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United Airlines Boeing 787-10 Polaris Business Class Review [HND to LAX]

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Ryan Smith

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Ryan completed his goal of visiting every country in the world in December of 2023 and now plans to let his wife choose their destinations. Over the years, he’s written about award travel for publicat...
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Airline: United Airlines
Aircraft: Boeing B787-10
Flight #: UA38
Route: Tokyo Haneda Airport (HND) to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)
Date: October 10, 2023
Duration: 10 hours, 10 minutes
Cabin and Layout: Polaris business class; 44 seats in a 1-2-1 configuration
Seat: 9D (aisle)
Cost: $1,104 (including an ANA business class flight from Jakarta to Tokyo)

After connecting in Tokyo, my wife and I flew United’s Polaris business class home to Los Angeles; though we had flown in Polaris previously, this was our first time flying it on a 787 aircraft. In many ways, we knew what to expect. However, as those flights had operated with limited services due to COVID-19 restrictions, we were curious how service would be on this flight.

We also were curious whether United would continue its terrible streak of always messing up our vegan meal requests. Incredibly, the airline got it right for the first time. And barring what I think was a sneaky move on the internet, this was overall a solid flight. It even had the fastest “extra inspection” I’ve ever received with SSSS on my boarding pass. Here’s how our flight went.

Booking United Airlines Polaris Business Class

Prior to our trip to Singapore and Bali, I found a great deal on business class tickets to get home, so long as we were willing to position to Jakarta from Bali. Paying $1,104 for an itinerary that included ANA business class from Jakarta to Tokyo and then this flight with United Polaris to Los Angeles was a steal. For comparison, the full route from Jakarta to Los Angeles typically costs $1,800 on a good day. Just the Tokyo to Los Angeles segment typically costs $2,200 or more.

When trying to get us home with points, the best I could find was 78,000 Air Canada Aeroplan points per person, including a much longer layover. Thus, I was willing to pay for this booking.

Since this was a paid ticket, I had 2 sets of earnings. I paid with The Platinum Card® from American Express and earned 5x points per $1 spent, netting 11,040 American Express Membership Rewards points after paying for our 2 tickets. The Amex Platinum card offers 5x points on flights booked directly with airlines or through, up to $500,000 per year (then 1x).

We purchased the ticket from ANA but credited the flights to United MileagePlus. As a United Silver Premier member, I earned 6,275 MileagePlus miles and 1,076 Premier Qualifying Points.

United MileagePlus earnings UA business HND LAX
My earnings from this flight after crediting it to my United MileagePlus account. Image Credit: United

Tokyo Haneda Airport (HND)

Transfer at HND

As we arrived on a connecting flight that was part of the same itinerary, we didn’t clear customs or go through passport control. Instead, we followed the signs for “international transit” after arriving at Haneda Airport. We passed through a security checkpoint that merits a solid 8.5 out of 10 on the efficiency scale, then we were in the terminal to find our onward flight. Between the line and inspection, we spent only 12 minutes here from start to finish.


United Airlines doesn’t have its own lounge at HND. Instead, its business class passengers and Star Alliance Gold elites have access to 2 ANA lounges near gates 110 and 114. The lounge near gate 110 was operating from 5 a.m. until the final ANA departure of the day. The lounge near gate 114 (closer to our departing gate) was only open from 6 to 11 a.m. when we passed through, so it was already closed when we walked up to the door.

We didn’t feel like walking back to gate 110 to find the lounge, given that our gate was one of the farthest in the terminal and our flight was leaving in 90 minutes. We also wanted to get to the gate early since I had SSSS on my boarding pass and would need time for an extra security inspection. Thus, we just hung out by the gate for an hour.

United Polaris business class ticket with SSSS
My boarding pass with the dreaded SSSS.


Boarding started a little more than 30 minutes late. Due to high winds, the arriving aircraft had to circle for a while before landing. That delayed our boarding because the crew needed time to prepare the plane before it headed out again.

Once the agents announced boarding would start soon, I approached the desk and indicated the SSSS on my boarding pass. I knew I needed to go off somewhere private for a search of my belongings, so I asked if we could get it started. The agents were ecstatic that I wanted to get this out of the way before clogging up the line, so my wife waited for the standard boarding process while I went behind a divider for the inspection.

With my travels to far-flung places, I’ve often had SSSS on my boarding pass. I can say this was the fastest extra inspection of my life. We finished so quickly that I lined up with the pre-boarding passengers on the jet bridge before the aircraft door was open. Efficient!

United Polaris business class boarding at HND
Boarding with the pre-boarding passengers after my extra security inspection.

Once the doors were opened, we used 2 doors for boarding. Those in economy veered to the right, boarding into the galley between Polaris (business class) and premium economy. At this point, I was the only passenger heading into the “business class only” path on the left, as boarding for Polaris passengers hadn’t started yet.

Smiling flight attendants at the aircraft door greeted me warmly and thought I’d made a wrong turn. After checking my boarding pass, they indicated the right-hand aisle as the one to use for my seat.

Once boarding groups started flowing into the plane, the process moved semi-efficiently. While flight attendants at the boarding doors did a great job of helping people choose the correct aisle for quicker access to their seats, flight attendants inside the plane didn’t do much to assist the process. When people clogged the aisles or struggled to put their items in the overhead bins, crew members didn’t come to their aid to move things along.

On Board United’s 787-10 Polaris Business Class

On the B787-10, United’s Polaris business class had 44 seats in a 1-2-1 layout. My wife and I had seats 9D and 9G, which were 2 seats together in the middle of the plane.


Each seat had a private area — much more than just a seat. While these suites didn’t have closing doors, they did have a lot of amenities.

United Polaris business class 787 10 seat 9D HND LAX
My seat (9D) upon arrival.

Of course, there was a seat.

United Polaris business class 787 10 seat with blanket and pillow HND LAX
My seat at the time of boarding.

On arrival at my seat, I found a pillow, blanket roll, and bedding from Saks Fifth Avenue.

United Polaris business class 787 10 bedding closeup HND LAX
My bedding and blanket upon arrival at my seat.

The blanket was made from recycled plastic bottles, had a fun design, and was really lightweight.

United Polaris business class 787 10 blanket closeup HND LAX
The blanket had a fun pattern.

I also had a pair of fuzzy slippers.

United Polaris business class 787 10 slippers HND LAX
The slippers were plain but comfortable.

There wasn’t an obvious place to store all of this stuff, but the footwell provided ample space.

United Polaris business class 787 10 bedding in foot well HND LAX
Everything fit comfortably in the foot well.

And for context on just how much room there was, here’s the empty footwell with just the slippers inside:

United Polaris business class 787 10 slippers in foot well HND LAX
The footwell was large (slippers for comparison).

Each seat had a 3-point seatbelt with a detachable shoulder harness, which we were required to use during takeoff and landing.

United Polaris business class 787 10 seatbelt HND LAX
The seat had a 3-point seatbelt.

Along the aisle, I had a cubby. It was flanked by a lamp and a flip-out reading light.

United Polaris business class 787 10 storage bin closed HND LAX
The storage bin and lamp on the aisle side of my seat.

The door to the cubby latched closed, and a water bottle was inside. My headphones were hanging on a hook inside the door, and the back of the door also had a mirror.

United Polaris business class 787 10 storage HND LAX
What the storage bin looked like when open.

Below the cubby, I found the headphone jack, universal outlet, USB-A charging point, and detachable remote for the entertainment system. There was also a fair amount of counter space in front of this cubby.

United Polaris business class 787 10 controls closeup HND LAX
The outlets and remote control were under the storage cubby.

There was an adjustable armrest along the plastic frame holding up the cubby. In the “up” position, it provided access to the safety information card and inflight magazine.

United Polaris business class 787 10 arm rest raised HND LAX
My adjustable armrest in the up position.

Pushing a button on the front of the armrest and giving a little shove moved it down easily.

United Polaris business class 787 10 arm rest lowered HND LAX
The armrest in the down position.

A fold-out coat hook was on the frame in front of me near the entertainment screen.

United Polaris business class 787 10 coat hook HND LAX
A fold-out coat hook on the plastic frame.

The tray table was released after considerable squeezing on a latch underneath it, allowing it to slide out from under the entertainment system.

United Polaris business class 787 10 tray table folded HND LAX
The tray table in its folded position when releasing it.

Interestingly, the tray table was taller than it was wide. I was certain this couldn’t be correct and tried multiple times to figure out how to rotate it to a horizontal layout, but I couldn’t find one. I can’t remember ever seeing a portrait-style table layout like this before.

United Polaris business class 787 10 tray table with laptop HND LAX
The tray table engulfed my 13-inch laptop.

Above the tray table was a small space that looked like it could provide storage but wasn’t very useful. It definitely couldn’t fit my laptop.

United Polaris business class 787 10 no space for laptop HND LAX
There definitely wasn’t room for a laptop in this cubby.

Between my seat and my wife’s, we had a privacy divider that could go up and down easily using the button on top.

United Polaris business class 787 10 divider up HND LAX
Our divider in the up position.

Under the divider, I had numerous seat controls. These could move the seat forward and back (useful for getting closer to the tray table during meal time), lay the seat flat, put it into a reclining position, and turn the aisle-side lamp on and off.

United Polaris business class 787 10 seat controls HND LAX

The many seat controls just under the divider between the seats.

The plastic frame around each seat also had a small step. This was handy for anyone struggling to reach their items in the overhead bins.

United Polaris business class 787 10 step in moulding HND LAX
The plastic frame had a step.

Choosing the Best Seat

As this cabin was laid out in a 1-2-1 confirmation, you might think all middle seats were equal, and all window seats were equal. However, that wasn’t the case.

United Polaris seat map Boeing 787 10
Polaris cabin layout on United’s B787-10 aircraft. Image Credit: United

Window seats in odd-numbered rows were closer to the window, while those in even-numbered rows were closer to the aisle. If you want more privacy, choose an odd number here.

United Polaris business class 787 10 window seats HND LAX
Looking at the window-side seats.

The middle seats in odd-numbered rows were closer together. In the photo below, you can see that some seats were next to the divider, allowing passengers to converse more easily, while others were separated by their cubbies. These separated seats were the middle seats in the even-numbered rows. If you’re traveling with someone and want to sit closer together, choose seats in odd-numbered rows in the middle section.

United Polaris business class 787 10 seats HND LAX
The final rows of the Polaris cabin on our flight.

Food and Beverage

When I arrived at my seat, I had a menu on the counter along the aisle. On one side, it listed our flight’s meal and snack options. Options included grilled chicken, ribs, and salmon, and there was an express option to help maximize sleep.

United Polaris business class 787 10 menu HND LAX
Menu options during our flight.

The back side listed drink options. Wines and Champagne were available.

United Polaris business class 787 10 drink menu HND LAX
Our flight’s drink menu.

For the first time, United got our special meals right. My wife and I requested (and then re-confirmed incessantly, given United’s track record) vegan meals. We actually received them, which made us very happy. Our meals included a salad, dinner roll, grilled vegetable starter, and a main dish.

United Polaris business class 787 10 main meal HND LAX
My dinner (special meal request for vegans).

The main dish was rather mediocre as far as cooking goes. It felt like something I’d whip together when no one felt like cooking and there weren’t any leftovers to reheat. It consisted of some penne noodles, lentils, chickpeas, olives, and peas, as well as a bit of tomato sauce and greens. It was edible and filled my stomach, but I wouldn’t accuse this dish of having flavor.

United Polaris business class 787 10 main meal closeup HND LAX
Close-up of our main meal’s hot dish.

I will preface my description of the second meal by saying I’m very easy to please, but I’m also honest. That said, this second meal was a head-scratcher. Along with a cup of applesauce, a roll, and a fruit cup, we received a mix of mushrooms, peas, eggplant, and tomato sauce. No one bothered to put any seasoning on it.

United Polaris business class 787 10 second meal HND LAX
The second meal (vegan special meal request).

After failing to fulfill our special meal requests dozens of times, United made progress by delivering vegan meals. Yes, this is progress. The next step in the evolution would be adding some flavor.

For those of you not ordering special meals, you’re in luck: I heard other passengers saying the food they ordered was good.


If I previously described an amenity as the most interesting one I’ve ever received, that accolade has been reassigned.

Amenity Kit

During our flight, we received Therabody fanny pack amenity kits. I’d never dreamed I would say something like that.

United Polaris business class 787 10 amenity kit HND LAX
Our fanny-pack-meets-amenity-kit on this flight.

These were truly unique. They had an adjustable strap and zipped open at the top — just like you’d expect from a fanny pack.

United Polaris business class 787 10 amenity kit open HND LAX
Opening the amenity kit to see what’s inside.

And though they weren’t large, there was a lot crammed inside. We had socks, an eye mask, a pen, tissues, earplugs, and a dental kit.

United Polaris business class 787 10 amenity kit items HND LAX
The contents of my amenity kit.

The TheraFace kit included a towelette, lip balm, hand cream, hydrating mist, and eye serum.

United Polaris business class 787 10 TheraFace packet contents HND LAX
A list of items inside the TheraFace pack.


Each seat had a built-in entertainment system, with the screen mounted into the frame around the seat in front. It was medium in stature as far as business class cabins go.

United Polaris business class 787 10 entertainment screen HND LAX
My screen when I arrived at my seat.

A wide range of movies were listed alphabetically but could be filtered by language, genre, and other sorting options.

United Polaris business class 787 10 entertainment movie options HND LAX
Some of the movie options on this flight.

There was a section of kids’ movies also.

United Polaris business class 787 10 entertainment kids movies HND LAX
Kids movie options during our flight.

Numerous podcasts were also available.

United Polaris business class 787 10 entertainment podcasts HND LAX
Podcasts were available, too.

I found the option to watch concerts and recordings of live events interesting.

United Polaris business class 787 10 entertainment live events HND LAX
Options for concerts and live events on the entertainment system.

And the entertainment system also had wellness-themed offerings, such as recordings of nature.

United Polaris business class 787 10 entertainment wellness HND LAX
There were wellness offerings also.

While listening to music or podcasts, there were visualization options that provided something more interesting and soothing than just staring at the album cover.

United Polaris business class 787 10 entertainment visualizations HND LAX
Visualization options were available.

It was also possible to see the flight plan on the entertainment screen, indicating when lights would be on and off and when meals would be served.

United Polaris business class 787 10 flight service plan HND LAX
The plan for our flight was listed on the screen.

The screen offered an option for “Please don’t wake me” and “Wake me for meals,” so flight attendants knew our wishes while sleeping.

United Polaris business class 787 10 entertainment do not disturb HND LAX
Using the “do not disturb” option on the entertainment system.


United advertised that Wi-Fi was available on this flight. Unfortunately, it wasn’t. And it wasn’t a connectivity issue related to storms. According to a flight attendant, the system was broken and had been broken on this plane for 5 days.

What upset me and other passengers about this is that the crew knew the system was broken before takeoff and didn’t tell anyone. This would’ve allowed people to download their work before the flight rather than being told there was Wi-Fi and then finding out there wasn’t.


Lavatories were available at the front and rear of business class, located on both sides of the plane. These were definitely larger than the lavatories in economy class.

United Polaris business class 787 10 lavatory HND LAX
Inside the larger-than-economy lavatory.

While there weren’t any unique features, there were additional toiletries. These included hand lotion, air freshener, and a facial mist.

United Polaris business class 787 10 lavatory toiletries HND LAX
The lavatory had extra toiletries.


I interacted with 4 flight attendants during this flight. I thought 3 of them were great, but 1 seemed to be having a rough day. Luckily, I barely interacted with this person besides saying what I wanted to drink when my meals came.

Overall, I thought the flight attendants were friendly and punctual. They were friendly at the aircraft door during boarding and disembarkation. However, they didn’t do much to help passengers during boarding, just offering a warm greeting.

Moreover, I’m not sure what happened, but the staff clearly decided not to forewarn passengers the Wi-Fi wouldn’t be working during the flight, despite knowing in advance. That’s a service issue, in my opinion, because United sent numerous notifications to passengers advising there would be internet during the flight. People (like me) planned on working during this flight. Advance notice that this feature wouldn’t be available seems reasonable when they clearly knew before we boarded (as a flight attendant informed the passenger across the aisle from me).

Bottom Line:

Service wasn’t anything spectacular. It was cordial, and the meal service was efficient. But I wouldn’t describe the service as cheerful. It was a strong “decent.”

Arrival at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)

When we landed, the plane taxied to the gate, and then we had to wait as another plane was still at our arrival gate. The crew seemed as shocked as the passengers, given that we arrived 30 minutes late.

During this time, the crew made announcements informing us of what was happening, immigration procedures, and which baggage claim would have our luggage. They also were friendly while being stern with passengers who stood up while we waited on the taxiway.

After we reached our gate, deplaning was quick. Business class passengers departed first, with everyone leaving from the front door near the cockpit. Flight attendants were present to smile and say goodbye.

Final Thoughts

Overall, this flight had many positives. I thought Polaris business class’ hard product (seat, amenities) was really nice. The bed was comfortable for sleeping, entertainment options were abundant, and the bathrooms were spacious.

Service wasn’t anything special, but it was good enough to get the job done. And United finally got our special meals right, so that’s a win. I found some aspects of the service lacking, but nothing significant. I would fly this product again.

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Frequently Asked Questions

How many seats are in United Polaris on the Boeing 787-10 aircraft?

Polaris business class has 44 seats on the Boeing 787-10. These are in a 1-2-1 configuration of 11 rows.

Which planes have United Polaris business class?

All United long-haul aircraft have Polaris business class at this point. Some were built with this seat type, while others were retrofitted to add these newer, nicer business class seats. This includes all models of Boeing 777, B787, B767, and Airbus A350.

Is United Polaris the same as first class?

United offers domestic first class within the U.S. These seats are bigger than economy and have more space. Polaris is an international-style business class with lie-flat seats, larger entertainment screens, slippers, and more space. It is nicer than United’s first class seats.

What is the difference between United Polaris and business class?

Polaris is the name for United’s premium business class product. It is nicer than United’s “first class,” which merely offers larger seats on domestic flights. Polaris is an international business class with lie-flat seats.

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About Ryan Smith

Ryan completed his goal of visiting every country in the world in December of 2023 and now plans to let his wife choose their destinations. Over the years, he’s written about award travel for publications including AwardWallet, The Points Guy, USA Today Blueprint, CNBC Select, Tripadvisor, and Forbes Advisor.

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