Last week I wrote about the revealing of the seat plan of United Polaris-retrofitted 767-300ER’s. This was an unexpected but welcome development, since thanks to manufacturer delays, there was no expectation of 767 aircraft being retrofitted this year. Even more impressive is the fact that the retrofit of one of those 767’s has already been completed! Great news for Untied flyers for several reasons. John Walton’s article over at the Runway Girl Network on UA’s retrofitted 767’s is worth your time. He outlines why United’s are likely to be a step up over Delta and American’s.
Significant step up over the current Continental 2-1-2 configuration
One of the main complaints of the United business product for years was direct aisle access. I like window seats, but if I select a window seat in Business class on a internationally-configured 767 today, I won’t have direct aisle access. If the guy next to me decides to go to sleep and I need to go to the restroom, one of three things will happen:
- I’ll need to be somewhat of an acrobat to go over the sleeping person
- I’ll need to wake the passenger up to let me through
- I’ll need to hold it in for who knows how long
None of the three are fun, and though I pride myself in being able to get #1 done, I have woken several passengers up trying it. Not a great feeling. Furthermore, this helps avoid situations like this one I wrote about recently.
Same amount of business class seats AND lavatories
Of course, one of the main concerns for airlines when deciding what seats to put on a plane is capacity. The 767 provides airlines with a bit of a difficult task, because for a widebody aircraft, it’s quite narrow. There’s not much ‘wiggle’ room. Yet, United has managed to keep the same number of business class seats AND the same number of lavatories per seat.
Dedicated overhead bin space
As you can see in the seat layout above, the staggered layout essentially creates 6 columns of seat rows. Beginning from 1A:
- Forward-facing window seat
- Right-facing window seat
- Left-facing middle row seat
- Forward-facing middle row seat
- Left-facing window seat
- Forward-facing window seat
The middle seats might be the overhead bin battle area, but because the seats are staggered, an assuming that there will be bins across and on both sides, each passenger my end up with its own stowing space, without having to battle it out with the neighbors in front or behind.
More Polaris hard product routes for our enjoyment
Because of the 767’s usage domestically and on plenty (especially European) international routes, this will give a much wider amount of people the opportunity to fly the Polaris hard-product, and if from Chicago, then you’ll have the ability to fly nonstop to Europe and enjoy the Polaris Lounge as well. As I detailed some days ago, the opening schedules for Polaris Lounges in Newark and San Francisco have been pushed out to 2018. So while the current sweet spot to fly the Polaris hard product might be SFO, us in ORD will be able to enjoy the complete Polaris experience soon. Rumor has it that the first hard product route might be ORD/EWR – LHR. Keep your fingers crossed Chicagoans!
In conclusion, the 767’s Polaris cabin might be a better overall than the 777’s. We know what the 777-300ER’s look like, and we’re anxiously waiting for the 777-200’s. In the meantime, I’m indeed excited about the possibility of soon flying the Polaris Experience out of my home airport.