Cheat Sheet: The Secret United Polaris Menu

Filed Under: United

United Polaris was introduced in December 2016. Initially United just introduced the new service as well as a new lounge, and then a few months later the first plane with the new Polaris seats came into service. Unfortunately since then, United’s execution of Polaris service has left a lot to be desired. Specifically, they haven’t opened a single additional Polaris Lounge in nearly 18 months, and they’ve made several cuts to their Polaris soft product.

While United has made some outright cuts, what they’ve largely done is just move the Polaris service to more of an “on demand” model. You know how In-N-Out has a secret menu? Well, the same is true of United Polaris. In some cases they’re going from proactively offering certain items to only offering them on demand, while in other instances they’re going from advertising on the menu that certain things are on demand, to not even mentioning them in any form on the menu. Yes, there is essentially a secret menu for maximizing United Polaris.

A lot of readers have asked “how am I supposed to keep up with all of this?” Reader Andy asked the following question about helping his grandparents (who don’t speak English) maximize their Polaris experience:

How would you recommend that I request the amenities from United for my grandparents who are flying Polaris from SFO to TPE?

I have already made requests for them to get a wheelchair and an asian vegetarian meal and even called in to verify those requests but United has been known to drop the ball on these simple requests in the past.

As my grandparent do not speak any English, I was thinking I would write a note on a paper for them to give to the flight attendant to request they be given the amenities like the duvet, gel pillow, mattress pad, etc. I’d probably try to see if the check in agent could do anything about it too but I guess outside of this there’s probably not much more I can do.

Soon I hope to create a cute little infographic you can laminate and take onboard your United flight with the amenities you should request, but in the meantime I wanted to recap all of the Polaris amenities that are on demand:

Polaris amenities that are already on demand

What Polaris amenities are currently on demand?

Slippers are available on all flights featuring Polaris service.

Cooling gel memory foam pillow are available on all flights featuring Polaris service.

Mattress pad are available on all flights featuring Polaris service.

Pajamas are only available on flights of 12 hours or longer.

Polaris amenities that will be on demand as of May 1, 2018

As of May 1, 2018, United is making further changes to Polaris. Specifically, the service will be increasingly on demand, and they’re not even telling people that. Clearly the logic is that if fewer people know about these amenities, then fewer people will request them. Then demand will go down, then they can decrease provisioning, and eventually they can eliminate amenities altogether “due to customer feedback.”

So, what amenities are on demand in Polaris as of May 1, 2018?

Pre-departure beverages of choice will only be available on demand. You’ll only proactively be offered sparkling wine, orange juice, and water, though you can request anything you’d like.

Wine flights (where you can sample up to three reds or up to three whites) are currently readily available on the beverage cart, though going forward will no longer be visible on the cart, so you’ll have to know to ask.

Mimosas were previously featured on a cart for daytime flights, though going forward you’ll have to directly request a mimosa.

Hot midflight snacks are currently proactively offered on flights of 12 hours or longer. Going forward you’ll have to specifically ask for them.

Bottom line

As of May 1, 2018, United will have eight “secret” Polaris amenities. You wouldn’t know they existed unless you ask for them. To be clear, the slippers, gel pillow, mattress pad, and pajamas, have always been on demand, though they were clearly listed on the menu. That’s no longer the case, so you truly have to know what’s available going in.

Unfortunately there’s no secret code or handshake that will suddenly make Polaris Lounges appear, though.

  1. I’m on Polaris now. Seat is great. Service and good are well beyond deplorable. Zero amenities offered. United is at a rock bottom I’ve never seen an airline at before and this move seat won’t save that terrible perception customers have of this dreadful “Polaris” product

  2. Seriously this what you call your premium product..yes, some of them still exists..but for how long…and to top the audacity
    ..everything on when it runs out…what bad luck..too stupid or too slow to order all of these…
    honestly who are the idiots willing to pay money for this scam…
    “..Mr. Myles if you need is also on demand..and surcharges.. we do not have it for everyone..”…
    RIP Polaris as well as UA!

  3. It would be interesting to hear some coverage of the Washington Post analysis of why United has the “highest number” of pet deaths.

    Or do positive United stories fall on deaf ears here?

  4. @ pete

    what positive UA stories?..LOL..

    It would be interesting to read a coverage over how many premium revenue pax still think they are getting premium service for their hard cash!…

  5. Bad typos from my earlier post.

    Service and food isn’t bad. It’s rotten!! The food was all inedible except the Sundae. Beef stroganoff hot snack almost made me throw up. All tray cleaning and glass clearing is self service. I honestly would have happily helped Serve food and smiles at people if it was allowed. How do these people keep their jobs ? I don’t feel bad for flight attendants. I’ve spent my life in the Service industry. They don’t have it so bad. There is no excuse for the bad service and to United. No excuse for the constant cutbacks and disgusting food.

  6. I have a ‘secret’ on why I don’t fly United. They don’t know about it, so it’s highly unlikely they’ll ask me. At some point down the road they will delete the 2,500 miles I have in my account, due to “customer feedback”.

  7. Sorry. One more

    The bead is the same 2 pieces on every flight. It’s rotten smushy garlic bread (dont get excited it’s bad ) and some other unknown bread. If you have 2 meal services. They still serve the same 2 pieces. No options. No bread basket. No choices. Had better food in coach on most Airlines

  8. Another idea is: just don’t fly United Polaris. What’s the point? You’re paying top dollar to….not get top dollar product. Go elsewhere. I simply do not understand airlines cutting back on business class product. They’re already charging a very high price. You’re telling me you cannot provide what costs you essentially $20-50 more in overhead to make me feel good about spending minimum $3,500 to fly from ORD to PVG? Come on.

  9. I recently flew the FRA to ORD Polaris route and was offered the bedding and drinks “secrets” proactively.

  10. @Kent Miller
    Be happy to be one of the lucky ones to be served properly..hope those few UA employees would not be discourage by any unions or bad piblicity of their company to lose their good attributes..

  11. I heard about another “hidden” feature — if you are flying Polaris out of IAD, go to the lounge in the C gates and mention that, and they will give you a pass to go into the GlobalFirst lounge. Since they have only a handful of remaining flights out of IAD with 3-class service, the place is practically empty. Can anyone confirm this? I’m flying IAD-AMS next month.

    As for why fly United, I don’t prefer them, but I prefer a direct flight over a connection unless UA is using their horrid 777’s in a 2-4-2 config in C — no way I’m flying IAD-NRT in a middle seat on such a long flight!

  12. I cannot recall any bad experiences on UA either, even though they are not my airline of choice.

  13. Never understand how pax pay for a C product with 2-4-2 seating..UA or BA… there are CHOICES..!!

  14. @Jim: yes, did that back in February on my way to LHR and they told me to go to the Global First lounge, which meant I didn’t have to go find food and had more sleep time on the flight over 🙂

  15. I travelled in Polaris from Newark to Hong Kong on the 777-300er in August 2017. It was a brilliant flight with a service similar to what you would find on a gulf carrier. Great food, lovely staff, comfortable seat and fantastic amenities. This made me feel like after so long being the butt of jokes United was finally on its way up. Polaris has since been bitterly disappointing. Now that all of the amenities that I thought lifted United above Delta and American are being dropped (F**k you Scott Kirby) it has now dragged United from an airline I would try to fly to an airline I’m starting to actively avoid.

    It’s a shame because I really thought United was finally coming back but unfortunately United seems to have caught a two worded disease from British Airways


  16. I have the feeling…travellers are now more open to say freely that UA and BA are more worthy to have as a mileage bank..but the real deal of experiencing a great travel..that would be the call of their partner airlines who can deliver more and better..

  17. I am surprised any self respecting asian(presumably Taiwanese based on the TPE SFO route highlighted to lucky) would fly United. EVA is significantly better and same or lower prices and much easier to redeem, it is a no brained for that route. Worse still the chap puts his grandparents onto a flight that FA does not care about native languages as well as respect for passengers. Speechless

  18. I used up most of my miles on a South America trip in business. Next trip will probably be on Delta. Better service.

  19. Sorry but any of you who continue to fly this abomination of an airline have no principles. Just let the damn company die.

    Eventually, Darwinian evolution will ensure United ceases to exist

  20. Was interested in taking a Polaris flight when truly available, but after the skimps, and making things hidden, forget it. Other airlines are easier, and better. And the Polaris clubs to follow ? forget about it.

  21. I totally understand and agree with the contempt against United but I live near IAD and almost have to United for every international travel I go as a government employee.

  22. @ matt

    really, not even allowed to compare even if other carrier are cheaper? Would save taxpayer’s money though…forcing someone to fly a wretched product..that is a new height of audicity..

  23. That is perverse, forcing you to take an American carrier even if there are cheaper and better alternatives…

  24. You guys have it all wrong!

    Polaris is not J class. Rather United is the first airline in the world to offer lie flat seats in PE! You stupid passengers!

    Honestly, I’d fly Polaris if it was severely discounted and only a moderate up charge over Economy like Delta sometimes offers.

    As much as I’m not a fan of Boston, its a much better place not having UA with a hub there. So glad we have B6.

  25. @tim

    I am quite you wish UA will rebrand Polaris as PE and of course repriced it accordingly??…but you know all those amenities on demand will only be offered for some surcharges..or nothing at all..
    honestly I do not know what PE offers…I am not aware of the sensation..

  26. One has to be an idiot to fly ANY US airline internationally. But in particular Shitnited. If you wanna get the miles, there’s Star Alliance alternatives from every part of the globe that will take you from the US abroad with better and more honest service than United. From Lufthansa and Turkish in Europe to EVA, ANA and SQ in Asia.

  27. @myles

    I’m not aware of the sensation of being a douche but u definitely carry that title with distinction.

  28. @ mike reed

    ..are we insulted..again..the only way you know how to express yourself..sad! time do try to convey yourself we understand what you want to say…the english language is not easy to command..especially for the challenged ones like you!!
    P.S. if it is too hard to understand..go ask your english teacher or someone who cares!!

  29. Oh God – why are we singling United out? All of our airlines are horrid. Delta is my least favorite airline. There is very little to compare. I rack up over 200k each year with United each year from company travel. Not a single earned mile is redeemed for travel on UA. Having said that I don’t have bad personal experiences on UA. I also don’t have any expectations while traveling on the US3 junk.

  30. Re: govt fares
    Feds are required to fly on contract carriers, with very few exceptions, even internationally and even if cheaper (though in my experience the govt contact is usually cheapest). The intent is to support US airlines, a kind of Buy America Act. Sometimes the govt contract fare is on a codeshare, for example the current govt contract for IAD-CDG is Delta but Delta doesn’t fly direct, so it is codeshare on Air France

  31. @omoo

    I hope your bad at all in supporting your own airline/ long as the product is a sensible one worth its paid for…see you even have some nice miles and AF service..

  32. @Tracy Anderson

    Let’s include the dismal airlines that are Delta and AA into the list of airlines one wishes would die. Honestly, anything is better than those three. Yes, there are worse airlines in the world, but so are prices and expectations. I honesty prefer driving than flying on Delta, considering that a huge majority of my flights on DL always get cancelled or delayed.

  33. Flew on UA Polaris on multiple legs: FRA-ORD (hard and soft products), DEL-EWR (soft product only), LHR-ORD (soft product only). We were offered the amenities mentioned above by the FAs. The FAs personally came to each of us and informed us of all of the products available, in case we wish to try. They also informed us of a limited number of mattress pads and gelled pillows. Granted, this is a small data set, my experiences on the new Polaris soft product has been good. The Polaris hard product is fine, but I have only experienced it once. These were business flights, and I prefer them to experiences with DL and AA, for comparison. Most of the airlines flying these routes don’t offer anything much grander in my opinion, with the exception of DEL, which is served by the ME carriers, if willing to do one-stop. I would fly UA Polaris on these routes again, compared to the European carriers.

  34. @Trent

    Happy you could experience a great Polaris service…but it are one of the exceptions..the majority get the C seat with 2-4-2 abreast seattings..inconsistency paired with cost cuttings are the new mottos of Polaris…wake UA!..

  35. I fly Polaris a decent amount for work. It’s not good but usually the service is decent. Food is better than BA, wine is actually quite good (Wine is a hobby of mine) better than many other J products outside of Asia. It’s the seats that are awful. Really disappointed with these announcements. I mostly stick with UA because of their programme and redeem miles on other airlines. I’m London based and hate BA and I do like the global premier upgrades you can redeem on Lufthansa and ANA. If it weren’t for a decent mileage programme I’d def start going elsewhere. Frankly for some US routes I fly LCY to Frankfurt as its so bloody easy to fly from LCY. I do have a Krisflyer account that I might start to use more often if UA continues to cut cut cut…

  36. I laughed at Lucky’s pic of the girlled cheese sandwich and soup served as a hot mid flight.
    I was reminded of my several flights, KWI/IAD: Main meal served immediately, and nothing served until 1.5 hours before landing.

  37. @Tracy

    Keep in mind that some of us horrifically stuck near IAH in the OFCA (Occupied Former Continental Area) ; therefore we are without choice and stuck with this albatross (albeit riding an albatross probably has better seats and less concerns of being dragged off). Driving over 2 hours to get to Hobby for SW or Austin is not an option so we have to grit our teeth and take it.

    I miss Continental (sniff-sniff)

  38. @ troy

    I feel the same way regarding CO…I miss the great service…UA just made it all wrong..

  39. I agree that the UA service is hit-and-miss. As a frequent flyer to Europe from the States (and back), are there really any good options in biz? My experiences with the European airlines have been similar to that aboard UA. Better choices exist when flying to Asia or the ME, but for many of us who frequent Europe, there are no “superior” choices.

  40. @emily butler
    I disagree!
    I recommend trying OS and TK. Both very good in catering, service is good sometimes outstanding..AF is good as well. The service and food are great, but the seats are still not all full flat. My favourite though is SQ(JFK-FRA). This 5th freedom route is a gem.

  41. @Myles

    Likewise, I disagree with you. I have flown on OS, TK, AF and all of the major European airlines (I book depending on best available biz fares). The catering is fine on OS and TK, but nothing to write home about – airline food is ultimately airline food. I prefer to get a great meal before leaving for the airport and to grab a fresh breakfast after landing at a proper restaurant. The seats on OS and TK are no better than on UA (I hate the foot-well on OS and LX seating and having to climb over the person next to me on the TKs are no better than those on UA). Frankly, I prefer to get a good night’s sleep after a quick meal (on rare occasions when I eat on board, and UA does well on both of those accounts. AF is dismal (the hard and soft products; add AZ and BA to the list) and flying into CDG has been a nightmare on multiple occasions, including three times when ground staff went on strike while we were on board. SQ is great, but even their service on that particular route has been a hit-or-miss in the last year; it is not worth the mileage/price on that route for the sub-par catering loaded on both ends. Ultimately, it comes down to picking a washing machine – they are just all white goods and might as well go with the best sale.

  42. @ emily butler

    It is only fair..but I assume you are over business class product and have travelled with almost every airline flying TATL…you sound more as if you are looking for a first class product. Perhaps it is time to try some great First class like AF and LH…you are right, if you tried most of them and you do not have any will eventually choose by price or promo fares..

  43. @Myles – is first class really worth the added expense when I don’t dine or drink on board, especially for a flight that’s just 8 hours or so? I have flown LH F on occasions but it doesn’t add to my experience since all I am looking forward to is a restful bed – I don’t like airline food in any class. My point is not that I dislike UA’s Polaris or Biz. My point is that for TATL (unless continuing further east), all of the products are pretty much similar in experience. There is no product that stands out. It is a curse to have to fly to Europe 6-8 times each month for work, but a blessing that I get a bed to rest on in the air. I love flying but the novelty of the biz experience has diminished on TATL. Of course on flights to the east on most Asian airlines (including AI, but excluding most PRC based airlines), the hospitality makes the journey special, regardless of the hard product.

  44. @Myles – by the way, in what time zone are you? Do you not require sleep? I have been reading the comments until adding mine over the last couple hours, as I await a flight, and you have responded to anyone and everyone.

  45. @ emily butler

    that is the problem when C class travel becomes a commuter way of tranportation..then it becomes mundane…I agree, if you know the product well, it has no magic you try to find a better distinction in service, crew attitudes perhaps you understand why I love SQ and AF…both have outstanding crew in F and C which I think are just superb..always have a great experience..

  46. @emily butler

    I am in Europe at the moment, have enough time to read your comments and others…I have a notification therefore answer very quickly

  47. @Myles – Cool. I travel to Karlsruhe frequently for work at KIT regarding some projects with DLR.

  48. I truly dread flying United, especially their faux polaris LAX-NRT / SIN-LAX. can’t wait for SQ to launch their LAX-SIN

  49. @ emily butler

    thanks!..sounds serious stuffs..hope you will find some nice moments in your next flight..

  50. I took UAL Polaris Business to SFO to SIN. Was overall superb, a value and highly competitive-I like Americans since I am one! BUY AMERICAN FOLKS

    and I used to fly up front with Pan Am for years and since!

    Wine flights and wines were fantastic/high award winners all of them, amenities great, food very nice service experienced and warm, lay flay seats/beds awesome and everything clean upscale and generous. NOt sure where the other commenters are coming from? FAKE NEWS!\
    POLARIS ROCKS 20118 taking them SFO to FCO too!

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