Never turning down an opportunity to travel in style, when United Airlines offered me the chance to review their Polaris Business Class cabin as part of my trip, I simply couldn’t say no. Here’s how their lounge, seats, food, entertainment, and customer service — epitomised by one particular guardian angel — stacked up.
United Polaris Business Class
VERDICT: When you’re looking for a cheaper alternative to flying Qantas across the ditch, United could just be your best option.
- Long seats for big people like me
- Staff were amazing and helpful in my time of need
- Not fully closed business suits like Delta
Business Class: there are few better feelings in life than boarding a plane and hearing those inimitable words “turn left…”, as you prepare for a blissful few hours filled with luxuries and attentive care, in stark contrast to the often uncomfortable and seemingly never-ending experience that many of us have come accustomed to in the aptly named cattle class.
At least, this is precisely what I had imagined the Business class experience to be as a veritable turn-left virgin. Having the immense privilege to fly from Sydney to Los Angeles and back again on United’s recently overhauled ‘Polaris’ cabin — the latter portion of which I’ll be writing about below — I can safely say that all my dreams came true…
|Cabin:||‘Polaris’ Business Class|
|Route:||Los Angeles (LAX) to Sydney (SYD)|
|Flight Time:||15 hours (approx.)|
In this United ‘Polaris’ story…
WATCH: United’s new livery means the outside of the plane looks almost as good as the inside feels.
Premium Atmosphere and Amenities.
LAX’s United Airlines lounge exudes a premium feel, immersing passengers in luxury from the moment they step inside. The exquisite stone floors and marble walls contribute to an expensive ambience, enhanced further by soft lighting that envelops the space. The walls are adorned with abstract modern art, adding a not unwelcome touch of sophistication without veering into pretence…
On entering, passengers are greeted by a fully stocked and well-staffed bar alongside a custom-built and well-stocked wine cooler, stuffed to the gills with a selection of fine wines. The centrepiece of the lounge is a spacious dining area, dotted with comfortable seating. On one side, a well-appointed selection of hot and cold food awaits, ranging from fresh salads to sandwiches, lamingtons, curries, as well as meat and cheese platters.
However, the true highlight of the lounge experience lies in the a la carte restaurant. Here, the friendly United staff serve signature dishes, such as the delicious and very American cheeseburger, which I paired with an impeccably mixed whisky cocktail. The attentive service provided by the staff completes the overall experience.
The lounge also offers shower facilities, which are a welcome respite after a long day of sightseeing, especially before a late-night flight. In terms of seating options, passengers can choose between tables and chairs or cozy sofas for groups, as well as private workstations equipped with chargers and desks for those who need to bash out some work during their time in the lounge.
Modern Design and Unprecedented Comfort
The seats in United Airlines ‘Polaris’ Business Class are truly impressive, combining contemporary design with exceptional comfort. The dark grey colour scheme, complemented by white and blue accents, creates a modern, even futuristic atmosphere. As soon as you settle into the seat, you can sense the elevated experience you’re about to embark on.
Practicality is a key feature of the seat design. It provides ample storage space, including storage under the seat in front, a convenient small shelf on the right-hand side, and a small locker. The locker is perfect for stowing away complimentary items like a bottle of water or the amenity kit, which is thoughtfully provided in a reusable hardshell case to promote reuse and sustainability, something all too often lacking in amenity kits…
Once seated, guests are welcomed with a refreshing glass of champagne; a crisp and cool indulgence to get things started. The seat itself is piled-high with memory foam pillows, blankets, United’s own pyjamas, and premium bedding courtesy of Saks Fifth Avenue. These luxurious touches create a cocoon of comfort that makes bedtime during the flight a genuinely and surprisingly relaxing experience. When the cabin lights are dimmed, the seat can be fully reclined, transforming into a flat bed…
To enhance the sleep experience even further, the United team provides a small but incredibly soft “mattress” that is delicately rolled out across the seat. When combined with premium bedding and pyjamas, this additional layer of comfort ensures a restful sleep. As someone who has struggled to sleep on flights in the past, I was amazed to find myself enjoying a full eight hours of relatively uninterrupted sleep on this journey. This remarkable improvement — given that I’ve never been able to get more than three hours of kip on any other flight — is a testament to United’s commitment to good design.
It is worth noting, however, that there was a slight inconsistency in the shape of the cubby hole where the bottom half of the seat — and your body — is placed when fully reclined. On my return flight, the space allowed me to lie flat and sleep without any issues. However, on my outbound flight to LA, I encountered some discomfort due to a different, pointier shape that made it challenging to comfortably fit my limbs. This discrepancy may be more noticeable for individuals with significant stature such as myself, standing at 6’6″/198cm. For most, I doubt this will be a problem if noticed at all.
Culinary Delights and Attentive Service
United ensures that the dining experience onboard is nothing short of exceptional (at least to the extent that food prepared hundreds of miles away from point of consumption can ever actually be). Shortly after take-off, passengers are treated to a selection of wine, water, and warm nuts — a delightful touch that sets the tone for the culinary journey ahead. The main evening meal is a highlight in itself, featuring, in my case, an Asian-style short rib with rice, an Asian salad, prawns, and a bread roll. The flavours were strong and well-balanced, while the presentation was commendable.
What truly stands out is the dessert service, which exemplifies quintessential American indulgence. An ice cream sundae is served from a trolley adorned with at least ten delectable toppings. Passengers have the freedom to choose as many toppings as they desire, as the attentive cabin crew assembles the sundae right in front of them. Personally, I couldn’t resist opting for all the toppings, and the result was absolutely delicious. Following the main meal, an additional cheese plate with crackers is served — a delightful if somewhat excessive treat. The experience is complemented by a great selection of wines including my personal favourite, a Whispering Angel Rosé.
For breakfast, just before landing in Sydney, I enjoyed chicken sausages, an egg-white and cheese omelette, roasted tomatoes, tea, fruit salad, yogurt, and a brioche bun. This well-rounded breakfast provided the perfect start to a long day ahead, considering the early arrival at 6am local time. Throughout the flight, passengers can also request snacks, such as a cheese toastie with tomato soup which I couldn’t resist going for at the halfway mark.
Immersive Entertainment System
United provides Polaris passengers with an exceptional entertainment system, guaranteeing an immersive inflight experience. The generously sized, high-definition screen ensures optimal viewing pleasure, while the screen’s brightness can be easily adjusted to your preferred settings, preventing any discomfort or disturbance to fellow passengers.
The entertainment options available are extensive and cater to a wide range of interests. While I unintentionally limited myself to two drawn-out binging sessions — starting with the entire first season of Game of Thrones and then watching a few episodes of The Last of Us — I had a good browse of all the entertainment on offer and can confidently say that United offers an incredible array of movies, encompassing both new releases and timeless classics across a wide range of genres.
In addition to movies, the entertainment system offers TV shows, music, podcasts, guided meditations, and ambient sounds — everything you need to relax and unwind during the flight. United Airlines has truly excelled in this area, providing a faultless entertainment experience.
Exceptional Service and Going Above and Beyond
I want to express my utmost appreciation for the exceptional level of customer service provided by the staff of United. Throughout the journey, they demonstrated a dedication to customer satisfaction that surpassed any previous experiences I’ve had. The baseline of customer service is clearly excellent, as evidenced by the cabin manager personally greeting each passenger upon arrival and bidding farewell at the end of the flight. The availability of hot towels, drinks, snacks, and any additional assistance required further adds to the overall experience.
However, it was a specific incident that truly showcased the above-and-beyond mentality of United’s staff. As someone who was relatively new to the business class experience, I may have indulged a tad excessively in the luxuries on offer, especially those alcoholic and caffeinated… This resulted in my experiencing a full-blown but thoroughly deserved migraine a few hours into the flight. Initially reluctant to inconvenience the cabin crew, I tried to tough it out with little success.
Eventually, I reached out to a member of the crew, inquiring about the availability of painkillers. To my surprise, they promptly provided me with two doses and a large bottle of water. I took the painkillers, drank the water, and drifted into a much-needed sleep.
When I woke up, I discovered two more large bottles of water and two additional doses of painkillers by my seat without even requesting them. Later, the team member in question told me that she had seen supplies running low and wanted to ensure I was well-stocked on waking. It was a small gesture, but it meant a lot. This exceptional level of attentiveness to my individual needs ensured that I disembarked the plane feeling healthy, rested, and ready to embark on my journey, despite my earlier indulgences.
It may be cliche, but my journey in Polaris was something of a dream come true. From the premium atmosphere of the lounge to the modern and comfortable seats, every aspect of the experience exceeded my expectations. The culinary delights and extensive entertainment options were blissful, but it was the exceptional customer service that truly stood out, with the staff going above and beyond to ensure my comfort and well-being.
If you have the chance to experience United’s Polaris Business Class, I wholeheartedly recommend you take that turn left and indulge — tentatively, with greater self-knowledge of your limits than I — in the journey of a lifetime.