The last few years have been tough for United Airlines. Beyond the controversial exit of a CEO and multiple failures of their online platform, United’s business class product has received lower marks than some competitors.
Now, United is in the process of phasing out their Global First product and upgrading their business class cabin. Their new Polaris business class product is much better than what was previously offered; the sooner more of United’s aircraft are outfitted with Polaris, the better!
When you consider that United’s first class product has been lacking, moving to a nice business class product could be a welcome improvement in value.
Let’s dig into how you can book a flight on United in their new Polaris business class.
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A Look Inside United Airlines Business Class
For years, United’s business class product has been considered subpar. With the launch of their new Polaris business class product, though, their reputation is changing for the better. Currently, the only flights with the new Polaris seat are operated on the Boeing 777-300ER (also known as the 77W).
Unlike United’s old business class product, all Polaris seats are lie-flat with direct aisle access to make your long flight more comfortable. If you are traveling alone, odd numbered seats by the windows will give you the most privacy. If you are traveling with someone, even numbered seats in the middle section are your best bet.
United is also revamping their business class lounge experience by introducing Polaris lounges. If you aren’t departing from a location with a Polaris lounge, you can still access United clubs and other Star Alliance business class lounges.
Unfortunately, cards like The Platinum Card® from American Express do not offer entry to any of these premium lounges. However, the Chase United MileagePlus® Club Card and the Chase United MileagePlus® Club Business Card do provide access to Polaris lounges.
How To Fly United Airlines Business Class Using Points
Star Alliance has 27 member airlines, which means there are plenty of programs you can use to book a United flight.
United Airlines MileagePlus
One of the easiest ways to book a United flight is through their own MileagePlus program. It’s a simple process using their online award booking platform.
You can book your flight online by following these steps:
- Visit United’s website
- Sign in to your account
- Select “Search for award travel”
- Select your travel dates and your desired route
- Select your cabin of choice
- Select your flight (make sure it is operated by United!)
- Review your flight choice
You can transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards at a 1:1 ratio if you need more United miles for an award booking. Transferring SPG Starpoints to United is a terrible value since 1 SPG Starpoint only gets you 0.5 United miles. Don’t waste your SPG Starpoints on United!
Make sure you confirm award availability on United’s site before you transfer Ultimate Rewards.
If you’re looking for some other fun ways to travel, check out our article on the best way to redeem United miles.
Air Canada Aeroplan
Before you jump in and use United miles to book business class, check out Air Canada’s Aeroplan program. You might find it provides a better deal.
The booking process is simple and can be done online. Here’s what you’ll need to do:
- Visit Aeroplan’s site
- Log into your Aeroplan account (you’ll need your account number)
- Under “Use Your Miles” select “Travel”
- Select your travel dates, cities, and class of service
- Select your flight and complete your booking
Aeroplan passes on carrier-imposed surcharges for many partner award bookings. Luckily, United is exempt from this so your out-of-pocket cost will be more reasonable.
If you are short on Aeroplan miles, you can transfer American Express Membership Rewards points at a 1:1 ratio. Transfers are almost instant.
You could also transfer SPG Starpoints at a 1:1 ratio, but these transfers can take 5 days to complete.
Finally, while it may not be the most well-known program, Asiana Club can be a great way to book United business class.
To book a United flight, you will need to call Asiana since they do not allow partner bookings online. Here’s how it works:
- Search for availability using United’s site (see above for the steps)
- Call Asiana at 1-800-227-4262
- The U.S. call center is open between 8:30am-5:30 pm PT (Monday-Friday)
- Tell the phone representative you’d like to book an award with their Star Alliance partner United
- Provide your travel dates and flight numbers
- Once you confirm space, you will be prompted to give your credit card for any necessary taxes and fees
SPG Starpoints also transfer to Asiana Club at a 1:1 ratio. Transfers can take up to 10 days, so there is a chance your desired flights won’t be available once the points transfer.
Other Options for Booking United Airlines
You can also book business class flights on United with ANA Mileage Club, Singapore KrisFlyer, or Avianca LifeMiles.
Great United Airlines Business Class Redemptions
While your first instinct might be to use United MileagePlus miles to book business class flights on United, that might not always give you the best deal. Let’s look at some of the best options for booking different routes.
Asiana Club and United have very similar redemption rates if you want to fly from the west coast to Hong Kong.
|San Francisco to Hong Kong (one-way)|
|United MileagePlus||70,000 miles|
|Air Canada Aeroplan||75,000 miles|
|Asiana Club||67,500 miles|
However, Asiana Club sets itself apart if you want to book business class from the east coast to Tel Aviv.
|Newark to Tel Aviv (one-way)|
|United MileagePlus||70,000 miles|
|Air Canada Aeroplan||82,5000 miles|
|Asiana Club||60,000 miles|
While Aeroplan might not provide the best redemption rates compared to the United and Asiana, it’s a great program to use if you have lots of Amex Membership Rewards points.
We’ll keep an eye out as United adds more routes with the new Polaris product.
How To Earn Enough Miles for United Business Class
To top off your United MileagePlus account, you can transfer points from cards that earn Chase Ultimate Rewards or cards that earn United miles directly.
|Loyalty Program||Credit Card|
|Chase Ultimate Rewards Program Review||Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card|
|Chase Sapphire Reserve℠ Card|
|Chase Freedom Unlimited℠|
|Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card|
|Chase Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card|
|United Airlines MileagePlus Frequent Flyer Program||United MileagePlus® Explorer Card|
|Chase United MileagePlus® Club Card|
|United MileagePlus® Explorer Business Card|
|Chase United MileagePlus® Club Business Card|
If you need more Aeroplan miles, you have plenty of cards to choose from that earn Membership Rewards points.
Finally, if you need to earn some Asiana miles, SPG Starpoints are the way to go.
|Loyalty Program||Credit Card|
|Starwood Preferred Guest Loyalty Program||Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express|
|Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express|
When Should You Search for Award Space?
United releases award space 338 days prior to the day of departure. As business class space can be tough to find on flights with the new Polaris product, it’s best to start your search early and check back regularly if space is not immediately available.
What Makes This a Great Redemption?
While this isn’t a luxury experience, a comfortable seat on your long-haul flight might be all you need. Additionally, you’ll have a solid experience on the ground.
United has already launched the new Polaris lounge at Chicago-O’Hare. They are expected to open 8 more locations in the next few years at Houston International, Los Angeles International, New York-Newark, San Francisco, Washington-Dulles, Hong Kong, London-Heathrow, and Tokyo-Narita.
From the choice of food at the buffet to the bar with an extensive selection of beer, wine, and spirits, the Polaris lounges are getting great reviews so far.
As a business class passenger, you have access to United’s Arrivals Lounge in both San Francisco and London-Heathrow. Even with the new Polaris seat on the Hong Kong-San Francisco route, it’s a very long flight and you might like a shower before a day of tourist activities or a business meeting.
United is in the midst of a big shift with their business class in-flight and lounge offerings. While many business class flights do not have the new Polaris seat and only one Polaris lounge has opened, we look forward to these improvements being expanded.
With only 2 routes operating the new Boeing 777-300ER with the new Polaris product, award space won’t always be easy to find, but the experience will be much better if you can find it!
Table of Contents
- A Look Inside United Airlines Business Class
- How To Fly United Airlines Business Class Using Points
- Great United Airlines Business Class Redemptions
- How To Earn Enough Miles for United Business Class
- When Should You Search for Award Space?
- What Makes This a Great Redemption?
- Final Thoughts