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)