The first United 787 refurbished with Polaris is entering service Wednesday

Jan 8, 2020

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.

The first United 787 retrofit with Polaris business class entered service Wednesday, when it was scheduled to fly a redeye from San Francisco to Washington Dulles.

A check of the United site showed that flight UA1912, scheduled to leave SFO at 11pm and arrive at IAD Thursday morning at 6:47, was operated by the first United 787-8 refurbished with the new all-aisle-access Polaris. But that flight went awry when a malfunction forced the plane to return to San Francisco shortly after takeoff. The 787 landed safely. United said that it had suffered a cracked windshield.The retrofit 787 is now scheduled to fly from SFO to Osaka, Japan, on Friday.

The entry into service of the refurbished 787-8 is a major step in United’s plan to bring all of its 777 and 787 long-haul fleet up to the most recent standards, replacing biz seats that are mostly the same as those introduced by Continental in 2009. The airline operates all models of the 787: the base -8 version, the stretched -9 which serves ultra-long-range flights, and the still even more stretched 787-10, which trades range for capacity and serves mostly European hubs. United’s 787-10s come from the factory with the new Polaris, but 787-8 and 787-9 models still have the old biz class in 2-2-2 layout without aisle access for all seats.       

The seat map for the flight shows 28 Polaris seats. The older version of the 787-8 had 36 biz seats, meaning your chance of an upgrade on the retrofit jets  goes down by about 22% — but into much better seats. United 1912, by the way, is sold out Wednesday. 

Behind Polaris, there’s another new addition: three rows of Premium Plus, United’s true premium economy, for a total of 21 seats in a 2-3-2 layout. Then there are 158 standard coach seats in the usual 3-3-3 configuration.

Back in July, United had said it expected the first retrofitted 787-8 to enter service in December 2019; the airline is just a week late on that schedule. The first refurbished 787-9 is expected to enter service early this year as well.

United will soon offer its 1-2-1 Polaris seats across the 787 fleet. Photo by Zach Honig/The Points Guy.
1-2-1 Polaris seats on the 787-10 (Photo by Zach Honig/The Points Guy)

The new Polaris is, even at a glance, clearly a vast improvement over the existing product.

United 787-8 Business Class (Photo by Zach Honig / TPG)
United 787-8 Business Class (Photo by Zach Honig / TPG)

Flight-tracking site FlightRadar24 shows that the plane operating Wednesday’s flight, registered N27908, spent more than three months in Xiamen, China, between October and January. That’s a time frame consistent with heavy maintenance, during which the new biz seats were also installed. According to the site, the plane is now scheduled to fly from San Francisco to Osaka on Friday as flight UA35.

Zach Griff contributed reporting for this story. The story has been amended first to reflect a change in the plane’s schedule by United Airlines, and then to include that the plane had suffered a mishap and was taken out of service.   

Featured photo of a United 787-8 by Zach Honig/The Points Guy

American Express® Green Card

WELCOME OFFER: 30,000 Points


CARD HIGHLIGHTS: up to $100 annual CLEAR statement credit, up to $100 annual LoungeBuddy statement credit, 3x points on travel and transit, 3x points on restaurants worldwide

*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 30,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $2,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months.
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on all eligible travel, from subway swipes and window seats to hotel stays and city tours.
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points at restaurants worldwide.
  • Receive up to $100 per year in statement credits when you use the American Express® Green Card to pay for your CLEAR® membership at select airports and stadiums across the U.S. and Permissible Biometric Scanning Technology terms: eye scanning, irises scanning and fingerprints scanning.
  • Use the American Express® Green Card to purchase lounge access through LoungeBuddy to any of the lounges in the LoungeBuddy network – no memberships, elite statuses, or first class tickets required. Earn up to $100 in statement credits per calendar year on your LoungeBuddy purchases.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $150 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Intro APR on Purchases
Regular APR
See Rates & Fees
Annual Fee
Balance Transfer Fee
See Terms
Recommended Credit
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.