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