9 August 2017 / Simon Sjöberg
About 2 weeks ago my boss called me and needed my attendance in New York for a day. Since SAS has later flights during the day they all land after 1 pm and forward since this was not a option for this time, my choice went to United Airlines and the new Polaris Business Class concept.
United has a morning flight departing 9:10 am from Arlanda and arrives Newark airport 11:50 am. Check in was smooth, however I immediately notice a much higher security check while standing in line compared to flying SAS out from Stockholm. Staff from United walked around asking security questions, nothing big but for me it feels a little bit unnecessary.
About 10 min later I checked my luggage and went directly to my favorite restaurant at Arlanda Airport, Pontus in the air which is located in Terminal 5. Right here I had my breakfast, "The Captains Choice". Normally I don't go to the SAS lounge anymore at Arlanda since I feel its been worn out after visiting it 300+ times last 5 years.
Only having about 1 hour to departure my flight got "Go to gate". Today's flight was departing as always from gate 17 where also the passport controll is located at the gate so it was no ques.
Boarding proceeded right away and I was the first passenger on board where I was welcomed by the cabin crew Adam and I was walked to my seat 4F. Adam also told me that I will have the seat next to me empty on this flight so feel free to spread you wings. The business class cabin on board United Airlines B757-200 has a 2-2 configuration and has fairly with space. The seats tilts a bit outwards to the windows however it's a great seat to both sit and sleep in.
I have flown with United before in this seat however not with the new Polaris product and notice direct a change. Real duvet and great pillows was provided at the seat also a fully packed amenity kit.
My first reaction to these 3 packages was that the top one was a pajamas however that was not the case, but for a second I was super thrilled. Still this is huge improvement from the previous product.
The kit was included with the standard items, Toothbrush with paste, eye-shades, socks, moisturizer, earplugs and a comb. Really liked the design on this kit and asked for an extra which was no problem to get.
Pre-departure drinks was provided, however still United goes in old shoes here and serve it in the plastic glasses. Also the premium drinks are not available on ground so for this time I only asked for some orange juice and still water. The menu was also handed out at this point.
The biggest disappointment was defiantly that the main food service was only breakfast. But I can still understand since it was a early flight and we where schedule to land before 12 am in the United States. Even though I already had breakfast I order the full service. At this point the time was 8:30 am and the door was already closed, we where ready for push back.
Take off about 25 min before departure time 8:45 am and the captain got on and made the announcement while airborne telling us that we have a good winds and will be landing 10:52 about 1 hour before schedule arrival time. Great news indeed since I have my return flight 5:25 pm the same day. One thing I do like about the US based airlines is the beer options on board. This flight they of course had the standard Heineken and Budweiser BUT they also had 2 other more premium beers, a Lagunitas and Goose Island. I did the only right thing and asked for both of them.
The food service started about 30 min in to the flight and my choice of food today was according to the order down below.
- Smoked Salmon, capers, onion and hard-boiled egg.
- Salad, Mixed greens, blueberry, papaya, strawberry served with dressing and bread.
- Steak and eggs, Grilled tenderloin, scrambled eggs, potatoes, asparagus and tomato.
- Assortment of cheese.
- Ice cream sundae with topping of your choice
The food was in a mixed quality where the starter and salad was great but the entree was a disaster. Coming back to the dessert with United's signature Ice Cream Sundae with you'r choice of topping. This was a fairly good food service and it did it's job making my stomach full for the remaining 6.5 hour of flying.
Then it was time for some movie on the In-flight Entertainment System. United's selections of movies was pretty good with a lot of new movies and old classics. However for me who sits on a plane basically once every second day I get through every single movie so the 3 month in between the switch of movies I get bored. United did provide Wi-fi service on this flight against a fee. It was 5.99 USD for 1 hour or 8.99 USD for 2 hours of free data Wi-Fi. I bought 2 hours directly after take off and also 2 hours before landing since I was sleep the rest of the time. Seat has one international plug and also one USB port for you to charge electronics.
So it was time to sleep. The seat becomes a fully flat bed, the covers and duvet provided was as I sad before a big improvement (sorry got no picture of the bed, but believe me it was nice!!). I got fairly 3 hours of sleep before I woke up and got ready for the second food service.
The second food service was a one only option. The serving was a plate with grilled chicken, couscous, green beans and a tomato-basil sauce. The chicken was dry but the combination of flavor was good, I was still not so hungry from the previous meal.
About 15 min after finishing the food the captain turned on the fasten seat belt sign and it was time for arrival. Cabin crew Adam passed me and we had a small chat where we talked about traveling, I mentioned my trip to North Korea and suddenly the whole cabin crew wanted to listen to what I had to tell and also showing some pictures. Right after that they came back with a whole bag of chocolate and a big water bottle saying, I think this will help you through the day. Always fun to share experience with people who appreciates it and enjoys listening.
Arriving to Newark and landing as the captain said 10:54 am, 56 min ahead of schedule.
One last chat with cabin crew Adam before saying thanks and goodbye for this time. The immigration and customs was taken care off pretty quickly and I got my work done within the time limit to catch my flight back to Stockholm the same day 7 hours later. Sadly I can't tell anything from that flight since I just went to sleep 10 min after take off and woke up 20 min before arrival.
United Airlines has a good business class product and with it's new Polaris concept it has been big improvments. The seats are comfortable but has done it's part and needs to be replaced, this sad it doesn't say it's a bad seat but you can really see it has gone a lot of years since it was installed. The crew are friendly and the service with food are acceptable, it was offen the crew took empty glasses from the table instead of asking if I wanted refill. Otherwise I can really recommend United, also since it's new Polaris seat is rolilng out now on it's new B777-300ER it can be rock solid product.