When Will United Reconfigure 787s With New Polaris Seats?

Filed Under: United

The United Polaris concept was introduced in December 2016, though the rollout was initially really slow. While they opened the Polaris Lounge Chicago as of that date, it was a few months before the first plane featured Polaris seats, and about 18 months until the second Polaris Lounge opened.

United has been making good progress with Polaris

Fortunately the airline has really sped up things since then. Since last spring, the airline has opened Polaris Lounges in Houston, Los Angeles, Newark, and San Francisco, and they’re all spectacular.


United Polaris Lounge Newark

Eventually they’ll also open lounges in Hong Kong, London Heathrow, Washington Dulles, and Tokyo Narita, but that’s potentially still a couple of years off, as none of those lounges are even under construction yet.

Which United planes have the new Polaris seats?

When it comes to reconfiguring planes with the new Polaris seats, United has also been making better progress than in the past. The airline has committed to introducing one plane with Polaris seats every 10 days through 2020.


United’s new Polaris seat

As things stand now:

  • All 777-300ERs and 787-10s feature the new Polaris seats, since they were delivered with these
  • 13 of 14 Boeing 767-300s have been reconfigured
  • 13 of 51 Boeing 777-200s have been reconfigured

In addition to no 757-200s and 767-400s having Polaris seats, perhaps the biggest frustration is that no 787-8s and 787-9s feature the new Polaris seats. United has 12 Boeing 787-8s and 25 Boeing 787-9s in their fleet, and these planes are used for United’s longest flights.


United 787-8

It seems sort of ridiculous that among the last planes to get the new Polaris seats are those operating San Francisco to Singapore and Houston to Sydney, which are among the world’s longest flights.


United’s current 787-8 business class seats

When will United’s 787-8s and 787-9s get Polaris seats?

So, what’s United’s plan for reconfiguring these planes with the new seat? AusBT quotes an update from United’s VP of Marketing regarding this:

  • The first United 787s should be reconfigured with Polaris seats in the fourth quarter of 2019
  • All United 787s should have Polaris seats by late 2020

That schedule seems optimistic to me, and like everything, I imagine it’s subject to change. United does say they’ll reconfigure an average of one plane every 10 days, so reconfiguring 37 Boeing 787s in about a year isn’t out of the question. But it still seems like a lofty goal to me.

Here’s to hoping United sticks to that schedule, because these planes are desperately in need of an upgrade.

Bottom line

Don’t expect any 787-8s or 787-9s to have the new Polaris seats for several more months. At the earliest these seats will be installed on existing 787s later this year, and hopefully the entire process of reconfiguring these planes will only take about a year.

To maximize your odds of getting the new seats, ideally book a 777-300ER or 787-10, where the new seats are guaranteed. After that, your best odds are by booking a 767-300, followed by a 777-200.

Comments
  1. Flying the 787-10 on a redeye from SFO-EWR in premium economy and a 767-300 from EWR-FCO in business class in march. Lets hope I get one of the Polaris 767s….

  2. Although I agree the process of re configuring aircraft has been frustrating, I understand why the 787’s are among the last type of aircraft to get Polaris. Priority right now is to get rid of all 2-4-2 777’s as quickly as possible. Lucky, how about you compare the retrofits between DL/QR/UA and how long it has taken each airline to retrofit to D1/Qsuites/Polaris? I think United has done a good job but the marketing work at first was just very deceiving

  3. “13 of 14 Boeing 767-300s have been reconfigured”

    United continues to say this but it’s just not true.

    Yes there are 13 of 14 3-class 767s that were converted to Polaris, but how about the other 21 2-Class 763-300 that still have the older seats? I believe a portion of those are in line to get converted, but chances are low if you book a 767-300 that you’ll actually get a Polaris plane.

  4. The number of 767-300’s that have been reconfigured are definitely not correct, just check the daily ORD to LHR flights and all 3 per day for this week are operated with a 767-300 in a 2-1-2 configuration. Definitely not the new Polaris seats.

  5. I agree with @Antonio. It is incredulous that some older 777s are still 2-4-2 while others are 1-2-1 or at worst 2-2-2 (old CO planes). I’ve flown the 787-8 on longer flights and 2-2-2 is okay once you make sure to select a center seat if traveling solo. I’ll only be concerned about the 787-8 and 787-9 once the 777 and 767 are updated.

  6. @Jeremy @Scott the 76’s United mentions in their webpage are the Extended Range version which I believe they only have 14 of them, thus 13/14 reconfigured

  7. I fly SFO-LHR several times a year. Interestingly United does a lot of aircraft swaps on this route based on time of year. Right now its either a 777-2, old seats and a 787-8. But in Summer its a reconfigured 777-3 or the 787-8. Cant wait to finally have a consistent reconfigured planes to fly.

  8. The 14 767’s you mention were 3-class with Global First. The final one is being retrofitted now. (These aircraft were delivered in the early 1990’s, new seats in 25 year old planes, nice.) However they still have 21 other 2-class 767’s with the diamond seats to reconfigure. These are mostly newer aircraft (late 90’s-early 2000 deliveries). One is in modification now, speculation is some of these are to be retired. Retiring the new ones makes sense doesn’t it? And then there are the Hawaiian 767’s they bought along with the ex -CO 400 variant. Who knows with UA.

  9. Nothing wrong with 787 business class. Just flew SIN-SFO and slept like a baby. Those seats are super comfortable. I can see why they are not desperate to get those done first. The food was disgusting and that will not change with the new seat!

  10. The current 787 seats are far from acceptable for flights that regularly run $5-$8K in J class. They need to get those planes converted ASAP.

  11. I feel like this is just a rant about UA…I’m certain that if UA was focusing on the 787-8/9’s people would be commenting about the 2-4-2 fleet not being addressed first…”Why focus on a new plane, change the old configuration first…”

    UA/AA are just a shadow of what they once were prestige/service wise, and anyone who really cares about status/points doesn’t care how “reliable” DL is, that’s just the way it is, and DL doesn’t seem to care…

    Bottom Line: All of us road warriors are on these airlines for the Alliance/Points benefits…Well, except the DL peeps, lol…

  12. I swore that United previously reflected more than 14 767’s on the docket to be retrofitted. Given the new plane orders announced and the potential 787 retrofits, is it safe to assume that these were swapped for the existing 767s?

    Anyone have any links or data to prior quotes on 767s being more than 14?

  13. I can’t speak authoritatively on the matter, but I believe that the ownership structures on the 2-class 763 is different than on the ex-CO 763s. That would be the basis for why the older ac were retrofitted whilst the newer ones are, supposedly, on the chopping block.

  14. “I can’t speak authoritatively on the matter, but I believe that the ownership structures on the 2-class 763 is different than on the ex-CO 763s. That would be the basis for why the older ac were retrofitted whilst the newer ones are, supposedly, on the chopping block.”

    CO did not have any 763s pre-merger, only 764s (and a handful of 762s that were retired).

  15. What have they done with the old first class and business class seats which have been ripped out of the 777-200s and 767s?

  16. None of this matters, securing Polaris seats in advance is literally impossible. I spent about 30 minutes this morning search for real Polaris between both the US and Asia and US and Europe (both directions) for Oct and Nov and came across 1 seat PEK-SFO.

    Also, completely off topic, but mind posting about CX J/F availability? Only fair since you recommend Mileage Plan so often. F/J availability has been downright abysmal not just on CX via BA, but even worse via AS since they don’t see it 1:1. I’m sitting on almost 100K AS miles with eight potential trips (8 one ways that is) this year I was hoping to fly CX on. Not. A. Single. Seat. This wasn’t a result of the error fares either, most of my searching was done prior to that.

  17. DL is also the same airline that actually wants people to believe that a flight between literally the world’s #1 GDP metro and #2 GDP metro, with a combined $2.8 trillion in annual GDP and 55 million population between them, cannot be sustained unless it has local feed, nor can they sustain any flight from any hub to one of the Top 5 investment banking cities in the world.

    And of course, the famous Haneda frequency waster with junk routes like MSP-HND that’s performing so poorly they and AA had to enter a circle jerk fest to beg DOT to approve both of their “flexibility arrangement” –

    feel free to go read DOT Dockets yourself.

  18. Pick the longest 787 flights and start with those first for conversion. An EWR to LHR 767 doesn’t even compare to IAH to SYD 787. The longer the flight the weaker the product is exacerbated. I guess United VP’s didn’t get that memo or fly those routes.

  19. United currently has 8 aircraft in mod, though the 8th (a pmCO 772) may be opportunistic in conjunction with a C or D check rather than an 8th mod line. 7 mod lines will be enough to reconfigure all the existing long hall widebody aircraft by the end of 2020. And if a mod takes average 8 weeks/56 days that’s on average one every eight days, making up for the earlier slow progress.

    It’s how they prioritize/schedule the different aircraft types that’s the issue. Currently the priority is pmUA 772s (the 3-class with 2-4-4 J) and the 763s. And if they work through all the pmUA 772s they should be done by September. They can start the 788 and 789 mods in Q4-19 but it may only be one or two mod lines at first, ramping up to 3 or 4 later. There are also 13 new delivery 789s scheduled to start early 2020 and these will come with Polaris/P+ installed, so it may be worth waiting until these start getting delivered until ramping up to 4 or more lines.

    Regarding the 763s, the first 14 (ex 3-class) won’t get Premium Plus. Of the remaining 21, 14 will get Polaris/P+, along with the 3 ex-Hawaiian ships, in a “High J” configuration of 46 Polaris, 22 Premium Plus and 99 Economy (47 E+, 52 E-). The remaining 7 (1992-93 builds) will either be retired or switched to the domestic fleet with the existing BE-Diamond seats.

  20. Flew the 787 to SYD last year. I will not fly a United 787 again until they replace the current seating. It is absolutely horrible

  21. Maybe the long-haul planes get them last because there’s just not enough of these planes to take off for reconfiguration at the moment… I’m thinking they may have to keep whatever few spares they have in case of emergency (as when a plane flying the route has to undergo repairs).

  22. This just goes to show you how bad United was run. Polaris probably took a couple of years to design. Why on earth didn’t United launch Polaris when it first took delivery of the 787? This is crazy. It’s still going to be 6-7 years from the time Polaris was launched before a majority of United’s long-haul planes have Polaris. Delta did it in under 5 years if I recall when Delta started in 2009. The fact that United is 10 years behind on its business-class is appalling. I would switch to United from Delta in a heart beat IF the Polaris seats were on its marquee international routes. I fly to London, Paris, Tokyo, Singapore, Honolulu. I’m not flying 2x2x2 or 2x4x2 as in some United aircraft.

  23. I’ve booked 3 trips this year in Intl C with Delta just to avoid the roulette of United flights. Last year I flew way more than enough to qualify for GS with United – except I only flew like 3 UA metal international flights.

    2-4-2 is not competitive when I have far better options with other airlines. I’m not paying thousands to fly in a middle seat with people on top of me.

  24. I feel bad for you that you are discussing United seats. It’s like comparing the different food items at a bad buffet line in rural Texas. The food is horrible but the good news is you get a lot of it. I’m just going to fly in my Tesla domestically and will stick to foreign carriers on International. It’s not rocket science. Any Air France or Lufthansa bad flight is better than United good flight

  25. I booked Polaris on a 767-300 IAD to MAD for July. Currently it is 2-1-2 seating. What are the odds that I will get the “new” Polaris?

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