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[Rumor] More Polaris "Enhancements" coming May 1, 2018? ...

[Rumor] More Polaris "Enhancements" coming May 1, 2018? ...

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Old May 23, 18, 11:24 pm   -   Wikipost
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Originally Posted by EWR764 View Post
Word is out on another site (not my post) regarding a company memo about the May 1 "enhancements".

POLARIS SERVICE ENHANCEMENTS
Frequently Asked Questions

1. When do the service updates go into effect?
A: The service updates are effective May 1, 2018, on all long-haul international flights.

2. Why are we making changes to our United Polaris® service?
A: Customers have positively received our United Polaris lounge, and this year we are opening more United Polaris lounges beginning this summer in San Francisco, Houston and New York/Newark and in the fall, Los Angeles. As we continue to add more lounges, we want to take into account the feedback that customers have given us — they’ve emphasized their desire to rest and relax during their journey, especially onboard. The updates to the service flow will allow us to continue providing a premium product with high-quality food, wine, amenities and more, but it’ll be delivered in a more efficient way.

3. What is the new international United Polaris meal service flow?
A: The meal service flow for both first and business class will be the same:
Pre-departure
• Pre-poured sparkling wine, orange juice and water offered from a silver tray, with other beverages available upon request.
Main meal service
• Hot towels
• Linen placement
• Pre-meal beverage cart
• Appetizer and salad cart
• Bread and beverage refills
• Entrées
• Bread and beverage refills
• Dessert and pre-plated cheese cart
• Individual water bottles with hang tags
Mid-flight service (when applicable)
• Display mid-flight snacks on console, self-service unit, fold-down trays or galley countertop.
• Heat and serve hot on-demand items (when applicable) upon customer request.
Pre-arrival service
• Hot towels
• Pre-arrival tray setup with entrée and choice of beverage
• Breads and pastries

4. Will we be able to offer other pre-departure beverages?
A: Yes, upon customer request fulfill other pre-departure beverages in accordance with each departure country’s pre-departure liquor procedures. Refer to the Flight Attendant Policies and Procedures Manual to determine if you are allowed to open beverage carts/carriers that contain alcohol on the ground.

5. Is there still a chocolate offered during pre-departure?
A: Pre-departure chocolates/dessert will be catered on the pre-arrival tray instead for customers to enjoy during or after their flight.

6. What’s changing with the Bloody Mary and wine specialty beverage carts?
A: Wines and Bloody Marys will continue to be available upon request, but the dedicated cart service will change. This was a common flight attendant suggestion for improvement. A new branded cart cover is being sourced to improve presentation in the aisle and will be available shortly after launch.

7. Can we still offer wine tastings?
A: Absolutely. Although the wine arches with the 3 tastings will not be boarded, we can continue to honor customers’ requests to sample select wines.

8. What about the United Polaris first class soup and salad course?
A: The salad and appetizer will be delivered at the same time on a tray setup, instead of having a soup course.

9. What about the turndown service?
A: We will continue to offer the turndown service upon request.

10. Will Express Dining continue to be offered?
A: Yes, Express Dining will continue to be offered and can be requested and delivered at any point during the flight.

11. Will we continue to offer the mini desserts and fruit and cheese?
A: The mini desserts will continue to be offered from the three-tier cart with the signature ice cream service. In addition, pre-plated cheese will be added to the dessert cart. To make room for the fruit and cheese on the dessert cart, the specialty tea box will be removed from the cart, although specialty teas will continue to be available from the galley.

12. Are there any updates to the mid-flight and pre-arrival services?
A: There will be a few updates to both the mid-flight and pre-arrival service.
Mid-flight service (when available) – While we’ll no longer have formal presentation of mid-flight snacks, snack provisioning levels will remain the same and will continue to be displayed near the galley as is done today. Hang tags advising the customers that mid-flight snacks are available will be added to the individual bottle waters distributed after the main meal service. Hot snack items, when available, will also be delivered upon request.
Pre-arrival service – We’re removing tray table linens to reduce trips through the aisle. The tray itself will continue to have a linen liner. The pre-departure chocolate/dessert will be catered on the pre-arrival tray for customers to enjoy during or after the flight.

13. Will there be any new service items introduced to support the new United Polaris service?
A: Yes, there are a few new elements that will be introduced, including:
Cart covers – Similar to some of our competitors, branded cart covers for both the half and full carts will be boarded for use in the aisle on both the beverage and meal tray carts. Cart covers will be available shortly after launch.
Hang tags – To be placed on individual bottle waters at the end of the main meal service to advise customers that mid-flight snacks are available.

14. Will we be changing the domestic meal service procedures to align with the new United Polaris service (e.g. pre-poured pre-departure beverages)?
A: We will continue listening to the feedback of our customers and our flight attendants and will adjust our processes where necessary to deliver the best service for our customers.
Some key points:

- Return of the salad/appetizer cart, although I suspect it's just going to be the meal cart with a fancy cover, to reduce the number of galley trips with hand-run trays
- Beverage carts coming back to the aisle (similar to DL and the former 3-cabin sUA business class service) with branded cart covers
- Soup is gone in Polaris First (so no more differentiation; the product isn't expected to last the full year, anyway)
- Wine tasting arches are gone
- No bloody mary carts (already announced)
- Hot bites will stay
- Bread refills to be offered (return of the bread basket?)
- Pre-departure chocolates returned to the pre-arrival tray

In many ways, this is going to look like the former three-cabin BusinessFirst service with nicer linens and serviceware. Overall, not the sweeping change (or depth of cuts) I was expecting. No word on provisioning of the other items (gel pillows, mattress pads, slippers, PJs, etc.)
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Old Feb 10, 18, 9:21 pm
  #196  
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
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I couldn't care less about the Bloody Marys (which I don't drink) or the mid flight snacks (which I don't eat either). Mimosas, well that's just orange juice with sparkling wine and I'm sure they will keep offering those. I've flown US SYD-US for many years in C and I'm quite happy with the general direction it's going. For Polaris, I like the 787s, mattress pads, gel pillow and PJs. I'm pleased the ice cream is back after the glass incident.

I haven't seen it yet, but I'm excited about the 1-2-1 layout. The should be a huge improvement.
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Old Feb 10, 18, 9:55 pm
  #197  
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Originally Posted by BeanTownBoy View Post
Since I have benefitted from FT over the years, I will share my thoughts to approaching Polaris (with a nod to Seneca and Marcus Aurelius) with the hope that it may benefit fellow FT'ers (or that you might be able to add your own thoughts). Let me emphasize that I have no idea of what was discussed at the UAL C-suite or boardroom (like whomever thought 2-4-2 dorm-style seating was ever acceptable, or likewise the Polaris PDB plastic champagne “flutes”). My own understanding is that Polaris was part of the UAL's decision to become a two-class carrier (I am sad to see GF go). Hence, UA consciously made the decision to cede the first class (and therefore, higher-end) market and provide the best (or at least a competitive) business class. Also, being based in Houston I have yet to experience the Polaris hard product.

Eighteen months after Polaris was introduced, we have an idea of Polaris is and isn't. Approaching a flight, I try to consider what is in my control and what is in UA’s. In my control: when and what I eat; and if I want to work, sleep, or be entertained on board. In UA’s control: what is served on board; IFE; FA’s attitude; condition of plane. Out of everyone’s control: weather. WRT Polaris, did UA overhype what was come? IMHO, yes. In the press release announcing Polaris, Oscar said “…United Polaris offers an elevated customer experience and redefines the meaning of premier business travel.” Hmmm…. Similarly, in October of this year Delta announced an upgrade of their international long haul main cabin dining, stating “Our goal is to truly recreate the experience our customers would have at their favorite restaurant at 30,000 feet, taking into account what menu items naturally complement one another, the service behind the offerings and the overall presentation.” Really?? For coach? A touch of hyperbole maybe?

Ok, so with respect to UA, what do I do? I don’t expect a high-end “restaurant-quality” meal (although some are surprisingly tasty). Forget real caviar or prime rib from a trolley carved at your seat. Yes, yes, I know: you are paying a lot of money, how hard could it be? Even US carriers used to cook breakfast to order in first class on certain international long haul routes years ago. I don’t know, but I do think that high-quality, high-touch service for a 50 passenger cabin is a tall order. If at all possible, I try to get a good meal in before the flight. Maybe I bring my own snack. It’s a shame since post-9/11 that one cannot get their favorite drink through security (I know, I know, you were never supposedly able to bring your own drinks, but pre-9/11 it was possible and most crews did not care if you were discrete). For pre-departure lounges, in IAH I skip the very crowded UC in Terminal E in favor of the C1 UC (even if flying from Terminal E). If it is a morning flight and I want to spend a significant portion of the flight sleeping, I make sure I either stay up very late the night before or get up very early and exercise. On the chance that there are problems with IFE or wifi, I make sure my computer, phone and ipod are charged up, that I have at least one good book on my phone and maybe even a hard copy book. Fortunately, I am only 5’11”, so I am able to sleep on UA C. I ask for a gel foam pillow; if they forget or blow me off, I try to notice the overhead where they are stored and grab one myself once things settle down after takeoff. I skip the pajamas and wear a golf shirt and comfortable trousers instead. I have not been enticed by the pre-arrival “snacks” (especially breakfasts), so if I am hungry I either pick at what’s served or order express dining for later in the flight. (I truly hope the Polaris lounges will offer worthwhile meals that allow one to skip eating on board.) Again, I remind myself that this is business class, not first.

At the end of the day, what do I expect?: minimal delays (and if so being told why we are delayed—good UA experimental program in progress), a safe flight, and a comfortable lie-flat seat. Direct aisle access for every seat should be a huge improvement. Attitude of the crew is the variable that can change an ordinary flight (even one with a few flaws) into a great one and UA has some very special FA’s. It’s international travel, so sh*t happens; I find the mutuality of smiles, empathy, respect, grace and a sense of humor go a long way!

What are your Polaris work-arounds?
I don’t see why after I’ve paid many thousands of dollars I should eat before boarding and pack a snack in case the meals are inedible. Not “not to my taste” but inedible. And what’s this “what do you expect, it isn’t first” excuse. You do realize that first is down for the count?

All I want is a reasonable experience served by a non-surly crew that in some way matches the marketing hype. UA has a long way to go.
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Old Feb 10, 18, 10:30 pm
  #198  
 
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My first Polaris experience was on May 2017, SFO-SYD. PDB champagne glasses were weirdly shaped - I wouldn't mind these being eliminated. I loved the chocolates handed out at the beginning and end of the flight. Also appreciated the wine tasting (I tried 3 red wines poured in small glasses), though I limit alcohol consumption on flights. I think having all wine bottles on the cart is helpful for passengers to know what is available - sometimes certain wines run out. I skip the mid-flight snacks, so hot bites changes wouldn't affect me. Mattress, pillow, and blanket were comfortable. The 787 lie flat seat is solid, and good for sleeping with the main issue being they shake when someone walks by or the person next to me moves.

For long haul flights in business, I'm good with a lie flat seat, ample storage space, aisle access, friendly crew, and edible food.
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Old Feb 11, 18, 5:24 am
  #199  
 
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On a recent SYD-LAX flight, there were two red wines and two white wines in the printed menu. When I asked for tasting, there was a third red wine. So, I am happy with the choice of wines. So, there was no "enhancement" as far as wine tasting was concerned. I did not taste wines on LAX-SYD flight because I went to sleep immediately. I had an "executive dinner" as a midflight snack and had a breakfast three hours later.
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Old Feb 11, 18, 6:49 am
  #200  
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I think we should not mix with personal preference/expectation/tolerance vs UA's competitiveness.

It is fine if one prefers not to drink wines, expects to eat less food during flight or have lower threshold for inadequate services. At the end of day, if a person is satisfied with UA's Polaris offerings based on the $/miles/upgrades paid, then that person should be happy to continue to fly United Polaris.

However, if UA would like to be competitive among its closest competitors on in-flight product and services offerings, the enhancement just won't cut it. UA will continue to struggle to build a corporate customer base without offering deeper corporate discount. In order to meet Wall Street profit expectation, UA will resort to more cost cutting in the future instead invest to improve on-board product and services offering to provide a better customer experience in terms to attract new customers and retain high margin customers to improve its bottom line.
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Old Feb 11, 18, 7:26 am
  #201  
 
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Originally Posted by milepig View Post
I don’t see why after I’ve paid many thousands of dollars I should eat before boarding and pack a snack in case the meals are inedible. Not “not to my taste” but inedible. And what’s this “what do you expect, it isn’t first” excuse. You do realize that first is down for the count?

All I want is a reasonable experience served by a non-surly crew that in some way matches the marketing hype. UA has a long way to go.
I don't disagree with your bottom line (or that of Austin787): both of your general sentiments are much more concise than mine. The gist of my post is how do I personally manage my expectations and optimize my experience (and minimize my frustration) given what I have to work with. With respect to F, my observation is that is where most carriers put their customization and discretionary money for a distinctive experience--UA has left that market. The C cabin experience runs the spectrum across the industry. I am not making excuses for anyone.

Last edited by BeanTownBoy; Feb 11, 18 at 7:50 am
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Old Feb 11, 18, 7:38 am
  #202  
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Originally Posted by BeanTownBoy View Post
I don't disagree with your bottom line (or that of Austin787): both of your general sentiments are much more concise with mine. The gist of my post is how do I personally manage my expectations and optimize my experience (and minimize my frustration) given what I have to work with. With respect to F, my observation is that is where most carriers put their customization and discretionary money for a distinctive experience--UA has left that market. The C cabin experience runs the spectrum across the industry. I am not making excuses for anyone.
Correct. But right now, UA is charging the same price as others for on board service that is clearly on low side of the industry spectrum. I've flown BA, SK, OS and LH C class over the last 18 months, and with the exception of the first month of Polaris soft product after roll-out, UA's product fares poorly in comparison to others.

UA might want to update their Polaris marketing at http://view.ceros.com/united/polaris-business-class/p/1
​​​​​​
On morning flights, choose a sweet and bubbly Mimosa, or create your own savory and spicy Tito's® Vodka Bloody Mary
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Old Feb 11, 18, 7:55 am
  #203  
 
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Originally Posted by Kmxu View Post
On a recent SYD-LAX flight, there were two red wines and two white wines in the printed menu. When I asked for tasting, there was a third red wine. So, I am happy with the choice of wines.
This is how all of my recent flights have been. And yes, the two printed in the menu have consistently been available onboard as advertised.
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Old Feb 11, 18, 8:37 am
  #204  
 
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Originally Posted by halls120 View Post
Correct. But right now, UA is charging the same price as others for on board service that is clearly on low side of the industry spectrum. I've flown BA, SK, OS and LH C class over the last 18 months, and with the exception of the first month of Polaris soft product after roll-out, UA's product fares poorly in comparison to others.​​​​​​
Exactly but we should know the US airline industry well enough to know not to expect too much Even if Management provides the best cabin, amenities and food, the service still can't be top notch. Most FAs working for US carriers just don't perform to that level of service. So, it is a no-win situation.
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Old Feb 11, 18, 8:50 am
  #205  
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Originally Posted by username View Post
Exactly but we should know the US airline industry well enough to know not to expect too much Even if Management provides the best cabin, amenities and food, the service still can't be top notch. Most FAs working for US carriers just don't perform to that level of service. So, it is a no-win situation.
That's because US airlines don't care enough to properly train their crews, offer recurrent training, and strict policies on compliance - and take remedial or punitive action against non-compliant staff. Mess up a couple times on ANA, JAL or CX - you're out the door - mess up hundreds of times on UA/DL/AA across decades of service? No problem.

The issue starts from the top, because management allows this culture to fester, so we're left with the majority of FA's being either "nothing to complain about" or "horrific", with only a select few that we find so amazing that we need to praise them.

Praiseworthy service should be the standard, not the exception - and I guarantee that if some of these lazy, rude, nasty FAs were shown the door, there would be a line of 100+ applicants waiting to fill each and every vacancy.

Since when did the US airline industry promise employment-for-life?
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Old Feb 11, 18, 9:12 am
  #206  
 
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To me, what it boils down to is the old axiom, "You have to spend money to make money". UA seemed to 'get' it when they first rolled out Polaris, but ever since Kirby has come on-board, it has been the exact opposite, Smisek-like mentality of cut first, ask questions later.
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Old Feb 11, 18, 11:31 am
  #207  
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I’m on UA954. We’ve just had breakfast, so Tel Aviv is 40 minutes away. We’ve just been told that we have to remain seated for the last 30 minutes if the flight. I’m curious to experience the security in Israel, so I guess it has started.

In terms of “enhancements,” I have no news to report. Service was fine; hot bites were available. I slept for 9 hours, so missed them. I took a bunch of photos. I’ll try to upload them.

If if I had one minor gripe, they need more FAs working up front. The crew we had was excellent, in. Instant hustle mode, very caring, but they honestly needed one more person. The B764s, ex Continental, have the same issue. I prefer the B752s: I get the best service on those aging birds. I’ll miss them when the B797 finally arrives.

So in summary, I saw no evidence for the rumored service enhancement adjustments.





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Old Feb 11, 18, 1:26 pm
  #208  
 
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united .. too bad i have no choice because it was the airline that got us the lifetime status.

Midnight snack from SFO - TPE/HKG is definitely better than the horrible breakfast.

Last edited by WineCountryUA; Feb 12, 18 at 12:05 am Reason: Using symbols, spaces or other methods to mask vulgarities is not allowed.
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Old Feb 11, 18, 1:38 pm
  #209  
 
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Originally Posted by hockeyinsider View Post
This is just not true, at least when it comes to the new Polaris seats and not the old United business-class seats rebranded as Polaris, despite not being new. Emirates and Turkish do not have direct-aisle access seats in business-class. Emirates even has middle business-class seats!
The PMCO BusinessFirst seats that seem to be spreading elsewhere in the fleet might be what he's referring to, and having just had a crunched night in one of those I would agree they're not state of the art.
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Old Feb 11, 18, 2:08 pm
  #210  
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Originally Posted by petrogradian View Post
The PMCO BusinessFirst seats that seem to be spreading elsewhere in the fleet might be what he's referring to, and having just had a crunched night in one of those I would agree they're not state of the art.
The pmCO seats are great if you aren't going to sleep. If you are, the pmUA IPTE are far more comfortable, but they come with the handicap of no storage space.
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