United Is Discontinuing International First Class As Of May 1, 2018

United is in the process of revamping their longhaul travel experience. As of last December, all longhaul international United flights feature Polaris service, which is United’s new premium cabin soft product, including better food, bedding, and amenities. However, what’s disappointing many is the slow pace at which United is introducing their new Polaris seats.

As of now, only United’s newly delivered 777-300ER aircraft feature Polaris seats. United was already supposed to have other planes in service with Polaris seats by now, but unfortunately United is having issues with their seat manufacturer, Zodiac.


United’s new Polaris seat

United does have their first 767-300 in “the shop” getting the new seats, and hopefully it will be flying within the coming weeks. However, expect it will be another five years or so until United’s entire longhaul fleet has these new seats.

The 767 and 777 are the backbone of United’s longhaul fleet, though they have several versions of these planes. For the most part, the ex-Continental planes are in a two class configuration (with business and economy), while the United planes are in a three class configuration (with first, business, and economy).

We’ve known for a long time that United eventually plans on eliminating first class, as they install their new Polaris seats. Last week United stopped selling first class on 777-200 aircraft for travel as of May 1, 2018.


United’s old international first class seat

Well, it looks like United has now updated their schedule to stop selling first class on their 767-300 aircraft for travel as of May 1, 2018, per @airlineroute.

For example, you’ll see that between Chicago and London first class is still on sale for travel on April 30, 2018.

Meanwhile for travel as of May 1, 2018, only business and economy are for sale, even though the seatmap hasn’t changed.

Given that United is retiring their 747 by the end of the year, the 767-300 and 777-200 aircraft are the only remaining ones with a first class cabin. So with this change, that means United will no longer sell international first class as of May 1, 2018.

It goes without saying that United won’t have reconfigured anywhere close to all their planes by next May, so chances are that they’re just not finding it worthwhile to sell those seats anymore. By not selling first class they’ll have a lot more flexibility with their fleet, and they can assign those seats to full fare or elite passengers who booked business class.

RIP, United international first class!

Comments

  1. Maybe they could just sell the old First seats as “Premium Business”. Hey it’s a thought 🙂

    Personally it seems like a dumb idea until all the planes are retrofitted. Why give up extra revenue from a handful of paying First customers. Look at the prices you show. It’s $4k more. Plus those super elites that would get upgraded from business would think they got an extra treat. It’s not like the service is that much different.

  2. I think we’ll look back fondly on United First. It was better than most business class products (especially European ones) without the fuel surcharges, and in most cases, only required marginally more miles. I just wish it was better-appreciated during its time; it will be missed.

  3. First class was so far behind competitors they might as well claim defeat. Days of Beluga caviar and roast carved by your table were long gone. Missed them though.

  4. Can I select an F seat if I book after these dates on a 3 cabin aircraft? As a 1K, will be hoping to book and get upgraded to an F seat!

  5. @Pat: I think we’ll look back fondly on United First. It was better than most business class products

    Pat, hon, put down the grigio. It’s international first that’s being eliminated, not United First.

  6. @William Y. No YOU put down YOUR grigio! It’s obvious that I was referring to their international first class product, but you’re just being pedantic.

  7. @William Y

    u r a douchebag.

    Are you one of those losers who feels a need to correct every error a stranger makes? If so, lets try to be correct when we do.

  8. This isn’t a surprise given that international first-class is irrelevant when, as of now, there is no different between Polaris business and Polaris first, except for the seat. With that said, I do think United was very, very stupid to rollout Polaris on routes with aircraft featuring the old products.

  9. 767’s are the backbone of the US long-haul fleet? Not 787’s as well?

    And how old are these gas guzzlers?

  10. Bof! It has always pretend to be a first class… anyway there is not class at all with US carrier. Not a big lost!

  11. @Pat–I agree (and knew you were talking about GlobalFirst). I will miss GlobalFirst because it was a very comfy and roomy seat and lie flat bed with great IFE and all aisle access. The food and service had gotten better in the last few years, better than AA FF and DeltaOne in my opinion…even if not as good as other international F on many Asian/ME carriers. And awards were EASY.

    Polaris seats will be fine, a bit more private and yet not as roomy feeling, and obviously a major improvement over current UA BF with all aisle access and the improved Polaris service and food/beverage and upcoming Polaris lounges. But I’ll still miss GlobalFirst…and the smaller cabin.

    @William–you’re kind of a douche, you know?

  12. By eliminating Intl First Class they can also justify closing the Intl First Class lounges….saving space at the hubs for larger United Clubs and Polaris lounges…..

  13. @Lucky,

    Do you know if United plan on updating their 757-200s that they use on shorter Trans-Atlantic flights? If so, do you know if they will go to a 1-1 configuration or what? Timeframe? I’m sure they are the least of their worries right now though. My wife is British and we fly the MAN-EWR and MAN-IAD (which I think is discontinued) a lot when traveling back and forth from the US and England to visit families. Thanks!

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