United Airlines Inc. is one of the largest airlines in the world when ranked by destinations. It has hubs throughout the United States and flies to a route network in Asia, Australia/New Zealand, South America and Europe. United is a founding member of the Star Alliance and has a great frequent flyer program in MileagePlus. United is an absolute Reward Flying favorite.
Currently in 2016 all international aircraft are 100% Boeing products. United has a long history with Boeing going back to the 1930s. In recent times they've been the launch customer for the 777 as well as the North American launch customer for the 787-8, 787-9 and will be for the 787-10. In 2018 United will add Airbus A350-1000 aircraft to their fleet. The international fleet consists of 747-400, 767-300, 777-200, 777-200ER, 787-8 and 787-9 aircraft. Beginning late 2016 United will begin adding new 777-300ER aircraft to their fleet and accelerate retirement of remaining 747-400s with completion by the end of 2017.
United Premium Class
United's brand name for international first class travel is Polaris First. Sadly management has made it clear international first class is not in United's long term plans. All new aircraft are configured in business/first, as it is called. The current Polaris First Suite is a nice product. Originating from United pre-merger, Polaris First is found on 3-class 747, 767 and 777 aircraft. The seat is 22 inches wide except on the 747 where it's 21 and 78 inches long in a 1x2x1 configuration, except on the 767 where it's 1x1x1. The seats are slightly angled towards the aisle. The new 777-300s will not have Polaris First.
Polaris Business Class
In June 2016 United announced a new business class seat would be installed in new 777-300 deliveries followed by retro-fits to their 767 and 777-200 fleet. Presumably these seats will also be installed on future A350 deliveries. The seat is not being considered for 787 aircraft at this time.
The Polaris seat is manufactured by Zodiac Aerospace using a modified version of their SkyLounge III Twin Aisle seat. (ANA staggered business class seat is the SkyLounge III.) The published width of this seat is 23 inches with a 78 inch pitch.
The configuration of the Polaris business class seat offers direct aisle access for all passengers while maintaining a 6 across density on the 777-300. New 300ER triple sevens will have 60 Polaris seats in two cabins covering 18 rows.
United has decided to go with 10 across in economy on the new 777-300.
Legacy Continental Business Class
United has 2 business class seats. The product is branded Polaris Business/First, just be careful when you see the word "first", you're not in first class. It's business. Essentially one style is Continental and the other United.
The Continental style is on the 787 (which were originally ordered by Continental), pre-merger Continental 777s, 767-400 that were Continentals and now 767-300s that are being converted from 3-class down to 2-class. Note: The 777's still only fly out of Newark. These are B/E Aerospace Diamond forward facing seats in a 2x2x2 configuration except the 767s are 2x1x2. The 777 seat is a comfortable 22 inches wide, the 767 is 21 inches wide and the new international 787s are only 20 inches wide. All are 78 inches when extended 180 degrees. That lack of privacy is the biggest drawback to these seats. This seat is referred to as the Continental version in the seating configurations shown below
The 787-8 has a spit business class cabin each with 3 rows. These mini-cabins are typically more private, but keep in mind in this case there are 18 seats in each cabin. The 787-9 has 5 rows up front and a 3 row mini-cabin over the wing. The 777 has two cabins of 4 rows each while the 767 are all in one cabin. United has stated the new 777-300 will be receiving a totally new business class product.
Legacy United Business Class
The other business class seat is the prior United seat. This arrangement is the back to back placement where one row faces forward and the row behind faces backwards. A number of airlines employ this kind of placement and the popularity is typically decided on how privacy issues are dealt with. In United's case the seats are basically just seats instead of an enclosed compartment like Etihad or British Airways. The seats are not as wide as the Continental version coming in at 18 inches, one inch shy of being the narrowest business class seat you can buy, and aren't as long at 76 inches. This seat is referred to as the United version below.
Configuration on the 747-400 lower deck is 2x4x2 with a mini-cabin of 2x2 on either side of the galleys and 2x2 in the upper deck. 767's are 2x2x2 and the 777 is 2x4x2 which means 50% of the passengers do not have aisle access.
United's IFE system is very good with a great selection of current movies and TV shows. In addition they offer the Airshow and Channel 9 ATC, often available on international flights. All business class monitors are 15.4 inches. They're currently configuring all aircraft to offer United Private Screening which allows you to watch from an extensive list of hit movies on your own person device. Load their app and bring your headphones for this service. Check the UA website to see if your aircraft has this feature within 24 hours of departure.
Recently they introduced a new amenity kit created by Cowshed, and it's a very nice kit. In addition to the Cowshed creams and balms the kit includes socks, ear plugs, eye mask, mints, tissues and hand sanitizer.
United Aircraft and Seat Allotment
Note: United has internationally configured 757's that do not have these seating products installed.
Premium Economy is not sold as a class but is used for upgrades to United status members as well paid upgrades for more leg room.
747-400: First 12 / Business United Version 52 / Premium Economy 88 / Economy 222
767-300 3-class: First 6 / Business Legacy United 26 / Premium Economy 71 / Economy 80
767-300 2-class: Business Legacy Continental 30 / Premium Economy 49 / Economy 135
767-400 2-class: Business Legacy Continental 39 / Premium Economy 70 / Economy 133
Note: United has a Hawaiian version 777 with traditional first class seats that are in the process of being converting to the domestic version. First 16 / Premium Economy 98 / Economy 214
777-200: Business Legacy United 28 / Premium Economy 102 / Economy 234
777-200 3-class: First 8 / Business Legacy United 40 / Premium Economy 110 or 113 / Economy 108
777-200 2-class: Business Legacy Continental 50 / Premium Economy 72 / Economy 145
777-300ER 2-Class: Polaris Business 60 / Premium Economy 102 / Economy 204
787-8: Business Legacy Continental 36 / Premium Economy 70 / Economy 113
787-9: Business Legacy Continental 48 / Premium Economy 88 / Economy 116
Reward Flying Trip Reports
images courtesy of United, Boeing
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