United CEO Oscar Muñoz checks out the new Polaris product in New York – Photo: Ben Granucci
Culminating a design process that took more than two years, United Airlines unveiled their new United Polaris Business Class on Thursday morning. Speaking at an event in Midtown Manhattan, CEO Oscar Muñoz spoke of the airline’s renewed focus on the passenger experience, particularly for premium passengers.
This new focus requires across-the-board upgrades to the airline. It means new aircraft, with the 777-300ER, A350-1000, and 787-8/-9/-10 all on order or recently delivered on the widebody side. It means new coffee from Illy on-board, as well as snacks such as the highly touted stroopwaffle.
You see United Polaris is more than just a new seat, it is a new direction for their premium long-haul experience. Sure, the new seat is a big part of it, but United Polaris also includes new on-board amenities and a new lounge experience. Unifying (or uniting, if you will) the entire concept that good sleep is key when flying long-haul.
BONUS: Flying Domestically on the Upper Deck of a United 747-400
At nine airports worldwide, the United Polaris experience starts in the lounge. The new lounges will offer private sleep pods and showers, enabling travelers to rest and refresh themselves before a long flight. They will also feature hot meals served in a restaurant-style setting, as well as premium wines and spirits. The first United Polaris lounge is expected to open at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport (ORD) by the end of the year. Lounges in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Houston, Newark, Washington Dulles, Tokyo Narita, Hong Kong, and London Heathrow airports will follow in 2017.
My United Boeing 747-400 at SFO
I’ve always enjoyed reading stories of AvGeek’s first flights. The particulars vary, but the basic arc is usually the same: three-year-old self spends the entire time glued to the window in a hushed awe as the cornfields of Iowa stroll by four miles below. And lo’: an AvGeek is born.
That wasn’t me. I mean, I liked looking at the airplanes just fine. That was awesome from day one. But actually flying in them? That was another matter.
Two-year-old me hated every last waking moment of my first flight. And, according to my parents, I made sure everyone within earshot knew it. My blood-curdling screams, which I’m told lasted most of the flight between Boston Logan and Minneapolis via Detroit, were endearing enough to encourage many of my fellow fliers on board to pick up and find somewhere—anywhere—else to ride out the two-hour living hell (Editor’s note: Jeremy still reacts similarly today).
United employees get excited for their newest Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner
What makes the 27th delivery of a Boeing 787 to an airline special? Its employees.
Recently, United took delivery of a 787-9 Dreamliner and invited 200 employees along, to celebrate their dedication and hard work. Team leaders, around the world, were asked to select top performers and they were invited to fly to Seattle, attend a VIP dinner, and take a Dreamliner delivery flight back to home-base in Chicago.
The United 787, sitting at Boeing Field
The road to… well… unite United has not been easy and there is still a lot of work ahead. With new leadership, there is renewed hope for bringing everyone together for the purpose of making the airline stronger. From what I saw during the delivery flight, the airline seems to be on the right path. I have become optimistic about their future.
T4-TBIT connector at LAX: Walkway overlooking the ramp between TBIT and T4 at LAX.
Updated 2/26 to fix Youtube video link.
On Thursday, the project at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) to build a post-security connector (pdf) between the renovated Tom Bradley International Terminal (TBIT) and Terminal 4 (T4) had a “soft opening” that vastly improves the airport experience for a significant number of passengers.
The $115 million project, which was originally set to open in early December 2015, is slated to include an outdoor patio, retail and food outlets, and a streamlined baggage transfer experience for those arriving on international flights and connecting onward. A small section for passengers walking to the customs and immigration was previously opened a couple of weeks ago.
With this opening, Terminals 4, 5, 6, and 7, as well as TBIT, are all connected behind security, meaning that passengers already in this area can walk to any of these terminals without the need to exit and reclear security. AirlineReporter has the first photos of the newly opened passageway…