United’s first Boeing 777-300ER (reg N2331U) at Chicago
Last Monday, it was disorienting when my alarm went off at 3:30am. At the time, I was not sure why it was happening, but I knew that I was not a fan. That was until I snapped back into reality and remembered that I was getting up early to fly on a few airplanes. The mission of that day was to check out United’s new Polaris business class — and I was up for it! I was to start in Seattle, fly to Chicago to meet United’s first 777-300ER, then I would get to know the product flying to San Fransisco, before heading home. All in the same long day.
In the Polaris business class cabin on United’s first 777-300ER
I have read about United’s new Polaris product and seen the photos, but nothing beats putting it to the test at 40,000 feet. Was it worth getting up so early? Oh you better believe it — it was one stellar experience (okay, I will try to behave with the space puns, mostly).
This is N747NA, better known as SOFIA- the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy – Photo: Bernie Leighton | AirlineReporter
You know, despite being a carbon-based life form and therefore largely composed of water molecules – that doesn’t mean I have to like water vapor.
It’s annoying. Think about it? You come in from outside into a warm room and your glasses fog up. Water vapor condenses and produces fog, which keeps me from flying. Sometimes, water vapor even contains annoying minerals resting in solution that can damage precision electronics. If you think I am annoyed by water vapor, talk to an astronomer! It’s worse for them.
Imagine being on the only habitable planet you know of, but having the atmosphere that keeps you alive act like a giant opaque blanket. Gross, right? That’s Earth!
With the sliding door over its 17-ton infrared telescope wide open, NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy – or SOFIA – soars over California’s snow-covered Southern Sierras on a test flight in 2010 – Photo: NASA
Now imagine that you want to look into the vast reaches of the cosmos, at wavelengths below what the human eye can see, which also happen to be even more affected by the water vapor that resides within the lower atmosphere. A recipe for despair.
The best way to get above the earth’s vapor-barrier would be to build a satellite. I think everyone agrees on that.
If, long after your natural life ends, the billions of dollars in funding you requested to build a satellite is approved – they might name it after you and your grad student’s grandchildren may be able to profit from the data. That doesn’t seem like the best idea for continuing research at a regular tempo does it? What do you do? Well, beyond actually funding scientific endeavors more, there is a second choice.
An American Boeing 787-8 (N812AN) at LAX; the 787-9 is a stretched version of the -8
This story has been updated to include new information about the availability of premium economy and anticipated dates for domestic operations.
American Airlines today announced new details and routes for its newest addition to the fleet, the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner (789), which is set to arrive in the last quarter of this year. While American already operates 17 Boeing 787-8s (788s), four of the stretched -9s, with new business class seats and a cabin configuration to include a new Premium Economy section, will be delivered by the end of December 2016, with a total of 22 on order.
The 789s will initially be based out of American’s home base, Dallas-Fort Worth Airport (DFW), and on November 4 will commence service to Madrid-Barajas Airport (MAD) and Sao Paulo-Guarulhos International Airport (GRU).
AirlineReporter has received exclusive details on the inaugural route the 789 will actually fly…
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.