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It has been years since I’ve taken a United flight. As a Delta frequent flyer, JFK is a like a second home, and I usually never even consider the option of flying out of Newark International Airport. However, my recent United Polaris flight might have me reconsidering my stance…
US based airlines have never had a glamorous long-haul business class offering. United especially has old and dated offerings with a 2-4-2 configuration that they to run on many routes.
But the United Polaris 787-9 is on a different level.
Everything from the pre-departure lounge, design of the cabin, and especially the United business class food have all been seriously upgraded.
After that, I couldn’t have been more excited to board the plane, and I was first in line to get to my seat.
United Polaris did a great job turning a business class seat into what feels like an enclosed suite. Granted there is no door but the amount of privacy is unmatched on most other business class products with a large controllable divider in between the two middle seats.
I also really appreciated a quick schedule of the flight waiting on the screen as soon as you sit down. Especially the call out on lighting.
The pre-flight started off like any other with a welcome drink.
I decided to go with champagne. The glass wasn’t but favorite but I didn’t really care.
The food menu looked well balanced and there were actually a lot of options. It provides an option between two starters, and a choice of four different main entree options. They also provide a standard vegetarian dish (cacio e pepe ravioli) as a staple, so if you miss the pre-ordering window you should be ok. Vegans may not be as lucky.
Upon suggestion from a friend, I went with the Ginseng chicken bowl, although it wasn’t an easy call to pass on the short rib.
Let’s start with the appetizer. A smoked duck, farro salad, and side of greens to kick off my meal.
I’m not usually a huge fan of smoked meats, especially on airplanes. But the duck here was delicious. It was tender to cut into and paired exceptionally well with the farro salad, which came with nuts and berries inside. Served with a small spoonful of mustard (which I didn’t really touch) I was actually surprised how much I liked this.
The salad was nothing to write home about, but was still refreshing and simple. Especially when paired with all the flavor that came from the duck.
My girlfriend ordered the Asian Vegetarian meal, which came with a spring roll appetizer. It wasn’t half bad despite being unevenly heated.
Now onto the main course. I was expecting the entree to be a very light dish, something that would leave me hungry even after finishing. When it arrived I breathed a sigh of relieve as it looked extremely appetizing.
What arrived was chicken and lemongrass potstickers mixed in a ginseng chicken broth, served with an additional helping grilled chicken, carrots, and celery.
The flavor of the broth was well balanced and refreshing. The potstickers were the highlight of the meal, and provided a nice lemon grass flavor that paired very well with the broth. The strips of chicken were tasty, but seemed a bit out of place in this bowl. Almost like it was just tossed in there for the sake of it, or to add a touch of extra protein. However, being hungry at the time I didn’t mind.
After the meal I had to get to sleep. Since it was one of the shorter long haul flights at 7 hours, it was a time crunch to get enough sleep.
I had planned to wake up just in time for breakfast, and I timed it perfectly.
For breakfast I went with the rustic omelette, which was served with a croissant, breakfast sausage, potatoes, and a side of fresh fruit. This was a classic a western breakfast option, and while I wasn’t too starving at the time I still ended up eating most of it (sans the sad looking croissant). It was decent enough, and the fresh fruit was a terrific palate cleanser after the meal.
As we were about to land I tried to order a pre-landing espresso, but the cabin seemed too chaotic at the time. I decided to just hold off and get one in the lounge after landing.
Overall I was impressed with United’s food quality, although the selection was restricted and can certainly be expanded. A few inconsistencies here and there with dish temperature, but overall it was a quality food experience nonetheless.
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