The Reason United Is Putting Brand New 777-300ERs In Storage

Filed Under: United

No, it doesn’t involve leggings. šŸ˜‰

United is in the process of rolling out their new international premium cabin experience, which they’re calling Polaris. This includes new seats, improved service, etc. The issue is that while the new soft product has already been rolled out, it’s supposed to be at least five years until the entire fleet has the new seats.

United Polaris seat (PRNewsFoto/United Airlines)

However, last week we learned it couldĀ be even longer than that. It was revealed that United is having issues with Zodiac, the designer of their new Polaris seats. It’s being reported that Zodiac is experiencingĀ ā€œfiscal and operational challenges,” which will be causing “significant disruptions and delays” to the product they can offer.

United isnā€™t the first airline to have issues with Zodiac. American was planning on initially using Zodiac for the new business class seats on their 787s and 777s, thoughĀ they also had serious issues, so suspended the retrofit program. They eventually decided toĀ use B/E Aerospace for their new seats instead.

United’s newly delivered Boeing 777-300ER aircraft feature the new Polaris seats, though United was going to start reconfiguring existing 777-200s with the new seats this year. Now that timeline has been pushed backĀ until the first quarter of 2018, and even that seems optimistic.

United 777-300ER (PRNewsFoto/United Airlines)

Well, unfortunately it looks like United’s issues with Zodiac are even impacting their ability to configure their newly delivered 777-300ERs with these seats. So far United has three of these planes in their fleet, and they were going to take delivery of more of these very shortly.

As noted by View from the Wing, it’s now being reported that United is puttingĀ their brand new 777-300ERs in storage, due to Polaris seat delays.

Ouch. Putting a brand new plane in storage ain’t cheap. As of now we don’t yet know how badly these new seats will be delayed. I had assumed they already had enough of these seats for a few more of their new planes, but it seems that’s not the case.

Based on Zodiac’s history, it sure seems like they have major delays and not minor delays, so I wouldn’t be surprised if these planes stay in storage for a while.

United began flying a 777-300ER between San Francisco and Hong Kong as of this past weekend. The next route to get the new 777-300ER was supposed to be Newark to Tel Aviv as of May 5, 2017, though I imagine the timing of that is now in jeopardy.

  1. You pay for your mistakes. UA made a mistake in trusting Zodiac for anything more than a cash-burning dumpster fire.

  2. Does this aircraft have the new super dense (uncomfortable) configuration Economy? Won’t they loose capacity on the SFO – HKG route?

  3. BE and Thompson have to be wondering wtf they need to do to get some business? Zodiac clearly doesn’t have their act together – so why do UA/AA keep chasing their tails? Ridiculous.

  4. The cascade of issues with and for Zodiac makes me think they might not survive much longer. This, of course, means that United will probably choose a different partner.

  5. Back in June in New York at the product unveiling, since I was a wee bit skeptical, I asked United how they expected Zodiac to deliver the seats given their history…

    United emphasized that their Polaris seats were
    * coming from Zodiac UK
    * had a dedicated product line
    * already certified

    So they were confident the seats would be on time.

  6. Leaving parked 77Ws seems horrendously expensive and wasteful.

    Couldn’t they temporarily install a different/older model of seats? That way the plane is at least generating revenue.

  7. Is UA locked into some sort of firm-fixed-price delivery contract that prevents them from pulling chocks on this shitshow of a company? US- or UK-based, it doesn’t seem Zodiac is even remotely able to get their act together. And if they’re having issues now, what’s giving UA (or anyone, for that matter) any confidence that there won’t be a domino effect that further delays things beyond what’s happening now? As it is, they’re not expecting the fleet to be outfitted in its entirety for several years. Why doesn’t UA just tell them to go pound sand and pull an AA and switch to BE or Thomspon? This is some monumental-level mismanagement.

  8. This website it your job and presumably how you make a living. If you want people to come to this site, don’t you think you should maintain credibility?

    You draw an inference between AA’s Zodiac issues and United’s Polaris seats. But fail to mention that these are not the same organization despite the name, not manufactured in the same location, and the reasons for the delays are not in any way related.

    However if you read your statements above, you don’t make mention of any of these items. Why?

  9. @Lucky

    I’m booked for TLV on June 22nd on Polaris. Should I change it since I dont’ want to sit for 11 hours on the old 772 seats?

  10. I am switching to Delta’s A330 for HKG. I am not going to be flying on United 777’s with 10 across. No thanks. And United got no PTV as well. A real deal cutter.

  11. One of the problems with Zodiac now is they are still being absorbed by Safran and as is always the case, the first thing on the agenda is to go thru the new entity and try to find ways to save production cash and reduce management and labor costs.
    There are other items with Zodiac in the front office that are drawing attention away from their contractual obligations. The Safran/GE connection plays onto it also on other levels.

  12. @Swagsta
    Just ask UA about the situation. I imagine they’d be able to give a more informed response than us.

  13. Have these planes actually been delivered yet? If not, it could mean Boeing is actually footing the cost of parking these brand new aircraft.

  14. Who designed the seats for Qatar’s current 787, A350 and A380? Why is United trying to reinvent the wheel with an unreliable seat manufacturer? Couldn’t they just have contracted with a company that has delivered excellent results for the ME3?

  15. After AA pulled the plug, Zodiac probably was eager to close another deal, was making concessions and United probably got a very good deal on the seats – and now they are paying for it! That’s the risk you are taking as a business…

Leave a Reply

If you'd like to participate in the discussion, please adhere to our commenting guidelines. Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *