United introduced Polaris on December 1, 2016, which is the name for their new first & business class experience. This includes new airport lounges, improved food & beverages, better bedding, and also new seats.
United’s 777-300ER Polaris cabin
Unfortunately United has been rolling out the new product at a glacial pace. While all of their new 777-300ERs have been delivered with the Polaris seats, they’ve been reconfiguring existing planes at an extremely slow pace.
Here are the 777-300ER routes that United operates so far:
- United began flying 777-300ERs between San Francisco and Hong Kong as of March 25, 2017
- United began flying 777-300ERs between Newark and Tel Aviv as of May 5, 2017
- United began flying 777-300ERs between San Francisco and Tokyo Narita as of June 14, 2017
- United began flying 777-300ERs between San Francisco and Taipei as of August 1, 2017
- United began flying 777-300ERs between San Francisco and Beijing as of September 6, 2017
- United began flying 777-300ERs between San Francisco and Frankfurt as of October 6, 2017
- United began flying 777-300ERs between Newark and Tokyo Narita as of October 28, 2017
- United began flying 777-300ERs between San Francisco and Auckland as of October 29, 2017
With only a few more 777-300ERs remaining to be delivered, United has just announced their next route for the aircraft. United will begin flying the Boeing 777-300ER daily between San Francisco and Tel Aviv as of May 23, 2018. Up until now the flight has been operated by a Boeing 787-8, so this represents a sizable capacity increase.
United’s 787-8s feature 36 business class seats and 183 economy seats, while United’s 777-300ERs feature 60 business class seats and 306 economy seats. So the route is gaining 24 business class and 123 economy class seats per flight. When you think about it, that’s some amazing growth for the route. United began flying 3x weekly between San Francisco and Tel Aviv as of March 2016, then they increased the frequency to daily, and now they’re going from a 787 to a 777.
At 7,422 miles in each direction, this will be the furthest distance flight to feature United’s new Polaris seats. The flight operates with the following schedule:
UA954 San Francisco to Tel Aviv departing 9:30PM arriving 9:40PM (+1 day)
UA955 Tel Aviv to San Francisco departing 12:55AM arriving 6:00AM
Clearly Tel Aviv is a high yield market for United, and they’re also carefully watching what EL AL is doing. One of United’s first routes with Polaris seats was Newark to Tel Aviv. United started offering their Polaris product to Newark just shortly before EL AL started flying their new 787 to Newark. A couple of weeks ago EL AL announced their intent to start flying to San Francisco by the end of 2018, and now United is increasing capacity and improving their product in the market.
EL AL’s 787 business class
As far as award availability on the San Francisco to Tel Aviv route goes, while it’s not great across the board, I do see a ton of award availability on the new 777-300ER over summer. That’s not the ideal time to go to Israel, but about half of the dates in July and August have award availability on the new 777-300ER in business class.
You can book this route through Avianca’s LifeMiles program for 78,000 miles one-way in business class, which is a great deal as well.
Does anyone plan on flying United’s 777-300ER between San Francisco and Tel Aviv?
(Tip of the hat to Eli)
I like it a lot in the Business/Polaris section. I like the configuration; the service was good and responsive, nice flight. By the way, the new Polaris lounge in San Francisco: a great upgrade!
Ephi - how do you rate UA 777-300 on the TLV-SFO route? I am thinking about flying them next month, but usually, avoid USA based airlines as there service/product isn't normally good?
I'll be flying the 777-300 in business from TLV to SFO and back in late July. Is there anything specific you'd like to know?
I think it depends on the dates you chose. For example: mid September to beginning of October the nonstop flights seem to be the 777-300ER. At least for the dates I checked. Later it changes back to the Dreamliner. However, the airlines can always change the aircraft without alerting you (sad but true)
I am about to book tickets for the United SFO-TLV round trip for fall 2018. The tickets says that the aircraft is Boeing 787 Dreamliner, and the seat selection map is also for this aircraft. Is this a mistake, give that your article says this flight has started using the 777-300ER starting from May 23? What's a good way to find out? I want to make sure to select seats for the right aircraft.
What was not mentioned is that United is increasing the fare in Business class on the SFO-TLV route by more than 40%. The new fare is standing at over $9,000 RT. Check a few dates in October and see what you get...
I fly the London Heathrow to Tel Aviv route ELAL 2 round trips a month 4 flights- usually 787-900.
I fly only Business Class .The actual seat is uncomfortable -difficult to get in and out.This is 4-5 hours think 16!
Schar, I think he means summer heat.
"That’s not the ideal time to go to Israel"
WHY SFO? What the hell...LAX needs some love!
Also if this isnt rolled out by August ill fly to Newark just to use El Al's new business class to TLV!
Part of the reason for capacity increase may be the competition from Turkish Airlines. I have taken the SFO-IST and LAX-IST several times and talked to several passangers connecting to TLV.
I've been looking at routings for a New York - Istanbul trip I'm planning for March or May, and I also see the 77W with Polaris seat map on the EWR-FRA route daily as UA960 beginning May 15. No official announcement, but it's loaded into the timetable for all flights May 15 and onwards.
Think of the flight attendant roulette you'll play flying this route. Will you have a wonderful, caring FA who will happily and with a smile bring you that extra orange juice or mid-flight snack.... Or will you get the lazy, "leave me alone" do-nothing who hides in the galley?
And think of the lavs after 16 hours with no crew monitoring or cleanup?
No thanks. I'd rather connect with a non-US based carrier than take a UA long haul nonstop.
United.com shows one of the SFO-LHR frequencies to be a 777-300ER during the summer, I haven't found the boundaries of the dates, but mid July it's Daily. Flight 901 on the outbound and 949 on the return. It's clearly a shared plane with another route because 901 takes off from SFO before 949 lands.
How do they operate the flight daily with only one 77-300ER if its like a 16 hour flight, does that mean they use 2 777's for this route?
Also where did you credit your miles on your elal flights?
I fly this route 3-4 times a year, all with points through ultimate rewards, on economy saver rate 85K miles round trip, and I don’t like this change at all. The 787-8 has a much nicer economy cabin and seats compared to the 777-300ER.
I always upgrade to economy plus on the 787 and that makes it a very easy flight. I’m a little uncomfortable now when I see this will be changing.
United has been operating the IAH-LHR UA880 flight and vice verse on Sundays, according the Flightradar24.
That’s also an awfully long journey in United’s ultra cramped and uncomfortable 3-4-3 economy seats, with a torturous 3 inches of recline (compare to standard 5-6 inches).
We should be aware the the majority of the passengers on this route are suffering in inhumane conditions.
It may have been a one-off but there was a 777-300ER flying IAH-LHR a few evenings ago, as UA880.
Given your recent (amazing) experience on El Al despite its shoddy reputation, it’s be great to see a head-to-head comparison of the SFO-TLV flights by El Al and UA. I think we can all generally agree UA is just plain awful, but since it looks like they’re trying to keep up with the Joneses (El Al) maybe they’ll up their game a bit considering El Al has markedly improved. You always do incredibly thorough...
Given your recent (amazing) experience on El Al despite its shoddy reputation, it’s be great to see a head-to-head comparison of the SFO-TLV flights by El Al and UA. I think we can all generally agree UA is just plain awful, but since it looks like they’re trying to keep up with the Joneses (El Al) maybe they’ll up their game a bit considering El Al has markedly improved. You always do incredibly thorough trip reports so I’d love to read your thoughts on the soft product since it looks like their hard product is nearly identical.
Well I have to say, it looks nice, even more so considering this is just a US airline.
Pity ICN doesn't get any love, be it from EWR (OZ went back to 1 daily to JFK) or SFO (KE is double daily 77W I believe)
16 hours in UA's 777-300 economy class sounds beyond miserable
One correction: UA currently runs a 787-8 on SFO-TLV, not a -9, so the change is even more significant! Between this and El Al starting nonstops there will be a lot more capacity on this route!
@ Pete -- Good catch, thank you!
No love for UA's IAD or IAH hubs. Aren't there some high-yielding flights out of there that deserve the new Polaris?
Thanks for the info, I was waiting something to read at Sunday evening!
To which airline did you credit your flights with EL AL? Thank you