I always love trying new airline products. When the opportunity came up to fly the new Polaris First Class from United on the first leg of my trip to Vietnam, I jumped at the chance. At the saver award level, I redeemed 80,000 miles (plus $56) to fly United Polaris First Class from San Francisco to Seoul, and then Asiana Business Class from Seoul to Hanoi.
As you can see on my boarding pass, I chose seat 1A, right at the nose of the plane and with nobody in front of me. The seat was quite comfortable, with the amenities displayed on the seat waiting for me.
Pillows, blankets, and pajamas furnished by Saks Fifth Avenue for our usage:
The amenity kits were nice, and said “Global First” on them. However, once opened, aside from the word “first”, they were actually identical to what you get in the Polaris Business class:
I only ate once on the plane in an effort to try to regulate my eating to my new time zone. My one meal was a marinated teriyaki beef short rib with rice and vegetables. It was not top-notch restaurant quality, but certainly sufficient for an airplane.
The service from the staff, however, was outstanding. They were very attentive, as you’d expect flying in first class. They also left out bottles of wine and mini-bottles of hard liquor on an end-table in the front of the cabin for self-service.
The entertainment system was sufficient, with a few dozen movies and many more TV shows. The operating system was a bit slow and clunky, but got the job done to keep me entertained for much of the 11-hour flight. After two movies, a nap and the meal, I was in Korea before I knew it.
Overall I think the United Polaris First Class is the second-best product I’ve flown to date, with the ANA Dreamliner Business Class topping the list. In fairness, I have yet to fly any other international first class products, so it’s still a bit of a short list. All the same, as someone who feels that long-haul business/first class is the best redemption of miles, I felt this to be a great usage of 80,000 miles. The smaller cabin and top-notch service certainly seemed worth the small difference in miles over flying United business class.
Michael Prodanovich is a contributor to Point Me to the Plane, and author of The Ultimate Guide to Free Travel.