United Polaris – The Ultimate Guide & Everything You Need to Know

United Polaris Seat

United Airlines began rolling out their Polaris product in December 2016 when they outfitted business class cabins with new food and amenities and opened their first Polaris Lounge in Chicago.

Since then, United has had repeated delays in expanding their new flagship product. Let’s dive in and discuss everything you need to know about Polaris.

The New Polaris Experience

United’s business class product has not had a good reputation for quite awhile, so the upgrade to the new Polaris product is a much-needed improvement. Similarly, the Polaris Lounges are a significant upgrade on the current United Clubs.

The Polaris Seat

United Polaris Lie-Flat Seat
Enjoy a lie-flat seat with direct aisle access when flying Polaris. Image courtesy of United.

Since you’re going to be spending so much time in your seat, that’s exactly where we’ll start. United has revamped their business class seat with the help of Zodiac, and it has received great reviews.

The seat width is a comfortable 23 inches and the pitch is 75-78 inches. Bulkhead seats in rows 1 and 9 have a few more inches of space. Each seat is fitted with spacious footwells that allow easy movement of your feet. Similar to the increased pitch, bulkhead footwells also provide more space for your feet.

Every seat has direct aisle access and can be positioned into a lie-flat bed. Seats in odd-numbered rows will provide the most privacy since the window seats are truly next to the window, and the seats in the middle section are also set back from the aisle.

Odd-numbered middle seats are best if you are traveling with a partner since the seats are parallel and right next to each other. However, if you are traveling alone in one of these seats, you can still put up a privacy divider. This divider can even be up during takeoff and landing.

The seats in even-numbered rows face the aisle and do not have quite as much privacy. While the seats are the same, be aware of this when booking your business class seat on United.

Above the 16-inch in-flight entertainment system, you’ll find a bar to help you stand up from your seat without rocking the person in front of you. You and your fellow passengers will appreciate not being disturbed while sleeping on long-haul flights.

Amenities

United Polaris Cowshed Amenity Kit
United has introduced a redesigned amenity kit with Cowshed products for Polaris. Image courtesy of United.

United has really stepped up its game when it comes to the new bedding they provide business class passengers in the new Polaris seat. They’ve added a comfortable mattress pad, cozy blankets, and you can request a gel pillow for added softness.

If you plan on sleeping, make sure you request a mattress pad at the beginning of your flight as United does not carry enough for every seat. You can also request a pair of pajamas if the flight time on the route averages over 12 hours.

United’s new Polaris amenity kit comes with Cowshed products. The amenity kit includes lip balm, hand cream, eye shades, socks, a pen, and more.

Food and Wine

United Polaris Dining
With a revamped menu, you can enjoy a great meal when flying Polaris. Image courtesy of United.

While many international carriers have long provided fantastic meals in business and first class, United has lagged behind. When you book a business class seat on Singapore Airlines, for example, you will have an awesome meal that you can reserve your before your flight to ensure you get exactly what you want.

United might not be on that level yet, but the new Polaris in-flight dining options are a big improvement. The menus were developed with the help of The Trotter Project, a Chicago-based nonprofit organization.

A nice addition to business class will be the option to enjoy a hot snack on longer flights. United will also be adding new dessert options, but they’ll keep the ice cream sundae option that’s become so popular with passengers.

Pre-departure beverages now come with a piece of chocolate, which is a small but noticeable touch. During night time flights, you can even do a tasting of the wines offered on board. If you’re flying during the day, a bloody mary cart will be available.

In-Flight Entertainment

As we mentioned earlier, the Polaris in-flight entertainment system comes with a 16-inch touchscreen monitor. A simple remote is also provided so you don’t have to get up to make your selection. In the side console, you will find a pair of headphones to use throughout the flight.

United provides plenty of tv shows and movies to keep you entertained when you’re not sleeping on long flights.

WiFi is also offered on these flights for those who would like to stay connected with the world. United does not use Gogo Inflight Internet, so you won’t be able to use your complimentary Gogo passes provided by The Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN.

Polaris Lounges

United Polaris Lounge
United is stepping up their game with the Polaris lounge. Image courtesy of United.

United made a huge upgrade with the introduction of the Polaris Lounge. There is ample seating including cubicles, restaurant-style benches paired with tables and chairs, 2-top tables, the usual lounge chairs, and the bar.

The bar provides a number of drink options including premium wine, spirits, and champagne while the buffet provides both hot and cold food for you to enjoy.

If you’d prefer table service, you can order from a menu and your food and drink will be brought to your table.

What Routes Have the New Polaris Product?

United 777-300ER
United’s Boeing 777-300s are being delivered with the Polaris product installed. Image courtesy of United.

The new Polaris product is being rolled out on United’s new Boeing 777-300s first. Their 777-200, 767-300, 787-8, and 787-9 aircraft will be retrofitted with the new product after that. The new Boeing 787-10 and the Airbus A350 will be delivered with the Polaris product as well.

Currently, there are 4 routes with the new product:

RouteLaunch DateAircraft
San Francisco (SFO)Hong Kong (HKG)March 25, 2017777-300
Newark (EWR)Tel Aviv (TLV)May 5, 2017777-300
San Francisco (SFO)Tokyo-Narita (NRT)June 14, 2017777-300
San Francisco (SFO)Taipei (TPE)August 1, 2017 777-300

You might be able to book a flight with the new product between Newark (EWR) and Los Angeles (LAX) when United is doing test runs.

United has experienced delays rolling out Polaris, but they expect to launch more routes in Fall 2017.

What Airports Have the Polaris Lounge?

As of July 31, 2017, the only open Polaris Lounge is in Chicago. Like their in-flight product, United has had delays rolling out new lounges as well.

Currently, they expect lounges in San Francisco (SFO), Newark/NYC (EWR), and London (LHR) by early 2018. Later in 2018, United hopes to open new lounges in Houston (IAH), Los Angeles (LAX), Tokyo-Narita (NRT), Hong Kong (HKG), and Washington-Dulles (IAD).

Polaris Lounge Access Policies

Access to the Polaris Lounge is very limited. Passengers in Polaris first class or Polaris business class must depart from the airport the same day to have access to the Polaris Lounge. If connecting, these passengers can visit upon arrival or before departure.

Passengers on a Star Alliance partner booked in business or first class on an international long-haul flight can also access the Polaris Lounge, but only if they are departing from that airport. These passengers do not receive access if they are arriving on an international long-haul flight.

If United markets a flight as “United Business” rather than Polaris, you will not have access even if you’re on an international flight. Domestic business class and first class passengers (including to and from Hawaii) won’t have access either, even if the flight is marketed as a p.s. (premium service) flight.

An important point to remember is that United Club memberships do not gain you access to the Polaris Lounge.

How to Earn Miles to Book Polaris

As a Star Alliance member, there are many ways to book United flights with miles, which mean we have several options for earning miles through credit card partners.

Let’s start with earning United miles. You have a few credit card options that will allow you to earn United miles directly.

Chase United Cards

CREDIT CARDCARD INFO
United MileagePlus® Explorer Card
  • Earn 2 miles per $1 spent on tickets purchased from United, and 1 mile per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Annual Fee: $95
  • Our Review
Chase United MileagePlus® Club Card
  • Earn 50,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open
  • Includes United Club membership - up to a $550 value per year
  • Earn 2 miles per $1 spent on tickets purchased from United, and 1 mile per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Annual Fee: $450
  • Our Review
United MileagePlus® Explorer Business Card

Chase Ultimate Rewards Cards

You can also earn Chase Ultimate Rewards that can then be transferred to United. In many cases, these cards will be the fastest way to earn tons of United miles.

Recommended Chase Cards (Personal)

CREDIT CARDCARD INFO
#1 - Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Need Inspiration?
> 49 Best Ways To Use Ultimate Rewards Points
  • 50,000 bonus points.
  • That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through
    Chase Ultimate Rewards.
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide.
  • Annual Fee: $0 the first year, then $95
  • Our Review
Chase Sapphire Reserve℠ Card
  • 3X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide
  • Annual Fee: $450
  • Our Review
Chase Freedom®
  • Earn 5% cash back in bonus categories
  • No annual fee
  • Our Review
Chase Freedom Unlimited℠

Recommended Chase Cards (Business)

CREDIT CARDCARD INFO
Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card
  • Earn 3 points per $1 in select categories
  • Annual Fee: $95
  • Our Review
Chase Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card
  • Earn 5% cash back in select business categories
  • No Annual Fee
  • Our Review

American Express Membership Rewards Cards

There are also a bunch of ways to earn Membership Rewards, which can be transferred to Air Canada and used to book Polaris.

Recommended Amex Cards (Personal)

CREDIT CARDCARD INFO
The Platinum Card® from American Express

Need Inspiration?
> 57 Best Ways To Use Amex Points
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points
  • 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel.
  • Up to $200 Uber Savings Annually.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit. Terms Apply.
  • Annual Fee: $550
  • Our Review
Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express
  • Earn 25,000 points.
  • 3x points for flights booked directly with airlines.
  • 2X points at US restaurants, US gas stations, and at US supermarkets. Terms Apply.
  • Annual Fee: $0 for the first year, then $195
  • Our Review
The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express
  • Earn 10,000 Membership Rewards® points. Terms Apply.
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Our Review

Recommended Amex Cards (Business)

CREDIT CARDCARD INFO
The Business Platinum Card® from American Express OPEN

Need Inspiration?
> 57 Best Ways To Use Amex Points
  • Earn up to 75,000 Membership Rewards® points.
  • Get 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit. Terms Apply.
  • Annual Fee: $450
  • Our Review
The Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN
  • Earn 50,000 Membership Rewards® points
  • Get 3x points - Choose 1 out of 5 categories. Terms Apply.
  • $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $175
  • Our Review
The Blue Business℠ Plus Credit Card from American Express
  • Earn 2X points on everyday business purchases such as office supplies or client dinners. Terms Apply.
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Our Review

Finally, you can earn SPG Starpoints that can be transferred to both Aeroplan and Asiana Club.

CREDIT CARDCARD INFO
Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express

Need Inspiration?
> 45 Best Ways To Use SPG Points
  • Earn 25,000 bonus Starpoints®
  • Up to 5x Starpoints® on eligible purchases. Terms Apply.
  • $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95.
  • Our Review
Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn up to 35,000 bonus Starpoints®. Offer ends 11/1/17.
  • Up to 5x Starpoints® on eligible purchases. Terms Apply.
  • $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95.
  • Our Review

Keep in mind that transferring SPG points often takes a bit longer than Membership Rewards and Ultimate Rewards.

How to Redeem Miles for Polaris

United Polaris Middle Seats
If you’re traveling with a companion, the middle seats in odd-numbered rows are perfect for you. Image courtesy of United.

Fortunately, you have lots of ways to book an award flight with the new Polaris product if one of the routes works for you. Here are a few of the best ways to redeem miles for Polaris flights.

The easiest way to book this award is often by redeeming United miles. However, you might get a better deal booking with Air Canada Aeroplan or Asiana Club depending on the route and the points you have.

Here’s a breakdown of some the one-way award prices on a few routes:

RouteUnited MileagePlusAir Canada AeroplanAsiana Club
San FranciscoHong Kong70,000 miles82,500 miles60,000 miles
NewarkTel Aviv70,000 miles75,000 miles67,500 miles
San FranciscoTokyo65,000 miles75,000 miles60,000 miles
San FranciscoTaipei70,000 miles75,000 miles60,000 miles

Final Thoughts

United has been long overdue for an upgrade to their premium product. As they slowly retire their international first class product and introduce the new Polaris product, more people will likely become interested in flying with them.

With several ways earn points and book award flights, you’ll always have a way to book a flight in United’s Polaris product.

We’ll continue to monitor the roll out of Polaris. Hopefully in 2018 we’ll see the product throughout United’s fleet!

*Featured image courtesy of United

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

FAQ

What is Polaris?
Polaris is United’s new flagship premium in-flight product. It is replacing the old business and first class products that United currently uses on many international routes.

How can I book a flight with Polaris using points?
Until Polaris is fully operational across United’s fleet, there are only a few ways to fly Polaris.

Fortunately, you can book with United miles or one of their Star Alliance partners.

What makes the Polaris product better?
The Polaris product includes a completely new seat, better amenities, and better food and beverage options. Additionally, the in-flight entertainment screen and choices have been greatly improved.

How can I earn points to book United Polaris?
You can earn United miles directly with one of Chase’s co-branded credit cards.

You can also earn Ultimate Rewards to transfer to United, Membership Rewards to transfer to Aeroplan, or SPG Starpoints to transfer to Aeroplan or Asiana Club. Each of these programs can book Polaris flights on United.

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