United Airlines Is Letting Customers Test New Business Class Suites With Doors

Delta Air Lines was the second airline – behind only Qatar Airways – to launch business class suites with doors into commercial service. American Airlines is going to enclosed suites with their Boeing 787-9 and Airbus A321XLR new aircraft deliveries in 2024. British Airways has been putting doors on business class seats, and Air France is going to be doing the same.

United Airlines isn’t going to be left behind in this race. In fact they’ve been vetting new seats with doors for a new Polaris product, as I reported this past spring.

Now they’re inviting some top customers to see and give feedback on some final designs, as reported by aviation watchdog JonNYC.

Finishing the retrofit of existing aircraft to the current Polaris seat has taken so long it is already time for the next generation of seats.

But the Polaris seat was always just a ‘good enough’ product anyway, signed off on by penny pinching disgraced ex-CEO Jeff Smisek because they allowed the airline to cram in as many full flat aisle access seats into the same space they used for their old generation of six-abreast Diamond seats. It was an ‘efficient’ seat not a luxurious one, and not close to top of market even when introduced.

United needs a new product, and new business seats need to have doors. United will be doing that, and they seem to have made progress if they’re market-testing some final ideas with customers.

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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  1. The new UA seat isn’t going to be “luxurious” either, just good enough that business customers at their hubs won’t pick another airline for a better seat. Unlike the many state owned airlines, UA needs to make money for shareholders, and airlines that have to make money almost always pick worse seats. There’s not enough customers willing to pay a premium to fly a better seat

  2. UNITED rising

    But I’d rather better food and beverage onboard than the door. Yes I know food and beverage is opex, not capex that can be depreciated over time.

  3. I do not get the hate for the Polaris seat. I find the odd-numbered window seats to be more than spacious, and while the cabin can feel a bit claustrophobic I feel like that’s more because of all the “furniture” in any new C seat than the fault of density specifically.

    Soft product? Sure, I’ll take a Lufthansa, or virtually any international airline, over United (or any domestic airline). But I’ll take the seat all day.

  4. I don’t need a door. The people who pay $6k don’t give an f about a door. The bloggers and flyertakers who buy $50k of visa gift cards to end up in J want a door.

    I think United has been run by idiots for decades.. but Polaris is a decent seat.. I’d rather see them.spennthat money on in flight food….which is the worst in the air.

  5. What I need is a decent meal and efficient service on board – and an on time product. I’ve yet to fly this year once on time and every time it’s because United can’t get their act in shape. Have had better experiences with Delta but sadly Dulles is a United hub

  6. The Polaris seat itself is quite good, and the odd-numbered seats along the window offer a good deal of privacy given the service console is along the aisle. What doesn’t work well in Polaris is the food (UA catering is simply atrocious) and the service standards, while much improved from the earlier days of UA/CO’s post-merger fiasco, is still rough, hit and miss, and substandard.

  7. No reverse herringbone option?
    As for the current Polaris seat, it’s okay but not great. If half the seats are better, then there’s a design problem.

  8. My bf and I are Global Services and 1K respectively and we agree the problem is not the door, it’s the food. We can’t stand another polenta, cauliflower croquettes or chicken katsu. I’ll take good food over a door.

  9. We can all share our personal opinions on the value of the door (I am in the “take it or leave it” camp), but has anyone ever come across any statistically relevant survey data indicating what the general flying public (at least the J flying public) thinks?

    Back to personal preference, I wholeheartedly agree that superior catering would move the Polaris experience needle a whole heckuva lot more that a new seat. Have been perfectly comfortable in the current gen seat on two flights so far.

  10. I find any current Polaris seat to be excellent, whether odd or even row, and for domestic transcon, better than DL J or AA F, or JetBlue J non-thrones. The cabin is dense but you don’t really notice while seated. The seat is totally comfortable as are the pillows and blankets. I don’t care that much about a door because those seats already feel fairly private (unlike domestic transcon AA F, which feels exposed).

  11. “…and enjoy lunch or a cocktail
    on United….”

    Trust me. Take the cocktail.

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