Polaris puts United in pole position
Polaris means the North Star or Pole Star – and that is how United Airlines sees its latest business class seat.
Presented to a packed stand at the Business Travel Show last month, Polaris focussed public attention. The tiniest detail has been carefully attended to – United found after 12,000 hours of research that sleep is the single most important priority for international business class travelers.
Integrated into individual, forward-facing, suite-like pods, each seat provides direct aisle access, 180 degree flat-bed recline and up to 6’6” of bed space. Each suite has a Do Not Disturb sign, mood lighting, one-touch lumbar support, several storage areas, multiple surfaces for simultaneous working and dining, a 16-inch HD seatback screen, with gate-to-gate entertainment, and Universal AC power and USB outlets.
United CEO and president Oscar Munoz says, ‘United Polaris will change the game in international business travel with an exceptional level of relaxation and comfort throughout our customers’ journeys.’
The seat is being fitted onto the new B777-300ER fleet – with the first of 14 aircraft to enter service this quarter rolling out to B787-10 and A350-1000 aircraft, as well as on B767-300 and 777-200 retrofits.
Polaris was designed in partnership with Acumen Design Associates, PriestmanGoode and manufactured by Zodiac Seats in the UK.
Other touches of relaxation and wellbeing include the Saks Fifth Avenue plush duvets, lightweight day-blankets, mattress pads, custom-designed slippers, pyjamas on flights over 12 hours, gel-cooled pillows as well as amenity kits with ergonomically designed eye shades, calming lavender pillow mist and other products from Soho House & Co.’s Cowshed Spa.
Each United Polaris customer will be welcomed with a pre-departure beverage of his or her choice and gourmet chocolate.
Inflight menus are updated seasonally, 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 are rolling out – the first has opened in Chicago O’Hare. There will be nine around the world – the only lounge of its kind offered by a U.S. airline to business class customers. They will feature custom-designed chairs, private daybeds, spa-like showers and chef-inspired hot meals served in a boutique restaurant setting. Premium sparkling wines and spirits, refreshing snacks and bottled water will also be offered.
The other lounges will be in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Houston, New York/Newark, Washington Dulles, Tokyo Narita, Hong Kong and London Heathrow.
(Over 7,500 European corporate travel professionals visited the 23rd Business Travel Show in London – a 3percent rise over last year. Organiser Centaur Media will expand the floor space in 2018.)