Polaris, as any astronomy buff can tell you, is the North Star. Navigators have used it to guide their journeys since the dawn of human travel. And now, international travelers who fly on United Airlines can use United Polaris to navigate their passage in true first-class comfort.
United Polaris is a new luxury seat that the airline calls “a reinvention of our international premium cabin travel experience, offering elevated comfort and service from lounge to landing for a restful night’s sleep in the air.” The airline focused on providing its international travelers with a feature they consistently asked for: better sleep while in flight.
United launched its United Polaris service on December 1, 2016. United Polaris business-class service replaced United BusinessFirst service, and United Polaris first-class service replaced United Global First on all international flights and all international aircraft. The new United Polaris seat is now on some aircraft and will be added to the rest of the existing fleet over the next few years.
The company says its goal is to transform its international business-class experience to provide customers with best-in-class comfort and sleep and “to put the legacy of the weary business traveler to rest.” Through the focus on in-flight rest, United Polaris brings higher quality to many aspects of premium cabin travel. The changes are based on years of customer feedback on everything from seat design to dining options.
In fact, hundreds of customers and employees were involved in more than 12,000 hours of research. Focus groups and on-the-ground and in-flight product simulations tested a wide variety of product and service offerings, including overnight sleep tests for new seats, with feedback indicating what customers liked and didn’t like.
As a result of analyzing customer feedback, the United Polaris cabins now feature forward-facing, direct-aisle-access seats that recline flat, providing sleeping spaces that are up to 6-and-a-half feet long and up to 23 inches wide. When two seats are next to each other, a powered privacy divider can separate passengers. An illuminated “do not disturb” sign signals to flight attendants that a passenger prefers not to be awakened. But that’s not all that’s new.
United also worked with the luxury goods department store Saks Fifth Avenue to create custom bedding designed for air travel. Passengers can choose from two different blankets—a quilted duvet and a lighter throw blanket—to better control temperature, and passengers also have the option to request mattress cushions. And a cooling gel memory-foam pillow, instead of (or in addition to) the Saks Fifth Avenue pillows, is also available for those who get too warm when they sleep.
Several dining options allow passengers to choose the right time and pace for their meal. For example, they can choose a seated meal in the United Polaris lounge before the flight so they can go right to sleep in the air, or they can choose the Express Dining service and receive a single tray with the full meal all at once, at any time during the flight. There are also self-serve snacks and beverages available any time.
Other amenities include slippers, sleep mist and skin-care items from Soho House’s Cowshed Spa, ear plugs, and an ergonomic eye mask to block out ambient distractions. On flights longer than 12 hours, 100 percent cotton pajamas are available upon request.
Back on the ground, the United Polaris Lounges will feature the pre-flight dining option, which includes a menu developed by award-winning chef Art Smith, an extensive buffet with hot and cold selections, and table service. Beverage options include specially curated wines, premium spirits, craft brews, and handcrafted cocktails designed by mixologist Adam Seger. Passengers can freshen up in the lounge’s spa-like shower facilities that feature Cowshed products. There is even a private area with daybeds, soft lighting, and gentle white noise to help travelers relax and prepare for a restful flight.
Lastly, SCB, an architecture, interior design, and planning firm with a long-standing relationship with United Airlines, is the design partner for the new lounges. The primary design objective, the company says, was “to generate a sense of continuity between the on-board cabin environment and the lounge experience.” SCB’s team thought carefully about spatial planning, creating different zones within the 12,000-square-foot lounge that “celebrate the excitement of travel” by choosing specific materials, lighting, and art. This idea is demonstrated in the airline’s lounge. The ceiling of the lounge’s reception area features a sparkling, celestial sculpture by Wolfgang Buttress and commissioned artwork references the Polaris star brand. It is also inspired by a map of Chicago because the flagship location and the first United Polaris lounge opened at Chicago O’Hare International Airport. Eight additional lounges will open at Houston Intercontinental, Los Angeles International, New York/Newark, San Francisco, Washington Dulles, Hong Kong, London Heathrow, and Tokyo Narita over the next few years.
SCB is a proud architectural design partner to United Airlines, sharing in their commitment to deliver an exceptional passenger experience at airports around the globe. The talented teams that Brian has assembled have yielded exceptional results, raising the bar for innovation in aviation design.
Holt Construction congratulates Brian DeLaura’s recognition by American Builders Quarterly. Holt is a full service Construction Management, General Contracting & Design-Build firm, servicing NY, NJ, PA, MA & TX within Corporate Interiors, Aviation, Food/Beverage, Retail, Education, Healthcare, Life Sciences, Commercial, Entertainment, Hospitality & Mission Critical markets for over 98 years.
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