I have not been paid by any entity in any way (financially, benefits) to write the following post.
On my way to studying abroad in Luneburg, Germany, I took the extraordinary (or ludicrous, you decide) decision of flying west instead of east to get to Europe. Now, for the average traveler, this may seem ridiculous on so many levels, however for the mileage runners out there, this is the of course the only logical routing to take.
After scouring the internet looking for some R class availability going east or west, I finally found three R class slots on the San Francisco to Taipei route. I then purchased a one way ticket from San Francisco to Taipei on United for $640 dollars thanks to Google Flights, and promptly used a MileagePlus Mileage Upgrade and co-pay into R class. I know I could’ve gotten a better deal looking for a round-trip going eastbound, but flexibility for me was key in this decision, since I still had to get a ticket to Hamburg, which I will cover in another review.
After flying in from Boston to San Francisco in United’s transcontinental premium business class service (so many words, why can’t it still be p.s?), I was looking forward to visiting the new San Francisco Polaris lounge and flying in the legitimate Polaris business class seats on the new flagship of the fleet, the B777-300ER.
UA 875: SFO-TPE
Polaris Business Class
Upon boarding the plane through door 2L, I made my way to my very comfortable Polaris Business Class seat. Now, I have flown Polaris Business many times before, but they were all in either the disgusting legacy United “Business Class” seats that are in their atrocious, premium economy-worthy 2-4-2 layout, or the far more reasonable legacy Continental BusinessFirst seats that are in a 2-2-2 layout.
Once I got situated I had a look at the menu that was provided, which offered the following:
Soon enough, the purser began to take meal orders prior to the doors closing, and she went around asking everyone for their two top options in case their first choice was not available, much like the Boston-San Francisco flight I had taken the day before. As soon as the purser got to me though, she let me know that I was guaranteed to receive whatever I ordered since I was a Premier 1K. Awesome perk!
I ended up ordering the beef entree, and held off on a drink order until we were up in to the sky so I could take advantage of the “Wine Flight” that was a signature offering on United Polaris flights, which we will definitely get back to later.
For those of you interested in the beverage options, they were as follows:
Soon after, I settled in for the powerful take-off in the beautiful B777-300ER.
After departing the Bay Area, I decided to look into the goodie bag United provides its premium, top-dollar customers. The items are as follows:
The kit contained socks, a pack of Cowshed products, a specially made sleeping mask, tissues, hand sanitizer, earplugs, a (very small) pen, and a basic dental kit. I of course expected the kit to be far more extensive than my transcontinental business class kit which is shown in my review of United’s Transcontinental Service from Boston to San Fran.
Soon after it was meal time, and the dinner service was kicked off with a hot towel and the custom mixed nuts and your choice of drink(s).
Next was the appetizer and salad course. Now, perhaps I am just a fanboy of the way things used to be, but back when (my favorite airline of all-time) Continental was still flying, the appetizer would always be served on its own as a separate course instead of served together on the same tray as the salad. Also, the salad was much larger when it was Continental’s award-winning BusinessFirst product!
The one grievance I had that was actually answered on this flight was the salad dressing! I was finally able to indulge in a dressing that wasn’t olive oil and vinegar mixed together like every other Polaris flight I’ve taken.
After finishing my much improved salad and the appetizer, the entree soon arrived.
Now, you may have noticed the three glasses of red wine. Those of you that follow United updates will know that the airline decided to ditch it’s signature “Wine Flight” in order to cut costs considering the fact they (completely) underestimated the 300% wine utilization rate.
Despite this change, I still asked for the red wine service, which was met with an apologetic look by the amazing flight attendant working the aisle, explaining to me that they had done away with the service at the beginning of the month. She did promptly, however, offer me all three red wine wine samples as they won’t deny serving you the wines if requested. So if you still want a “Wine Flight,” just politely ask for the wines and enjoy!
After finishing dinner, it was Sundae Time, the best part (in my opinion) of the overall service. I imagine its fun for the attendants to see grown men and women, executives and professionals momentarily turning into little kids at an ice cream shop asking for their favorite toppings!
Soon after finishing the meal, I changed into my United pjs and turned my Polaris suite into a bed, which I completely forgot to take a picture of (oops). So instead, please enjoy this link that takes you to a Google Image search, showing the sleeping mode for the Zodiac-produced Polaris Business Class seat: https://goo.gl/images/6DXdBd (photo is from United).
After sleeping for a few hours, I woke up and decided to walk around the cabin to get the blood in my body flowing again. I was able to snap a pic of the in-flight refreshments that are set out after the main service has concluded for those that want something to nibble on between meals.
I do have to say that the refreshment bar was well stocked with waters, snacks and fruits. In addition to this, you are able to order a hot snack between meal services on flights 12 hours or longer. The options on this Taipei bound flight were either a grilled cheese sandwich with a cup of tomato soup or Korean style BBQ beef with rice. As the indecisive person I can be, I ended up getting the beef and the sandwich minus the tomato soup. The flight attendant covering at the time was very friendly and quickly brought out the order with a can of refreshing ginger ale.
After chowing down, I fell asleep for a few more hours until it was breakfast time. The service started with another hot towel, and breakfast was brought out all on one tray, the same way Continental used to. I never said Continental was perfect!
Breakfast consisted of either the southwestern omelette or Chinese congee, mixed fruit, flavored greek yogurt, a signature cranberry-white chocolate cookie, and your choice of a croissant or cinnamon roll. The omelette was quite salty, however that has been consistent with all the other omelettes I’ve had in a United premium cabin so nothing different there.
Soon after we were on our final approach into Taipei’s Taoyuan International Airport, and we landed too soon in my opinion, since I wanted to stay in that Polaris suite for a few more hours.
In conclusion, I think the flight was fantastic, and the legitimate “Polaris Experience” with the actual Polaris seats and all the amenities give both domestic and foreign airlines a run for their money in intercontinental Business Class. I will have to fly American’s new Business Class seat(s) and Delta’s new Delta One Business Class soon to compare them to United’s soft and hard products.
Stay tuned, as I’ll be publishing the continuation of this trip in another post, here.
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As always, remember to keep living life one trip at a time!
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