If you’ve been eagerly awaiting a chance to try out United’s much-hyped Polaris business class on one of its new 777-300ERs, you might have to wait a bit longer than you expected.
The deployment of the new aircraft with the new front-cabin product is being held up by a supply-chain bottleneck – specifically, the failure of a European manufacturer to deliver the new Polaris seats on schedule.
United just put the new aircraft into service on its popular San Francisco-Hong Kong route, replacing a 747-400, and is due to start flying it May 5 on one of its two daily Newark-Tel Aviv flights (presumably using the aircraft that is currently flying between Newark and San Francisco).
Beyond that we haven’t seen specific route assignments for the new planes yet, although it is speculated that United would use them mainly on transpacific routes starting this summer. United has ordered 14 new 777-300ERs with the Polaris cabins.
Last week, an aircraft-tracking website said that United has temporarily put two newly delivered 777-300ERs into storage pending delivery of new Polaris seats. United officials confirmed that two aircraft are facing “short delays” in deployment due to the seats issue.
The problem is with Zodiac Aerospace, a seat-maker based in France that has run into production delays at its plant in Wales. Last year, American Airlines had a similar problem with Zodiac, which was providing business class seats for AA’s new 787-9s. That prompted American to drop Zodiac and switch to another supplier, B/E Aerospace. Zodiac seat delays are also said to be affecting Airbus’ new A350 wide-bodies.
United’s marketing team has done a great job building up anticipation about the new Polaris business class. The company has been rolling out on its existing long-haul fleet the in-flight services and amenities that are part of the Polaris experience, and has started opening special Polaris lounges in key airports. But the full experience depends on the flat-bed seat-pods, and international business travelers could now face a longer-than-expected wait to try those out.