On my last trip across the Atlantic, I flew over on a United 777 prior to their rollout of their Polaris product in December. While the aircraft on this trip had not been retrofitted with the new hard product I was interested to see how the new soft product would differ. This report will cover both the outbound trip to London and the return to Chicago.
Depart ORD: 21:20
Arrive LHR: 11:20+1
Duration: 8h 10m
Seat 9A (Business Class)
After leaving the Polaris lounge, our gate was just a few steps away. By the time we arrived, orderly lines had already formed for zones 1 & 2 so we took our place at the end of zone 1. It wasn’t too much longer before boarding began. Everyone entered through door 2L so we turned right down the first aisle to our seats, which were the last two business class seats on the right and faced forward.
I thought it was odd that there were a number of economy plus seats behind us with nobody in them until I got up during the night and realized they were curtained off for a crew rest area.
Waiting for us at our seats were the new Polaris bedding packs with a duvet, a blanket and a pillow from Saks Fifth Avenue. I used the duvet as a mattress pad, which helped, but the blanket was not long enough to cover both my shoulders and my feet at the same time. I had changed into the pajamas I received on my Qantas DFW-SYD flight so was warm enough but I really like to be all the way under the covers when sleeping. The pillow was adequate but not fluffy. On my return trip the Polaris Business Class “program” (for lack of a better term) included info about a mattress pad and cooling foam pillow. Odd that was not included in the version of the program I had on this overnight leg!
The IFE screen was nice a large and there was a small shelf under it, suitable for leaving glasses or pens while sleeping. I wish it had a slightly larger lip on it so that water bottles could be placed there and I wouldn’t have to worry about it rolling off.
I was asked if I wanted an amenity kit (yes, please) and some chocolate (you bet!). The amenity kit was also from Saks and contained the usual contents including Cowshed brand toiletries and a sleep mask with the Polaris brand.
We pushed away from the gate on time but due to a rainstorm that had gone through earlier in the evening, we ended up sitting on the tarmac for about 1h 20m. I was quite glad we’d managed to have even a little food in the Polaris club or I’d have been extremely hungry by the time dinner was served.
We both skipped dessert to try to get some sleep. I managed 2-3 hours which was not too bad, considering our late departure.
For breakfast I had the cold selection, which was all served on one tray. The cereal was Honey Nut Cheerios and I liked most of the fruit, especially the melons and pineapple. I was glad the croissant was mostly room temperature instead of refrigerated like it is sometimes. I’m not a huge fan of Greek yogurt but this was not as thick as some I’ve had, so it was pretty good.
Laura seemed to be the FA we saw most often on this flight and she was very nice, always had a smile.
Before the return flight I did spend time in the United lounge prior to boarding but did not take photos as there were quite a lot of people in it. I’m sure it wasn’t as full as it is at other times and I didn’t have trouble finding a seat but I guess I’m still a bit wary of taking photographs when lots of people are around. I will say that Travis’ review on OMAAT is a good one and I echo his puzzlement at how few bathrooms there are compared to the number of people that the club can seat. Since I’d had breakfast at the hotel and knew we’d get lunch on the plane I wasn’t really hungry and didn’t sample any of the food but just kept refilling my tiny water glass. I don’t know if I could have gotten a bigger glass at the bar but it sure was frustrating not to be able to get a large glass.
The return flight was the same sort of plane so I won’t re-review the seat. This time I had a seat in the middle section as my colleague elected to spend an extra day in London so I flew back alone.
Depart LHR: 10:35
Arrive ORD: 13:43
Duration: 9h 8m
We pushed back on time and had no weather issues on this sunny day so before too long we were heading west toward Chicago.
I thought it was interesting that the Polaris booklet was a little different from the one we’d received just a few days prior. I guess that’s because this was a daytime flight vs. my other flight being at night?
The same spirits and wine were available so I won’t repost the photos.
For lunch I had the cod. And ate it all before remembering to take a photo! But it was really good!
Before arrival in Chicago we had a “snack” but it was more like a second lunch…which was fine as we landed shortly after lunchtime in the Central Time Zone. Grilled chicken, rice and carrots and they were all good.
My biggest complaint with both meals was the salad dressing bottle. It was so tiny I couldn’t get good grip on the top to open it. Even the guy sitting next to me struggled with it but finally he was able to open both of our bottles.
Jennifer was another super-pleasant FA to fly with and I appreciated her professionalism and great service.
Compared to our pre-Polaris flight in October, this is definitely a step up for United. I look forward to being able to fly with them in the future on a plane with the new hard product.