The United Polaris concept was introduced in December 2016, though the rollout was initially really slow. As we are now past the three year anniversary of Polaris, the airline has made some good progress.
United Airlines’ Current Polaris Progress
When it comes to lounges, at this point United has five Polaris lounges, in Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Newark, and San Francisco. On top of that, the Polaris Lounge in Washington is under construction.
United Polaris Lounge Houston
When it comes to planes featuring the new Polaris seats, as it stands:
- All 777-300ERs and 787-10s have the new Polaris seats
- 25 of 38 767-300ERs getting the new seats already have them, with the remaining expected to get them in 2020
- 35 of 51 777-200ERs getting the new seats already have them, with the remaining expected to get them in 2020
- Up until now, no 757-200s, 767-400s, 787-8s, or 787-9s, had the new Polaris seats
United’s 787-10 with new Polaris seats
Arguably the biggest issue up until this point has been that no 787-8s or 787-9s had the new Polaris seats. That’s especially problematic when you consider they operate United’s longest flights, like Houston to Sydney and San Francisco to Singapore, and those customers are treated to United’s old business class.
United’s current 787-8 & 787-9 business class
There’s finally a positive update on that front.
United Airlines’ 787-8s And 787-9s Get New Polaris Seats
What’s United’s plan for installing new Polaris seats on their 787-8s and 787-9s?
- United has 12 787-8 and 25 787-9 aircraft in their fleet
- The plan is for all 37 of these 787s to be reconfigured with the new cabins by the first quarter of 2021
- In some cases the reconfigurations will be done during scheduled maintenance, while in some cases planes will be taken out of service just to accomplish this
In early October 2019, United’s very first 787-8 with new Polaris seats was sent to Xiamen to have the new cabins installed. This plane has the registration code N27908. The process sure took a while, but United’s first 787-8 with new cabins is entering service shortly, after the plane flies from Xiamen to San Francisco.
As it stands:
- The plane will operate UA1912 from San Francisco to Washington tonight (January 8)
- The plane will operate UA807 from Washington to Beijing tomorrow (January 9)
- The plane will operate UA808 from Beijing to Washington on Friday (January 10)
Beyond the first 787-8, the first 787-9 is now also in the shop, getting new seats.
United’s 787-10s all came delivered with new cabins
On top of that, United will take delivery of 13 new 787-9s in 2020, and it’s expected that all of those planes will be delivered with the new cabins.
So it sounds like we can expect the process of reconfiguring these 27 planes to take somewhere around 15-18 months, though by that time there should be 40 787-8s and 787-9s with the new seats.
United Airlines’ New 787 Layouts
Not only will the existing 787s be getting the new Polaris seats, but they’ll also be getting Premium Plus, the name of United’s premium economy.
United’s new Premium Plus seats
What should we expect from the updated seat count?
- The 787-8s will go from 36 business class seats to just 28 business class seats, plus will get 21 premium economy seats
- The 787-9s will maintain the current 48 business class seats, plus will get 21 premium economy seats
As a point of comparison, the recently delivered 787-10s with the new cabins have a total of 44 business class seats and 21 premium economy seats. In a way it’s not surprising to see the smaller 787-9s actually have more business class seats, given that they’re used for many of the most premium ultra long haul routes.
United’s new Polaris seats
It’s exciting to see that United’s first 787-8 with new Polaris seats will be entering service shortly, and that within a year or so, all 787s should feature the new Polaris seats.
United’s 787-9s in particular are used for some of their longest and most premium routes, so those planes are most in need of the new seats.
The 787-9 is maintaining the current premium capacity and adding 21 premium economy seats, while the 787-8 will see a reduction in business class seats, which will of course be bad for upgrades.