United flyers: Don’t expect a consistent Polaris experience when travel returns
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 Polaris business class product has gone a long way since it was first introduced in 2016. However, it hasn’t been fully rolled out yet, and still won’t for quite some time.
Airlines around the world are being pummeled by the coronavirus pandemic and are doing whatever they can to stay afloat. For United, one of those things is eliminating all discretionary spending, including any Polaris developments.
A United representative has confirmed to TPG that the carrier is indefinitely halting all cabin retrofits, meaning no additional existing aircraft will get new all-aisle-access Polaris or Premium Plus (premium economy) seats until further notice. In addition, the airline is stopping all lounge construction.
The airline had plans to open Polaris lounges in Washington Dulles (IAD), London (LHR), Hong Kong (HKG) and Tokyo (NRT). Specifically referring to the IAD lounge originally set to open in 2020, the representative explained, “We reached substantial completion of construction on our IAD lounge but are evaluating the opening of the lounge along with our larger remobilization plan for our lounge facilities globally.”
Though this downtime may seem like a good opportunity to speed up projects, such as installing new seats on jets. But the reality is that United, like other airlines, needs to focus on maintaining enough cash to cover fixed costs like staff, aircraft rent and debt payments. Delta has also paused its multi-year program installing Delta One suites on its long-haul wide-body aircraft. American Airlines, on the other hand, confirmed that it’s continuing “Project Oasis” reconfigurations, adding seats and removing seatback entertainment from many of its Boeing 737-800s amid the crisis.
Fortunately, about 80% of United’s international wide-body fleet is already equipped with the new Polaris product, and that number will grow slightly as remaining Boeing 787-9s and -10s on order are delivered. The majority of aircraft that have yet to be reconfigured are the airline’s older Boeing 787-8 and 787-9 Dreamliners, which are used on some of its longest international routes. No Boeing 767-400 has been reconfigured yet either, but all 16 of them are currently sitting in long-term storage in Roswell and there’s no telling if they will ever return to active service.
Featured image by Zach Griff/The Points Guy.
Welcome to The Points Guy!
Earn 90,000 bonus miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new card in the first three months of card membership. Offer ends 11/10/2021.
With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.
- Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 Bonus Miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer expires 11/10/2021.
- Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
- Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
- Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
- Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
- Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
- Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
- Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
- Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
- No Foreign Transaction Fees.
- $250 Annual Fee.
- Terms Apply.
- See Rates & Fees