United’s Next 777-300ER Route: San Francisco To Tokyo Narita

Filed Under: United

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.


The catch is that United’s new business class seat is so far only available on 777-300ER aircraft, and as of now United has just a few of those. So while you can experience the new soft product, it’ll be a few years before most passengers in Polaris find themselves in the new seat.

United-Polaris-Seat - 5

As of now, the only international route which has United’s new 777-300ER is San Francisco to Hong Kong. That service commenced as of March 25, 2017.

United has also announced that they’ll launch 777-300ER flights between Newark and Tel Aviv as of May 5, 2017.

United has now announced their third longhaul 777-300ER route. As of June 14, 2017, United will operate the 777-300ER on their daily flight between San Francisco and Tokyo Narita. That flight operates with the following schedule:

UA837 San Francisco to Tokyo Narita departing 11:45AM arriving 2:35PM (+1 day)
UA838 Tokyo Narita to San Francisco departing 5:10PM arriving 10:55AM


This is a very efficient use of a plane, as operating this frequency will require only one additional 777-300ER (as you can see the ground time in San Francisco is too short, so presumably United will swap the Hong Kong 777-300ER with the Tokyo 777-300ER there, since the Hong Kong flight only departs at around 1PM — that gives both flights plenty of time to complete their rotations).

The flight is presently operated by a 747-400, though United is in the process of slowly retiring those.

With the plane swap from a 747-400 to a 777-300ER, we’re seeing:

  • A capacity reduction of 12 first class seats
  • A capacity increase of 8 business class seats
  • A capacity decrease of 4 economy class seats


I’m actually a bit surprised to see United announce another 777-300ER route. United is having to put their brand new 777-300ER aircraft in storage, since they’re having issues with their seat manufacturer, Zodiac. Zodiac isn’t able to supply the business class seats on time, and as a result, United is having to temporarily put some of these planes in storage until the seats are ready.

So I was expecting we’d see United delay 777-300ER service to Tel Aviv, which hasn’t happened. Instead we’re seeing them announce yet another route. Hopefully they can stick to the current timeline, though perhaps they were just being super cautious to begin with.

It’s no surprise to see United’s next 777-300ER route be San Francisco to Tokyo, both due to how efficient the rotation is, and also due to San Francisco being a high yielding international hub for United.

  1. By a reduction of only four economy class seats it’s pretty obvious that these seats are much narrower.

    At least there are PTVs and WiFi.

  2. Hey Ben, around when will you be publishing your full review of your Polaris flight to vhhh?

    I’d sure love to read it and see your thoughts on it and can’t wait!

  3. @ Kevin — Sorry, maybe I wasn’t cleared in how they phrased it, but was suggesting the Hong Kong and Tokyo planes swap at SFO. The flight from Tokyo gets in at 10:55AM, and then turns at 1PM to Hong Kong. Meanwhile the Hong Kong flight arrives at SFO at around 9AM, and turns to Tokyo at 11:45AM.

  4. @ RD — Just finishing my current Kuwait Airways review, and then it’s next. Thanks for the interest! 🙂

  5. @Robert Hanson And SeatGuru is the number one authority on anything. It’s listed as 31/17 on probably 70% of their seat maps on the site. The only humane way to fly a 777-300ER in economy on that route is Japan Airlines.

  6. Hi Lucky I am torn between Eva Air Business Class and United Polaris Business. I need your advise and opinion since you tried both products. I never flew business before just coach trans-pacific. I am travelling to Manila this July…Hope to hear from you

  7. @Ray C

    EVA hands down. Reverse herringbone seat, Rimowa amenity kit, Dom Champagne in BUSINESS class, and attentive young stewards. Need I say more?

  8. @Ray C

    “EVA hands down” by @Chris M above is absolutely correct. Besides the bedding material (which is great) I actually think UA Polaris is a downgrade experience from earlier UA soft experience, food/drink offering on SFO-NRT overall was a big disappointment with dopey “wine flight” and rather bad Japanese meal selection, which previously had been a saving grace.

  9. @Ray
    Eva of course.
    And speaking of courses, that’s how your food is served, by the course.
    And the tray cover looks like an Hermes scarf.
    Eva, hands down.
    Drop the mike.

  10. I’m probably going to be one of the few ones complaining about this, as I was booked to fly the 747 in July and was super excited as it was going to be my first time in the upper deck of the 747. Also I was not notified about the change by United, so I found out reading about it here and after checking on my reservation on United where I had to agree with the new schedule.

  11. I would be very wary of 777ER subs to older 777 if the ERs are getting parked. So don’t book expecting a guarantee of Polaris seats.

  12. I have flown EVA business between LA/TPE and IAH/TPE a couple of times, as well as United first class and business class between SFO/TPE a couple of times. EVA hands down in the biz class. United may has slightly larger space in its 1st class seats comparing with EVA’s seats. If the question is on the business class, definitely goes with EVA.

  13. Lucas S – same here…I booked First Class with miles and got Seat 1A on last flight 747 to Narita .This was changed yesterday to a 777 flight.

    First leg of around the world trip…really looking forward to this historic event.

    Ended up cancelling 2 flights . United gave me the miles back.

    Now just need to get to Singapore. Looks like EVA with United miles.

    I just took the HKG to SFO flight today. I booked seat 2D and wished I would have gone for 3A, even though it is by a window which can be cold. I asked the guy in 3A how it was, and he said it wasn’t cold. I loved the storage space and “counter” space but did not like the tray table. The tray table doesn’t tuck into the side console but slides from beneath the monitor. When I sleep on my back, I raise my knees at times and hit the tray table a couple of times (“ouch”). I am also addicted to playing the game Bedazzled. The cord on the entertainment device comes out from the right and over the “counter” space. The pull-out cord is sooo short that I had to lean to the right, twist my body and hold my hands in a contorted position. The menu choices were the worst I have even seen on any flight (to my taste anyway). I opted for one of the hot snacks instead of the appetizer/lunch and then ordered tomato soup and sandwich for breakfast. They didn’t offer the “wine tasting” which I had going to CDG in January. You mentioned that they were going through too much wine with the tasting so they probably have done away with it. In your prior review you said it was turbulent. I think my flight was the most turbulent I have even been on and for extended times. I was hoping there wasn’t something wrong with the plane design (just kidding). P.S. I took a downgrade from FC on my SFO-PDX flight and got a $500 TC today … start of my 2018 1K travel fund.
    P.P.S. I did like the extra few inches in length of the seat. The foot space is still too confining.

  15. Amazing United went with Zodiac, guess the fiasco American had with zodiac didnt scare them at all, and once again Zodiac proves it can’t deliver seats on time.

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