Which of United's 767s Will Get the New Polaris Seats?
Until today, United's much-improved Polaris business-class seats have been available on just 14 of the airline's new 777-300ERs, which are currently assigned to a small selection of United's longest international routes. With the exception of San Francisco to Frankfurt (which launches next month), the 777 doesn't operate any transatlantic service, which means premium-cabin passengers traveling to Europe fly a variety of the carrier's older seats — some perfectly serviceable, others not so much.
That all changes tonight, when United launches service with its first retrofitted 767-300ER, N644UA — while the plane has been flying for a whopping 26 years, having entered service way back in 1991, United just completed an overhaul of the aircraft's interior, making it in many ways feel brand new.
The 767-300 currently serves as the backbone of United's East Coast-Europe fleet, operating the majority of transatlantic flights from the carrier's Newark hub, in addition to some flights from Chicago to Europe, Houston to Europe and South America, and some domestic flights, including United's Honolulu nonstop from Newark and a selection of shorter hops between hubs in the US.
As of September 8, 2017, the following aircraft already have the new Polaris seats or will be getting them soon:
- Already flying: N644UA (launches on EWR-LHR tonight)
- Undergoing retrofit: N648UA, N649UA
- Awaiting retrofit (currently 3-cabin): N641UA, N642UA, N643UA, N646UA, N647UA, N651UA, N654UA, N655UA, N656UA, N659UA, N660UA
So as of today, three of the 14 planes United's planning to update are currently making their way through the process. Right now, United is focusing only on the three-cabin 767s, 11 of which are still flying with first class, business and economy cabins. All 14 should be complete by the end of 2018 — in the meantime, they'll be added to flights currently assigned to two-cabin aircraft, since both configurations offer 30 business-class seats. The Polaris seats on the 767 are two inches narrower than their 777 counterparts, though, measuring 21 inches, compared to 23. In bed mode, the seats measure at least 6 feet, 3 inches in length, which is comparable to the 777.
These planes offer a much more comfortable ride in economy — unlike with the 777-300ER, where seats are arranged in a 3-4-3 configuration and measure just 17 inches wide, the updated 767s will maintain the 2-3-2 configuration, with each seat offering a whopping 18.5-inch width, making this the largest economy seat in United's entire fleet. There's power and on-demand entertainment at every seat, in addition to larger overhead bins, new lavatories and other cabin design updates.
United plans to begin retrofitting select 777-200s this year as well, however plans have not been detailed for other older members of the international fleet, including the current two-cabin 767-300s and -400s and the 787 Dreamliners.