Singapore and Sydney will be first to get United’s refreshed 787-9

Dec 18, 2019

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.

This week, United’s very first Newark-Cape Town flight touched down in South Africa, after months of anticipation and a festive inaugural celebration at Newark Liberty International Airport and onboard the roughly 14-hour flight.

Many TPG readers seemed surprised to see United Airlines operate the flight with its dated 2-2-2 business class, though — which, unfortunately, remains the one and only option on some of the carrier’s most high-profile routes.

United currently offers 2-2-2 seating on the 787-9. Photo by Zach Honig/The Points Guy.
United currently offers 2-2-2 seating on the 787-9. Photo by Zach Honig/The Points Guy.

The carrier is currently working through a Dreamliner-wide retrofit, however, updating all of its 787-8s and 787-9s with entirely new cabins, including 1-2-1 Polaris business-class seats and the new Premium Plus (premium economy) product.

At the time of this writing, United is working to update one 787-8 Dreamliner — N27908 — which should return to service any day now, and one larger and longer-range 787-9 — N29968 — which is expected to fly passengers again beginning in January 2020. All 12 787-8s and 25 787-9s should be flying with the new interiors by the end of next year.

Now, Patrick Quayle, United’s vice president of network planning, has confirmed the first two routes that’ll get the updated planes — once enough 787-9s are updated to support regular service. Those flights include San Francisco (SFO)-Singapore, a roughly 17-hour journey that spans some 8,500 miles and operates twice daily, and Houston (IAH)-Sydney (SYD), which covers roughly the same distance and currently operates once each day.

Flights to Singapore and Sydney and two of United's longest routes. Image courtesy of Great Circle Mapper.
Flights to Singapore and Sydney and two of United’s longest routes. Image courtesy of Great Circle Mapper.

Once complete, United’s 787-8s will offer 28 business-class seats, 21 in Premium Plus, 36 in Economy Plus and 158 in coach, while the larger 787-9s will sport 48 business-class seats, 21 in Premium Plus, 39 in Economy Plus and 149 in coach.

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

This will also be the first time United’s 787-8s and -9s will offer Premium Plus, but we won’t see that sold as a separate cabin on older Dreamliner routes until enough aircraft have been retrofitted to operate regular service, likely in the second half of 2020.

Premium Plus on United's 787-10. Photo by Zach Honig/The Points Guy.
Premium Plus on United’s 787-10. Photo by Zach Honig/The Points Guy.

Once United’s older Dreamliners complete the retrofit process, and the carrier’s remaining 777-200s and 767-400ERs get a Polaris update, too, all of the carrier’s wide-body long-haul aircraft will finally offer the new 1-2-1 business-class seats. It’s been a long road, but the end of United’s 2-2-2 seating — and dreadful 2-4-2 business config — is finally near.

Featured image of United’s 787-9 inaugural fight touching down in Cape Town by Frank Du Plessis.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

WELCOME OFFER: 80,000 Points

TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,650

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.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Plus earn up to $50 in statement credits towards grocery store purchases within your first year of account opening.
  • Earn 2X points on dining including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out and travel. Plus, earn 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, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 toward travel.
  • With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories.
  • Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on eligible orders over $12 for a minimum of one year with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
  • Get up to $60 back on an eligible Peloton Digital or All-Access Membership through 12/31/2021, and get full access to their workout library through the Peloton app, including cardio, running, strength, yoga, and more. Take classes using a phone, tablet, or TV. No fitness equipment is required.
Regular APR
15.99%-22.99% Variable
Annual Fee
$95
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good

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.