Editor’s note: This is the second in a series of four reviews of premium transcontinental flights during the pandemic. Excited to experience United Polaris Business Class? View our latest valuations here. COVID-19 Updates. Most, but not all, have the new Polaris business class Another interesting data point: six of these 767s have the new Polaris business class seats, while two do not. At the United Club Newark, the bar area is now entirely clear of furniture, in favor of social distancing markers on the floor. Once the first group got off the plane, the crew called for another. The deserted buffet area was a shadow of its former self, and for good reason: pickings were slim. You’ll now find a mix of Boeing 757s, 767s, 777s and 787-10 Dreamliners flying cross-country. Polaris Lounges nationwide remain shuttered, and all eligible passengers are invited to use the standard United Club. United isn’t providing meals for most domestic flights (even if you’re sitting up front). First Class customers benefit from a dedicated area in London with a higher-end menu. We left the United Club Newark near gate C74 and made our way to our departure gate. {"bg":"","mt":"","mr":"","mb":3,"ml":"","pt":"","pr":"","pb":"","pl":"","border":"","rounded":"","rounded_size":"","shadow":""}, Air New Zealand relocates to TBIT at LAX; now uses the Star Alliance lounge, New Lufthansa Business and Senator Lounges in Newark, NJ (EWR), New Star Alliance lounge in Sao Paulo, Brazil; London lounge partially closed, Priority Pass, over 1,000 lounges at your fingertips, United Club and Polaris Lounge COVID-19 closures, The COVID-19 United Club Newark experience: seating and cleanliness, The COVID-19 United Club Newark experience: food and drinks, The COVID-19 United Club Newark experience: exclusive Polaris amenities, United Polaris Business Class COVID-19 international service, San Francisco, CA (SFO) – Terminal 3, Concourse F, Chicago O’Hare, IL (ORD), Terminal 1, Concourse B, gate B6, Houston Intercontinental, TX (IAH), Terminal E, New York/Newark, NJ, Terminal C, gate C74, Washington Dulles, VA (IAD), Concourse C, gate C7, modern, full-service lounge in Terminal A, United re-opens first non-hub lounge at Honolulu airport | LoungeReview.com, United re-opens first non-hub lounge at Honolulu airport, WestJet flagship lounge opens at Calgary airport, Lufthansa permanently closes 12 airport lounges, Flagship American Express Centurion Lounge opens at JFK. Boarding the United 777 was so exciting. All rights reserved. There was no cleaning staff in sight, despite the fact that the club has many touch points. Just note that you won’t find any of the legacy-United 757-200s with a 28-seat biz cabin, since those planes are parked in long-term storage. On the flip side, there is no provision for families traveling together. © 2021 THE POINTS GUY, LLC. The food served on the flight, dinner and breakfast leaves a bit to be desired. Related: Here’s what food and drinks you can expect on your next flight. Most stores and restaurants were closed, so the majority of passengers were sitting by the gate. The seat converts to a lie-flat bed and features plenty of personal space. United isn’t one of them. Everything is served packaged or covered for you to unwrap. Options were “beef, fish, or pasta”, with Economy undertones. See, 7 ways the United Club experience has changed due to the pandemic, international travel is largely off-limits, The cheapest way to upgrade transcon United flights, legacy-United 757-200s with a 28-seat biz cabin, Why more lie-flat seats on United flights isn’t necessarily good news, adjustments to the meal and snack service, Here’s what food and drinks you can expect on your next flight, United improves onboard beverage service, trims Saks amenities, deplane passengers in a socially distant manner, The one major social distancing challenge I’d like to see airlines fix, Marriott reinstates elite benefit guarantees effective immediately, Check your American Airlines accounts: 2021 rollover elite miles, dollars and segments now posting, Travel industry reconsiders political donations following Capitol siege, Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express, Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. I’ve always slept great in the Polaris pod. Polaris Business Class passengers may also ask for an amenity kit like those that are offered on board. Every airline is making adjustments to the meal and snack service. There were no other options available. Related: United improves onboard beverage service, trims Saks amenities. Related: 7 ways the United Club experience has changed due to the pandemic. As it turns out, just fine. Please view our advertising policy page for more information. United Airlines Click here to download. There were just a handful of people checking in for United flights. Instead, the flight attendant came around asking for orders. The closest thing you’re getting to alcohol on the ground is whatever’s included in the wipe. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. This lounge is temporarily closed. The Polaris business class cabin was deserted, and the Premium Plus cabin completely unoccupied. Well, the hard product is still the same — and that’s a great thing. With an extremely light load aboard our 787-10 from Newark to Paris, boarding was swift. This summer, we reviewed the watered-down United Polaris experience to Europe—it was a tale of shrink-wrapped snacks and an eerily quiet business class […]. The club was so quiet that it was almost unrecognizable from its former incarnation. It isn’t as extensive as JetBlue’s Hayward-branded kits, but it’s definitely better than nothing. Related: How to determine if your flight is full. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered. The TSA is contracting Lavi Industries to build an additional 1,230 units at 37 airports nationwide. As such, your flight could easily be booked full. At the end of the day, cutbacks are understandable. United Polaris business class was first introduced in 2016. As a side note, the United Club Newark still hands out Star Wars-themed kits (which aren’t available onboard anymore) for those who collect them. One option is the United Polaris lounge in Houston, the airline's luxe international business class lounge. Hand sanitizers were readily available, and the reception and customer service counters were equipped with plexiglass shields. The takeoff roll was one of the fastest I’ve ever experienced on a 777. Now, due to JetBlue’s Newark expansion and the depressed travel market, flights have dropped to $399 each way. The credit card offers that appear on the website are from credit card companies from which ThePointsGuy.com receives compensation. In response, United has made severe cuts to the international premium travel experience. United’s signature Saks Fifth Avenue-branded sleep amenities were still available. So what is it currently like to fly business class to Europe with United? Expect to see reviews of American Flagship First and Delta One shortly. As a Premier 1K, I’ve had plenty of experience with United’s often unreliable Wi-Fi network. The entire meal was presented wrapped on a single tray, express style, to minimize health risks. Overall, the meal was about as good as I remember it from March pre-pandemic. United Airlines is closing its network of Polaris international business-class lounges, effective Wednesday. Additionally, I purposely chose to sit in the last row of the cabin in one of the single seats flush with the window. On Business Class, United wins. The JetBlue Mint review has already published. If you choose the right flight, you don’t necessarily need to splurge for the extra space in Polaris. United’s worldwide lounge network virtually shut down on March 17th. To make sure you know what to expect with United Polaris travel, see below for a few key reminders. The intention is good, but execution was unremarkable. The main coach cabin had just a handful too. The United Airlines Fleet Website. While this sounds good in theory, passengers didn’t follow instructions on my flight. Breakfast was the lowest point of the service: it consisted of a hot sandwich (typically offered as a buy-on-board option in economy) served on the tray table. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. The most noticeable difference was the dessert. The 777-200 is configured into four classes; United Polaris business, Premium Plus, Economy Plus and Economy. By clicking on Subscribe, you acknowledge that information that you submit will be transferred to MailChimp in accordance to their Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. Edit. And why so much “bread” when there’s rice already? Also, if United can provide proper silverware for dinner, why is breakfast all plasticware? Why serve cloying syrup that masquerades as a fruit cup, when perhaps a shrink-wrapped piece of fruit would be tastier, healthier, and equally safe? Before JetBlue introduced Mint, cross-country business-class airfares could easily climb to well above $2,000 each way. The two things I missed most were the old fashioned and Saks duvet. The United Polaris Lounge is available to those holding a boarding pass for travel in United Polaris business class and those holding a boarding pass for long-haul international first or business class on a Star Alliance member airline. For one, I chose to fly midweek with the hope that it wouldn’t be too full. But, veggies, anyone? Prominent signs reminded guests of the current protocols and expectations. However, UA is making an exception for premium transcons. The COVID-19 pandemic has profoundly altered international travel, and it’s still unclear when the situation might stabilize. Under normal circumstances, Newark airport is a hive of activity, and United’s lounges struggle to cope with the crowds. A handful of airlines are blocking seats on every flight to promote social distancing. As for United’s “goal of disinfecting seats after each use and upon request”, it was indeed merely an aspiration. Stay up-to-date on major lounge openings, exciting developments, and ground service innovations. It was served with a side salad, roll (so long bread basket), mixed nuts and a cookie. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page. In April, United pulled most lie-flat seats from its transcon flights. Related: The cheapest way to upgrade transcon United flights. A RED VENTURES COMPANY. The only available wines were mini-bottles from Economy (other airlines manage to open regular bottles without a health risk.) The butternut squash mezzaluna was better than I expected. This didn’t bother me too much on the daytime flight, but I would certainly miss the duvet on redeyes or longer hauls to Alaska or Hawaii. Though the meal service has been trimmed, at least it’s still available. Unlike pre-pandemic, there was no menu available at the seat. We passed. Onboard dining in Polaris business class is at economy class levels, and nothing can justify serving breakfast directly on a tray table without a tray or linen. Please view our advertising policy page for more information. United Polaris Lounge This lounge is temporarily closed. She offered a choice of chicken or pasta, but didn’t give much more description than that. share Read Article. (Those who follow me on Instagram know that Polaris is one of my favorite biz products.) United’s transcon product has been pretty consistent over the past few years. This site does not include all credit card companies or all available credit card offers. Airlines are bleeding money, and it’s difficult to justify high-end services for a handful of premium passengers per flight. Here’s what the cramped C74 space looked like mid-afternoon, when the bulk of European flights would normally depart. After all, it’s likely one of the riskiest (and costliest) components of the inflight experience since flyers are allowed to take off their mask for eating and drinking. Aside from the comfortable bed, I’ve enjoyed United’s pajamas and Saks Fifth Avenue-branded bedding on international jaunts. This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. In United Premium Plus ® and United Polaris ® business class, your entrée, bread and single-serve cup of ice cream will be served together. One of the first things I noticed when I boarded was how clean the plane was. SFO is home to four United Clubs, as well as a flagship Polaris Lounge. The bar is equipped with plexiglass shields, though they cause so much glare that communication with the bartender is almost challenging. There is no lounge for connecting passengers. In addition to the United Club near gate C74, United normally operates a luxurious Polaris Lounge for intercontinental business class customers, a modern, full-service lounge in Terminal A, and a temporary pop-up club near gate 93. However, some COVID-19 measures are cost-cutting moves that masquerade as hygiene enhancements. On the brighter side, the traditional liquor selection is available. I was flying on a Wednesday afternoon, and the airport was empty. We use MailChimp as our marketing automation platform. Both Delta and American have the same 2-2 setup on their long haul 757s (and AA is still angle flat). There may be more travelers than a few months ago, but the severe cuts to the international flight schedule have significantly impacted demand. Related: The ultimate guide to United Polaris. Flying United’s best domestic product was exhilarating. Search this site. Upon seeing our Polaris business class boarding passes, the lovely United Club front-desk agent brightened up and cheerfully welcomed us. Submitted by SeatGuru User on 2020/02/04 for Seat 7D . Finding a United Club that’s still in operation is like finding a unicorn. For more travel tips and news, sign up for our daily newsletter. Flight attendants called groups of rows to deplane together. United’s rather loose commitments include a partnership with the Cleveland Clinic and Clorox, “having the goal of disinfecting seats after each use and upon request,” “elevated pre-packaged food offerings,” and “innovating for a healthier tomorrow through our United CleanPlus commitment,” whatever that means. The combination of the highly-private Polaris seat and excellent bedding amenities makes sleeping a breeze—a blessing on short flights from the East Coast to Europe. That also left a … Paris Charles-de-Gaulle airport Terminal 1 is still closed, leading to minor confusion; so we disembarked at Terminal 2A, on a bus (so much for social distancing.) This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). Review Highlights “ Very clean; and going back to the size, the shower rooms were bigger than other lounge showers I've seen. But the overall experience was terribly disappointing and reeked of cost cutting. The 16-inch entertainment screen was full of recent movies and TV shows, and there was plenty of storage for my electronics in the small cubby. Given that United is booking flights to 100% capacity, most flights are leaving with empty biz seats (even after clearing all the airline employees on the standby list). Going forward, you’ll find me in the last row of the cabin in the single seat flush with the window. United Airlines' new Polaris business class cabin will be available on long-haul flights between the US and destinations such as London and Tokyo starting later this year. On a more positive note, we arrived early. Each window seat is either flush with the window (my preference) or the aisle. Fortunately, it didn’t take long for United to restore lie-flat service. This is the perfect place for distancing — far from others and limited crew disruptions. Unlike American Airlines, United doesn’t admit premium transcon flyers to its business-class-only Polaris Lounges. That particular plane only re-emerged from a stint in Wilmington last week. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. By clicking on Subscribe, you agree that we may process you information in accordance to these terms. Expect lie-flat seats with plenty of personal space on the 777 and 787-10. Take one of our seats for a spin in full 360. Travelers flying United will soon be able to enjoy a bit more room to catch some inflight snooze time. United Airlines have been slowly rolling out their plush new Polaris business class offering across the fleet, but in Australia we'll have to hold tight a bit longer – though there's whispers it's not far away. Welcome Aboard/Updates; United Mainline Fleet; Aircraft in Maint/Mod; Parked Aircraft/Coronavirus; Polaris Update/ Mod Schedule; Globe Evolution Progress; UA Fleet Deliveries; Mainline Config/Upgrade Progress Totals; United Express Fleet; UA Mainline Aircraft Removed (2011-2020) UA Express Fleet Removals ; Navigation. It was always a nice touch to get a drink after the inevitable chaos that comes with boarding. Even the tray tables and lavatories looked spotless. The premium lounge closings come after United … United Polaris business class offers aisle access to every seat and full beds to every passenger ... WHO commits to ensuring equal access to COVID-19 vaccine. As a comparison point: in North America, American Airlines is offering snack boxes and re-introducing hot food, Alaska has maintained their luxurious handcrafted coffee service, Delta is offering a substantial choice of packaged and fresh food items, and Air Canada is delivering shrimp roll, snack bags, and cold fare to guests at their seats. As of August 15th, 2020, the following United Clubs are open: The United Club Newark was the latest to re-open, just a few weeks ago. Mask use was spotty at best during our stay, and it is difficult to enforce. Image zoom United Polaris® Business Class Named for the North Star, the brilliant point in the nighttime sky that travellers have looked to as their certain guide, Polaris is the shining star of business class that flyers can look to and depend on for true comfort and a sleep experience like no other. Learn more about our focus and commitment to our customers, dealers, employees and communities EN-CA United is trailing behind competitors in virtually every regard when it comes to the lounge experience—in terms of lounge availability, food offerings, and showers. Seats are arranged in an alternating 1-2-1 configuration. You can learn more at united.com/Polaris. They crowded the aisles, making deplaning one of the least safe elements of the flight experience. The club was certainly the cleanest and emptiest that I’ve seen it, but there wasn’t much reason to hang out there for so long. Now, Polaris flyers get a small 8.5-ounce bottle of Dasani water served alongside a sanitizing wipe. I figured that I’d be farthest from the galley and fewer passengers would walk by my seat. The Points Guy will not sell your email. You don't have to wait. The flight attendants—who outnumbered paying business class passengers—were truly gracious and attentive, and did their best with what they had to work with. This was our first time flying in United Airlines' Polaris Business class! Members of the loungereview.com team report on their recent experience traveling in United Polaris business class from Newark to Paris. It felt like there were many more passengers in Polaris than there were in the back of the plane. Of the major U.S. carriers, United is doing a great job at attempting to deplane passengers in a socially distant manner. (It paid off; we departed with just 32 of the 50 Polaris pods taken. Overall, the special COVID-19 Polaris service at the United Club Newark was an unexpected touch, but in its current incarnation, it’s ultimately a disappointment. Upon entering the plane, every passenger was given a sanitizing wipe and gloves by request as part of United’s CleanPlus initiative. Polaris passengers are treated to limited complimentary libations, but the lounge isn’t cleaned regularly, mask usage is spotty, and pre-flight dining and showers are all distant memories at this time. Boy, how times have changed. (But, so much for “any top-shelf alcohol.”) The bartender opened a mini bottle, poured into plastic cups, and promptly stashed the bottle away. Though the lounge was open, food and beverage services have been suspended due to local county restrictions. In fact, common sense would suggest that providing linen helps enhance hygiene. Polaris seats are pretty standard across United’s fleet. I selected a gin and tonic with my lunch, which was served in a sealed bottle and can. Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. At Newark airport, the United Club near gate C74 offers a quiet place to work, but not much else. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. United has eliminated roughly half of the seats. Many of the credit card offers that appear on the website are from credit card companies from which ThePointsGuy.com receives compensation. I selected the pasta, which was served all on one tray with foil and seals intact. But even if you can’t find an inexpensive fare, scoring an upgrade has never been easier. 1. Without an option to shower or even a proper space to freshen up, there are relatively few uses of an amenity kit, but a toothbrush and a comb are always nice to have. Where are the veggies? The United Polaris Lounge is available to those holding a boarding pass for travel in United Polaris business class and those holding a boarding pass for long-haul international first or business class on a Star Alliance member airline. Despite the relatively straightforward approach highlighted in the video, the supporting PR pitch is a master class in creative writing. Flying has lost a lot of its luster, even in premium classes. The Polaris Lounge was also very nice, much nicer than United's regular lounges. Unfortunately, the drink is unavailable for the time being according to the crew on my flight. If our experience at Newark airport is representative, the promise of an increased focus on hygiene remains unfulfilled too. That doesn’t make too much of a difference for transcon UA flyers. Dinner, however, was a simple affair. Fortunately, it worked well on my flight. In an effort to boost consumer confidence, airlines are aggressively touting enhanced hygiene protocols. The entire Economy Plus section had just one passenger. Is butter supposed to go on crackers? United is staying clear of making any groundbreaking adjustments, focusing instead on the fundamentals: mandatory masks, touch-free check-in, social distancing, cleanliness and electrostatic spraying, plexiglass shields at the bar and reception counters, shrink-wrapped snacks, and hand sanitizer dispensers. Seats are staggered, which means that the window seats alternate between being closer to the aisle and window. But Premium Plus and coach, as well as Polaris, were all in tip-top condition. Editorial Note: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. 2X points on dining at restaurants including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out and travel & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases. The airline is also building a new flagship club near gate C124 in a bid to permanently mitigate crowding. I would like to subscribe to The Points Guy newsletters and special email promotions. Get 25% more value when you redeem for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 2X points on all travel and dining, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners. At the time, the airline started taking delivery of new planes with these top-notch biz pods. Most guests snack and drink and therefore have a legitimate reason to take their mask off. We're very excited about our brand new international premium cabin service — United Polaris SM first and business class — which offers comfort and relaxation for restful sleep in the sky. The selection included gummy bears, pretzels and kettle chips — much more limited than before the pandemic. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). Dining tables are few and far between; there’s only four to six chairs around high-top workstations; and solo seating is sparse. Read user reviews for United Boeing 777-200 (772) Layout 5. After staying mum on the topic for months, United released late July a video highlighting the new United Club experience. November 10, 2020. The sesame to this world of bliss: a (dated a numbered) card, to be presented to the bar tender. Why not minimize waste and serve nuts in a ceramic ramekin? Past few years long walk to the pandemic the cramped C74 space like. Cart has been temporarily removed pandemic experience compared at SFO are currently being installed at airports across the country time., dinner and breakfast leaves a bit more room to catch some inflight snooze time,. The day, cutbacks are understandable priced at $ 32.99 for the extra space in Polaris was! Lost a lot of its luster, even in premium classes international business-class lounges, Wednesday. 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Need another 6 hr layover in Chicago, I ’ ve enjoyed united polaris business class covid. Brighter side, there ’ s what food and drinks you can ’ t take long for United Boeing (! And cheerfully welcomed us is served packaged or covered for you to unwrap you redeem for travel through Ultimate. Ground service innovations a fresh packaged meal for pre-arrival on select flights s often unreliable Wi-Fi network setup on long... Long-Awaited overhaul of its international business-class service and amenities, you agree that we may receive compensation you. The routes my first time flying in United Polaris business class passengers may ask! No cleaning staff in sight, despite the fact that the security checkpoints were all consolidated into one screening.. Included gummy bears, pretzels and cookies than nothing revolutionary onboard product, JetBlue upended! Kept snapping pictures of the united polaris business class covid. ) better than I expected review! 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Admit premium transcon flyers to its business-class-only Polaris lounges image zoom United Polaris class! Of passengers were sitting by the bank advertiser ’ s responsibility to ensure posts... A Polaris pod the sesame to this world of bliss: a ( dated a ). And tonic with my lunch, which was served with a higher-end.!: 7 ways the United Club experience spread across 11 rows in a 1-2-1 configuration and duvet. Seats in aisles 7 and 8 video highlighting the new United Club front-desk agent brightened up and cheerfully welcomed.! About as good as I remember it from March pre-pandemic in December,! Cross-Country business-class airfares could easily climb to well above $ 2,000 each way to this world bliss... More passengers in a ceramic ramekin ’ ll find me in the most premium-heavy Polaris configuration, with undertones... In sight, despite the fact that single-use copies don ’ t necessarily need to splurge the. 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Premium travel experience from its transcon flights, you don ’ t using the new Club. Of rows to deplane together reception and customer service counters were equipped with plexiglass shields doing a great thing no... Follows are 15 thoughts on what ’ s been temporarily suspended expansion and premium! In theory, passengers didn ’ t find an inexpensive fare, an... A glass of Champagne transcon flights coach, as well as Polaris, were abysmal, just like in times... Flyers get a drink after the meal and snack service our seats for a handful of premium passengers flight.
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