We take a sneak peak at the United Airlines Polaris business class – now on all Heathrow to Newark flights (Part 2)

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This is the second half of our overview of the United Airlines Polaris business class seat on a Boeing 767.

Part 1 of our United Airlines Polaris review can be found here.

In terms of seat choice in the business cabin, the standout seats are the window seats in rows 3, 5, 9 and 11 all of which enjoy two windows each. All the rest either have misaligned or even obscured windows so if you like to look out, there are definitely some to avoid if you don’t want to be disappointed – Row 18 is one of these as it has no visible window at all:

United Polaris seat

Soon after seating, the lovely ‘going nowhere’ cabin crew came around to offer us a top-up of champagne or wine or both, and to take our starter orders!United Polaris champagne

By the time I’d explored the seat, I was really getting into this unusual ‘going nowhere’ journey and having missed my usual pre-flight visit to the departure lounge, I was really looking forward to the meal and wine!

Polaris food and drink

I chose a salad with mango alongside a small but tasty and beautifully presented serving of pork rillette. Warm bread was also offered – including a fantastic pretzel roll, plus each tray came complete with personal salt and pepper in the cute little Polaris Orb. I decided to pair with a delicious Californian Chardonnay.

United Polaris food service

We then had a choice of mains, and for me, it had to be the beef, which was served with potatoes gratin, root vegetables and a scrumptious jus.

United Polaris food

After two big dishes and two (maybe three 😉) drinks, it was time to put the bed to the test. I was slightly nervous that I would nod off, so I didn’t hang around prone for too long, but I can report that it was very comfy, especially with the memory foam pillow, and there were no noticeable ridges or bumps. There seemed plenty of room for my admittedly only 5’3” frame!

United Polaris dessert

With the promise of coffee and some puds, I took the opportunity to explore the ‘facilities’ and found the loo to be perfectly adequate for a plane. Nothing fancy like you see on a carrier like Qatar Airways, with stashes of toothbrushes and other goodies on offer, but there was a bottle of hand cream and facial spray mist you could use if you wished to refresh yourself mid-flight.

Premium Plus (premium economy)

I had another little wander towards the back of the plane to have a proper look at the Premium Plus seats. These really were very impressive:

United Premium Plus

Nice and comfy with a good recline and for anyone who is budget conscious, particularly on a day flight, or has to work within the parameters of a ‘premium economy only’ company travel policy, these seats seem to offer an enjoyable way to travel. The 2-2-2 configuration is a world apart from BA’s 2-4-2 layout in Premium Economy seats (although admittedly on wider aircraft).  The bulkhead window seats in Row 20 offer almost unlimited legroom:

United Premium Plus

Economy and Economy Plus

Moving backwards, again the cabin with the Economy Plus seating feels nicely spacious, plus we all spotted a couple of gems towards the back on the left-hand side with a tremendous amount of legroom and economy seats that even sport a leg rest:

United economy

It’s rumoured that these are crew rest seats, but presumably on a flight where crew don’t need to rest, you may get lucky. Row 43 is definitely worth checking out if booking into economy in this cabin. But don’t forget that anyone in Economy with status of Premier Gold can automatically choose the Economy Plus seats at no extra cost.

United economy


Boarding a plane for lunch without going anywhere was quite a surreal experience but very enjoyable, and I felt really privileged to have the chance of this little ‘behind the scenes’ look.  I was very impressed with what I saw and feel that United has a robust offering now for the business traveller who is looking for more choice between London and New York.

For anyone who is not wedded to their current airline or alliance, United Airlines is clearly striving to offer not only a comparable, but a distinctly competitive edge when it comes to transatlantic premium seats.

My biggest ‘takeaway’ from the briefing is that unlike on other carriers, if you book a business seat between London and New York Newark with United, you’ll know precisely what you’re going to get – this new Polaris seat!

We take a sneak peak at the United Airlines Polaris business class - now on all Heathrow to Newark flights (Part 1)
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  1. The Original David says:

    2-2-2 in PE on a 767 is indeed remarkable – Austrian has 2-4-2 on its 767s. Were the aisles larger than usual, or are the seats just super-wide for the average American posterior?

    • I suspect you have your types confused. Austrian has 2-2-2 in PE in a 767 (BA only had 2-3-2 in Y). Austrian’s 777 is 2-4-2 in PE.

  2. Looked good (of course) on the US TV ads – after this review, I might just give it a go!

  3. Caroline

    These are the most well written reviews I can remember reading on Head for Points – you have a great writing style!

    Polaris looks quite good – maybe a bit utilitarian? Shame they can’t be fitted onto some newer metal (or carbon fibre) though. These 767s should be on the way to the desert or cargo conversion IMHO.

  4. The seat looks comfortable but the fact remains that these aircraft are all aged 767 which are noisy in the cabin. Why choose United when you can fly in an A350 with Virgin Atlantic and benefit from a quieter aircraft with increased cabin pressure and arrive feeling fit, healthy, hydrated and relaxed rather than like a dried out prune after enduring crossing the pond in an ancient United 767…..and 777s aren’t much better. #ifitsboeingimnotgoing

    • I don’t find 777s or 767s particularly noisy. I’ve flown in an AA767 long haul configuration, and the noisiest thing was the passengers (parents in the window seats, kids in the middle pair. Parents shouting to each other across the width of the plane).

      I usually fly back from NY on a 747. Also 20 years old, but nicely refurbished and not particularly noisy.

      The new Virgin A350s sound quite disappointing based on the reviews here.

      • Surprised. If you sit behind the engines the 767 is really loud. Even further forward the 767 is loud, as is the 777 really. A350 and B787 really do make you notice the poor air and noise on older models.

    • Oh! Matron! says:

      Firstly, great write up, and I applaud United for ensuring that the product was across their LHR – NYC fleet

      However: The noise on a 767, especially in the cheap seats, is, without exaggeration, deafening. So much so, I thought my Parrot NC headphones were faulty on my last flight in August from MSP with Delta. Nick’s right: Why would you want to expend money on a 20 year old aircraft, when you could be on a 787 / A350

      Every 767 I’ve ever flown on has been terribly cold on the emergency exit seats behind the wings too: I love the cold more than most, but I end up normally having to stuff blankets in the gap by the door as it blows a right hoolie.

      Plus, the colour scheme in Polaris does look VERY drab.

      Friends don’t let friends fly united.

    • RussellH says:

      Pretty much my thoughts exactly – why invest so much in such an ancient fleet? They cannot surely have more than 4 or 5 years life left?

      And harking back to yesterday’s comments about Extinction Rebellion – a 767 is going to be churning out a lot more CO2 than a modern aircraft.

      • These are ‘right size’ aircraft for the market, and there isn’t a newer model to replace them. Boeing keeps saying they will develop one but it keeps getting pushed down the road. Problem is that A321 is single aisle, not enough capacity. A330 and 787 are too large, and so inefficient. A lot of US carriers are clamouring for a mid-sized aircraft for exactly these kinds of routes…

        • The guy quoted, Bob?, said they kept filling all the seats so added a 5th flight. They could have switched to 787s and everyone had a better experience. Odd to say right sized when they themselves said they had to add another flight.
          Incidentally whilst I believe United are using 767-300 the 767-400 is actually longer but a similar capacity to the 787-8. I don’t think it was right sized at all, I think they used old frames to save money up front, against the longer term efficiency of newer frames.
          No 787 can reasonably described as inefficient in comparison the 767 surely?
          Is an A330-200 or A330-800, the Neo version of the -200, not the obvious size comparison to a 767-300?

          • On many routes frequency is more important – that’s why you won’t see BA putting it’s A380s to New York, instead choosing a range of 747, 777, 787 on its 14 daily direct flights from Heathrow to JFK (not counting any other area airports!)

            787-8 is widely regarded as a ‘heavy’ airplane – the gain in efficiency is probably not as great as you’d expect.

            I’d be far more critical of BA’s 747 fleet, which will be far less efficient than the 767….good thing they’re retiring them in the next 5 years!

          • I understand frequency. But UA Bob said added a flight as planes full, not because they needed more frequency, suggesting right sized argument incorrect.
            BA fly 747 because they have them and they’re milking every last mile out of them.
            UA are using old 767s because they have them and it lowers initial cost, they’re not right sized, they’re just best fit of what’s available. They remain a poor passenger experience.

  5. ankomonkey says:

    You can’t leave us on the puds cliffhanger, Caroline… Did you have something?

    • I did – it was delicious.. sorry – no picture but it was a caramel’y chocolate’y pud. I can’t remember the other choices but I think there might have been some macaroons. 🙂

  6. I wonder if they prepared the meals specially as they knew you were staying on the ground.

    Airline food is usually designed for our depleted sense of taste when flying.

  7. Have flown this once, would fly again. It’s solid. That beef looks better than the classic BA one you have to hack at!

  8. Paul Pogba says:

    Are all Star Alliance Gold status able to select Economy Plus or is it restricted to United Premier Gold?

  9. You can also select an Economy Plus seat for free at check-in (but not at booking) if you have United Premier Silver status.

    (Originally posted by accident in the comments beneath part one.)

  10. Prins Polo says:

    Same feelings here – I really like the Polaris seat, but not on a 767, which is old, noisy and generally offers a subpar experience compared to more modern birds.

  11. I flew LAX to LHR on United earlier this week, and although I was in Economy Plus I had to walk through the business-class section to get to my seat. That section was also referred to as Polaris, although the seats were a 2-2-2 configuration, all facing forwards—looking different to the images of these cabins on the Newark flights. That plane was a 787. Does anyone know how many versions of this cabin United has?

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