United Announces Their First 777-300ER Routes, Featuring Polaris Seats

Filed Under: United

United introduced Polaris on December 1, 2016, which is the name for their new first & business class experience. This includes new airline lounges, improved food & beverages, better bedding, and also new seats.

United Polaris seat (PRNewsFoto/United Airlines)

The catch is that United’s new business class seat isn’t in service yet. So while you can now experience the new soft product, you’ll potentially be doing so from a business class product featuring eight seats per row.

The first United plane featuring Polaris will be the Boeing 777-300ER, of which United has 14 on order. After that, existing 777-200s will be the next plane to get the new product.

United 777-300ER (PRNewsFoto/United Airlines)

While United is in the process of taking delivery of their first 777-300ER, there’s usually a bit of a delay between when the airline takes delivery of a plane and when they actually start operating it on scheduled flights.

Well, United has just announced their first 777-300ER routes, both domestic and international:

  • Between February 16 and May 4, 2017, United will operate 6x weekly flights between Newark and San Francisco using the 777-300ER
  • As of March 25, 2017, United will introduce the 777-300ER on their San Francisco to Hong Kong route, which is presently operated by a 747-400

This is all tentative and subject to change, though the new aircraft type should be loaded into the schedule over the weekend.

It’s normal for airlines to operate a new plane on domestic flights first, so they can familiarize crews with the planes, and also work out any kinks before they start longhaul service.

While United initially said that they planned on basing their 777-300ERs at Newark, I’m not surprised to see San Francisco to Hong Kong be the first longhaul route to get the new plane.

United’s 777-300ERs will feature a total of 60 Polaris seats, in a 1-2-1 configuration. That’s a pretty premium heavy configuration.

Bottom line

It’s great to see a schedule for the first flights with United’s new business class hard product. While the improvement in the soft product is nice, you can only get so excited when a plane has eight seats per row in business class.

It’ll be great to see what this plane is like on longhaul routes.

Anyone plan on flying United’s 777-300ER on one of the Polaris routes early next year?

  1. Calling this 8 seats per row is very misleading compared to pmUA and BA J. This is a big step up from everything we have read and seen so far.

  2. @ AdamH — I think we’re saying the same thing, sorry if I wasn’t clear. I was saying that if you’re experiencing the United Polaris soft product right now it may be in a business class product with eight seats per row (ex-UA 772s).

  3. I will be more excited if the cabin crews are refreshed, dedicated, enthusiastic and new to the 77W fleet. And only they get to work these aircraft.

  4. after seeing how cramped the new seats are it’s hard to get too excited about it. I don’t know why they didn’t just select an existing product that good airlines already use. And ultimately it’s still UA so it will suck no matter what.

  5. I realize the business class seat is the big story here, this is also a big boost to us economy travelers on this route. The current planes with no seat back entertainment are a joke, so this is going to be a big step up for all passengers, not just business+.

  6. 18 months ago I would have totally agreed with RakSiam’s comment above. That said I’ve seen enormous improvement at United over that time period. I flew ps on Sunday and it had the new Polaris pillows, blankets, and amenity kits – all of which I thought were on par with any other Star Alliance carrier’s business class equivalents except maybe SQ.

    Employees both on the ground and in the air seem to be addressing me by name fairly consistently – probably 90% of the time at least. Service in the cabin seems to no longer be grumpy, and I no longer feel like the crew rushes out the meal and then sits around reading magazines and gossiping the whole time. I also no longer see them trying to skip things like pre-departure beverages and hot towels as used to be the norm right after (and before) the merger.

    I think meal quality has improved tremendously in this time period. My ps meal was actually as tasty as anything I’ve gotten in F on Lufthansa and C on other carriers like Air France. There were a lot less courses and no caviar but it is only ps… this was not longhaul – not that i’m suggesting we’ll ever see caviar on United. I see the improvement in meals across the board though – even my very short MIA-EWR flight had a good meal. The sparkling wine is SO much better than it was even a year and a half ago, plus it seems to be available on any domestic flight I’ve been on that served a plated meal.

    The United Clubs seem to be steadily improving and if they bring all of them up to the [quality] standards of the new LAX club I think I will be quite satisfied. In the same time frame I also have not had any agents flat out lie to me (like DEN United Club agent that said they aren’t allowed to assist with any reservations that aren’t same day travel) or spend more time arguing with me about how they aren’t going to do their job than it would take to actually do their job.

    Also we have to admit that the illy coffee is a huge improvement over the “kona blend” it replaced.

    I’m not saying United is as good as Asian or Middle Eastern carriers, but I no longer think they “suck no matter what” (as mentioned in a comment above) which *is* how I used to feel. I’m even considering using my miles to fly UA metal for long-haul premium cabin which I have *never* considered before. I’ve also been *paying* to fly domestic first on UA lately (not upgrades) because I believe the prices are now often [not always though] within the realm of reality for the improved product. I crunched the numbers and for my work trips paying out of my own pocket the difference between a Y ticket and an F ticket is cheaper than mileage running to get 1K and take my chances on getting upgrades.

    I really do give Oscar credit for taking action instead of giving us lip service as he likes to say. Since he’s been in charge the changes have been so much better than the ones Jeff “thought we’d like”. I wouldn’t even call the changes “”enhancements””

    Do you guys think i’m off base here?

  7. Congrats to United for being the first airline to make the otherwise beautiful 77W look average. I do not understand why they didn’t follow the 787 paint scheme on thew new 77Ws. Not that it really looks great either, but it’s a lot better than their standard boring livery.

  8. These seats are basically industry average at his point and they aren’t even in service yet…inferior to the existing Cirrus and B/E Aero reverse herringbone ones

  9. Polaris is really 8 seats across when you group the repeating pattern. Yes, it is an improvement over the pmUA 8 across with rear facing seats but the pattern for Polaris is 8 across with the 4 aisle seats set back a half row and angled.

    When you stack the repeating pattern, the net is the extra space needed for a section of the aircraft is just a half of a row total. Clever, but in the end it is 8 across. No way does Polaris compare to AA/Cathay Pacific 77W – with a true 1-2-1 with the seats angled.

    Having flown the AA and Cathay Pacific 77W’s several times, it will be interesting to compare. In the UA arrangement more of your body is under a wide arm rest. The AA/CX arrangement little of you is under an air rest – just the feet themselves.

  10. This is another competition for CX. This will only reinforce CX’s plan in utilizing 3-4-3 in Economy on their 777-300ERs. As they have made a similar comparison with AC on the HKG-YVR route.

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