Today, shortly after 10 am, United Airlines unveiled a completely revamped business class product it’s calling Polaris—and frequently, “the shining new star of business class travel.” It was, in my opinion, a sparkling production, even by the standards of Gotham Hall, one of Manhattan’s coolest venues and the setting for Thursday’s much anticipated press event.
More importantly, it appears to be a move worthy of praise. Following a number of other changes—including a revamped culinary offering, the return of free snacks in coach and a modernizing fleet—United’s hard work in developing Polaris shows a commitment to improving its image. December 1, when Polaris will debut, will signal the next phase of the airline’s push to raise the bar (or simply better compete) in domestic airline travel.
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If you don’t fly business class, you don’t stand to benefit immediately from all that is meant to be exciting about Polaris. But, as newly restored CEO Oscar Munoz told it, the hope is that customers will take notice of the thought hours the airline is putting in and the momentum that it is gathering. More specifically, the many (12,000+ allegedly) hours of research pushed the airline to prioritize sleep, and facilitation of restful sleep appears to a major strength of the Polaris experience. Among the features that Polaris passengers can expect:
- Lie-flat seats with up to 6’6″ of bed space custom designed in partnership with Acumen Design Associates and PriestmanGoode (with “a ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign)
- Custom bedding designed by Saks Fifth Avenue and cool-gel memory foam pillow
- Soho House & Co Cowshed toiletry products (and calming lavender pillow mist)
- 100% cotton pajamas and plush slippers
- Noise-reducing headphones
- Updated, route-inspired, seasonal menus built by Trotter Project chefs (and flexibility to move up your meal to accommodate your sleep schedule)
- A la carte comfort foods like lobster mac-n-cheese and grilled cheese
- Pre-departure beverage and gourmet chocolate
- Nine premium United Polaris lounges that will be opening soon (first at Chicago O’Hare on December 1, 2016, and then in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Houston, New York/Newark, Washington Dulles, Tokyo Narita, Hong Kong, and London Heathrow next year)
United Polaris will be available on Boeing 777-300ER and 787-10 aircraft, Airbus A350-1000 aircraft, and Boeing 767-300 and 777-200 retrofits. Here’s a minimally impressive photo of a Polaris seat as it will appear on these planes from the event this morning:
Here’s much more on the news, the new product and what we can expect from Polaris and United going forward:
- United upgrading international business class (USA Today)
- United Unveils New Polaris International Business Class (The Points Guy)
- United’s New Business Seat, Bedding, and Lounges Revealed By New CEO Oscar Munoz (View from the Wing)
- United unveils new luxurious, largely unaffordable, seat option (Mashable)
- United CEO aims to win back high-paying business travelers (Chicago Sun-Times)
- United Continental to Offer New Business Class on Widebody Overseas Planes (The Wall Street Journal)
- United Airlines unveils new luxury business cabin (CNN Money)
- United Airlines Unveils Reimagined International Travel Experience – United Polaris Business Class (United.com)
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