However, these aircraft are now not just getting new business class products. Earlier this year, United confirmed it would be launching premium economy for the first time, named Premium Plus, which is set to be retrofitted to the airline’s fleet alongside Polaris.
“The timeframe for premium economy will be the same as the Polaris retrofits,” added Dias. “The aircraft that are just going into the system now will start getting the premium economy hardware as part of the retrofit.
“These aircraft are being completely renovated inside – it’s not just Polaris. We were going to redo economy anyway, so it’s going to have all-new seats, sidewalls and completely renovated interiors.”
Based on this timeframe, Dias notes the first aircraft to roll out with the new Premium Plus seats likely will be a mixture of the B767s and B777-200ERs. As for the B777-300ERs already operating with the Polaris seats, these likely will begin being upgraded with Premium Plus seats in the third year of the retrofit.
Hong Kong was the first city to see the new Polaris business class product, which the airline rolled out in December 2016. Business Traveller flew on the first flight out of Hong Kong with the new Polaris-equipped B777-300ER (read the review here).
Hong Kong is also one of just two destinations in Asia to have a United Club Lounge – Tokyo’s Narita Airport also has one. These too are set for an upgrade.
“We’re in the process of refreshing and redesigning [the United Club Lounges] based on the feedback from our customers, throughout the US domestic system as well as some other locations around the world.”
Dias also hinted at the possibility of the Hong Kong lounge getting a separate Polaris space within the existing lounge that would be available just for passengers flying the airline’s Polaris product.
San Francisco is a key hub for United, particularly in connecting the US with the Asia-Pacific region. Many of the airline’s Polaris-equipped Boeing 777-300ER aircraft operating out of SFO are currently deployed on Asia-Pacific routes, including to Hong Kong, Tokyo (Narita), Taipei, Beijing and Auckland.
The aircraft also flies between San Francisco and Frankfurt, as well as between New York (Newark) and Tel Aviv and Tokyo (Narita).