United Polaris Bedding — WOW!

Filed Under: Travel, United

I just got off a United 777-300ER flight between San Francisco and Hong Kong, featuring their brand new “Polaris” business class seat. Given how much this product has been hyped, I have a lot to say. I’ll have my usual “10 pictures” post about the experience shortly, but first I want to write a couple of posts about specific aspects of the experience.


United has marketed the hell out of Polaris, so at times it’s tough to figure out what features have substance and which are just hype.

For example, Polaris advertises that you can do a “wine flight.” That’s cool, but ultimately that’s sort of a gimmick. It’s not going to materially alter your experience, and ultimately you could ask to try different wines on another airline as well.

However, there’s one area where United literally puts every single airline to shame. Specifically, the United Polaris bedding is incredible. It’s better than what a vast majority of airlines offer in international first class, and in a completely different league than what other airlines offer in business class.

It’s actually overwhelming. When you arrive at your seat you’re greeted by four pieces of bedding from Saks Fifth Avenue, including two pillows, a day blanket, and a duvet… but that’s not all.


On request you can also ask for a cooling gel memory foam pillow…


and a mattress cushion.



It’s not just about the quantity of the bedding, but the quality is top notch as well. The mattress pad is a legitimate mattress pad, and not just a “sheet,” as some other airlines have.

I’m partly kidding when I say this, and partly not, but the amount of bedding United offers is problematic, because there’s nowhere to put it. The seat doesn’t have much storage, so unless you want to place the bedding on the floor (which doesn’t seem sanitary, especially since the pillows don’t come in any packaging) or in the overhead bin (which has the same problem, plus the risk of someone else taking them), there’s nowhere to put the bedding. Instead everyone’s seat just sort of looks like a pillow fortress the entire flight.

Seriously United, well done on the bedding. Very very very very well done. It’s time for every other airline in the world to up their game now.


I’ll have more on the entire experience soon!

If you’ve flown United Polaris, what did you make of the bedding — awesome, over the top, or both?

  1. How much heat did the bedding generate? That is always an issue….waking up 100 degrees and sweating due to 1) amount of bedding and 2) temperature of cabin.

    Are there individual air vents on the plane?


  2. As a UA frequent flier about to jump ship, excited to hear your thoughts on the product. If the Polaris product gets expanded to more routes (especially those from IAD to Europe), I may be more inclined to stay loyal. For convenience and product, I’m usually jumping ship to BA F for long hauls since Avios are so easy to earn.

  3. Never asked for the mattress pad because I wasn’t sure if it was a Polaris first exclusive, just ended up using the day blanket.

    I agree that the saks stuff is best in the business, I guess playing on that unintended pun, also better than most/all first class products I’ve flown.

  4. @ejg239: There has been a slow down on the hard product roll out due to unavailability of seats from OEM. So you probably won’t see it on any routes anytime soon. Continue consider jumping ship unless you want to wait more than 2 years for more routes.

    @Jack: The bedding will be available as the soft product has been operating on a number flight for sometime now.

  5. @ Jack — Yep, you get the pillows and blankets as well. Not positive about the gel pillow and mattress pad, though. I’m sure someone else can chime in.

  6. 100% agree on the bedding. I recently flew “Polaris” on a 787. The pillows were amazing, the mattress pad was comfortable and the duvet had a nice weight to it while not being too warm. I managed to get a solid 6-7 hours of sleep. I’m glad I’m not the only one that thought the bedding products were a huge step up. One difference, though, on my flight the mattress pad was already at the seat – I didn’t have to request it.

  7. @Lucky, can you directly contrast what you liked about it so much as compared to some of the other bedding leaders (ie. Delta)?

  8. @Jack….Polaris business same experience just does not have new seats
    Gel pillow and mattress pads are by request only. The aircraft is not stocked with enough for entire cabin there physically is not room to store it all
    1) if it was fully stocked there would be less overhead space. Que complaining
    2) because it is not fully stocked…Que complaining..

    Basically if you want one ask early.

  9. I have $4000 credit with united. How much can I sell it off to someone for? You can use it buy tickets.

  10. Great to see you back on United Ben, reminds me of the old days. Looking forward to the trip report, keep up the good work.

  11. I have found that many flights out of and into EWR are missing items.

    January: EWR-LHR no gel pillows
    February: EWR-MXP no gel pillows, no mattress pad
    March: EWR-SNN no gel pillows, no mattress pad
    March: SNN-EWR no amenity kit, no mattress pad

    For me, the planes are too hot to use the bedding. Using the comforter as an additional mattress pad or in lieu of a missing mattress pad is helpful.

    To be honest, I bring my own sheet and use that to cover up.

  12. I flew the 777-200 from ORD to HKG last week and the cool gel pillow was waiting on the seat with the rest of the pile of bedding. Love that pillow as well as the rest of the bedding.

  13. Mattress pad has been hit or miss on my Polaris flights so far. From ORD-NRT they only stocked enough for the Polaris First cabin. From NRT-SFO it seemed they had enough to go around.

    I assume in time they’ll figure out how many to provision. Didn’t make a huge difference, but I’ll continue to request one if it’s available.

  14. Spot on….the bedding is incredible. It made a difference. And yes, almost too much of it to know what to do with. I thought the wine flight a nice touch, sort of gimmicky yes, but I’m more bullish on it than you. I liked sampling. And on my SF-Tokyo flight in Polaris the flight attendants very well informed about what they were pouring.

  15. 1. SaKs Fifth is not particularly renowned for good bedding
    2. Presenting it in plastic wraps is cheap
    3. Storage space, as you mention, is a big issue.

    Honestly, not inpressed

  16. In view of this enthusiastic post by @Lucky about what UA has already done with their soft product, I would like to reproduce this exchange from the “polarising” post the other day on this site:

    @AdamR had written — “@DCS: United is an inferior airline. Full stop. That’s not open for debate. It’s not *just* an opinion, either. David is absolutely correct in asserting that their hard product is inferior to the vast majority of their competitors on international routes. This is a legacy US carrier that’s just now introducing all-aisle access to their fleet using an incredibly cramped configuration (if you’re over 5’8”) that won’t even be fully implemented for several years. On top of that, it’s an already semi-outdated product compared to the offerings you now see on many other carriers, which Ben has addressed in many previous posts as his favorite J offering. UA is woefully behind the power curve and to claim otherwise is disingenuous.”

    In response, I simply asked the commenter: “@AdamR — You are not even worth addressing, but just for the record so that you’d know why, when was the last time you were on a UA flight?”

    The reason the poster was not worth addressing is evident in this report by @Lucky, which makes it clear that anyone who goes on and on and on about how “United is an inferior airline” is just spewing mindless, outdated and canned claims about UA that no longer apply.

    I’d like to see the rest of @Lucky’s “Polaris Experience”, but what he’s reported so far squares quite well with my own experience, which was a notch higher because I’d experienced the Polaris bedding in GlobalFirst on 744 from ORD to PVG, as I reported here: https://goo.gl/BJDDwA . Significantly, because I had a GlobalFirst, my first “Polaris Bedding Experience” was actually preceded immediately by my first “Polaris Lounge Experience” at ORD, since the GF ticket gave me access to the lounge, which was just next to my departure gate, as I’d reported here: https://goo.gl/O8dbgD . Four weeks later, I again flew in Polaris, but Business Polaris this time, from HKG to ORD on a B773. You can say that I experienced Polaris as it’s supposed to be: To wait for a flight in a chic Polaris Lounge, and then to immerse oneself in Saks Fifth Avenue bedding after boarding for a heavenly TPAC flight experience…

    Even without the Polaris brouhaha, UA has dramatically stepped up their game. They’ve revamped a number of United Club lounges, with the goal of revamping every single one of them; the on board service has improved greatly, even on domestic flights, with engaging FAs; etc…; etc…

    Anyone who makes a statement like “United is an inferior airline” has not been on an Oscar Munoz’s United flight. Give Munoz credit for already having undone much of the damage to UA that he’d inherited from the vision-less, DL-imitating $Smi$sek!!!

    Munoz has staked his career and reputation on turning UA around; barring another coronary, UA will be transformed. Just you watch…


  17. Life changing! Flew SFO-SIN on 787 and had the best sleep I’ve ever had on a flight. This includes Singapore business, which up till now was my favorite. Of course the seats are bigger on Singapore which equals bigger “bed” but usually more than double the price. Kudos United! Stepping up your game big time! Also amenity kit was a big improvement..

  18. Recently flew SFO-AKL-SFO on the 777-200 in BF.

    I agree the bedding is excessive but I think it depends on the type of flight. The small throw blanket and the smaller pillow might be more useful for daytime flights while sitting up reading/watching videos and need a light cover with the little pillow as back support. These might be more useful for westbound European flights.

    For sleeping, I used all the other products and really loved it. The gel pillow did have an odd chemical smell, so my wife didn’t use it. But generally speaking very nice products.

  19. 1. Oh joy… DCS now defending United with his page-long treatises.

    2. United really is an inferior airline. Out of only three domestic UA flights I had this year, two hit with overnight delays. Maybe not a bad thing if you’re DCS (more opportunities to wheedle his way into a Hilton suite).

  20. Having conducted all of my Europe flights via Lufthansa B Class (747s) since 2009, this was my first international United flight when I flew February, FRA-IAD, on a 777. Shocked and simply amazed was my reaction to but the soft rollout. Bedding and pillows very impressive. But the dinner menu, courses, and service was extraordinary. Superb FRA-based crew. Very clean interior; bathrooms always kept clean. Between the great meal and constantly available liquor service, I snoozed through the second meal before landing at IAD to connect around midnight to ORD. What a total turnaround from flying United international in the 2000s.

    Although I directly wrote CEO Munoz with an expanded account, I did not receive a response. Perhaps he’s pre-occupied figuring out what to do with the delayed Polaris seats..?

  21. “ravages OF intelligence”

    @Mark – Amen to that! Wish others who feel they must pontificate would do so from firsthand experience, like yours…

  22. Wow Ben, as you know I only fly UA because my main hub is GUM (not many options). I’ve tried everything but the mattress pad and coming from you, your comments hold some weight; I’m going to give that mattress pad a try when I fly UA next month. Most of my flights are on the sCO type business class seat, so I’ve mastered it down to placing the light duvet in the small storage compartment below the television; the bigger blanket goes on the mini shelf where the power outlets are; the larger pillow I place against the wall because I sit in the last seat in the business cabin; and the smaller pillow I place to my side; I request the blue pillow and pyjamas after the main meal service is complete and now I will request the mattress pad too. Thanks for sharing, and I’m looking forward to reading the rest of your review.

  23. The mattress pad is a true winner. On MEL-LAX (787-9) recently I had the best sleep that I can recall on any long haul flight (including recent 10hr+ legs in F on LH/ANA/Thai). My view is that with the right UA crew and the Polaris soft product, UA J class now beats most carriers including AirNZ and VA on the trans-Pacific. All UA needs is the new seating with direct aisle access, but I fear this may not occur on trans-Pacific in my lifetime. So ditch Zodiac and imitate Qatar’s Qsuite.

  24. You can always tell you got DCS’s goat when all he can do is snap back with a tired “you’re stupid” slap down.

    Sorry, @DCS, your witless comebacks make it plain that the pseudo academic persona you love to project is precisely that, an illusion.

  25. Funny thing is it is taking ppl so long on how to improve on the lie flat bed, when it is just needing a simple topper on their flat seats.

    Kudos to UA for doing this. An inexpensive but hugely efficient improvement.

  26. Just flew LAX PVG and can confirm this new bedding is an absolute game changer. Kudos to Oscar and team. The hype is real.

  27. @Chancer – I am not the topic here despite your insatiable desire to make me the topic. Chime in with your Polaris Experience — more like lack thereof — or GET LOST. No “academic persona” there. Just plain simple English.

  28. Have a feeling @Chancer is the type of guy to miss his flights and blame it on the airline because he was “anticipating the delay”

  29. When DCS holds up Hilton and United as the leaders in the travel industry, you know his judgment is suspect…easy to be myopic when you don’t try better options

    (spoken as an 8 year 1K, 1.3MM flyer who actually *travels for business*)

  30. The stupid is definitely out of the woodwork.

    Let’s see…. DCS would like to try SPG. Whoops, can’t do that ’cause SPG is kaput and no more. DCS would like to try HGP. Whoops, can’t do that either ’cause HGP is now WoH! and radioactive. DCS would like to try AAdvantage. Ooops! That one has been on a fast slide to the bottom since merging with US. Skymiles anyone?


  31. Whoever Melissa McCarthy is and whatever alternative facts she is peddling have little to do with me and anyone with an ounce of gray matter between the ears knows that by now.

    I told you to get lost. I have not addressed you in weeks and it’s been great. This is just to tell you and your ilk to control your urge to make me the subject of your every post. Take your buddy @Chancer and just stay the hell away from me. Your brains do not generate sufficient cognitive impulses for me to bother addressing you. /begin ignoring again

  32. Stop lying and I’ll stop calling you out. You haven’t been your normal ranting/lying self lately, ergo I haven’t called you out.

    Get back to your so-called lab work now.

  33. @Trust778 hey sorry to tell you by GUM is doing to be minus a few planes soon. UAL is going to pull 3 of their 737-8 from Gum. That might not sound like much but seeing how there is only 11 aircraft its a big hit. Also losing the tag flight from NRT.

  34. I read that United deliberately doesn’t provision enough mattress pads and thus you have to request them on a first come first serve basis. Is this really true? Seemed daft since they appear such a winner. I flew the new 777-300 ER EWR to SFO and back. Not a bad hard product although no real bedding available on day time trans-con flight – pity. Is it just me or is the cabin just too blue? United Award space on SFO HKG just about impossible to find saver awards…too bad. Any advice Lucky?

  35. They should have just initiated a pillow fight instead of dragging poor Dr Dao of the flight, blood bruises and all.

  36. I always chuckle when leaving a Polaris flight because the BF cabin looks like a big slumber party. I think they’re still working out the kinks as I’ve seen an inconsistent product but the crews are consistently great.

  37. HI All – I know this sounds crazy, but my husband and I flew Polaris and took the memory foam pillow and pillow case with me after and used it everyday for work travel. I JUST forgot it on an american flight back from London and am missing it so much already! If anyone is interested in selling theirs to me, please let me know! 🙂 They are on back order until November through the site!! 🙁

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