United Airlines unveils major business class overhaul

The new United Polaris flat-bed seat
The new United Polaris flat-bed seat

United Airlines has unveiled plans for a major overhaul of its international business class product, with the launch of a series of new services both in-flight and on the ground.

Under the new ‘United Polaris’ business class brand, which the airline is calling its “most significant product transformation in more than a decade”, United will revamp the premium seats on its international fleet of twin-aisle aircraft, as well as upgrading its in-flight dining and airport lounge offerings. The new services will be rolled out from 1 December 2016.

“United Polaris will change the game in international business travel with an exceptional level of relaxation and comfort throughout our customers’ journeys,” said Oscar Munoz, the airline’s president & CEO. “This completely reconceived experience exemplifies the new spirit of United and the innovation, excitement and operational momentum across our airline.”

Onboard United’s international fleet, the airline will install a new custom-designed flat-bed seat, all of which will have direct aisle access. These forward-facing, pod-style seats will feature a “Do Not Disturb” signs, mood lighting, several storage areas, different tables for working and dining, and 16-inch HD in-flight entertainment screens.

Passengers will be offered a range on in-flight amenities
Passengers will be offered a range on in-flight amenities

In an effort to improve its passengers’ sleep quality, United will offer custom-made bedding with duvets, lightweight blankets and two sizes of pillow, and mattress cushions will be available on request. Passengers will also be offered slippers and amenity kits, and pyjamas will be available on flights longer than 12 hours.

In terms in in-flight dining, every United Polaris passenger will be welcomed with a pre-departure beverage and chocolate, and the airline will offer made-to-order ice cream sundaes, desserts and chocolate truffles. United will partner with “critically recognised chefs” to provide seasonal menus and the airline’s own sommelier will choose the wine list.

And finally, United will also revamp its international business class lounges. Lounges in nine major airports will be fitted with new custom-designed chairs, private daybeds, spa-like showers and “boutique restaurant” dining areas. Sparkling wines, spirits and bottled water will also be offered.

The first new United Polaris lounge will open at Chicago O’Hare Airport on 1 December 2016. The eight other locations – Los Angeles, San Francisco, Houston, New York Newark, Washington Dulles, Tokyo Narita, Hong Kong and London Heathrow – will follow in 2017.

The new United Polaris business class seats will initially be introduced on the airline’s Boeing 777-300ER aircraft, followed by its new B787-10 Dreamliners and Airbus A350-1000s. The airline will also retro-fit its existing B767-300s and B777-200s with the new products.

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