United Updating Polaris, Planning Doors On Business Class Seats

Delta Air Lines has doors on (some) of its business class seats. They were second in the world to do launch this, behind Qatar Airways, though they sometimes claim to have been first. American Airlines is planning to introduce suites with doors in business class on new Boeing 787-9 deliveries.

However United is still installing Polaris seats on planes which, while far superior to their old legacy Continental Airlines ‘Diamond’ business class that doesn’t even have all aisle access, offers less room per passenger than even American’s current business seat.

There’s a lot of competitive pressure now to do more than just Polaris for United, especially as that carrier pursues a strategy that seeks to attract premium business. And the planning cycle for a new business product, from selection to production to installation across a fleet, is many years-long. So it’s not surprising that United is now planning for a new business seat with doors.

Aviation watchdog JonNYC drops some hints that United is currently in the process of selecting a new business class seat with doors.

I have heard this as well. My understanding is that new final decision has been made on which seat they’ll select. It will certainly be some time before we see this on a plane. They aren’t even done retrofitting new Boeing 787-9s, delivered with the old Diamond seats, with Polaris seats. But even United will adopt doors on its business class, or at least they appear to be on the verge of committing to do so.

And of course we’ll see United’s new narrowbody business class seat before this new suite with doors on widebodies, and that narrowbody business seat will be called Polaris even though it’s a different seat (United has investing in branding its business product, not just its seat, Polaris). So it’ll be interesting to see whether they continue the branding even with a better seat, or mark the occasion of offering something better by signaling that with a new name.

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. Putting doors on J seats that are smaller makes no sense.
    I would rather eat better food.

  2. Meanwhile, Delta is bringing on newish A350s with 2×2 seating in business-class after 12 years of committing to 1×1 seating.

  3. Good luck trying to book United business class to Europe or Asia with points.
    United is getting to be just like Delta Sky Rubles.

  4. thank you, Gary, for noting that United has a large fleet of international aircraft that have been flying for years with an inferior cabin configuration if doors in business class is supposed to the standard of what makes a premium business class seat “superior”
    And, of course, EVERY American and United 777 and 787 economy seat has less space than EVERY economy seat in Delta’s international fleet given that AA and UA both have 10 abreast 777s and 9 abreast 787s. Some of us book away from those configurations regardless of the carrier. Neither the 767 or any standard configured Airbus aircraft produces a seat that narrow. Grinding shoulders with someone for 12-14 hours is worse than having teeth pulled and in no way compares with having a door on a first class cabin or not

  5. Will the narrowbody business class seat be the new J seat with doors?
    I really hope they don’t just slap a door on the current narrow Polaris seat and call it good.

  6. Everyone will have their own opinion but to me, at 6′ 3″ the Polaris seats while nice, seem rather confined. The last thing I want is a door. Maybe it’s a big thing for others but it does nothing for me. If they want to distinguish their business product from other carriers, I’d rather they do like Pete said, upgrade meals or find something else of greater value.

  7. Agree with all those above who say that a door doesn’t really move the needle for me. At this point, as a regular size person, pretty much all the carriers have good J seats, and a door actually seems a little claustrophobic. If instead they wanted to compete more for international J, they would have to improve the onboard F&B. It has become disgusting much of the time. The Polaris lounges offset that, but only if departing or connecting from an airport that has one. The only international flight out of 3 international trips for the rest of the year I already booked that I did through UA is a code share on another airline.

    After the original Polaris rollout, if UA advertised any improvements, I would not believe them until I saw them. Their brand is not quality. It is route network, and being generally on time these days.

  8. Should meals in the UA Polaris section be offered as they are in the Economy class; “Beef, Chicken, or Pasta”? No printed menu to select from, no email describing the meals. Experienced this from IAD, (Dulles) 3/23 and again out of LHR 4/10 (London). No beverage (Wine selection) was offered. Bottles were out of view. No after dinner cocktail was offered during each flight. Seat was comfortable, but the Economy Class Service with a first class ticket informed me my business class model of expectations needs to be watered down or switch carriers.

  9. Just flew Delta A300-200 (FRA-JFK) & 767-300 (JFK-SFO) in Biz Class. My A300 seat area was “duck taped” in more areas than not. And there were parts in need of mending. New seats w/ or w/out doors would be a godsend!

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