United Polaris Business Class Review

I recently experienced flying United Airlines Polaris Business Class. Buckle up, because it was a doozy! And I’ll be sharing it all with you in this honest Polaris review.

This trip actually started out as a completely different adventure – a flight to Quito, Ecuador for a cruise in the Galapagos Islands. But hey, that’s the beauty of travel, right? Sometimes things take a detour (like when your travel buddy throws out their shoulder – ouch!).

Luckily, we were able to use our flight credit for a fabulous trip to Rio de Janeiro for New Year’s Eve and a cruise to Buenos Aires, Argentina!

Snapshot Verdict

United Airlines hit it out of the park with their Polaris Business Class, available on all long-haul International flights as of late 2023.

Named after the North Star and focused on providing a top-tier customer experience, with 6’6” lie-flat beds outfitted with Saks Fifth Avenue bedding, a 16“ television monitor, and a chef-designed menu focusing on dishes from around the world, the United States finally has a premium cabin that can hang with the big boys from Asia, Europe, and the Middle East.

The United Polaris Lounges are a cut above other US-based airline lounges, providing an exquisite experience with local flavor. It is not Qatar or Singapore level, but I must say I was impressed. 

Polaris Overview

Now, about that Business Class – let me tell you, I was surprised and very pleased.

United States carriers are not known for their premium products. Typically Asian, Middle Eastern, and European airlines receive more accolades and have superior hard and soft products. United Airlines has stepped up their game with their Polaris Business Class.

Back in 2016, bigwigs at United realized they needed to improve their Business Class product. After numerous snafus and setbacks, the new product was rolled out in 2017, and United’s entire fleet of widebody aircraft was upgraded to Polaris by July of 2023.

So, all of their 767s, 777s, and 787s currently feature Polaris.

United has discontinued its First Class cabin on International flights, so Polaris is the highest level you will find in their premium cabins

We originally paid around $2,000 for the seats to Quito, which might seem steep, but trust me, it was worth it. Especially considering the economy seats on this Rio flight were over $1,200!

Plus, when we rebooked, we only had to pay an extra $400 each for a flight that was twice as long. Score!


If Business Class fares are not in your budget for your United flight, consider United’s Premium Plus cabin, which is their answer to Premium Economy.

I have not flown in this cabin myself, but stole a glance at it on our recent flight, and it looks very nice. The seats are spacious and remind me of a domestic First Class cabin on a US carrier.

You won’t get access to the Polaris Lounge, but you won’t be crammed into a standard coach seat either. Add discounted United Club access ($35) and a limited amenity kit, and it’s not a bad deal.

United Lounges & How To Access Them

United has three types of lounges: United Club, United Club Fly, and Polaris. 

United Club fly Lounges have the same access rules as United Clubs, and at the time of writing, there is only one Club Fly, located in the Denver International Airport.

This is a grab-and-go lounge where you can stop by and grab snacks for your next flight.

There are 45 United Clubs in 30 airports around the US, and here are the methods of access:


You can purchase membership for $650 or 85,000 miles per year. This also gives you access to COPA and Star Alliance Lounges around the world.

How You Fly

By flying international Business or First Class on United or Star Alliance partners, including flights to and from Canada.

Certain Credit Cards

The United Club Infinite Cardand the United Club Business Card give you United Club membership.

These are United’s premium cards and come with hefty annual fees, which could be worth it if you fly United often. Fees are $525 for the personal card and $450 for the business version.

They also give you priority check-in and numerous other perks.

Other credit cards give you two annual passes: The United Explorer Card and the United Business Card, which have lower annual fees of $0 the first year and $95 each year after that for the personal card and $99 for the business card.

Other Memberships & Status

If you have Star Alliance Gold status and are flying United or a Star Alliance partner, you can bring one guest.

If you are an Air Canada Maple Leaf member flying on a Star Alliance flight.

Virgin Australia Velocity Platinum, Gold, and VIP members can visit United Club locations and United Club Fly at departure airports.

You will need a same-day boarding pass for an international United or Virgin Australia-operated flight. You can bring one guest to United Club locations.

Single Entry Fee

Purchase one-time access for $65 when flying United or a Star Alliance partner.

Note: United Clubs are not part of the Priority Pass Lounge network.

United Polaris Lounges are located in 6 airports in the US and 5 outside of the US: 

Polaris Lounge Locations

Check In

To use United’s Premier Access check-in line, you must:

  • Be flying United Polaris Business Class or domestic First Class;
  • Be flying in the premium cabin of a Star Alliance partner airline;
  • Carry Elite status on Star Alliance;
  • Have one of the United Airlines Premium credit cards; or
  • Have purchased Premier Access.

When flying United Polaris, you can check two bags weighing up to 70 pounds each, for free.

United Economy Class from Little Rock, Arkansas to Houston, Texas

The first leg of our trip from Little Rock to Houston was in Economy Class.

Polaris economy Seat

Even in coach, the flight attendants were awesome! They kept us well-informed, the service was friendly, and the snacks were surprisingly good.

Now, the actual seats themselves? Not so great. They were on the small side, legroom included, and even for a short stack like me (5’2″!), it felt a bit cramped. 

The stroopwafels eased my pain a bit! I was informed that the proper way to eat a stroopwafel is to place it over the top of your hot cup of coffee for a few minutes, allowing the caramel filling to warm up and melt just a little. Divine!

United Polaris Lounge, Houston, Texas

Our first flight landed in one terminal and departed from another, and Houston has basic United Clubs in Terminals A, B, C, and E since it is a United hub.

We could have used any of those United clubs but, knowing we had a luxurious oasis waiting in Terminal E, we hopped on the airport train for a little detour to the Polaris Lounge. Let me tell you, it was absolutely worth the extra legwork!

Dining Options

In addition to snack and beverage stations set up around the lounge, there were two main choices for your dining pleasure: the buffet and the main dining room.


They had a fantastic buffet spread with something for everyone. Cheese lovers rejoice!

There was an impressive selection, alongside cured meats, perfect for a light nosh. But it wasn’t all finger food. For a more substantial bite, they offered an extensive hot buffet with a number of South American-inspired dishes including ‘pollo arvejado’ – a Chilean chicken stew.

Polaris Lounge Buffet

And of course, no meal is complete without dessert. The Polaris Lounge offered a decadent choice between pumpkin pie (a classic for a reason) and a creamy Italian custard that looked delicious.

The Main Dining Room

The buffet was great, but if you have time for a full dining experience, take the time for a three-course dinner in their bistro-style restaurant. 

Polaris Lounge Dining Room

The menu changes throughout the day, offering breakfast options like French toast served with fig and drizzled with caramel, or a more heart-healthy grain bowl.

Lighter fare like yogurt and pastries are also available.

Dinner and lunch take a more adventurous turn. Starters like butternut squash soup or ceviche whet your appetite, while cheese plates offer a classic indulgence.

The main course options on our visit were truly tempting: cauliflower with gochujang, short ribs, sea bass, and the legendary Signature Polaris Burger.

Speaking of legendary, that Polaris Burger lives up to its fame. A juicy patty comes loaded with all the classic toppings – bacon, cheese, veggies – plus some exciting extras like egg and avocado. The fries were perfectly seasoned but a touch undercooked.

I opted for the pan-roasted sea bass, served with sides of couscous and wilted kale, which was a light and flavorful dish that left room for dessert.

Polaris Lounge Dining different meal options

It was impossible to resist trying both options: the cheesecake with apple crisp and the fig tart. They were both delightful little bites, the perfect ending to a fantastic meal.

The impeccable service by our server, Jay, just added to the overall restaurant-quality experience.

This lounge was not just about the food (although it was amazing!). The entire experience was designed for relaxation and comfort.

Polaris Lounge Dining Room

The bar offered a curated selection of beer, wine, and liquor, perfect for unwinding before your flight. Feeling adventurous? The creative cocktail menu, updated regularly, offered exciting options.

While the lounge itself was surprisingly busy, there was ample seating to choose from. We even spotted a few families with children, but thankfully none were disruptive.

The seating arrangements were varied, with conversation sets for two to four, as well as individual pods with tables for those needing to get some work done. The overall décor was a step up from your typical United Club, offering a classy and sophisticated atmosphere.

Beyond the food and drinks, the lounge boasted other amenities.

If you needed to make any travel changes, friendly agents were on hand to assist you. Feeling a bit travel-worn? The Polaris Lounge offered shower suites, perfect for freshening up before your flight, and plenty of sparkly clean restrooms.

United Polaris Business Class from Houston to Rio de Janeiro

After what felt like a quick visit, we made our way to Terminal C for our departure. We arrived just in time for boarding, and walked right onto the plane.

Our 10-hour flight was on a Boeing 767. The Economy Class cabin had 184 seats and Business Class had 30 lie-flat semi-private seats, carrying a total of 214 passengers.

We had a slight delay, which only prolonged our enjoyment of this experience!

The Premium cabin had 10 rows of seats, arranged in a 1-1-1 configuration, with each seat having access to the aisle. For folks traveling together, you really don’t have options for sitting close enough for conversation.


Odd numbered window seats (A and L) have more privacy
than even numbered window seats.


The passenger seat was designed in partnership with Acumen Design Associates and Priestman Goode, and manufactured by Zodiac Seats in the UK. It was furnished with premium bedding from Saks Fifth Avenue.

This included a small pillow, a lightweight throw blanket with a colorful design, and a sealed kit containing a larger cooling gel pillow and a comforter. Notably, pajamas were not provided on this particular flight, but you will receive them on extended journeys exceeding 14 hours.

If you would like a mattress pad, be sure to request one ahead of time.
I hear United does not carry enough for every seat. I didn’t need one.

Amenity Kit

United has upgraded its amenity kits since we traveled three months ago – now amenity kits are larger and include an ‘Away‘ brand hard travel case.

When we traveled, we received practical items including socks, ear plugs, a dental kit, a sleep mask, tissues, and a baggie containing Therabody brand facial moisturizer, revitalizing eye serum, facial mist, hand lotion, lip balm, and a face wipe. All of these items were contained in a stylish gray fanny pack.

Polaris Flight Storage and Amenity Kit items laid out packaging list items

Personal Storage

The seat pod offered ample storage space for passenger belongings. A small cabinet located on the aisle side housed a bottle of water and headphones.

Additional storage options included cubbies beneath the armrest and under the footrest for carry-on items, and a compartment nestled under the personal entertainment system display, suitable for smaller electronics such as mobile phones.

For added convenience, the seat provided a standard electrical outlet for charging devices, a reading light for nighttime travel, and a remote control for the in-flight entertainment system.

Pre-Flight Fun

I’m a sucker for a good in-flight menu! Especially when you’re flying in Business or First Class, browsing those options beforehand really gets me excited for the trip.

Polaris suite tv

Plus, it guarantees you get your first choice – popular dishes can disappear fast. On this flight, I went with the short ribs, which sounded incredible.

Boarding & Take-Off

Shortly after we were seated, the flight attendant brought around a tray of pre-departure beverages. I chose champagne, and she also offered orange juice.

Our delay just meant more time to enjoy the comfy seats and dig into the entertainment options! They had a great selection of movies, so I wasted no time getting stuck in!

Turbulent Start, Expedited Service

We hit some bumpy air early on, which pushed meal service back a couple of hours.

The silver lining? Once they got the go-ahead, the flight attendants really hustled to expedite our meal service. They knew we were probably eager to get some sleep.

Even on flights where meals are served on time, you can request ‘Express Dining‘ if you’re looking to rest earlier.

The Meal

The food itself was delicious! I started with the salad with prawn lemon zest confit, which was refreshing.

Polaris Flight Menus

But the real star was the main course – those seared short ribs with Asian flare. They were melt-in-your-mouth tender, juicy, and bursting with flavor. The stir-fried vegetables and steamed jasmine rice were great accompaniments.

To finish things off, I treated myself to the selection of cheeses, fruit, and crackers, which hit the spot. The whole meal was paired with a nice Bordeaux – a delightful choice.

Snacks were available any time, but I was way too satisfied from the main meal to even think about them! I hear there is a made-to-order sundae menu available, but I didn’t even consider it. 

Breakfast & Landing

About 45-60 minutes before landing, the flight attendants came around with breakfast. I opted for the egg bites, made with egg whites, peppers, and Monterey Jack cheese, which were a light and delicious way to end the flight.

Overall, a fantastic in-flight dining experience!


United Airlines has significantly upgraded their long-haul international Business Class offering with the introduction of Polaris Business Class.

Inspired by the North Star and designed for maximum comfort, Polaris Business Class boasts features like lie-flat seats, luxurious Saks Fifth Avenue bedding, and personal entertainment systems. The in-flight dining experience is also noteworthy, featuring chef-designed menus with global flavors.

Overall, this new offering positions United Airlines to compete more effectively with renowned premium cabins from Asian, European, and Middle Eastern airlines.

While the Polaris Lounges don’t quite match the extravagance of Qatar Airways or Singapore Airlines lounges, they still offer a few steps above the standard US airline lounge experience, with a focus on local touches that create a more interesting atmosphere.

In short, United is playing for keeps with Polaris, and that’s great news for flyers who crave comfort and luxury on long international flights.

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