United is Adding/Removing True Polaris Business Class On A Number Of Routes

the tail of an airplane

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United Airlines has pushed through a sizeable number of service, schedule and aircraft changes over the past few days and the net result of these changes is that some of the airline’s routes will cease to offer true Polaris Business Class (some just for a short period of time) while some will see it added.

Note: These changes come on top of previously reported changes to United’s schedule.

[HT: Routes Online for the schedule changes]

United Polaris Business Class

Although United likes to call all of its long-haul Business Class cabins “Polaris” only select aircraft actually offer the Polaris Business Class product that United first started introducing back in 2016.

a seat in an airplane
New United Polaris Business Class – Image United Airlines

While United’s 777-300ER and 787-10 aircraft all come equipped with true Polaris Business Class and while the airline is in the process of upgrading its 767-300 aircraft with the new seat too, most of United’s other long-haul aircraft offer a somewhat antiquated 2-2-2 Business Class cabin.

a row of seats in an airplane
United Airlines 787-9 Business Class

It’s worth noting that, at the beginning of this year, United announced that it would begin refitting its existing 787-8 and 787-9 Dreamliners with true Polaris Business Class seats “from 4Q 2019” but as yet I haven’t heard of any of these aircraft going in for the refit.

Routes Gaining Polaris Business Class

Newark – Sao Paulo

From 3 December 2019 the 777-200 which currently operated between Newark and Sao Paulo is being replaced by a Polaris-equipped Boeing 777-300ER.

As things stand it looks like this route is set to revert back to an older 777-200 from late March but this may well change once United updates its summer 2020 schedule.

San Francisco – Frankfurt

From 12 February 2020 the San Francisco – Frankfurt route will get a second Polaris Business Class flight in the form of a Boeing 777-300ER operating UA926 and UA927.

San Francisco – Shanghai

Between 3 November and 26 November, one of the two daily flights which operate this route (UA857/UA890) will be operated by a Boeing 787-10 Dreamliner every other day. The aircraft is replacing an older 787-9 aircraft.

From 13 February 2020 UA891/UA890 will offer daily 787-10 service complete with new Polaris Business Class.

Shanghai Night View

San Francisco – Tokyo Haneda

United operates a daily flight between San Francisco and Tokyo Haneda and from 6 January 2020 this flight (UA875/UA876) will be operated by a Boeing 787-10 Dreamliner which is taking over from an older 787-9.

Routes Losing Polaris Business Class

Los Angeles – Shanghai

United had scheduled its new Boeing 787-10 Dreamliner to operate its LA – Shanghai route (on 6 out of the 7 weekly flights) between 7 December 2019 and 31 January 2020. In the latest schedule update, the 787-10 is no longer set to operate this route and a 787-9 will continue to be used.

Newark – Barcelona

As things stand, United’s Newark – Barcelona route is being operated by a Boeing 787-10 complete with new Polaris Business class. From 26 October this route is scheduled to be operated by a Boeing 767-300 aircraft (the currently loaded seat map suggests that this isn’t one of the refitted aircraft) and in early 2020 a 767-400 takes over.

Newark Brussels

The Newark – Brussels route is currently operated by a new Boeing 787-10 Dreamliner (with new Polaris Business Class) but the recent update now has a 777-200 aircraft is now scheduled to take over the route from 13 February 2020.

Newark – Hong Kong

As if all the unrest in Hong Kong wasn’t bad enough it now appears that United is removing true Polaris Business class from its Newark – Hong Kong route. Right now the route is operated by a 777-300ER (which offers United’s best Business Class product) but from 3 December the schedule now shows this route will be operated by an older 777-200.

Victoria Peak with water in the background

Bottom Line

While all these changes are correct at the time of writing there are three things that readers should bear in mind:

  1. Aircraft swaps happen all the time so just because a given aircraft is scheduled to operate a certain route on a certain date today doesn’t mean that the same will be true in a week’s time.
  2. As I mentioned earlier, United says that it will be refitting some of its older aircraft with true Polaris Business Class from the last quarter of this year so it’s possible that older aircraft which are currently showing an older seat map will actually have the more modern cabin once they take over the routes currently slated to lose true Polaris seating.
  3. United Airlines hasn’t firmed up its summer schedule yet so aircraft that are currently scheduled to operate past 27/28 March 2020 may or may not be the aircraft that eventually operate the routes – things will almost certainly change past these dates.

So, if you were planning on booking a flight with United Airlines and had hoped to be traveling in true Polaris Business Class (because that’s what the schedules have been showing) it’s probably time to check your routing again before you book – there’s a reasonable chance that the aircraft your thought you’d be flying on has been reassigned elsewhere within United’s network.



  1. You forgot the glorious 2x4x2 that you can still get out of ORD and others. I am so over this upgrade process. Three years and still almost none of my overseas flights have true Polaris. 1k for years, who is now Gold on BA, and is not trying that hard to make 1k again next year.

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