United is holding an event on Tuesday with Boeing at the aircraft manufacturer’s facility in South Carolina. They are expected to announce a major order for Boeing 787 long haul aircraft.
These new planes will come with the same economy and premium economy seats United currently uses on their Boeing 787-10 aircraft, however business class with be a new seat – ‘next generation Polaris’ – which offers suites with doors – as noted by aviation watchdog JonNYC.
premium economy and economy should be the same seats featured on the current -10s however Polaris will be the the 'updated' version featuring sliding doors
— 🇺🇦 JonNYC 🇺🇦 (@xJonNYC) December 9, 2022
Now that United comes close to completing the retrofit of their existing business class product, introduced six and a half years ago, they have settled on a new Optima Polaris product from Safran Seats.
While United hasn’t announced details of the suite suites, I would give high probability to a more premium bulkhead row, bed improvements and slightly increased seat pitch. I would also expect larger entertainment screens and hopefully more storage. There’s been some speculation that the product could even involve heating and cooling seat options, although it is still unkown which ideas that were discussed internally made the final cut.
When then-CEO Oscar Munoz announced Polaris business class in mid-2016,
- The seat was a me-too, rather than an industry-leader. It was good enough, and a way to offer direct aisle access without using any more space on the aircraft than their previous six-abreast Diamond product. This was a seat signed off on by disgraced former CEO Jeff Smisek, after all.
- But with an outstanding soft product, involving new multi-course meals, drink carts, dessert carts and wine flights. They introduced pajamas on their longest flights, cooling gel pillows in addition to a pillow at each seat, and outstanding Saks-branded bedding. The bedding, fortunately remains, but food and beverage has suffered numerous cutbacks and business cabins also now see reduced flight attendant staffing.
Current Polaris Business Class
Mere months after United announced its current Polaris product, Delta introduced suites with doors (added to all their long haul fleet except their 767s). American is going to be rolling out the same, and we’re seeing it as a transatlantic standard from British Airways and Air France it’s clear that United needs to match. And we should see the enhanced United business hard product, still dense (‘efficient’) but improved, line fit onto new Boeing 787 deliveries.