Flight Review: United Airlines Polaris SFO to TPE
We've been flying United extensively over the last year and reached 1K status. With that, you receive 6 Global Upgrades, golden tickets to move certain fare classes from Economy to Business class. We used them on the14-hour flight to Taipei, in part because Ravi T. wanted his final chance to sit upstairs on one of United's last 747s from San Francisco. Our net spend each was $590 each, where we were immediately able to confirm ourselves in business class upon booking.
We began with our choice of champagne and a chocolate truffle as a pre-takeoff treat. It was followed with warm nuts and a wine flight after takeoff, as there clearly isn't any other way to begin a 14 hour flight. Sobriety is for braver souls that us. Dinner began with an appetizer plate, and your choice of three main courses. But dessert was the stand-out. The build your own sundae cart rolled down the aisle, clinking with little dishes that held the sort of toppings that reduces one to a child in a candy shop, albeit a slight buzzed child. Safe to say both of us entered a food coma thereafter.
The seat, which lays fully flat, was really comfortable especially with the incredibly soft Saks Fifth Avenue bedding and pillows in two sizes. The experience sitting upstairs in a small cabin (4 seats across and around 10 rows) on a 747 across the Pacific was also magical--it felt like a tiny cocoon on top of the world. Keep in mind that many United planes have a 2-4-2 configuration in Business Class which is can be less than ideal, so we advise you to always check on SeatGuru.
About an hour before landing, breakfast was served, which included a choice of a "Southwestern Omlette" and "Chinese Congee", both served with fresh fruit, yogurt and a croissant. The congee was outstanding, and came with a series of toppings that really added to the authenticity.
The service, while good, does not compare to Asian carriers like Singapore or even EVA Airlines. The attention to detail and thoughtfulness felt lacking from United. For example, Sari T. who is 5 feet tall asked for pajamas and was given an XL which she was swimming in. Also, we ordered a tomato soup which showed on the menu as being served with a grilled cheese sandwich. When it was delivered only the soup came out. Obviously this a first world problem, but for those paying over $3,000 on a ticket, it might be frustrating.
Tsunami Says: We would highly recommend Polaris on a flight across any ocean on miles or with upgrades, but doubt it is worth paying outright on your own dime. The dining options are solid, and the seat was really comfortable, but the service was mediocre as usual on American carriers.