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United Polaris Review: AKL-SFO

You may have heard about United Polaris, the new, combined United Business and First Classes. Their soft product (new dining experiences, fancy bedding, PJ’s, and other perks) has been rolling out over the last two years, but they have been perfecting those experiences and are in the process of rolling out their new equipment and configuration! I recently had the opportunity to fly Polaris from Auckland (AKL) to San Francisco (SFO), so here’s the whole scoop for you, complete with pictures and descriptions—and maybe a few pro tips!

Polaris Lounge

Y’all, the new Polaris lounges are to die for! With a full service retaurant, showers, quiet rooms, comfortable seating, and outlets everywhere you look, you’ll wish your layover was longer! The SFO Polaris Lounge is the largest airport lounge in the world, so feel free to spread out. For the full story and every delightful details, check out my post all about the SFO United Polaris Lounge!

SFO Polaris Lounge Entrance
New Seat Configuration

The new seating configuration is the headline these days. It’s the newest and final crowning element of the Polaris product, and it’s pretty exciting for those of us who like to get up and move around mid-flight while the person beside us sleeps peacefully. Every seat has aisle access! No more crawling over your neighbor, making you both uncomfortable.

The control panel is new but relatively intuitive, and it includes a “do not disturb” button that turns on a little red indicator outside your seat so the flight attendants know not to wake you. Additionally, the Polaris seats all include a shoulder strap. A little bit excessive in my opinion, but safety first!

Showing off the new shoulder strap

Something I was really excited for was seat-side storage. Previously, Business passengers had to put everything up in the overhead bins, with no storage anywhere, even at their feet. It’s a minor inconvenience, especially for those of us who wear glasses and contacts, work at our seats, or just want to have access to a few things without waiting for the seatbelt sign to go off. There’s not much, but there’s a little something:

Room for essentials, plus a mirror!

Pros: Divider between side-by-side seats retracts so you can talk to (and be near) your traveling partner, one seat-side storage area (so not everything has to go in the overhead bin), closer entertainment system, maximum of two side-by-side seats, and every seat has aisle access.

I love that I can reach across and hold this cutie’s hand whenever I want!

Cons: There is only single seating by the windows, seats are no wider or more comfortable than the previous seats, not as much storage as I hoped, and a very narrow pathway between the aisle and the seat. in the middle configuration.

That’s a mighty narrow opening!
Comforts

These items have been rolling out over the last two years, and they are quite comfortable improvements over their predecessors. When you’re up in the air, maybe feeling the effects of jet lag, definitely getting dehydrated, and perhaps having trouble sleeping with the light and inevitable airplane noise, those little comforts go a long way!

Amenities Kit

The amenities kits change every so often, but they always include the essentials: earplugs, an eye mask, and chapstick! Here is the latest iteration available to you in United Polaris:

Eye mask, socks, chapstick, lotion, facial cleansing wipe, earplugs, pen, toothbrush, toothpaste, tissues, and a toiletries bag
Bedding

You will definitely want the bedding! The seat is not terribly comfortable compared to other products in the industry, but the mattress pad certainly helps! And so do the blankets, full-size soft pillow, and cooling gel-memory foam pillow.

Top to bottom: gray duvet; blue gel-memory foam pillow; gray wool-blend blanket; ultra-soft, full-size pillow
Pajamas and Slippers

This is a little something that was formerly only offered to First Class passengers, but now everyone in Polaris gets them, too! Pajamas come in small/medium or large/extra large, and the slippers are one size fits most. And they’re yours to take with you!

New Jammies and slippers!
Pro Tip: Save those slippers for your next Economy Class flight!
Dining

Ok, so it’s still airplane food. But it’s better in Polaris than in Economy! And there is definitely more of it. Here’s a peek at what we chose:

The Menu
Warm, salted nuts as a pre-meal snack
Appetizers: Roll, salad, smoked salmon
Steve’s Orange Roughy with cream sauce, mashed potatoes, and green beans with tomatoes
Not sure what’s going on here! I did in fact order the mint and ricotta-stuffed chicken with red pepper sauce, but I was supposed to get wild rice and broccolini; those are definitely mashed potatoes (not complaining there), but I’m not sure what’s going on with the carrots and brown flaky stuff!
Red velvet cupcake, mini brownie, and macaron, with ice cream topped with hot fudge and butterscotch sauce in the background
Steve went rogue and asked for one of the mid-flight hot bites for breakfast: grilled cheese and tomato soup; they threw in the fruit and yogurt for good measure!
I went more traditional: cereal with yogurt, fruit, and croissant with strawberry preserves
Service

Our flight crew was great! This is the flight that got Steve his millionth mile with United (stay tuned for a post about what being a Million Miler is all about), and I asked them to sign a congratulations card I’d brought for him. They were happy to! They were quick to fill requests and make sure we were comfortable, hydrated, and full. We really can’t ask for more!

Many congratulations to Steve!

Are you ready to fly United Polaris? Coming soon to a route near you!

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