United Airlines, Polaris Business Class
THE FLIGHT: Flight UA26 from Heathrow to Denver departed about 40 minutes after its scheduled departure of 11.25 but arrived on time at 14.15. The aircraft was a Boeing 787 Dreamliner.
PRE-BOARDING: There was virtually no queue in Terminal 2 and I had my bag weighed and ticket presented with advice on how to take the fast track through security in about five minutes. I didn’t use the lounge this time but it’s located very close to the gate and I know from experience it offers a good variety of food and seating – private and social; lounge-style and business-like.
THE SERVICE: The staff were very attentive, full of character and entertaining as well as helpful. I was presented with a tin-style amenity kit which had socks, earplugs, a brilliant light-blocking neoprene eye mask (and I’m a connoisseur of eye masks), Cowshed beauty products like lip balm and hand cream, and a mini toothpaste with brush. The bedding included a large fluffy pillow and the signature Saks Fifth Avenue-branded textiles – a soft blanket and a thick quilt. Hot towels were handed out before a drinks service and then the three-course meal including chicken, rice and asparagus. The best course was the dessert, which offered a choice of the signature sundae – bespoke-made in front of you – or a choice from the stylish cake stand which added a little ceremony to the meal.
THE SEAT: Seats were arranged in a 2-2-2 configuration and I had a side aisle seat, so my neighbouring passenger had to climb over me to get out. The seat controls are simple to use and converted the seat into a very comfortable flatbed or a reclining chair with soft footrest. Storage is a little lacking, with no obvious place to put a laptop and the cup holder somewhat awkwardly placed behind and above. The touchscreen TV came with padded noise-cancelling headphones and a great choice of movies and TV programmes.
THE VERDICT: The image above is of the new Polaris cabin currently being rolled out and should address some of the niggles I experienced, as well as adding aesthetically pleasing points like softer lighting. The service was excellent but the food a little disappointing – but much better on the return flight.
THE DETAILS: United Airlines flies its daily seasonal service from Heathrow to Denver until October. Fares in July start from £2,924.41 in United Polaris. For full fare details see: united.com
Reviewed by Laura Gelder (2018)