The United Polaris concept was introduced in December 2016, though the rollout was initially really slow. As we come up on 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
- 24 of 38 767-300ERs getting the new seats already have them
- 32 of 51 777-200ERs getting the new seats already have them
- No 757-200s, 767-400s, 787-8s, or 787-9s, have the new Polaris seats
United’s 787-10 with new Polaris seats
Arguably the biggest issue at this point is that no 787-8s or 787-9s have 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
So there’s finally a positive update on that front.
United Airlines’ 787-8s and 787-9s Get New Polaris Seats
United’s very first 787-8 is currently in the shop getting new Polaris seats, so hopefully it’s in service within a few weeks. The plane being reconfigured has the registration N27908, and it was flown to Xiamen on October 3.
It’s expected that United’s first 787-9 will be in the shop to get the new seats within a few weeks.
- United has 12 787-8 and 25 787-9 aircraft in their fleet
- The plan is for all 37 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
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 to reconfigure 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 hasn’t yet revealed which routes will get the reconfigured aircraft first.
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 United finally start the process of reconfiguring their 787-8s and 787-9s. Their 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.
We should expect the first reconfigured 787 in service within a few weeks, and all 27 of them to be reconfigured by the first quarter of 2021.
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.
(Tip of the hat to Executive Traveller)