I chose the ice cream and it came to the aircraft with toppings on it. The vanilla ice cream was freezer-burned.

There’s no separate cheese course, you can no longer have more than one choice, and if you did want cheese the only way to find out what the cheeses were on this flight would have been to select that as your dessert, taste them, and guess.

There was no opportunity for something to pair with dessert, though you could have hit the flight attendant call button – asked what they offered (again, no menu) – and then requested something.

Mid-flight Snacks

They ran out of midflight snacks. First the chips were gone, then the cheese and crackers (maybe the dearth of those is why you can’t have a separate cheese course). And eventually the sandwiches were gone, too. Notably United doesn’t even catering a hot option, as Air Canada had on our outbound.

Sleep On A 10 a.m. Departure

I find it really tough to sleep on a 10 a.m. departure. I love late night flights, and ultra-long haul flights where you’re going to get a night’s sleep almost no matter what. But it’s tough to leave at 10 and be ready for bed just as you’re landing in the morning at your destination.

Good bedding helps. So does darkness. However some passengers chose to keep their windows open for the flight. That was bad enough – as people were starting to settle in for bed cabin crew gossiped about work incessantly from the jump seats by the forward door, and didn’t even use their “inside voices.”

Pre-arrival Breakfast

Not only wasn’t there a menu, there wasn’t a choice. The idea of breakfast was introduced as, “what are you drinking with your breakfast?” I asked about coffee, they have milk and only milk – no other options. And there was no discussion of what the food was being placed in front of me.

The egg dish was surprisingly good. The sausage (against my better judgment I took one small taste) was among the most disgusting things I’ve ever tasted. The fruit generally unripe but fine. Breakfast bread – a muffin – came packaged.

The Internet Worked

I have to hand it to United – the internet worked, and with reasonably low latency. Wifi was $28.99 for the full flight.

Historically the number one reasons I’ve tried to avoid flying United domestically is because of lack of functional internet. Internet on Delta, American, Alaska and JetBlue have all been vastly superior to the slow offerings on United. Flying United has meant a hole in my productivity for several hours, which is something I can ill-afford.

They’re making an effort to improve wifi on their domestic fleet, and wifi on their Boeing 777-300ER is much better than the last time I flew one as well.

United Offers A Largely Ambivalent Business Class

I want to like United business class. When they first rolled out Polaris service over 5 years ago, they did a really nice meal service. They did wine tastings. They let you indulge with cheese and then dessert. Since then we saw a litany of Kirby Kuts even before the pandemic, and the service doesn’t live up to what other airlines are offering. And that’s on top of a seat that while passable – it is lie flat with direct aisle access and stylish – doesn’t offer as much space per passenger as other seats.

I’m trying something new with my trip reports, a rating by category and then overall for the flight. I may adjust the weights given to each category as I refine my thinking on this experiment.

United Airlines business class flight (1-10):

    Seat (50%): 6/10
    Bedding and amenities (15%): 9/10
    Food and Beverage (20%): 4/10
    Service (15%): 3/10
    Weighted average: 5.6/10

One thing I do have to give United credit for – I’ve noticed that they cap the number of miles they charge for business class, and at a lower level than competitors. So while you might pay up to 250,000 AAdvantage miles one way for a business class award between the U.S. and Australia (against seats legitimately selling for $7000+) United charges 200,000. Both are better than Delta on this score of course. So there’s a use case for some.

Flying from Australia to North America I’d certainly prefer to fly Delta, Air Canada or American (once their flights re-start) and Qantas on a Boeing 787-9. But United business class does the job of transportation while escaping from economy.

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 InsideFlyer.com, 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 »

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Comments

  1. Solid report Gary. I took my adult kids to Australia a couple of months ago and used plus points to upgrade us all from Premium Plus to Polaris. Our upgrades cleared both directions and both trips were completely booked in Polaris.

    I’ve probably flown the Oz to US trip 100+ times. All I care about is sleep – but I agree the catering and service is definitely sub par. Ok that’s being polite. Its dreadful. But we’ve learned to stock up in both directions.

  2. Just booked another Polaris flight, MXP-EWR for next month.

    I find the seats to be fine. I usually don’t eat, and don’t drink booze.
    The hard product is very solid, and a good choice.

    Did ARN-JFK last week in Delta One on 767. That is an aged product (although, again, if you are just sleeping, it’s totally fine too).

    Unions rarely produce good service, in any industry.

  3. Laughing at the comment that the flight attendants are rushed due to there being one less onboard now. Umm, it’s a 14 hour flight, lol. Time is very much on their side from SYD.

    Pathetic looking overall. And typical service from the seniors that usually get the SYD flights. The fact that they run out of snacks on a 14 hour flight when tickets often sell for $5K one way is outrageously unacceptable.

    Being on the East Coast I’ve been flying ME carriers to Oz in the opposite direction (even with added time) to avoid just this.

  4. That’s rough from a provisions standpoint. But the Polaris that was launched by Munoz was never going to last at a place like United. It may never have existed in the first place.

  5. @Jon – the soft product definitely existed at launch, I agree it was never going to last, but provisioning and poor service still stood out

  6. United has improved their soft product significantly as of June. Still not back at pre-COVID levels, but menus are back, food quality has improved, and at least on TLV-ORD, I think there was a hot snack available as well.

    Still a ways to go but less embrassingly bad compared to just a few months earlier.

  7. I agree 100% that it’s sub-par. I flew JNB-EWR (15.5 hours) in May and was really taken aback. No welcome drink, no offer of mattress cover, no menus, and as you said, no breakfast choices. FA were rushed and didn’t seem to care one bit. Seat/bed not particularly comfortable but yes, of course better than economy for such a long haul overnight flight. And safer being a solar traveler w/regard to the then new unmasking. We were in the air perhaps 10 minutes when they made the announcement that masks were optional. Thankfully South Africa had strict requirements and at that juncture everyone going to the US had to be vaccinated. I now know 3 people (all multi-vaccinated) who’ve gotten covid on a flight. But I digress – as a UA Gold member, I’m certainly happy I was able to upgrade my ticket. But very disappointed. Especially after scoring a fabulous award flight to South Africa on Qatar – the best business class I’ve ever flown.

  8. Without excusing the subpar food, I will share that this failure surprises me little. For many months, the government of Australia had strict ingress controls for flights, essentially requiring United to operate its birds at half-capacity, which had to be a huge money loser on one of the longest of the long-haul routes. I suspect that the corners cut to minimize the hemorrhaging of money have yet to be rectified in what should be a leading business-class product among legacy carriers. Since Delta parted ways with Virgin Australia, the next time I head down under, if I want non-stop, I suspect that Qantas will be my first choice.

  9. last 5-6 years i have started flying business internationally and I make sure not to give my money to any US airlines.
    They need to earn my business and after so many bad reviews and personal experiences I dont see it happening anytime soon.

  10. I fly Polaris regularly. I agree the food is the weakest point in the product. I normally try to eat in a Polaris lounge before boarding as the lounge food is normally excellent and the food on the planes poor.

  11. Curious about Sydney Airport ending its mask mandate when their official airport website still says “Masks remain mandatory at airports and on commercial flights.”

    And @Johnny as much as US based airlines suck, for international travel I may still opt for them at this time over other options that still force their mask rules such as Lufthansa, Emirates, Qatar, etc.

  12. They seem to have removed the separate appetizer from all of their longhaul flights. And the senior staff seem to really be phoning it in these days, way more than usual.

  13. Nice and informative review, even though you did break the first rule of flying: Don’t Eat The Fish.

  14. Really. Dean? Just had to get that anti-union dig in? I was a Union Steward (IAMAW) for a certain WI based airline to which UA contracted out some small cities ground handling, including a RON B-727-200. If it was on time, it got in about 2230 and left at 0615 the next morning.

    We cleaned the RON and serviced both aircraft including the outbound the next day. Their crews RAVED about what a good job we did and said we did a better job than any UA city. Granted, this was in the 80s. But still.

  15. I just hope AA is back to flying SYD by Jan 2024. My prior 2 J trips in their 787-9 smoked your experience. I’ll avoid United for sure.

  16. A ‘4’ for food is too generous – that’s at best a ‘2’ – what a pathetic display by United for its premium cabins

  17. My (printed) menu from this same service in the Spring of 2012 (UAL SYD-LAX), in Business Class (the old 8-across ‘dorm’ layout that did allow a lot of cheap seats):

    Starters:
    Chilled Appetizer: Sliced Breast of Chicken with Chili Lime Sauce, Sweet Pea Guacamole and Crudites
    Fresh Seasonal Greens: Tomato and Mozzarella Cheese

    Entrees:
    Filet Mignon, Carrots, Potato Pie
    Pan-fried Filet of Snapper, red pepper confit, potatoes, broccoli
    Spinach and Cheese Ravioli

    Desert:
    International Cheese Selection: Ashgrove Outback Red and Lancashire, seedless grapes, crackers, and port wine
    Passion Fruit tart with meringue

    Mid-flight snack:
    Beef Curry Meat Pie
    Cheese, cucumber, and lettuce sandwich

    Pre-arrival:
    Ham and Swiss cheese Omelette, spinach and baked tomato
    Fresh fruit and yogurt, breakfast bread basket with butter and fruit preserves

    Wine:
    Two choices of NV champagne
    Loire Sauvignon Blanc, choice of 2 California Chardonnays
    Spanish red, California Merlot, California Cabernet Sauvignon
    Australia Special: Victoria Shiraz

    Looks like a major step down Gary!!

  18. And then you get back to Austin where it’s 104º
    Winter down under sounds pretty good right now!

  19. Wow, that is really weak. Indeed, it is substantially weaker that I got on CPT-EWR in Polaris in December. Apart from the quality, those portions really look skimpy. 3 morsels of potatoes with breakky? Have potatoes gotten so expensive that they have to economize there?

    These meals are simply pre-pandemic domestic F fare. I do not know how they expect to persuade premium passengers to pay the freight when alternatives are superior.

  20. You are provided free eyeshades and noise canceling headphones, so enough whining about a window being open for a 10am flight. The South Pacific Ocean is magnificent. Next time get a window seat and take a look at something besides your laptop. Maybe even allow yourself to daydream a bit about all the islands in the South Pacific that you are flying over, and about how it would be useful to write an entry about how to realistically visit them on points.

  21. Thanks for the review, Gary.I’m currently at IAH reflecting on my summer trip. Just arrived from a 3 week jaunt throughout Southeast Asia. I flew SQ SFO-SIN and returned KUL-IST-IAH on TK. Service and product from start to finish blew UA out of the water. I like UA too and my domestic carrier of choice but when I get impeccable service and hard product (SQ’s A350 J Seat is massive even for me — I’m 6’2 225) it reminds me how far they need to go on the international front. However, I didn’t find the food on either SQ or TK to particularly good. This surprised me on my IST-IAH flight since catering was out of a hub. Nonetheless, I’m a picky eater and airplane food isn’t the reason for my travels. That said, looking forward to your next review.

  22. Hey, United!
    That is ghastly service and odious food.
    When I hear that things are better, I will spend my hard earned dollars on what you offer.
    See you then. Maybe.

  23. Looks like an average domestic F meal to me. Really poor for one of UA’s premier t-pac routes.

    Flew UA IAH-HNL in Business Class back February on a 772 – same poor quality food, crew was a bit better as they were Hawaii based. I am 6″4″ and find the Polaris seat very cramped.

    Returned to HNL last month on AA DFW-HNL on a 772 – it was night and day compared to UA. Very pleasant crew, food was acceptable and seat was great. Plus AA gives Flagship Lounge access to Business class customers on certain long-haul flights to Hawaiil.

    UA would not even allow access to their United Club!

  24. I flew UA EWR-DEL end of March. They had printed menus and a lot of elements that were missing on this Sydney flight. Any idea why only certain routes have the extras? If both are Polaris, shouldn’t it be consistent across the board?

  25. Great review!!!!
    Love United’s Garbage skank stew onboard worth the premium (not)
    In the 90s we flew round trip First class 180k for 2 seats saver twofer awards
    (ah the good old days) granted they weren’t lie flat beds
    We redeemed 120k each way in First around 2002 in lie flat beds when it was much better but still they ran out of breakfast.One of the nursing home FAs forgot to even ask if we wanted breakfast
    I avoid United/Delta flying anyone else even if it means going through Europe and or the Middle East
    I would fly United in Premium as a last resort over Fiji (non A 350) or Hawaiian air if I had to and bring my own food and beverage onboard
    Sadly the food and transcons were better with UA years ago in business class!
    Whats with the Monkey Pox hospital food/dining onboard?

  26. I just flew a UA 777 300–ER that originated in SYD. We were business SFO-EWR. The mediocrity continued. One of the worst flight attendants in my 14 years 1K. She countemanded the younger FA to just toss the nuts onto the main dinner plate ‘to save time.’ No menu. When I politely asked for a brief meal choice selection, her response: ‘I told you. Chicken or pasta’. She ‘forgot’ the beverage service. I ended up eating two bags of chips from the lounge.

  27. UA has no reason to care as long as their flights are full. Two roundtrips across the Atlantic in the six weeks and not an empty seat to be seen.

  28. I just flew UA Polaris from EWR to CPT and back JNB to EWR last week and had a very similar experience. No printed menus, no appetizer, very basic food (felt like what you might get on a domestic 2 hour flight in F), lackluster service. When I asked what kind of wine they had, she said “red or white.”

    I also hate how you have to beg for things like the mattress pad and slippers, both of which they seemed to run out of very quickly. For pajamas, they only had the Large/XL which is huge for my average frame and it looked ridiculous.

    I’m usually a Oneworld guy but I decided to give UA and shot this time since the nonstops to S Africa are pretty compelling. But the experience was extremely disappointing and I don’t plan to shift my business over to UA/Star.

  29. I’m not sure why you dislike their seat so much. Privacy is great.

    Agreed on meal quality and service. The lack of menus makes it impossible to pick a decent wine given how impatient the FAs are…

    Menus are an incredibly low-cost way to market the experience. In the air, perception of quality matters just as much as actual quality. Very shortsighted way to lose repeat bookings.

    Overall I’d never fly Polaris on my own dime unless it’s savagely on sale. Last time I booked revenue it was $2400 RT to FRA + the LH connection

  30. Flew the 777-300 from FRA to IAD a few weeks ago. Pretty much the same on-board experience. Remember the grilled cheese and tomato soup option mid-flight? Now it’s a shitty basket of stuff that looks like it belongs in a vending machine or one of those value packs you buy at Costco. Yeah the seats are nice but at 6′ 3″ it’s snug.

  31. Gary, no idea where you get this “200K” cap idea nonsense from…look at this coming Wed, it’s 363,000 miles. Thu is a “steal” at only 362,800 (lovely UA algorithm).

  32. Thanks for the review Gary. Being a Virgin Australia Platinum member and wanting to travel back to the USA (SEA and GEG); now that VA have canned the DL tie-up and partnered with UA, I really wanted to see some reviews before deciding. It was as I had expected. Similar soft product to Economy+ rather than Business. Maybe VA will eventally fly to USA again, but not holding my breath. Lindsay (QF WP on travel forums)

  33. I got in on the 60K Polaris deal which will include a SYD-SFO leg. Based on your review, I feel like I overpaid for this award, even at 60K…

  34. A b*tchy FA on United? No way! I’ve been flying at least 2x/mo since May of 2020. Flown all the majors and most regionals. By far, the United FAs were the least pleasant of the bunch. Angry, entitled, arrogant, confrontational, escalating, and yet with all that charm, still acted bored.

    Of course that doesn’t describe all United FAs, but consistently far too many of them, with American being a distant second.

    For some, the COVID power is too intoxicating to let go. Sounds like you got one of them…

  35. @Magnifico I guess you have not flown with my AA purser on Flagship First. She did so little service that we ended up with self service wine bar next to the snack basket.

  36. @ UA-NYC

    “Gary, no idea where you get this “200K” cap idea nonsense from…look at this coming Wed, it’s 363,000 miles. Thu is a “steal” at only 362,800 (lovely UA algorithm)”

    Yes, indeed, and the same is true of the SYD-LAX inventory. Although there is a price point at 200k miles, it is not a “cap” and there is inventory priced at over 360k miles one way business.

    Hopefully, readers are looking for the 80k entry level price and not paying the 200k or more under dynamic pricing!

    Incidentally, readers may also be interested to learn that sometimes inventory is “released” if you add a connecting fight at the Oz end.

    I have found single 80k miles award seat MEL-LAX, which then reset to multiple award seats available when a PER-MEL feeder was added – in other words folk shouldn’t’ give up if they can only see one sea on the trans-Pacific sector, rather experiment adding a feeder sector (which will b eon Virgin Australia) – may only work in some combinations.

    @ Gary is making repeated factual errors in articles and appears disinterested in correcting them once pointed in the right direction.

    Anyway, having read the informative review, I’m relieved that my next SYD-LAX itinerary is in QF first on QF FF points (that’s hoping QF have brought the A380 back onto that route by then….WTF are you doing QF?!)

  37. This explains why UA was offering these flights for 60k miles. Maybe UA did not offer early retirement to enough of the older FAs. There are still no passengers paying full fare on these flights so I guess Kirby feels why bother to offer decent food.

  38. totally bizarre that you don’t state how many miles (or dollars?) you used on what used to be a miles/points blog… COVID man

  39. @Boraxo

    “Maybe UA did not offer early retirement to enough of the older FAs.”

    Did it occur to you that claimed indifferent service may be a consequence of bad management?

    “There are still no passengers paying full fare on these flights so I guess Kirby feels why bother to offer decent food’

    Eh? If you have any actual data on the breakdown of the actual fares being paid for business class on such routes and the allocations thereof, then please do share. If you can’t, your comment is just a projection of a deluded mind.

    Interesting to note, if we accept the poor standards, that the American dream of a competitive aviation industry has resulted in such a pathetically low level of performance, even I the face of competition.

    Work out why it’s broken, folks!

    Stop the lame excuses for the very sad state of your airlines. Is it really the fault of the coal face staff???

  40. I flew LAX-SYD on AA in February, & was pleasantly surprised by the service. Menus & PJ’s were given on the ground. All the meals were good, mid-flight snacks were heated sandwiches (nice snacks). Sounds like the UA service is a half-hearted attempt in comparison.

  41. platy,
    you make some very good statements that are the root of what drives United’s product.
    After Delta decided to start dismantling the Tokyo hub which it acquired from Northwest – which was the largest airline across the Pacific regardless of nationality- United decided to jump in to take the 1st place title. Given how fragmented the Asia/Pacific market is by destination country from the US it is inevitable that a US carrier will hold that title.
    DOT data provided by United shows that its Asia/Pacific network has not been profitable since 2016 even though it is much larger than every other carrier. It is incredible that the largest carrier in a market can’t make money but other carriers do; Delta and Hawaiian both generate profits flying the Pacific.
    United doesn’t “need” to be profitable because they are so large that they can offer whatever level of service and use their position as the largest carrier to so many Asia/Pacific countries to win contracts.
    United is trying to do the same thing to Europe by dumping capacity into the transatlantic market, using aircraft that are not and probably never will fly to Asia again. Add in that United has the world’s largest fleet of 777-200/ERs which are the least fuel efficient in their class when configured with international cabins and United isn’t operating its international network to make money but to maintain and gain market share.

    Their domestic system has been the weak link – they have the most competitive hub metro areas and the lowest share because of their heavy use of RJs. Their United NEXT program involves spending tens of billions of dollars to replace RJs with mainline aircraft which will dramatically increase capacity in UA’s hub markets while adding massively to its fleet ownershp costs.

    United has long built its network based more on ego than profit maximization – flying to all 50 states, round the world flights, being the largest airline in a region despite not being profitable. Pricing follows attempts to dominate markets; when there is more capacity, there is the ability to price it cheaply.

    The airline industry has been full of egos and will continue to be. When you see a company that does things that don’t deliver the best for all parties, be very suspicious about whether it will last. United cannot deliver service that is so far behind the competition using aircraft that are so much less fuel efficient at the size that United is doing.

    The next several years strategically will be very critical for United. They are betting on a lot of things that will all have to work perfectly for United to financially succeed – and airline history shows that rarely all works.

  42. That breakfast sausage, looking undercooked, looks like a giant suppository ! Perhaps the sausage suppository is to help clean out your bowels after eating the UA food ! ?

  43. Based on these comments here, you can see that the level of business classes on American airlines has gotten SIGNIFICANTLY better compared to 10 years ago, while in Europe, shockingly little has changed on the big carriers. It is clear that the service at UA is not excellent. On the other hand, no clear-thinking person from Europe would think of criticizing the Polaris seat. Do you know what our “common” alternatives are?

    KLM: Still in 2-2-2 business class arrangement in the 777s and with a miserable airport in Amsterdam.

    LH: ONLY in a 2-2-2 business class arrangement, where I even unintentionally touch my neighbor’s feet or knees while sleeping in the 747s…

    BA: Absurd business class with 2-4-2 seating, unless you are lucky enough to catch a plane with club suites.

    LX: Either pre-book a throne seat for 200 USD each way or end up in a row of two with no direct aisle access and no stowage for even a single bag, laptop etc.

    AF and IB almost stand out because a 1-2-1 business class has now been installed throughout the whole fleet (IB) or almost throughout the whole fleet (AF).

    When I fly business, I want a good seat with direct aisle access and good privacy. Polaris offers all of it. If I have a choice between LH/LX/OS and UA, I choose UA any day.

  44. How is United’s business product news to anyone? As someone that regularly travels on the updated Dreamliner Polaris, I understand the “agreement”. Basically, United’s hard product is very good.. the seat and the privacy. However, the service is barely different than Spirit. The sky waitress I had didnt even know what club soda was and when I asked where my seat was at boarding, the male sky waitress was audibly annoyed. God forbid I don’t know. But thats the trade-off. I paid around $1800 for a Polaris seat from London to ORD using points and cash. It barely costs more than economy and the experience reflects that. Oh and yeah the food is worse than boxed snack meals I got as a kid in economy making that same trip. Still, its better than shelling out $10,000 to fly Qatar.

  45. Pre-Polaris, I was lucky enough to fly their from NYC on Cathay Pacific in First Class. And the fee was 135,000 AA miles – could have flown Business Class but that was 125,000. One of the best flight experiences ever and from the East coast, you have to stop anyway.

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