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 many of their 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 discuss how you can book United’s new Polaris business class.
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).
Starting in early 2019, United will also fly the brand-new Polaris business class product on the 787-10 for these flights:
- Newark to San Francisco: twice daily from February 14, 2019; 3x daily starting March 8, 2019
- Newark to Los Angeles: daily from January 7, 2019; twice daily starting February 14, 2019
Keep in mind that the majority of the flights between these cities won’t have the new Polaris class, so you’ll need to confirm that the brand-new Polaris class is available on your particular flight.
Unlike United’s old business class product, all Polaris seats are lie-flat with direct aisle access to make your long flight more comfortable.
Hot Tip: 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 (like Chicago O’Hare), you can still access United clubs and other Star Alliance business class lounges.
Unfortunately, you won’t be able to access any of these lounges with cards such as The Platinum Card® from American Express.
If you want access to United Clubs (not Polaris lounges), check out the Chase United MileagePlus® Club Card and the Chase United MileagePlus® Club Business Card.
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
You can book business class flights on United Airlines through their MileagePlus program. All you have to do is find award space online and you can take care of the whole booking process right there.
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 “Business” as your cabin
- Select your flight (make sure it is operated by United!)
- Review your flight choice
Chase Ultimate Rewards transfer at a 1:1 ratio and are your best option when you need more United miles. Before you transfer your Ultimate Rewards points, make sure there is award space.
Hot Tip: There are tons of ways to redeem United miles, so make sure you check out the other fun ways United miles can help you travel.
Air Canada Aeroplan
While United is the most obvious choice for booking a business class award, don’t forget to check Air Canada Aeroplan as you might find an even better redemption.
You can book United awards online through Aeroplan’s website.
- 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
While Aeroplan does hit you with carrier-imposed surcharges, you won’t get hit with these fees if you book a flight on United Airlines. This can really help keep the cash component of your booking to a minimum.
The best way to earn Aeroplan points is to transfer Membership Rewards or Ultimate Rewards points. They transfer almost instantly and at a solid 1:1 ratio. You can also opt to transfer your Capital One miles at a 2:1.5 ratio.
Hot Tip: Check out our Aeroplan region definition guide to make it easy to find out how many miles you need to book your award.
Using Asiana Club miles to book United award flights isn’t what comes to mind first for many people, but it’s an option that shouldn’t be overlooked.
Booking award flights on Asiana’s partners requires a call to Asiana.
You must reserve and have your ticket issued 3 days prior to departure, which prevents snagging last-minute awards.
Follow these steps to make booking easy.
- Search for award space using United’s site (follow the steps under the United booking instructions above)
- 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 agent that you’d like to book an award on United Airlines
- Provide your desired travel dates and flight numbers
- Once you confirm space, you will be prompted to give your credit card for any necessary taxes and fees
Other Options for Booking United Airlines
As a member of the Star Alliance, you have plenty of options to book award flights on United Airlines. A few other options to consider are ANA Mileage Club, Avianca LifeMiles, or Singapore KrisFlyer.
Great United Airlines Business Class Redemptions
Redeeming United miles for business class award flights on United might be the most common way to book, but there might be some better options. Check out the comparisons below for some redemption ideas.
Asiana Club and United have similar redemption rates if you want to fly from the West Coast to Hong Kong.
|San Francisco to Hong Kong (one-way)|
|United MileagePlus||75,000 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||75,000 miles|
|Air Canada Aeroplan||82,500 miles|
|Asiana Club||60,000 miles|
Aeroplan doesn’t always provide superior redemption rates, but their miles are very easy to earn thanks to a partnership with Membership Rewards.
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
Earn United MileagePlus Miles
To top off your United MileagePlus account, you can transfer points from cards that earn Chase Ultimate Rewards:
Recommended Chase Cards (Personal)
|Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card - This is our favorite beginners travel rewards card, which is currently offering a 60,000 point bonus after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.|
The card earns 5x points on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards, 3x points on dining and 2x points on all other travel purchases, plus more. Enjoy a $50 annual Ultimate Rewards Hotel Credit, and other travel benefits such as excellent travel insurance coverage, including car rental insurance and no foreign transaction fees, this card is a very rewarding card.
|Chase Sapphire Reserve® - This premium card will get you access to 1,300+ airport lounges. as well as a number of other card benefits. The current sign up bonus is 50,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. You'll also get a $300 travel credit per year which wipes away a big chunk of the $550 annual fee. |
Earn big with this card, earn 5X total points on air travel and 10X total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3X points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.
|Chase Freedom Unlimited® - A solid, no-annual-fee card that earns you a $200 bonus after you spend $500 in your first 3 months. The newest intro offer earns an additional 1.5% cash back on everything you buy (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year) - worth up to $300 cash back! This means you'll enjoy 6.5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 4.5% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service, and 3% on all other purchases (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year).|
After your first year or $20,000 spent, enjoy 5% cash back on Chase travel purchased through Ultimate Rewards, 3% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service, and unlimited 1.5% cash back on all other purchases.
Recommended Chase Cards (Business)
|Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card - this is our #1 recommended business card and right now comes with a 100,000 sign up bonus after you spend $15,000 on purchases in the first 3 months after account opening. This bonus is worth $1,000 cash back or $1,250 toward travel when redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Pay your cell phone bill with this card to receive up to $600 in cell phone insurance coverage per year; as well as a number of other benefits.|
Earn 3x on the first $150,000 spent on travel and select business categories each account anniversary year, plus 1x on all other purchases — with no limit to the amount you can earn. All for an annual fee of $95.
|Ink Business Cash® Credit Card - Earn $750 bonus cash back after you spend $7,500 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening|
This no annual fee business card earns up to 5% cash-back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at office supply stores and on internet, cable and phone services each account anniversary year, plus 2% cash-back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at gas stations and restaurants each account anniversary.
|Ink Business Unlimited® Credit Card - Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back rewards on every purchase made for your business.|
Earn $750 bonus cash back after you spend $7,500 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. There's no annual fee.
…or cards that earn United miles directly:
Recommended United Cards
You can earn Marriott points and transfer those to United at a transfer rate of 3:1.1. Plus, for every 60,000 Marriott points that you transfer, you’ll receive a bonus of 5,500 MileagePlus miles.
Recommended Marriott Cards
|Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card - Earn 3 Free Nights (each night valued up to 50,000 points) after qualifying purchases + 10x total points on eligible purchases in select categories. Get automatic silver elite status each account anniversary year; and a free night award (valued up to 35,000 points) every year after account anniversary. Plus, earn up to 17x total Bovoy points per $1 when using your Marriott Bonvoy Boundless card at at over 7,000 hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy, and 2x Bonvoy points per $1 on all other purchases. Annual Fee is $95.|
|Marriott Bonvoy Bold® Credit Card - Earn 30,000 Bonus Points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. Earn up to 14x total Bonvoy points per $1 when using your Marriott Bonvoy Bold card at over 7,000 hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy, earn 2X on other travel purchases, then 1x on all other purchases. A solid card for Marriott loyalists looking for a no-annual-fee card offering Marriott Bonvoy Silver Elite status.|
|Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card - Earn 75,000 Marriott Bonvoy bonus points after you use your new Card to make $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months. Plus, earn up to $200 in Statement Credits for eligible purchases at U.S. Restaurants within the first 6 months of Card Membership.|
Earn 6x per $1 at hotels participants in the Marriott Bonvoy™ program, 3x at U.S. restaurants and flights booked directly with airlines, and 2x on all other eligible purchases. Annual Fee is $450. Terms Apply. For rates and fees of the Bonvoy Brilliant card, click here.
|Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card - Earn 75,000 bonus Marriott Bonvoy points after you use your new Card to make $3,000 in eligible purchases within the first 3 months of Card Membership. Plus, earn up to $150 back in statement credits on eligible purchases made on your new Card within the first 3 months of Card Membership.|
This is a solid card for business owners who will get complimentary Marriott Bonvoy silver elite status. Annual fee is $125. Terms Apply. For rates and fees of the Marriott Bonvoy Business Card, click here.
Earn Air Canada Aeroplan Points
If you need more Aeroplan points, you have plenty of cards to choose from that earn Membership Rewards points.
Recommended Amex Cards (Personal)
|The Platinum Card® from American Express - There's currently a new welcome bonus offer of |60,000 100,000 Membership Rewards Points after spending $6,000 on purchases in your first 6 months of Card Membership. Plus, earn 10x points on eligible purchases on the Card at restaurants worldwide and when you Shop Small in the U.S., on up to $25,000 in combined purchases, during your first 6 months of Card Membership.
This is our #1 card for accessing 1,300+ airport lounges worldwide, including Priority Pass (enrollment required). We leverage ~$4,900+ in benefits and perks from the card every year. Terms Apply. For rates and fees of the Amex Platinum card, click here.
|American Express® Gold Card - This card has a welcome bonus of 60,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $4,000 on purchases in your first 6 months of Card Membership. |
We love using this card as it earns 4x Membership Rewards Points at restaurants, including takeout and delivery, and earns 4x Membership Rewards points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1x).
With an annual fee of $250, there's no better card in our opinion if you eat out and/or shop at supermarkets regularly; and you'll have access to many benefits and perks. Terms apply and for rates and fees of the Amex Gold card, click here.
Recommended Amex Cards (Business)
|The Business Platinum Card® from American Express - Right now, there's a new welcome bonus of |85,000 120,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $15,000 on eligible purchases within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
See how we get $4,000+ in value per year by leveraging many of the benefits & perks, including access to 1,300+ airport lounges worldwide. Terms Apply. For rates and fees of the Business Platinum, click here.
|American Express® Business Gold Card - one of our favorite Amex business cards because we earn 4x points across the top 2 select categories that we spend the most money in each month, such as Facebook or Google ads. The 4x points applies to the first $150,000 in combined purchases from these 2 categories each calendar year. After that, you earn 1x.|
The current welcome bonus is 70,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $10,000 on eligible purchases within the first 3 months of Card Membership. Terms Apply. For rates and fees of the Business Gold, click here.
|The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express - A super simple, no-annual-fee card that earns you 2x points on everyday business purchases, up to $50,000 in purchases per year. After that, earn 1x. Right now, you can earn 15,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $3,000 in eligible purchases on the Card within your first 3 months of Card Membership. Terms Apply. For rates and fees of the Blue Business Plus, click here.|
Earn Asiana Club Miles
You can earn Marriott points and transfer those to Asiana at a transfer rate of 3:1. Plus, for every 60,000 Marriott points that you transfer, you’ll receive an extra 5,000 Asiana Club miles bonus.
When Should You Search for Award Space?
Business class space can be tough to find on flights with the new Polaris product, so it’s best to start your search early and check back regularly if space is not immediately available. You can start looking for availability 338 days prior to your date of departure.
What Makes This a Great Redemption?
United’s new Polaris business class is definitely an upgrade from their older business class product. From the Polaris Lounge to the new cabin layout, the experience on the ground and in the air has come a long way.
United has already launched the new Polaris lounge at Chicago-O’Hare, and they’re expected to open 8 more locations in the next few years :
- Houston International
- Los Angeles International
- New York-Newark
- San Francisco
- Hong Kong
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.
This is a great perk! 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 inflight and lounge offerings. While many business class flights do not have the new Polaris seat and only 1 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!
For rates and fees of the Platinum Card® from American Express, click here.
For rates and fees of American Express® Gold Card , click here.
For rates and fees of the Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Business Platinum Card® from American Express, click here.
For rates and fees of the American Express® Business Gold Card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express, click here.