Aircraft

Beyond first class: United adding fold-out beds and other luxuries to select flights

Beyond first class: United add...
The "herring-line" cabin configuration mixes in-line seats with angled seats
The "herring-line" cabin configuration mixes in-line seats with angled seats
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The "herring-line" cabin configuration mixes in-line seats with angled seats
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The "herring-line" cabin configuration mixes in-line seats with angled seats
The seats are designed to make efficient use of space while ensuring every passenger has direct access to the aisle
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The seats are designed to make efficient use of space while ensuring every passenger has direct access to the aisle
There is both ambient lighting and a reading light for passengers
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There is both ambient lighting and a reading light for passengers
The is a large table or worktop for passengers
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The is a large table or worktop for passengers
The seats fold out to become a 6.5-ft (198-cm) bed
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The seats fold out to become a 6.5-ft (198-cm) bed
The seats also boast integrated storage space with a latching door, a hook on which to hang headphones and a mirror
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The seats also boast integrated storage space with a latching door, a hook on which to hang headphones and a mirror
The welcome area in the plane has also been redesigned
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The welcome area in the plane has also been redesigned
The design will be rolled out to United's fleet of B787s, A350s and B777s
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The design will be rolled out to United's fleet of B787s, A350s and B777s
The cabin has a walk-up bar for mid-flight snacks
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The cabin has a walk-up bar for mid-flight snacks
The new design also covers cabin furniture, branding elements, tableware, linen, trims and finishes
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The new design also covers cabin furniture, branding elements, tableware, linen, trims and finishes
The design also includes a new lounge area for passengers
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The design also includes a new lounge area for passengers
Bespoke lounge seating with high sides provides privacy, as well as storage for coats and bags, pull out tables with integrated tablet holders and charging points
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Bespoke lounge seating with high sides provides privacy, as well as storage for coats and bags, pull out tables with integrated tablet holders and charging points
The lounge is zoned in such a way as to have the most active areas close to the entrance and the quieter, more restful areas further into the lounge
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The lounge is zoned in such a way as to have the most active areas close to the entrance and the quieter, more restful areas further into the lounge
The lounge has a buffet and bar
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The lounge has a buffet and bar

The next time you're on a flight, packed like a sardine in a long metal tube, you may find yourself fantasizing about this. Business class passengers flying with United Airlines will soon be able to enjoy a newly spruced-up experience in not just the aircraft cabin, but the airport lounge too. The United Polaris premium lounge and cabin are aimed at providing serene environments to leave passengers feeling well rested. Put another way, it sounds like a dream come true.

The United Polaris concept was created by design consultancy PriestmanGoode, which also designed luxurious first and business class cabins for SwissAir. The firm's work with United Airlines, however, is more holistic in its approach, taking into account pre-flight waiting time. It's an end-to-end luxurious flight experience that most modern travelers have never experienced.

Once passengers are checked in, they will be able to make use of the lounge, which PriestmanGoode says is designed around the way that passengers really use them. To begin, it is zoned in such a way as to have the most active areas close to the entrance, followed by the buffet and bar and then the quieter, more restful areas farther into the lounge. The idea is to keep like-minded passengers in their own areas – allowing those who just want some shut-eye to relax in their own area.

Seating with high sides provides privacy, as well as storage for coats and bags, pull-out tables with integrated tablet holders and charging points. The lounge will even have sleep pods so that passengers can rest before flights.

Bespoke lounge seating with high sides provides privacy, as well as storage for coats and bags, pull out tables with integrated tablet holders and charging points
Bespoke lounge seating with high sides provides privacy, as well as storage for coats and bags, pull out tables with integrated tablet holders and charging points

As for aircraft cabin itself, it uses an entirely new seat for business class passengers, which was conceived by transport design firm Acumen. The "herring-line" cabin configuration mixes in-line seats with angled seats, to make efficient use of space while giving all passengers easy and direct access to the aisle.

Maybe the best part of it all: the airline seats fold out to become a 6.5-ft (198-cm) bed, with a "do not disturb" light that passengers can use if they want to sleep. They also boast integrated storage space with a latching door, a hook to hang headphones on, a mirror and a large table or worktop. There is ambient lighting and a reading light, both of which can be controlled from either a sitting or lying position.

The cabin also has a walk-up bar for mid-flight snacks.

The new design will be rolled out to United's fleet of B787s, A350s and B777s, and will be available to business class passengers on International flights from December. It sounds like quite the departure from first-class flying, much less coach.

The video below provides a look at the United Polaris premium lounge and cabin.

Sources: PriestmanGoode, Acumen


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6 comments
Einer
All this looks very cool and all, but whats the price for a ticket? Having an in-flight walk up snack bar can't be cheap, especially when airplane food is so expensive.
Terence Hawkes
As nice as this is, it will never happen because airlines will always go for maximizing income by putting in the densest possible seating arrangements they can get away with. The day I see this on Ryan Air will be the day I will happily take back everything I just said.
splatman
It will take a lot more than a furniture makeover to make a United lounge boast-worthy. Last time I was in one (LAX) it was more like a noisy sports bar, with a TV blaring away with a ball game and any drink other than Budwater charged for.
TomMariner
Finally getting back to the normal seats and amenities when the wide bodies first came out a few decades ago. But not quite -- everybody carried on garment bags that were gathered at the door as you entered. And the bar always had a host or hostess helping you while you listened to a live performance on the piano in the lounge. (No not First Class lounge -- lounge for everyone) There was rarely anyone in the middle seat and you didn't have to scramble for or pay for "extra leg room" because every seat had enough. I guess there was first class, but generally the folks stupid enough to shell out the extra bucks for essentially the same treatment were airline people on a pass.
JSR_Design
PriestmanGoode created the concept, But Zodiac Aerospace have designed, engineered and manufactured the seating. I think they should have been mentioned in the article. The seats are very compact, but if you can afford to travel business class this will make the trip a little better.
John Randolph
United has cattle class, and barely tolerable class. They don't offer a first class experience at any price. The only way I'll ever fly on UAL is if there is no other alternative for the route in question.