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At an event held at New York's Webster Hall last week, United Airlines new CEO Oscar Munoz unveiled the company's new business class product, United Polaris.
It's a total overhaul of United's business class including new direct-aisle-access lie-flat seats with ‘up to 6’6 of bed space,' custom bedding from Saks Fifth Avenue, Polaris branded slippers and sleepwear on flights of over 12 hours, new amenity kits, and new Polaris business class lounges, plus many other changes.
The New Polaris Business Class Seating
The new seating in United Polaris is a significant step up from the current business class seats. Moving to a 1-2-1 configuration with direct aisle access from every seat, the new suite-like pod's have a partition between the seats for added privacy (can be lowered when traveling with a partner), and a ‘Do Not Disturb' sign which can be toggled on and off by passengers.
Each United Polaris seat will offer direct access to the aisle, 180-degree flat-bed recline and up to 6 foot 6 inches of bed space.
Crafted as individual, forward-facing, suite-like pods, each customer's personal suite will feature a “Do Not Disturb” sign, mood lighting, one-touch lumbar support, several storage areas, multiple surfaces for simultaneous working and dining, a 16-inch high-definition entertainment screen and, for seats in the center of the cabin, electronic privacy dividers.
United To Offer New ‘Sleep Focused' Soft Product
United has put together some stellar collaborations for Polaris with bedding by Saks Fifth Avenue, Cowshed products for the new amenity kits, and United Polaris pajamas for longer flights of 12 hours or more.
In a first-of-its-kind partnership, United has worked with leading luxury specialty store Saks Fifth Avenue for custom-designed bedding. All designed to provide the best sleep in the sky, the new bedding collection will feature plush duvets, lightweight day-blankets and a large and small pillow for each United Polaris customer. In addition, mattress cushions will be available upon request.
Slippers will be available on all flights, and customized United Polaris pajamas will be available by request on flights longer than 12 hours. Flyers will also be able to request a gel-cooled pillow. New amenity kits will feature ergonomically designed eye shades, calming lavender pillow mist and additional products from Soho House & Co.'s Cowshed Spa.
The Overhaul Includes A New Approach To Business Class Dining
The new in-flight experience will feature new seasonally influenced menus and the addition of chocolate to the pre-departure drink.
Upon boarding their flight, each United Polaris customer will be welcomed with a pre-departure beverage of his or her choice and gourmet chocolate. While in the air, customers will enjoy regionally influenced in-flight menus updated seasonally, developed in partnership with The Trotter Project and its critically recognized chefs, including Bill Kim of acclaimed Chicago restaurants Urbanbelly, bellyQ and Belly Shack.
The airline will offer an upgraded wine experience, with the highest-quality options curated exclusively by United's Master Sommelier. Inflight service will also include made-to-order signature ice cream sundaes, a dessert cart with a variety of petit dessert options, chocolate truffles and wine flights. On daytime flights longer than eight hours and on all flights longer than 12 hours, hot mid-flight snacks such as lobster macaroni and cheese will be available.
New Polaris Business Class Lounges Will Start Opening From December 2016
United plan on opening the first of nine Polaris Business Class Lounges in December 2016 at Chicago O'Hare International Airport, with others to follow in 2017.
United will also open an exclusive portfolio of United Polaris business class lounges in nine locations around the world – the only lounge of its kind offered by a U.S. airline to business class customers – that will feature custom-designed chairs, private daybeds, spa-like showers and chef-inspired hot meals served in a boutique restaurant setting so customers can refresh and dine before boarding their planes. Premium sparkling wines and spirits, refreshing snacks and bottled water will also be offered.
The first new United Polaris lounge will open at Chicago O'Hare International Airport on Dec. 1, 2016. Lounges in eight other locations – Los Angeles, San Francisco, Houston, New York/Newark, Washington Dulles, Tokyo Narita, Hong Kong and London Heathrow – will follow in 2017.
Polaris Business Class Timeline
United has set December 1, 2016, as the launch date for United Polaris, introducing the new Saks Fifth Avenue bedding, amenity kits, and the new United Polaris Lounge in Chicago with the first Polaris flights taking off sometime in December.
The first aircraft to receive the new seats will be the Boeing 777-300ER, followed by the 787's and Airbus A350-1000's. United's current 767-300 and 777-200 fleet will undergo retrofits.
First impressions are that United has put together a solid new business class product with Polaris. The new seating is a massive improvement over what is being offered now, and the addition of new menus and sleep-focused amenity kits is a big plus.
In rethinking the international business class experience, United conducted more than 12,000 hours of research, and sleep emerged as the single most important priority for international business class travelers. United Polaris' path-breaking design and sleep-enhancing focus was inspired and informed by insights from hundreds of customers and employees, inflight product simulations and more than 100 product evaluations.
United's press release mentioned how much research went into developing the new product and it shows in the details. With the first seats taking to the air in roughly six months, we can look forward to trialing the new United Polaris business class experience at the end of the year.
To catch all the details, check out the new Polaris page on United's website.
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