Polaris with UA

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  • DavidSmith2

    Hi, I will be experiencing a ‘new’ airline for me next month – United Airlines from Accra to Dulles return. I have flown to DC previously with SAA and (from London) with BA and AA in the past, but it was many years ago. So grateful for any tips and advice on seating, in-flight service, lounge options at Dulles etc.

    All advice gratefully received.


    There is a Polaris lounge in IAD, which should be noticeably better than the standard US airline lounge offering.
    It’s a few years since I used UA and their lounges in IAD were average, so hopefully you’ll find this a nice end to your trip.

    No seating tips I’m afraid, but if you have a sweet tooth, the ice cream sundae cart should be in operation.

    Enjoy the random moon buggy bus transfer on arrival at IAD. If you’re in a hurry, loiter near the front of it for a speedy exit to the immigration hall. (The bus takes you from your Intl arrival over to the side of the main terminal for immigration / customs).

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    I have done quite a bit of travel in United’s Polaris over the past couple of years. I see the ACC-IAD is serviced by a B787-8. I have done the -9 and the seat is the same.

    My first recommendation is to choose a single, window seat on the odd rows. This seat is aligned straight along the wall and window. The even rows are angled slightly towards the aisle. The odd seats have more sense of privacy. I think row 1 and 6 (seats A or L) which are bulkhead are great, but some may be disturbed by the lavatory in the wall in front. The footwell space is better in these two rows. If you are a couple and like to talk, I would recommend also the odd rows. You sit closely and are angled to the middle whilst even rows angle to the aisle away from each other.

    IFE and Wi-Fi work superbly. F&B has been a disappointment. They claim they are doing some about it, they recently reintroduced the ice cream sundae cart, but honestly I have passed on most of it. The Champagne on my BRU-EWR segment in December was served in a massive water glass. Crew is really hit and miss.

    The United Polaris Lounge concept is extremely good. The Dulles edition is the latest to the family, I have not been as I avoid Dulles like the plague. I have been to Newark, Chicago and SFO and it is hands-down some of the best around. I would argue that the meals and drinks I’ve had in Polaris have been better or at least par with the BA Concorde Room at both LHR and JFK. As a Business Class offer I think it’s superb.

    To sum it up: excellent hardware and lounge. Keep expectations on F&B and staff low and I think you will have a great experience.

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    I flew UA in Polaris Class to Dallas via Houston in December returning in January. The aircraft rostered on both London sectors was a B787 crewed by United’s London based crew.

    I chose seat 7A which turned out to be handy insofar that it, along with seats in row 8, allowed for a speedy disembarkation which in my case was necessary because of a very tight transfer due to the flight arriving late. A note of caution seat 5A has only one window instead of two. The Purser on the return flight commented how narrow the aisles were in the 787 as opposed to the B777

    The catering was disappointing. There was no choice of first course and on the LHR-IAH sector a disappointing Caesar salad was served though the braised short ribs I chose for the first course was very good. Oh yes, and it all came at the same time on the tray, so the main course cooled whilst you ate your first course. Unfortunately, the usually excellent ice-cream sundae trolley was not in service though shortly after UA announced its return on certain flights ex-SFO and now I think it will be rolled out (no pun intended) across all long-haul routes in the next months.

    A printed menu was provided but no wine/drinks list was offered so you had no idea what was available. Wines and champagne were offered but you had to choose from the bottles being presented. Cognac, though supposed to be on board, was not available on both sectors to the embarrassment of the crew. If fizzy water is important to you, UA serves San Pellegrino in Polaris.

    The Polaris lounge at LHR is very good but the Polaris Lounge at Houston is even better though quite busy when I used it. At the Houston lounge bar staff would circulate and take orders and bring them to your seat if you wished – excellent dry martins are served in Houston by the way. Several years ago, I enjoyed the Polaris Lounge in Chicago which is also excellent as I expect all Polaris lounges are.


    I flew UA Polaris from ORD to MUC in November. In some ways I found the seat claustrophobic, but I appreciated not having a companion. Service was fine, and IFE OK.

    I say that service was OK but, as I was sitting in 1L I was first to be asked what my preferred meal would be, and what would be my second choice? I said to the purser that, as I am the first person that you are asking, why do I need to give a second choice. This confused him, and no reply:-)


    Senator, above, has summed it up nicely.

    The Polaris Lounges in the US are indeed excellent. UA’s NRT lounge is about the biggest I’ve ever been in.

    The LHR T2 Lounge is also good, but the nearby Singapore and Air Canada lounges are often much less crowded.

    The AC Lounge has draught Guinness, something to anticipate on the long slog through the tunnel to the B Gates.


    I 2nd this

    “To sum it up: excellent hardware and lounge. Keep expectations on F&B and staff low and I think you will have a great experience.”


    Thanks for the chuckle Faro. Why ask you for a 2nd choice indeed 🙂

    I had a similar silence incident. Mine was with AA and one of its customer service agents. I had booked a J class seat from JFK to Europe. A week out, I noticed they had changed my window seat and placed me in 1D a seat I absolute had no intention of accepting. When I called to express my displeasure and have them change it back they told me they couldn’t and then said that seats are not guaranteed. So I asked them if by changing my seat from 3A and giving it to someone else if they were not guarantying that person the 3A seat? There was silence.


    You may enjoy the flight. My first Polaris was SFO-Beijing and I found the aisles and seat access so narrow that I had to twist sideways, then turn backwards and edge into my ‘pod’, swiveling to sit down. Back then, there was a 5′ stack of foo-foo bedding, polar bears and whatever on your seat. So you boarded, found your seat, and sorta stood there. There was no place to put your carryon or book or anything at all until you threw all that bedding on the floor … only then could you step in and get out of the way. I had never experienced anything so poorly designed outside of WalMart. However, that’s the only negative. I now love Polaris. Subsequent flights have been fine since I was mentally prepared, and they stowed most of the foo-foo stuff. As far as the much-trumpeted Polaris lounges, SFO was nothing special. In all fairness, nothing can compare to Richard’s ClubHouse at Heathrow in my mnd. The flight attendants are the usual United bunch. Some terrific, some fine and some incompetent.

    Return was interesting … we flew home out of Hong Kong on Cathay Pacific, an airline I was excited to fly. Our FAs were all female. I was flying with my husband in the middle two seats. Other than the basics, the FAs whizzed past me so fast I couldn’t even ask them for a glass of water. But they fell all over my handsome husband. So the whole flight, I just told him what I wanted and he ‘ordered it’ for me. We still laugh about that.


    I had a long(ish) layover in the Polaris lounge at IAH a few years ago.

    I found it to be very good indeed. Varied menu in the dining area, with very good quality dishes, happy staff serving both in the lounge and at the bar, and good aprons/runway views.

    I’ve never flown UA so cannot comment. I was waiting for an SQ flight MAN/SIN, so the UA lounge was the available option.


    Huey. That has been normal on CX for the 45 years that my wife and I have been flying with CX.
    Its good for me to realise that I still have something -own hair and teeth perhaps assist -together with my irritable smile -and perhaps the lifetime diamond card.
    Seriously my wife and I laugh about it and sometimes together with the FSM.
    Sadly more male cabin crew these days and my wife is 20 years younger than I and extremely attractive. The future may not be so rosy!

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