United Confirms First Routes for the 777-300ER, New Polaris Seat
United's very first 777-300ER is almost here! This particular aircraft model isn't terribly exciting on the surface — other airlines, including American, have been flying the -300ER (or "77W") for years — but United's latest plane is the first to offer the new Polaris business-class seat, which represents a huge step up from what you'll currently have when flying United.
The new aircraft will have a whopping 60 Polaris business seats (the most of any United plane) and 306 economy seats:
The airline will be installing the new seat on many of its existing long-haul aircraft, including the 777-200s and 767s, but initially it's only going to be available on the yet-to-be-delivered 777-300ER. (All long-haul flights now offer the new Polaris bedding, amenity kits and food/beverage options.) With that in mind, there's been a lot of interest in which routes United will operate with this plane first. And now we know.
Your first opportunity to fly the 777-300ER will likely be on February 16, when UA begins round-trip service between Newark and San Francisco. That aircraft will continue flying between EWR and SFO six days per week through May 3. Then, on March 25, the airline will add the 77W to its San Francisco-Hong Kong route, which currently employs a 747-400. More routes will likely be announced in the weeks and months to come, as United plans to be flying all 14 of its new 777-300ERs by the end of next year.
While the new plane represents a huge step up in business class, unfortunately coach is going to be a much tighter squeeze, with 102 Economy Plus seats and 204 regular coach seats, all in a 3-4-3 configuration (with 34 and 31 inches of pitch, respectively). The 777-300ER will be a much more entertaining ride, at least — the 747s flying to Hong Kong today don't even have seat-back entertainment, though they do offer streaming entertainment. By comparison, the new aircraft will offer both on-demand seat-back displays and streaming media, so you can still choose to watch movies and TV shows on your own device, if you prefer. All seats will have power outlets and USB ports for keeping gadgets charged. There will be Wi-Fi available for purchase as well.
You should see the 777-300ER pop up on these routes very soon — perhaps even later today. It's not clear if upgrade availability or cash fares will be impacted by the rollout, but if you have a flight booked before the 777-300ER is swapped in, you'll obviously keep the class of service that's already confirmed. Notably, these planes will not have a first-class cabin, so if you've purchased (or redeemed for) a fare in United Polaris first on the SFO-HKG route, you'll want to contact United about a partial refund.
Will you be going out of your way to fly United's new 777-300ER?