United Closes Polaris First Class Bookings Beginning Mid-2018
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.
As part of United’s rollout of the new Polaris business-class product, the airline is slowing phasing out its international first-class cabin, which is still available on the 747-400 and select 777-200s and 767-300s. Those latter aircraft types are in the process of getting the new Polaris seats, and United’s removing first class at the same time. Meanwhile, the 747s are gradually being retired — the final plane is expected to operate its last scheduled flight at the end of October.
Well, as discovered by @Airlineroute and confirmed to me by United reps, the next stage of this process is now underway, with UA suspending sales of international first class for travel beginning May 1, 2018.
Here’s the official statement from United:
As we work to retrofit our international wide body aircraft, we are identifying which markets will have the United Polaris First offering after May 1, 2018. While we are not currently selling United Polaris First seats for travel after May 1, we anticipate making those seats available for sale in select markets in the future.
So, while international first class is currently unavailable for system-wide travel on or after May 1, it could (temporarily) return to some routes in the future. For now, however, you’ll see first class (F and A fare class) “zeroed out” beginning May 1, 2018:
And while it would be ideal for United to have completed the process of adding the new Polaris seats to all of its international 777s and 767s by May 1, 2018, it’s likely that we’ll see the below 3-cabin configuration fly for some time to come.
Fortunately, the new 777-300ER offers even more premium-cabin seats, though — and while we haven’t seen a retrofitted 777-200 seat map, those planes should have around 50 business-class seats, theoretically offering a comparable number of upgrade and award options (though with an anticipated 3-4-3 economy cabin, there will be more upgrading coach passengers to compete with, too).
While United’s international first-class experience doesn’t differ much from biz (and actually represents a step down from business class on flights with United’s new Polaris seats), this cabin typically offers better Saver award availability than business class, and gives non-revenue travelers (employees and their family/friends) a decent chance at scoring a lie-flat seat on long-haul flights, given that first class rarely sells out on int’l United flights.
That said, the new Polaris business-class seat offers far more privacy, and while it’s a bit tighter, personally I’d happily choose business class on the 777-300ER over first class on the 777-200 or 747-400 any day.
WELCOME OFFER: 60,000 Points
TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,200
CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 2X points on all travel and dining, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners
*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.
- Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
- 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
- Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel
- Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on orders over $12 for a minimum of one year on qualifying food purchases with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
- Earn 5X points on Lyft rides through March 2022. That’s 3X points in addition to the 2X points you already earn on travel.