United Airlines Boeing 787-8 Review (Polaris Retrofit) (2023)

The 787-8 is the smallest version of the popular Boeing 787 Dreamliner plane. Often called the “baby” Dreamliner, the -8s are still two-aisle widebody planes that carry 243 passengers. This version has been recently upgraded to United’s latest and greatest “Polaris” configuration that features a great business class product, plus a premium economy cabin dubbed “Premium Plus.”


WiFi on the United 787s is provided by Panasonic. Speeds are pretty good — better than the old air-to-ground systems, but not quite fast enough to stream video. The Panasonic coverage area is great — the WiFi works over almost the entire globe.

United offers several WiFi plans on most planes, ranging from hourly rates to a single price for the whole flight. If you fly United a lot, you can also purchase monthly subscriptions. For $49 you get unlimited WiFi for travel within North and Central America; for $69 you get it for travel globally.

(Video) United Airlines Polaris Class Review

In-Flight Entertainment

These planes have United’s latest seat back video units at every seat providing hundreds of hours of on-demand entertainment. There are movies, TV shows, games, and audio content, as well as information about your flight.All in-flight entertainment on United is free.

Power & USB

Every seat on the 787-8 has access to power. In business class and Premium Plus, that means individual AC ports. In economy, there are 2 ports for every cluster of 3 seats. In addition, every seat in all cabins has its own USB port.

Economy Class

(Video) United Airlines Boeing 787-8 Polaris Business Class Flight to Washington DC (IAD) | SFO-IAD

The 787-8 can carry up to 194 travelers in economy class. The cabins look fresh and new, having recently been renovated, and the overhead bins are extra big, which makes it easier to fit your roller bag. Seats are arranged in a 3x3x3 configuration. If you’re traveling alone, here’s ahelpful tip from ThePointsGuy: try to get an aisle seat in the middle section. You’ll likely be seated with a couple who will choose to wake each other, rather than you, if they need to leave their seat!

The seats themselves are United’s new leather slim-line seats that are 17.3 inches wide with 31 inches of pitch. They have headrests with adjustable wings on both sides that are supposed to keep your neck more comfortable. The seat features a high definition 9 inch monitor with touch screen controls, United’s latest version. Leg room and recline are not terrible, but if the person in front of you leans back it definitely makes a difference, especially if you’ve got a laptop on the tray table.

Within the economy cabin, there are 36 seats with 3 inches of extra legroom which United brands “Economy Plus.” These are otherwise the same seat as you’d get in regular economy. They can be reserved after your purchase for an extra fee or for free if you are a MileagePlus Gold member or higher. (If you’re a silver member, they are free if available at time of check-in). One thing to note, if you are flying on a “Basic Economy” ticket you will not be able to purchase an Economy Plus seat.

On the long haul international flights that this plane is typically used for, economy class travelers get a set of earbuds, a small pillow, and a very thin blanket. Food service includes a 3 course meal with a salad, artisan bread, a main course, and dessert, in addition to a mid-flight snack. The beer and wine are complimentary; liquor is available for a charge. During the COVID pandemic, however, food and beverage service has been drastically reduced. Less food is served and most of what’s offered is pre-packaged.

Premium Plus

(Video) TRIP REPORT | United Airlines 787-8 Polaris Business Class | Kansai to San Francisco

United’s new Premium Plus cabin is a great “in-between” product for those who want something better than economy, but don’t want to pay business class prices. The seats are large leather recliners that are 19 inches wide with 38 inches of pitches and 6 inches of recline. Size-wise they are like what would you typically find in a domestic first class cabin. But they also have leg rests that extend out which make sleeping easier. On the 787s, the Premium Plus seats are arranged in a 2x3x2 configuration. You get way more storage than you would get in economy class. Under the extra wide armrests are storage compartments large enough to store a book or a tablet. Large seatback pockets provide even more storage space. Each seat has a power port and USB port and a 13 inch HD touchscreen monitor. The tray tables are larger and sturdier than what you would find in economy, making it easier to work on a laptop.

Premium Plus travelers are given a Saks Fifth Avenue pillow and comforter as well as an amenity kit. You’ll also get a printed menu for meal choices and food is plated on china, not plastic, although the food itself is closer to economy than business class. Besides the meal service, snacks are available on-demand and all drinks, including alcoholic ones are complementary.

Polaris Business Class

United has a lot of different business class products across its fleet, but this plane has the latest and greatest. The Polaris pods are arranged in a 1x2x1 configuration so every seat has aisle access. There are two sections of business class — rows 1 through 5 up front and, then, after some lavatories and galleys, a mini-section with just 2 more rows (6 and 7). Many travelers love the quiet and privacy of that second section which ThePointsGuy calls “the most private Polaris cabin in the United fleet.

The rows in business class have alternating configurations. In rows 1, 3, 5, and 6, the window seats butt up against the window itself with the storage area to the side adjacent to the aisle. These are the most private seats, ideal for single travelers. In the middle sections, the same rows have seats next to each other so they’re best if you’re traveling with a companion. In the other rows, the middle seats are angled away from each other and, on the window sides, the seats themselves are closer to the aisle.

(Video) A Retrofitted Boeing 767-400 Review - Polaris Cabin and Interesting Seating Arrangement

The seats are 20.5 inches wide and can be converted into a 78″ fully flat bed. That’s a little narrower than the same product on some other United planes like the 777-300s. Each seat pod is almost fully enclosed with dividing walls, although they don’t have doors so one section remains open.

The Polaris seats give you plenty of storage. There are 2 different enclosed storage areas, plus a side countertop that you can use for a laptop or books. There are buttons to control the seat and a remote control for the large HD video screen. There is also a power and USB port.

Bedding is provided by Saks Fifth Avenue — a pillow, a duvet, a day blanket. The United bedding has gotten rave reviews by bloggers. You’ll also get a Star Wars themed amenity kit with socks, ear plugs, an eye mask, a dental kit and some skin products from Sunday Riley. Slippers, a mattress pad, a memory foam pillow, and, for flights longer than 12 hours, pajamas are also available if you ask a flight attendant.

United is proud of it’s “chef-designed multi-course inflight dining experience” offered in Polaris, designed in collaboration withThe Trotter Project. You’ll get a choice of entrees on printed menus and then a multi-course meal with dessert. Snacks are also available on demand throughout the flight. On longer flights, a second meal is served.

(Note, food service during the COVID pandemic has been limited).

(Video) United Airlines Boeing 787-10 Polaris Business Class LIS-EWR TRIP REPORT

COVID Cleaning

Since COVID, United has implemented its “CleanPlus” program to keep travelers safe while flying. All passengers over the age of two are required to wear masks, except when eating and drinking. This includes in the airport before departure and after arrival. The 787s have hospital-grade HEPA air filtration systems that refresh the air every 2 to 4 minutes. In addition, United has partnered with Clorox to develop a cleaning protocol to disinfect all high touch surfaces between flights.


What are the best seats on the United 787-8 Dreamliner? ›

By far, the best seats to pick on United's Boeing 787 fleet (both the 787-8 and the 787-9) are seats 27A and 27L. Row 27 is the emergency exit row for the economy class cabin. This row is reserved as Economy Plus seating but the two “window” seats, A and L, are not considered Economy Plus seats.

Do all United 787s have Polaris? ›

United finishes reconfiguring 787s with Polaris cabins

This means that effective immediately, all United Boeing 787s in service feature new Polaris cabins.

What is the difference between Dreamliner 787-8 and 787-9? ›

General specifications. The short-fuselage Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner, with its 56.7 meters of length, is slightly larger than its predecessor aircraft, namely the 767-300. Meanwhile, the mid-sized 787-9 is 62.8 meters long, with the stretched 787-10 clocking in at 68.3 meters in length.


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4. United 787-9 OLD Polaris Business Class Trip Report
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