Review: UA SFO-HKG PolarisFirst

Date: Monday January 23
Flight: UA869
Aircraft: B747-400
Origin: SFO
Destination: HKG
Seat: 1K PolarisFirst
Scheduled Push Back: 1:30 PM
Actual Push Back: 1:47 PM

I previously flew United GlobalFirst on a 747 on a trip to Manila (via Tokyo). However, this is my first flight with the new United Polaris soft product. This flight is bitter sweet as the new Polaris seats are set to debut in March 2017 on this exact route. However, this may be my last opportunity to fly on a United 747. Originally the plan was to retire the 747 from the fleet in 2018, but that has now been accelerated to 2017.

I contemplated re-booking this flight from ORD just to experience the first Polaris Lounge, but figured I’d wait until the kinks were worked out and additional lounges were built. The SFO lounge is rumored to be larger as well.

I was one of the first to board so I can get pictures without looking like a security threat. I arrived at my seat and it had all the new Polaris bedding from Saks Fifth Avenue. This includes two pillows, and two blankets.

The seat is my favorite part of GlobalFirst. While the service can be better, the seat is large and comfortable. There is also tons of storage space. There is even a compartment you can fit a small backpack into.

I was offered a beverage and went for another diet coke to add on to all the ones I had in the United GlobalFirst lounge. The drink was served with a chocolate which is part of the new Polaris soft product.

I was presented with a menu outlining the service on today’s flight. The meal options are pretty standard across United even with the “updated menu offerings”.


I was also given the new Polaris amenity kit. The new amenity kits have much nicer items, including a nicer eye shade that don’t press into your face. However, the case it self looks like one of those old cases to hold CDs.

I requested pajamas and was given the size of “L/XL”. Another flight attendant mentioned they are pretty big and gave me the “S/M” size. The new addition of pajamas is nice, especially for this flight which is blocked at 14.5 hours (today’s flight is 13 hours 56 minutes).

Flight attendants came around for meal orders and I went with the short rib, which seemed like the best option.

We finally pushed back 17 minutes late, which makes me 1/10 with on time flights in 2017.

Meal Service

Shortly after takeoff flight attendants came out with the new Polaris wine tasting cart. You can choose three wines to taste and order a full glass with lunch. A cocktail snack was also served. This consisted of a typical mixed nuts bowl along with a mozzarella, tomato, and basil skewer.

After the wine service and cocktail snack were handed out, the appetizer was served. The appetizer was a black peeper tuna with quinoa salad.

The next course was a carrot ginger bisque which was pretty good.

A salad cart was then brought through the aisle. It was a cabbage salad with the option of Italian or ranch.

The main course of the beef short rib was then served. Normally these beef dishes are smothered in a gravy/sauce and today is no exception. The grits were so over buttered you can smell it coming down the aisle. All-in-all, this is airline food and was good enough.

This picture is a bit blurry. It seemed fine on my phone when I took it. However, when I opened it on my computer it look like I had one too many taking this photo.

A cheese and wine service was also offered, along with United’s traditional ice cream sundae cart and pastries. However, I passed on all that since I’m trying to do the healthy thing.

Main Meal Service Overview

The new Polaris offerings are nice. The main goal of the re-brand was all about sleep. Once the new hard product is out, that will be the real test. A few small things I noticed was there was no more bread basket with multiple types of bread. You got bread on your initial tray. The old days of GlobalFirst are gone as well. No more setting your tray table with silverware.


There was a few mid-flight food options available. On the cold side there was fruit, chips, and gummy bears to name a few. You can also order one a few hot items such as grilled cheese with tomato soup, ramen, and a beef and rice dish.

Along with the above options there was a self serve area which had some snacks and bottled water. Also near the galley was a self serve bar cart with soda, glasses, and ice. Many would think this is the flight crew being lazy and not providing service. However, I see the self serve option as an American culture thing. I don’t want to ring a call bell for a diet coke. I’m not on that level yet.

Arrival Service

Nothing better than a breakfast service for an 8:10 PM arrival! Orders were taken originally with lunch before takeoff. The options were cereal, omelette, and traditional Chinese breakfast. I went with the ceral and fruit.

Survey Says

While this wasn’t traditional GlobalFirst (no more sushi cart, or setting your tray with silverware), the seat is still great. It will be sad to see them go! It was also an experience to fly in the nose of the 747, especially before they are phased out.