Airlines are quite limited in the international routes they are flying compared to 6 months ago, due to covid-19. As a result, you may not have that many choices on which carrier to fly to reach your destination. But, if you do, here is what you can expect with United Polaris business class during Covid-19 flying conditions.
United Polaris Business Class During Covid-19
Other Posts from this Covid-19 Trip
- What it is Like Traveling from Europe to the US During Covid-19
- What it is Like Traveling from the US to Europe During Covid-19
- What it is Like Traveling to Greece During Covid-19
- What it is Like Transiting Frankfurt Airport During Covid-19 (absolutely quiet)
- SWISS Business Class Shines Amid Coronavirus Cuts
I had heard enough about service cuts on numerous airlines to not have high expectations boarding United’s 787-10 from Frankfurt to Newark a couple of weeks ago. I had heard many airlines had limited food offerings and had cut their wine service (though I am not a drinker so that was not a big deal to me).
Real Polaris Business is a Definite Upgrade for United!
I will say this – this was my first time flying on a United Dreamliner, let alone their 787-10 aircraft. This meant it was also my first time flying a “true” Polaris business class seat. While United may call their business class “Polaris”, not all business class cabins have the upgraded hard product. This would be my first time.
Why Choose United Between Europe and the US?
I have flown most Star Alliance business class cabins between the US and Europe and that has included the pretty sad (for business class but it was still business class!) United 777-200 with its 8 business class seats across (which includes a 4 seat section!). I normally choose United’s business class for one of two reasons – the schedule works best and the no fuel surcharges when booking with programs like Aeroplan or Aegean’s Miles+Bonus (of course, award availability plays into it, too!).
Flying United Polaris Business
I had mentioned in another post that I could have flown this or a SWISS business class flight. I chose United because, based on what I had read, the hard product would be better over the older SWISS business class. Also, thinking that all carriers were cutting catering options, the food wouldn’t be a deciding factor.
The United Polaris business on their 787-10 aircraft is definitely a great tech update. Not only are there plenty of options available for charging and some great mood lighting, but it also benefits from the 787’s electronic shades to keep the cabin free from glaring sunlight.
In addition, the entertainment system onboard is loaded nicely with a variety of options and a great display. The flight attendants were courteous and pleasant and I had a good time speaking with them at intervals during the flight. After all, there were only 6 people in the 44 seat business class cabin! The whole plane only had 60 passengers!
United Polaris Catering During Covid-19
By the way, little side note and not sure if this had anything to do with the catering – the day I left was the last day of the United station in Frankfurt as they were closing it down.
I want to say first that I have had a couple of very good meals in the past aboard United business class, one bone-in meat dish in particular. But, this was definitely not one of them.
To start with, there is no coffee or tea served onboard. Given the fact that every lounge in the Z area of Frankfurt was closed, that meant that the only way for someone to get a coffee from the time they got to the airport until they landed in the US was at a single coffee stand in the airport.
Now, I know – that sounds petty. But, there were a couple of people onboard who had paid over $3,000 for their business class ticket (each) and they were very upset (rightly so – more in a minute) that there was no coffee to be served. In addition, they were also upset that there was no wine service.
My flight attendant took the whole thing in a bit of an understanding nature by asking what of their “limited food offerings” they could interest me in. It was a beef dish or a mushroom/chicken dish (no menus). I asked about the meal and he said it would all be served at once and all covered.
And that is what happened – two extremes of covered food was put in front of me. The main course was covered in foil and very hot and the other dishes (also covered) were very cold. And then there was my Coke Zero with a plastic cup covering it.
The Main Food Was – NOT Good
I have to say – the meal onboard was definitely one of the poorer-tasting business class meals I have had. In fact, I think I have even had better economy meals with United in the past (as far as taste) than this meal. The meat was overheated and a little tough and the flavors were really not that good at all. I normally do not pick apart a meal like this in a review because I know that it is a challenge doing a nice meal at 30,000 feet, but this was an exception.
Now, it wasn’t like something that would make me get sick – it was just a bad business class meal with both flavor and the meat itself. If it was in economy, I would have been fine with it (smaller portions, of course).
I do want to say this – the melted cheese sandwich served before landing was excellent! I know, a weird food to get excited about! But, it was an aged cheddar melt that was just really good and was far better tasting than the main meal!
But, That Seat and the Gel Pillow!
But, the meal is just one part of the whole experience during covid-19. Again, I didn’t even think to expect an actual meal onboard which is why I had chosen United over Swiss! I wanted the seat.
And the seat did not disappoint! Due to the lack of passengers, the flight attendant made up my bed with two of everything – including the gel pillows. It made for a very comfortable time for sleep and it felt very private (I was in 1A which meant my seat was closer to the window).
The actual hard product for United Polaris did not disappoint and instantly became a flight that climbs up the ladder for me on US-Europe options.
Bottom Line – Could the Catering Have Been Better?
I understand we are dealing with a pandemic in the world and that my catering complaints are really, really tiny in the whole scheme of things. I probably would not have even mentioned these things had it not been for how great SWISS business class was with their catering. Not only was it just fantastic, but it was also from a non-base origination (many times, carriers departing from one of their home bases will have better food on the outbound).
Put simply – I am sure that the catering for United Polaris will be much better without the coronavirus cuts. If you do not care about the food, the Polaris experience is definitely a great way to travel!
But, if you do need to travel during this time of the covid-19 situation, I would seek out a SWISS option before going for United – unless you really do not care about the food.
Have you flown United Polaris before all of this? How was the food on those flights?
From my understanding, Delta is servicing their Delta One cabin much more significantly than what you posted with United, beer and wine included.
Interesting – so Delta is trying to position as a more full-service carrier right now that United. Good for them. The excuses given about not servicing coffee or tea are just ridiculous, imho.
No coffee and tea isn’t a big loss. However not serving wine and liquor is just ridiculous, imho.
For me, it was just kind of ridiculous that something so simple (and hot!) like coffee and tea were ignored. With the wine, I think it is definitely all about cost-cutting since it makes no sense.
Thanks for this update.
As a points paying passenger I’d opt to book economy class awards for the time being and save business class award bookings for a time when the full Polaris service is restored. At this point, I don’t think the difference in experience warrants the significantly higher point deduction.
I agree with you. The one thing I would mention is to watch which route you book. My ORD-ZRH Swiss route was completely full because they only run it once a week. I would not want to be in a fully loaded coach cabin right now.
In this case, I was booking using Aeroplan miles and I never book economy with them giving the difference being smaller than with like United. Also, they did not have economy available, likely because they wanted to sell coach tickets instead of letting people redeem awards (since they need cash).
If they can serve a can of coke, they can also serve a small bottle of wine or a cam of beer. Sorry, but this is BS for cost cutting. Not flying them in the near future
If they can serve a can of coke, they can also serve a small bottle of wine or a can of beer. Sorry, but this is BS for cost cutting. Not flying them in the near future
I just came back from Europe and I flew Lufthansa from Chicago to Frankfurt and I chose United on the way back to Washington DC. Lufthansa, even with the restrictions is trying to keep the service in Business Class meaningful. They are not loading, as happened in the past, more meals than the real seat occupancy so you don’t have a real second choice as happened in the past when if you were still hungry you could get a second round. The United modle is really unfortunate. How can they justify the policy of the plastic glass and covered meals of less-than-economy level when people going out for dinner in the US can have a meal that is not covered and with real glasses. Of course the people preparing food MUST be controlled as the Crew onboard is. So, I don’t get the idea of these ‘plastic’ measures, unless Unite dis trying to say that they cannot check the health of the crew putting together your meal, whatever the class. United offered ONE SINGLE beer and ONE SINGLE WINE (ONE WHITE, ONE RED) on the entire flight in the 3 classes. We are talking about stuff the CVS sells at less that one dollar a (small) bottle. There are other options of premium wines offered in small bottles. Many options. But the most uncomfortable thing is the attitude of the FA who are scared to get infected by you and try to avoid contact, even when you are wearing a mask. On Polaris, they will come to you as in Economy and will go back to their seats “to limit contact”. But they had coffee (in plastic). My team from Europe carrying Visas with exceptions to travel to US for work ar eall being advised (by me) to avoid United. There is still business trave coming up. And I believe United should not be chosen unless they are deciding to invest the support they received in a decent service. Currently, Crew and passengers are unhappy.