United just hit another major milestone in its Polaris retrofit program
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.
United’s top-notch Polaris business-class pods have made their way to another batch of aircraft.
In a few short weeks, every Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner will be outfitted with United’s latest cabins, marking the end of the guessing game as to what onboard product your flight will feature.
On April 29, the final 787-8 flying with the legacy interiors, registered N45905, landed in Xiamen, China to receive the Polaris and Premium Plus retrofit. (The second-to-last 787-8 with old seats has been in Xiamen since April 17 undergoing the same interior upgrade.)
Want more airline-specific news? Sign up for TPG’s free new biweekly Aviation newsletter!
That means that going forward, all 12 of United’s 787-8 Dreamliners will be outfitted with the new cabins, as confirmed by a carrier spokesperson.
You’ll find 28 Polaris pods, 21 Premium Plus recliners, 36 extra-legroom Economy Plus and 158 coach seats on these retrofitted jets. I caught a ride on the first reconfigured -8 back in January 2020, and you can read my first impressions of the new cabin here.
While the business-class cabin is downsized compared to the legacy interiors — making awards and upgrades harder to come by — the plane sports two of my favorite Polaris pods in the entire fleet, seats 6A and 6L. That’s because they’re located in an intimate two-row mini-cabin behind the second exit door, and feature oversized footwells and unrivaled privacy.
With the reconfiguration, United introduced a Premium Plus cabin on the 787-8. It’s an intermediate offering between coach and biz that’s quite similar to domestic first class. Not much has changed in coach except for a more robust IFE system.
If you’re hoping to try United’s 787-8 domestically in June, you’ll find it flying to a variety of airports in Hawaii, including on routes from Chicago (ORD) to Honolulu (HNL), Maui (OGG) and Kona (KOA), as well as from Washington/Dulles (IAD) to HNL, according to Cirium schedules.
United is the only U.S. airline to operate all three variants of the Dreamliner, the -8, -9 and -10 versions. All “dash ten” jets were delivered with the new cabin pre-installed at the factory, leaving just the old -8 and -9 needing the retrofits.
Now that the “baby Dreamliner” is complete, that leaves just the mid-sized 787-9 as the only Dreamliner type with a mix of new and old seats. Fortunately, United’s making significant headway in the -9 reconfigurations. 15 of the carrier’s 38 787-9s already have the new seats.
First look: United’s retrofitted Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner
In a recent webinar with Brian Kelly, vice president of international network and alliances Patrick Quayle said that despite the pandemic, United is “working on a schedule” for the 23 787-9s that don’t yet feature the fancy pods. The carrier should have those completed by summer 2022.
As for its other long-haul aircraft, all internationally-equipped Boeing 777-200ERs have the new cabins, though a good chunk of them are parked indefinitely due to the FAA’s airworthiness directive regarding the recent uncontained engine failure on a Pratt & Whitney-powered United 777-200.
All 22 of United’s larger 777-300ER have the new seats as well.
33 of United’s 38 Boeing 767-300s also have the new cabins, with some configured in a premium-heavy “high-J” layout sporting a whopping 16-row Polaris cabin with 46 pods.
None of United’s 16 Boeing 767-400 sport the new cabins. Most are still parked in long-term storage due to the pandemic, though at least one is getting reactivated to compensate for the grounding of the Pratt & Whitney 777s.
Featured photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy
Welcome to The Points Guy!
WELCOME OFFER: Up to 100,000 bonus miles
TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,040
CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 3X miles on United® purchases
*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.
- Earn 80K bonus miles after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open. Plus, an additional 20K bonus miles after you spend $10,000 in the first 6 months
- $250 Annual Fee
- Earn 3X miles on United® purchases, 2X miles at restaurants, on select streaming services & all other travel, 1X on all other purchases
- Earn 3X miles on United Airlines purchases
- Earn 2X miles at restaurants and on select streaming services
- Earn 2X miles on all other travel
- Earn 1X mile on all other purchases
- Each year, receive a $125 credit on United® purchases and two 5k-mile anniversary award flight credits. Terms apply.