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Why is there such as disconnect between PL and Polaris in-flight?

Why is there such as disconnect between PL and Polaris in-flight?

Old Mar 23, 19, 3:37 pm
  #16  
 
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Originally Posted by elitefreak View Post
So most people will agree that UA did an excellent job of creating an upscale experience with the advent of the Polaris Clubs. High end cocktails, wines, spirits. Nice food selection. Beautiful design. Outstanding service (at least in EWR).

And then you get on the plane . . .

"Champagne" (if they haven't run out) is a carbonated version of Two Buck Chuck
Wines (selected by a sommelier?) are a tempting selection of "Ya want white or red" - and that assumes that they don't run out.
Food service continues to degrade and shrink
In-flight snacks . . . maybe, if we bother to tell you. Maybe not. Don't spread the rumor about the "secret" grilled cheese and soup, please . . .
Service . . . you know how that goes most of the time (and how it is now worse)
Pajamas? If we remember to keep stock

The whole point of purchasing a business class ticket should be the in-flight experience. Why glitz up the lounge and continue to neglect/downgrade the primary component? Nobody is going to select UA over another carrier with much better IF experience, even if their lounge is not Polaris quality.

I just don't get it.
I agree with elitefreak. The experience needs to be consistent from the time you enter the airport until you jump in a taxi at your final destination. I disagree with the comments that the logistics are more difficult on the plane than in the lounge - yes, they are but that is no excuse. Full service is achievable as demonstrated by other airlines and even United/Continental in the past. I remember the days of food being "prepared" on the cart in the aisle. Beef being carved, vegetables being dished out etc. as opposed to a full plate just being presented. That's what first/ business class was like - so it can be done. Yes people want to sleep on planes, but some don't and having paid for the experience of business class should receive it. Let's stop thinking it is OK to downgrade business class service. IT IS NOT.
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Old Mar 23, 19, 4:16 pm
  #17  
 
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The problem with cutting in-flight figuring that people will eat and drink in the Polaris lounge is that it only works one direction of the trip. I flew CDG-SFO-SEA-SFO-CDG a couple weeks back. The food was terrible ex-CDG. In the prior 6 months I’ve flown long haul in business class on Air Canada, Air France, Delta, Lufthansa, South African, and United, as well as in economy on Emirates. United ex-CDG easily had the worst meal of meal of all of them. And it wasn’t just that I ordered wrong. Was traveling with family and between us we had one of everything on the menu and the verdict was unanimous. Wine selection was also terrible compared to competitors.

The Polaris lounge in SFO was quite nice. On the return, I figured I wouldn’t take my chances, and ate a full meal in the lounge to avoid the crap onboard for the main meal service. Had the pre-arrival breakfast on approach to CDG and it was bad too.
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Old Mar 23, 19, 4:36 pm
  #18  
 
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Originally Posted by elitefreak View Post
The whole point of purchasing a business class ticket should be the in-flight experience. Why glitz up the lounge and continue to neglect/downgrade the primary component? Nobody is going to select UA over another carrier with much better IF experience, even if their lounge is not Polaris quality.
I agree with a few posters upthread who see the hard product as more important for the inflight experience. If the flight delivered me to and from my destination on-time and well-rested, I would be satisfied and would not have cared about the food and wine onboard.

But I agree with you about the downgrades in inflight service. It is nowhere like the promise that UA kickstarted Polaris with back in 2016. But I never bought into the marketing folks to believe that UA could sustain things like the "wine flight" for any amount of time.
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Old Mar 23, 19, 4:49 pm
  #19  
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The trend lately has been to cut CASM as much as possible. Cuts were made in many different departments for this.

You can't vigorously cut CASM (by cutting or changing: FA mid galley position, wines, admin staff, liquors, bedding, provisioning, etc) and simultaneously keep luxury onboard.

Also, for better or worse, this industry revolves around seniority on-board. Sometimes that leads to great, experienced, professional, and relaxed crews. Sometimes, it doesn't.
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Old Mar 23, 19, 4:50 pm
  #20  
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There's really not much of a difference if you're talking about SFO Polaris Lounge. In both cases (lounge and in-flight), the hard product is solid, while the soft product (particularly the food) underwhelms.

From my perspective, the overall Polaris package - while not market-leading - remains an attractive, reasonably competitive product. I do value the seat above all else. That's why I'll fly UA, CX, or BR over SQ, despite SQ's substantially superior meal service. I just don't SQ's seat (especially not the 350).
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Old Mar 23, 19, 5:19 pm
  #21  
 
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Count me in the camp that doesn't care much about wine, food, "luxury", or how the FA talks to me. It's all about the seat for me. And UA is fine for that, and getting better.
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Old Mar 23, 19, 5:46 pm
  #22  
 
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Iíve mentioned this in another thread, but the airline has made a conscious choice to invest in things it can capitalize on the balance sheet (seats, aircraft, lounges, app development, branding) versus operating expenses (all staffing costs, fuel, food, beverages, etc) . This drives overall income and allows them to exceed analyst/investor targets. Basically, they are trimming every operating expense possible to the bare bones.

The Polaris Lounge is unique in that they construct it and capitalize the cost of doing so, then outsource its daily operation, and squeeze the vendor providing the service within it. Itís a relatively lower op ex run rate than the onboard services ó the staff at the SFO PL are on $12 per hour with no benefits; the Galley FA on board $50+ per hour plus benefits and per diems. Also, it has a REVENUE stream associated with it due to the charges they levy on other *A passengers per visit. My executive side of my brain gets the approach, even though I donít like it.

Personally, I spend little time in the Polaris lounge because I fly everywhere direct from SFO and donít get there early enough to focus on it. Sleep is a priority from EWR/IAD and shorter TATL flights, but out of SFO pretty much everything is 10+ - 17h of flying, so the soft product matters much more ... and the cuts are more noticeable. Add on to the fact that 80% of my international flying is on a non-PL suite for the time being, itís not yet a fully competitive product and the cuts are premature ... but itís easier for execs to make money in the good times than the bad.
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Old Mar 23, 19, 5:48 pm
  #23  
 
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Originally Posted by fly18725 View Post
for many passengers (myself included) the primary purpose of C/J on international flights is to sleep in flight. I think United feels the same way with their investment is seats and bedding over cuisine.
How many passengers can sleep 14 hours? TPAC flights are extremely long. I doubt many people can sleep more than 10 hours. That leaves 4 hours of ... torture?
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Old Mar 23, 19, 5:52 pm
  #24  
 
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The seat is excellent, the service is standard American indifference or outright hostility, and the food beats the cheap seats but is merely ok. I fly united because I live in Chicago and I can get to just about anywhere in the country for work without connecting somewhere. If I wanted the good life at a great price for international long haul to visit my family I would fly Hainan or some other asian carrier's business class instead.
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Old Mar 23, 19, 6:31 pm
  #25  
 
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Originally Posted by elitefreak View Post
....
And then you get on the plane . . .


I just don't get it.
There is a very obvious cost cutting of the onboard product. United excels at mediocrity.
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Old Mar 23, 19, 6:32 pm
  #26  
 
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I have a somewhat related question. Hopefully not too off topic. Why is there such a disconnect between UA prices and some of their competitors?

I'm not sure if this is typical. I'm a noob only just starting to book long haul J for work. I'm finding that UA is often twice as expensive as the next cheapest option (e.g. Air Canada) when looking at ex-EWR or ex-IAD itineraries to APAC.
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Old Mar 23, 19, 6:32 pm
  #27  
 
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Remember it's not just UA pax -- the Polaris lounges also serve their Star Alliance partners. In SFO in particular UA took over the space occupied by the SQ and BR lounges to build the Polaris lounge.

I wouldn't be surprised if SQ, etc. had a say in the food, drink and service at the lounges to ensure it was up to their standards.

Last edited by Ryu2; Mar 23, 19 at 7:10 pm
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Old Mar 23, 19, 6:45 pm
  #28  
 
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Why is there this idea that *A partners are telling UA what to do with their J lounge? Does this actually happen?

And in the reciprocal, does UA tell SQ to step up the soup in their SIN Silverkris lounge??
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Old Mar 23, 19, 7:07 pm
  #29  
 
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Originally Posted by s0ssos View Post
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How many passengers can sleep 14 hours? TPAC flights are extremely long. I doubt many people can sleep more than 10 hours. That leaves 4 hours of ... torture?
I donít eat for entertainment.
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Old Mar 23, 19, 7:12 pm
  #30  
 
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Originally Posted by fly18725 View Post
I don’t eat for entertainment.
I definitely eat for entertainment. It's the difference between luxury and survival. And a great way to burn the non-sleeping time on 10+hr TPACs, at least on airlines other than UA.
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