United Airlines is in the middle of opening up a raft of new premium Polaris lounges this year, including the recent debut of a third international business class lounge at the carrier’s Newark hub. But at the same time the airline is working feverishly to complete fleet reconfigurations of the new product after the carrier weathered some criticism for the sluggish pace of refurbishment.
- United Airlines will significantly advance the visibility of its Polaris premium product to corporate travellers both on the ground through reconfigured lounges and in the air via its revised seat and onboard configuration;
- The airline acknowledges it has made slow progress with the opening of dedicated Polaris lounges but confirms facilities will open in Houston, Newark, San Francisco and Los Angeles this year;
- In terms of adopting the product in the air, United has stressed it is planning to induct a Polaris configured aircraft into its fleet every 10 days through 2020;
- United is also introducing a Premium Plus premium economy product that includes complimentary cocktails, upgraded dining and an amenity kit.
The airline unveiled plans for its Polaris international business class in late 2016, and encountered some delays in opening dedicated Polaris lounges at its hub airports during 2017. But the airline is working to regain some lost ground this year with the opening of Polaris lounges in Houston, Newark, San Francisco and Los Angeles.
United has also encountered challenges in communicating the timing of retrofitting its aircraft with Polaris seats, which has resulted in passengers only enjoying certain product amenities such as bedding or dining.
Recently, United stressed it is planning to induct a Polaris configured aircraft into its fleet every 10 days through 2020.
“We are very excited about Polaris, and continue to invest and improve the soft product in response to employee and customer feedback,” the airline stated.
In early 2018, United also tabled plans to introduce Premium Plus, joining its rivals American and Delta in offering a differing premium economy product that includes complimentary cocktails, upgraded dining and an amenity kit.
United has explained the full roll-out of Premium Plus will occur on the same schedule as Polaris. Some aircraft with Premium Plus will begin to cycle through the airline’s operations on select international flights later this summer.
Previously, United has stated it has worked with its Star Alliance partners on the Premium Plus product to determine “how many people are going to buy it from coach, [and] how many people are going to buy down from business class…”.