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United to fly its new(ish) Polaris business class seat on all London – New York flights

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Anyone who is impatient to try out the new British Airways Club Suite should hope that it doesn’t go the way of United’s Polaris.

Back in 2016, the American carrier announced a completely new business class concept featuring a brand new seat design as well as lounge refurbishments and soft product. Polaris was widely welcomed as a step-change improvement in United’s business class offering. Unfortunately, it was a slow roll out. Delays at the seat manufacturer meant that in the first few years very few Polaris-fitted aircraft were flying.

Things have improved since then. Looking at it today, Polaris is fitted on 68% of the long haul fleet. The goal is to have the new business class seat on all aircraft by the end of 2020.

United Polaris Cabin PR

The Polaris seat is based on the Optima product designed by Priestmangoode. It is an angled seat in alternating configurations, meaning that some seats are more private than others due to the location of the side table.

Here is a PR photo from United:

United Polaris seat pr

The good news is that United actually flies many of these aircraft to London. The transatlantic market is one of the most competitive in the world and London-New York is the only billion dollar route. Whilst American Airlines and Delta Air Lines have joint ventures with British Airways and Virgin Atlantic respectively, United flies alone. This means that in order to compete, United needs to offer its most competitive product.

United retrofits 767s in premium configuration

To achieve this, United has been retrofitting 21 of its Boeing 767 aircraft into a super-premium configuration, increasing the amount of Polaris business class seats and introducing a premium economy cabin.  At the same time, it is cutting back sharply on standard economy seating.

In total, the aircraft will have:

46 Polaris business class seats

22 premium economy seats

47 extra-legroom economy seats

52 regular economy seats (very, very small)

Here is the seat map, which makes it obvious just how premium-heavy it is (click to enlarge):

United 767 high j seat map

From the 15th September:

United will introduce a 5th daily flight from Heathrow to Newark

You are guaranteed to get the new Polaris seat on all five of them

Across the five flights, United will operate the most business class seats of any US airline between the two cities.


United will soon be flying five of these refitted Boeing 767 aircraft daily between Newark and Heathrow, all of which will have Polaris. It will no longer be a guessing game as to what seat you will get.  If you fly United, you will get the same model of aircraft with the same seating configuration on all five flights.

United is also in the planning stages of re-fitting their Heathrow lounge at Terminal 2 in line with other new Polaris lounges in the US. Heathrow is one of only three planned Polaris lounges outside North America.  They need to be careful here, because at present it is easily the best of the Star Alliance lounges in Terminal 2.

If you are wondering what the Polaris seat is like, we are too. Neither Rob, Anika or myself have ever flown the product, although we are keen to review it in the future.

Comments (32)

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  • Dev says:

    Better aircraft, not just Polaris cabins, would make me consider flying across the pond with United. And then there is the question of food and service.
    Until then, Virgin and BA have my business, albeit corporate policy makes me choose the cheaper of the two.

  • Tom says:


    Agreed – a 767 is hardly an aspirational aircraft.

    • Prins Polo says:

      Fully agree, that’s one thing that’s putting me off UA on this route. I’ve flown 787s with the Polaris seat a few times and that’s an excellent product, but 767 just doesn’t cut it.

  • Riccatti says:

    Polaris Lounge means no access to Star Alliance Gold. Only ticketed business class passengers.

    • Prins Polo says:

      Good point. This is the policy at EWR – where you also need to show your passport as it seems people were selling (?) boarding passes that give access (note you don’t have access to the Polaris lounge at EWR if flying UA on domestic, Caribbean routes, to Hawaii etc)

  • Jb says:

    ‘They need to be careful here, because at present it is easily the best of the Star Alliance lounges in Terminal 2.’
    That’s a matter of taste. I find the Heathrow United lounge a dreadful soulless place full of fake gusto and dubious foods (I mean who feeds people chilli beans before a long haul flight – that’s unsociable!!)
    The last time I was there towards the end of the night (delayed Air China flight) the staff wacked on the radio and played music at loud volume throughout the lounge. Having entered 5 minuted prior but with another 30-40 mins before closing it was one of the most unrelaxing locations I had been in – they were clearly trying to get rid of me having just taking my details for the FFP billing.

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

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