United Will Start Adding a Plane With New Polaris Business Seats Every 10 Days

On this morning’s United earnings call Executive Vice President Andrew Nocella announced that they’ll be adding a plane with new Polaris business class seats every 10 days through 2020. If that turns out to be accurate it’s a real acceleration of pace for an airline that’s only retrofitted half a dozen planes in the two years since the product was announced. I’ve asked United for the timetable that tiers to this claim.

United Polaris Business Class Seat, Boeing 777-300ER

Days ago United told me that there are two Boeing 767s in Hong Kong for retrofit currently, with the next one scheduled to go in there in June. They have brought one 777-200 back from retrofit in Xiamen, China and two are there now. They haven’t shared when the next one will go, but when it does it will get premium economy as well as new business class seats. It’s unclear why they’re retrofitting 777s without premium economy now, or how this squares with Nocella’s “one every 10 days” claim although it will presumably speed up as they take new aircraft e.g. 3 Boeing 787-10s this year.

Update: United confirms with the statement, “On average, United will be adding at least one aircraft with Polaris seating every 10 days from now through 2020.” On average seems to be doing the work here and they don’t suggest they’re going to be adding a plane to the total with Polaris seats every 10 days now.

With Polaris and premium economy retrofits happening together it’s expected to take 3 years to update all of the planes that will get those, though they believe they’ll start selling premium economy later this year.

With the United Polaris lounge in San Francisco opening at the end of this month, Nocella also shared that Newark and Houston will open in May. Update: the earnings call isn’t yet archived to re-listen to verify what I thought I heard from Nocella, but United tells me Newark and then Houston will open in summer and not in May.

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. Wow – They really announced Polaris too soon. They should have had this level of retrofits and lounges ready to go before making an announcement.

  2. @daniel, @rf – you’re both missing the real story…UA finally hit their Aw Crap moment and realized that they actually should deliver the promised product. There’s NO WAY lounge construction would have been impacted and delayed like this; plane seats might hit a backlog with the manufacturer but certainly not years of delay (not to mention they actually rolled out some planes with the new seats, seats were available).

  3. By the time UA finishes with the Polaris program, they’ll be ready to announce the new one. Real third world greaseball operation.

  4. Wow! Such a fuss was made politically by an Administration claiming China (and other countries with low cost labor such as Mexico) was responsible for stealing jobs away from American workers…

    …by Boeing, for a rival, Bombardier, unfairly “dumping” heavily government subsidized planes assembled in Canada…

    …by UNITED, Delta & American and labor leaders at these three corrupt, OLIGOPOLIST managed airlines who never missed an opportunity to whine and prey on anti-Muslim hysteria whenever they alleged the Big 3 Middle East airlines enjoyed “unfair advantages” of governement subsidies and low cost labor (not to mention until recently also whined had access to USA taxpayer backed low cost government backed Ex-Im Bank loans)…

    …or by UNITED, Delta & American and their labor leaders at these three corrupt, OLIGOPOLIST managed airlines who pitched a fit that claiming Norwegian Air was seeking to unfairly exploit loopholes in EU laws and the “Open Skies” treaty between the USA and EU to evade higher cost labor in Norway and/or to operate with a de facto “flag of convenience” model to hire much lower cost labor sourced from Asia…

    …yet there’s nary a peep about all these United Polaris cabin makeovers being done offshore in places where labor is dirt cheap…

    Such breathtaking hypocrisy by politicians, the labor leaders at these airlines, and of course, the airlines’ CEOs as well.


    The silence about all this work being done offshore in places with notoriously low cost labor, plus few, if any labor protections is simply incredible.

    Our OLIGOPOLIST airlines are such blatant hypocrites it’s pathetic and laughable. And their accomplices among labor leaders who seem to be incredibly silent on this matter is shameful.

    It’s just that much worse when considering Americans were “PROMISED” by corporate leaders that in exchange for passing the “Tax Cuts” that lowered tax rates for corporations and the already extremely wealthy, jobs that were previously shifted offshore to exploit low cost labor would return to the USA…

    …Guess NOT as far as United Airlines is concerned for this cabin refresh aboard many of its widebody aircraft…GUESS NOT!

  5. The problem is that no one is going to believe UA on this until they see it. They’ve promised too much and not delivered in the past, so don’t have much credibility insofar as Polaris is concerned.

  6. Very nievely surprised to hear these aircraft were updated in China. One more reason to say No to UAL.

  7. Piece of trash airline. Anyone who willingly flies them is a fool. Enjoy your “Polaris” cramped seat with mediocre service.
    Too bad the engine failure didn’t happen to a United plane. They need all of the bad press they can get.

  8. Seeing will be believing. UNITED is not known to being honest, and this refit of aircraft and lounges is really doubtful on this schedule.

  9. @Keven R +1 IIRC they promised TVs in every plane and then started removing them before they even finished due to the expansion of wifi.

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