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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, 10:40 am
  #1  
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Why is there such as disconnect between PL and Polaris in-flight?

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.
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Old Mar 23, 19, 10:56 am
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Two thoughts. First, 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.

Second, it is much easier to offer upscale food and wine on the ground. You don’t have to deal with the same logistical constraints and extra costs of having consistency across a world wide network.
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Old Mar 23, 19, 11:34 am
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Also, Polaris Lounges are run by a contract company. Polaris flights are run by United.
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Old Mar 23, 19, 12:15 pm
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I really think the fact that they leave you alone and don't tempt you with extra service or snacks is a big selling point for people who just want to arrive well rested.

United will never win the pax who want a great soft product and book UA JV partners J/F. What demand does this leave? Schedule snd sleep. They have like tripled down on the pillows, blankets, mattress, slippers, pajamas, etc.
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Old Mar 23, 19, 12:28 pm
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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'm in this camp as well. I couldn't care less about all the other frills.
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Old Mar 23, 19, 12:29 pm
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Many of the employees don’t like it either and are, frankly, embarrassed by it.
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Old Mar 23, 19, 12:37 pm
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Originally Posted by mahasamatman View Post
I'm in this camp as well. I couldn't care less about all the other frills.
Yep. Seriously, is it really the end of the world if you have to drink cheaper wines and champagnes/sparkling wines on your flight? Plenty of people don't even drink at all on airplanes.

OTOH, get lousy sleep and show up to your business meeting groggy because the hard product stinks and you will fly a different airline next time.
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Old Mar 23, 19, 12:51 pm
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I think PL will remain top notch because superior airlines like SQ, who send their premium pax there, require that kind of standard. Contractual obligation on UA?

As for inflight Polaris, UA has stronger (maybe even the strongest?) underlying demand from the world’s top GDP metros than most of its competitors. If - as I agree - schedule and sleep are the two top criteria for long haul, UA’s soft product may just be good enough.
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Old Mar 23, 19, 1:00 pm
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PL is new and shiny, it hasn't gone through a few cycles of corporate decay yet.

Regarding the service differences, I'm not sure if the PL service staff are unionized.
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Old Mar 23, 19, 1:12 pm
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Originally Posted by mduell View Post
I'm not sure if the PL service staff are unionized.
Bar staff at ORD PL is unionized. Was stated as reason for refusing to work past 21:00 back in Oct 2018 when my flight was delayed till 23:00. Bar was shut down while rest of lounge stayed open late.
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Old Mar 23, 19, 1:15 pm
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Originally Posted by dilanesp View Post
Yep. Seriously, is it really the end of the world if you have to drink cheaper wines and champagnes/sparkling wines on your flight? Plenty of people don't even drink at all on airplanes.

OTOH, get lousy sleep and show up to your business meeting groggy because the hard product stinks and you will fly a different airline next time.
I get what you’re saying, but if the issue is that Polaris is really meant just for sleep then it should be advertised (and priced) as such, without the hype about premium service, food/beverage, experience and customer service, and all the glossy website stuff. United wants it both ways...pretending to offer a full, premium business service, then cut back right and left...and get defended with “well sleep is the real thing anyway”.
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Old Mar 23, 19, 1:24 pm
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Originally Posted by AirbusFan2B View Post
Bar staff at ORD PL is unionized. Was stated as reason for refusing to work past 21:00 back in Oct 2018 when my flight was delayed till 23:00. Bar was shut down while rest of lounge stayed open late.
Which union? May not be a very powerful one, since it's a relatively straightforward function to outsource to a contractor unlike inflight service.
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Old Mar 23, 19, 1:25 pm
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You are a million miler. You have probably endured the ups and downs of United Airlines for years. You know them better than most people know them.

They are the General Motors of airlines. They let their product degrade to the point it becomes almost a liability, then they rebrand with a brand new name. Everything is new and shiny and has a fancy design. They advertise heavily. It seems too good to be true. Because it is.

Then the cost accountants that actually run the company start noticing the costs. And the cuts start. And they continue.

Pretty soon, its a called a Malibu Classic and they only sell it to rental car companies. Oops, I mean its a Polaris business class because the napkin says so, but its the same United Airlines as it ever was. It gets you from point A to point B. You are relatively comfortable. Your basic needs are met.

I think the Polaris Lounges have a chance to stay special and keep that halo, because they need to be. But the airline experience is going to continue to go in that cycle that you already know so very well.
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Old Mar 23, 19, 1:40 pm
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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?
It has to do with the people responsible for executing the service experience at each phase, and their respective degrees of autonomy, accountability, and service commitment.

It is no accident that the Polaris proposition leans heavily on sleep opportunity and other factors that are hard for inflight staff to undermine, forget, or decide not to deliver. When the customer is unconscious, UA service culture looks better.
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Old Mar 23, 19, 1:52 pm
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Originally Posted by fly18725 View Post
Two thoughts. First, 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.

Second, it is much easier to offer upscale food and wine on the ground. You don’t have to deal with the same logistical constraints and extra costs of having consistency across a world wide network.
I agree. The seat by far is my main criteria.

It would not occur to me to book a First or Business Class ticket for wine, champagne, and food. If I want fine wine or Champagne - I'll go to the store - if I want a good meal, I'll go to a fine dining restaurant.
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