United’s First 767 With Polaris Seats Enters Service Today

While United introduced their Polaris service as of December 1, 2016, up until now the only planes that have actually featured the Polaris seats are their newly delivered 777-300ERs, of which there are 14.

For most passengers there has been quite a stark contrast between the Polaris service that the airline has been advertising, and what they’ve actually been offering. I’d argue they marketed the product prematurely.

United was supposed to have further planes reconfigured already, though they’ve been having issues with Zodiac, their seat manufacturer.

However, in July I wrote about how United began reconfiguring their first Boeing 767-300 with the new Polars seats. The Polaris tracker continued to indicate that the first 767 with the new seats would be in service in “fall 2017.” United’s reconfigured 767s will feature:

  • 30 Polaris seats (in a 1-1-1 configuration)
  • 46 Economy Plus seats (in a 2-3-2 configuration)
  • 138 economy seats (in a 2-3-2 configuration)

The reconfigured planes have just as many seats as the previous planes, which shows you just how space efficient these Polaris seats are (and why it’s a huge improvement, though far from the best seat in the sky).

United reconfigures these planes in Hong Kong, so on Tuesday it looks like United flew the first 767 with Polaris seats, N644UA, from Hong Kong to Honolulu to San Francisco to Newark. Best of all, it looks like the plane will enter commercial service today. United’s first 767-300 flight with the new Polaris seats will enter service this afternoon, as UA110 from Newark to London, and then tomorrow will fly as UA15 from London to Newark.

It doesn’t look like the plane has a published schedule beyond that yet, though I suspect that the 767 will be based at Newark, and wouldn’t be surprised to see it flying mostly to London.

United’s website indicates that the 777-200s will begin to get the new Polaris seats in “winter 2017.” Here’s to hoping United begins to reconfigure 777-200s soon, and most importantly, that they reconfigure several planes in quick succession. Either way, it’ll likely be about five years before the whole longhaul fleet has these new seats.

(Tip of the hat to @jmmccarthy2002)

Comments

  1. what a waste to install new polaris seats on the 767 when there are still many 787’s flying around w the old biz class seats.

  2. @nathan I agree. Isn’t the average age of these 767’s like 25 years? I can’t figure out the logic investing in these while their 787’s remain unchanged and non competitive with other airlines (especially on the ultra long haul routes).

  3. Polaris is a joke. The club is jam packed in Ord. The food iffy. And FAs who chat and slam doors all night on an overnighter. I’m done

  4. @Tyler While the 767 is quite old, the biz product represented one of the worst in the fleet, so since they plan to keep these birds around a while longer, it makes sense (from a product perspective) to do these first and quickly, since there’s only around 14 frames that need conversion. I suspect the equally bad 2-4-2 will go after the 3-class 767’s. The seats in the Dreamliner are not ideal, but still represent an improvement over what’s currently flying.

    Now why UA didn’t try harder to get the Polaris seats installed as they take new deliveries of the 787…that is a question I don’t know the answer to

  5. ” Isn’t the average age of these 767’s like 25 years? ”

    Actually, a good deal of the United 767 fleet is fairly new – including deliveries post-9/11. Further, United has historically flown their 767-300s on reasonably long sectors without much integration into domestic flying, with the exception of the newest aircraft. As such, they aren’t cycle heavy and still have competitive efficiency. They should get, at least, 5 years out of even the oldest aircraft.

    “Now why UA didn’t try harder to get the Polaris seats installed as they take new deliveries of the 787…that is a question I don’t know the answer to”

    That is more of an issue, and one that there are two likely answers to.

    1) Their aggressive expansion, combined with their retirement of 747 aircraft at a less than 1 to 1 ratio with the 77W introduction, means they need 789s in the fleet more quickly than Zodiac can deliver seats.

    2) They still have seats contracted to take delivery of from B/E.

    “since there’s only around 14 frames that need conversion. ”

    No, all 35 of them need conversion. While the more newly converted 2 class aircraft are in a 2-2-2 configuration, that is still the uncompetitive B/E Diamond.

  6. Tyler,

    767’s are actually still being built, although not a lot of them, and mostly for freight or military versions.

    At the same time some of them are 30 years old, are as some 737’s, 747’s, 757’s and MD-80’s/717’s.

    But putting Polaris in a 767 rather than a 787 still strikes me as odd

  7. I think the future of B/E diamond (not superdiamond) is in narrowbodies. It’s an uncompetitive product on widebodies.

  8. Once again, an epic fail as United just announced Houston-Sydney on its horrible 787 product. Why United didn’t come out with a Polaris-esque product when it rolled out the 787 is beyond me. Even three or four years ago, its business-class product was bad. Then again, this is the airline that still hasn’t completed its merger with Continental.

    Regardless, I’m curious to know how United kept its seat count in business-class the same when it reduced the foot print to a configuration of 1x1x1. What am I missing here?

    Let’s not forget that United itself says a majority of its long-haul fleet won’t have the “new” Polaris seats (they will hardly be “new” then) until 2021. That’s almost 5 years of flying a crappy product.

  9. I would never fly United because I wouldn’t want to fly an old and knackered 767 long-haul. It’s wrong.

  10. I love the 76. Best in trans atlantic turbulence. with new seats wouldnt hesitate to fly over UA 78X product.

  11. Looks like a great product and looking forward to trying it. For anyone who is flying domestically, it looks like you can experience Polaris right now from EWR to SFO. I was surprised to see it, so went ahead and booked…. UA 497 @ 8:05AM (773). Not sure of the frequency, except it’s definitely going this week. JD1

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