United launched its new international business class “Polaris,” which the airline has called the “most significant product transformation in more than a decade,” on Thursday.
The new offering is designed to give travelers a cohesive experience from airport to airport, while prioritizing quality sleep for long-haul flights.
As part of the airline’s quest to create a Polaris experience from airport to airport, United will debut nine new lounges. The Chicago O’Hare lounge has already opened.
The remaining eight will open in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Houston, Newark, Washington Dulles, Tokyo Narita, Hong Kong and London Heathrow airports over the next few years.
The airline said that it conducted more than 12,000 hours of research to provide business class passengers with their solid eight. To better a good flight’s sleep, United partnered with Saks Fifth Avenue to create custom bedding for Polaris passengers. Particularly fickle sleepers can also request a mattress cushion and gel-cooled pillow.
Amenity kits feature spa products, like ergonomic eye shades and pillow mist, to help passengers get to sleep. And if they still need something more, the in-flight entertainment system will feature guided meditation sessions from Headspace and relaxing nature scenes and sounds.
The airline completely revamped the business class seat for Polaris—although the new seats won’t fly until early 2017, when United debuts its new Boeing 777-300ER. Each seat was designed to act as a “personal suite” for passengers and went through two rounds of sleep tests to ensure maximum ZZZs. They feature a “Do Not Disturb” sign, mood lighting, surfaces for simultaneously working and eating and electronic privacy dividers for seats in the center of the cabin.
But before settling down for sleep, Polaris passengers can pick a meal from the seasonal menu, developed in partnership with The Trotter Project (a charity that supports young chefs) and Chef Bill Kim (of Chicago’s Urbanbelly). Hot snacks, like lobster mac and cheese, are available on flights longer than 12 hours. But because this whole thing is about sleep, passengers can choose either express dining service or self-serve to get more shut-eye time.