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. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

As part of its process to add the new Polaris business-class seats to older 777-200s, United’s always planned to phase out international first class.

Last year, the carrier confirmed that May 1, 2018, would be the final day you could book a seat in the F cabin, though 3-cabin aircraft (the only planes that offer first class) would continue to operate on some flights. While it wouldn’t be possible to book a paid or award seat after that date, upgrades would be processed on the day of departure, once the older 777 version was assigned to operate a flight.

Then, the airline pushed out the end date to June 20, 2018 — two days ago. Following that announcement, I booked one final flight in UA’s long-haul first-class cabin, from Chicago (ORD) to Shanghai (PVG) in late May.

United Polaris first class will be phased out soon. Photo by Zach Honig.

Well, as it turns out, the airline’s since decided to extend Polaris first bookings yet again, this time pushing out the deadline to August 19 or August 20, depending on the route. An airline spokesperson wasn’t able to comment on the second date change, but it could indicate that United expects to consistently operate its 3-class plane for longer than expected, perhaps signaling a delay in the retrofit process. Note that this only applies to flights operated by United’s 3-cabin 777-200s — first class is already blocked for sale on 3-cabin 767s.

So, with that in mind, the routes that will offer first class through August include:

  • Chicago (ORD) to Beijing (PEK)
  • Chicago (ORD) to Brussels (BRU)
  • Chicago (ORD) to Frankfurt (FRA)
  • Chicago (ORD) to Hong Kong (HKG)
  • Chicago (ORD) to Munich (MUC)
  • Chicago (ORD) to Sao Paulo (GRU)
  • Chicago (ORD) to Shanghai (PVG)
  • Chicago (ORD) to Tokyo (NRT)
  • Newark (EWR) to Sao Paulo (GRU)
  • San Francisco (SFO) to London (LHR)
  • San Francisco (SFO) to Paris (CDG)
  • Washington, DC (IAD) to Brussels (BRU)
  • Washington, DC (IAD) to Frankfurt (FRA)
  • Washington, DC (IAD) to London (LHR)
  • Washington, DC (IAD) to Munich (MUC)
  • Washington, DC (IAD) to Paris (CDG)

Additionally, Chicago (ORD) to Paris (CDG) is available through the end of July.

If you’re hoping to get one more Polaris first flight in — perhaps just for fun — your only real option is to pay cash. The cheapest fares I’ve found are actually on one of United’s longest flights, the same 14-hour journey I flew from Chicago to Shanghai. First class is available for about $3,000 one-way, which isn’t terrible — it’s priced $750 higher than business class, though, and unless you specifically want to fly the airline’s original 1-2-1 seat one more time, I wouldn’t spend the extra money to move up from biz.

As for awards, I haven’t been able to find any dates with saver award space — while United’s “First Everyday Award” is open every day, you’ll need to redeem an obscene 200,000 miles one-way to China. Considering that business-class saver awards are open on a handful of dates, there’s no world in which it makes sense to spend an extra 130,000 miles for a seat up front.

While first class remains for sale, it’s possible that a refreshed 2-cabin aircraft will be subbed in at the last minute. I’d actually hope to snag the retrofitted plane, even if you’ve paid for a first-class ticket. While it’s a bit more compact, I find the new Polaris business seat to be far more private than the old first class, and if you happen to be booked in first on a flight ends up being operated by a retrofitted aircraft, you can contact United for a refund of the difference in cost between first and biz.

Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card

This cash back card has a focus on dining and entertainment where you can earn unlimited 4% cash back in those spending categories. You can also earn 2% cash back at grocery stores and 1% cash back on all other purchases.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn a one-time $500 cash bonus after you spend $3000 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening
  • Earn unlimited 4% cash back on dining and entertainment, 2% at grocery stores and 1% on all other purchases
  • No rotating categories or sign-ups needed to earn cash rewards; plus cash back won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how much you can earn
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Access to premium experiences in dining, entertainment and more
  • $0 intro annual fee for the first year, $95 after that
Intro APR on Purchases
N/A
Regular APR
16.24% - 25.24% (Variable)
Annual Fee
$0 intro for first year; $95 after that
Balance Transfer Fee
$0
Recommended Credit
Excellent, Good

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are 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.