Many people have a list of things that they would like to try to achieve at some point in their life, for some it’s swimming with dolphins, for some it’s skydiving. For me, I have always wanted to turn left on a plane. I have always wondered what it would be like to fly business class so when United Airlines asked me to try out their new United Polaris Business Class on a return trip to Chicago, they didn’t have to ask twice.
I’d seen people flying business class in the movies but I had no idea what to expect. I didn’t want to look like a total amateur on the day so I looked up the United Polaris website so see what was in store for me. I could not get over the sheer luxury and comfort that was ahead of me in their promotional video. I have flown economy to the US before and my lasting memory of that time was a terrible sleep so I was fascinated to see whether a good night’s sleep was actually possible, even in business class.
What is United Polaris Business Class?
United Polaris Business Class is a relatively new service offered by United Airlines as it was only launched in 2016. The focus behind the United Polaris experience is to provide long-haul travellers with what they’ve always valued, better sleep in the sky. Everything that Polaris offer centres around this philosophy.
It’s proving to be a very successful business plan for United with the airline adding one aircraft with the new United Polaris business class seat every 10 days from now through 2020.
What do you actually get?
The layout of United Polaris Business Class depends on which model plane you’re on. We were travelling on the 757-200 model which had two seats side by side however other planes like the 767 model has a one-one-one layout and the 777 model has a one-two-one seat layout.
The Polaris experience starts before you even get on the plane with dedicated check-in areas and security lanes, priority baggage handling and boarding, you’ll be sure to get to your plane quickly.
Once on board, I have to tell you about the seats. Not only do they recline, they do actually lie completely flat. This means that it is absolutely possible to get a full night’s sleep on board. Talking of sleep, I have to mention the bedding, United Airlines have partnered with American luxury department store Saks Fifth Avenue to create customised bedding which includes a pillow, duvet and two different blankets. You can also ask for a mattress topper to sleep on and an extra pillow. Slippers are another option you can request and I would highly recommend them for those mid flight trips to the bathroom.
Behind the headrest of the seat you have a personal console which includes a plug and even a USB charger point which is ideal for charging your mobile when you’ve taken a million photos of yourself in business class. You also get a tin of goodies which includes Cowshed products, ear plugs and an ergonomic eye mask.
Headphones on a plane are generally rubbish and you often have to pay extra for them. Not on a United Polaris Business class flight, the headphones provided are fab noise cancelling headphones which mean that you can comfortably watch three movies back to back without losing feeling in your ears.
Let’s talk about the food
The food was one of the biggest surprises for me. The food was amazing. There was the customary glass of bubbles as you board, with water or juice also available. We then chose our food for the duration of the flight (the menu was different on the return flight). Dinner was accompanied by a glass (or two) of wine from the extensive wine list followed by a liqueur to accompany the dessert trolley. I love the fact that all the food was served on proper plates with proper cutlery, with napkins and a tablecloth etc.
I remember reading somewhere that food is heavily seasoned on a plane as the altitude affects your taste buds however I didn’t notice any issues with the food on board the United Polaris Business flight. The food was delicious and plentiful. I loved the fact that there was even an extensive range of snacks and water left out for Polaris passengers who fancied something to eat in between meals.
What about the United Polaris Lounge?
Before we boarded our return flight to Dublin, we had the opportunity to spend some time in the United Polaris Lounge in Chicago O’Hare airport which is exclusively for Polaris passengers only, you can’t pay to use this lounge. There are Polaris lounges in Houston Intercontinental, New York/Newark and San Francisco, with an additional lounge opening at the end of 2018 at Los Angeles airport.
The luxury of the United Polaris lounge blew me away. When you walk in the first thing you can’t fail to notice the custom art installation “North Star Chicago” by artist Wolfgang Buttress. I’ve been in airport lounges before but never anything like this. It’s like walking into a six star hotel and it’s huge, more than 27,000 square feet with 455 seats.
The lounge was laid out in such a way that everywhere you sat you had privacy from seats to day beds (with Saks Fifth Avenue bedding) so if you needed to work or relax, you were catered for.
After enjoying a few drinks in the bar, we sat down to a delicious meal in the private dining area. The food here has been developed by famous New York Chef John Glowacki.
For those looking for more casual dining, there’s a bistro-like buffet that includes a do-it-yourself bagel bar plus sandwiches and wraps such as a curried salmon salad with cucumber raita and baby spinach on a pumpernickel roll as well as a charcuterie board and chicken parmesan.
As we were on a night flight home, I decided to have a shower before boarding the plane, partly because I had seen how beautiful the 10 private shower suites were on the United Polaris Business website and I wanted to see them for myself. They were even more spacious and luxurious than I was expecting. After a long and lazy chill under the rainfall shower with fluffy towels and more luxury Soho House & Co’s Cowshed Spa products, I retreated back to the lounge feeling refreshed and excited for the return flight.
How much does it cost?
Luxury like this does come at a price, advance purchase fares from Dublin to Chicago cost €2,360 (inc. tax and charges) with the economy fare costing €498 (inc. taxes).
My final thoughts
I would highly recommend treating yourself and a loved one to a United Polaris Business class flight if your budget could stretch to it. Flying United Polaris Business class won’t be possible for everyone and I wouldn’t bother flying business class on a short-haul flight but I would definitely consider United Polaris Business class for a long-haul flight for James and I for a special occasion.
Find out more about United Polaris Business class here.
Don’t we all deserve a little luxury sometimes?