Travelling on ultra long-haul flights — that is, being stuck in a giant metal tube for 12 hours or more — isn’t really anyone’s idea of fun, but the best airlines offer customers cutting-edge comforts and outstanding in-flight service to make their journeys as painless as possible. Accordingly, United Airlines — which launched the first nonstop service between Hong Kong and New York way back in 2001 — recently upgraded its service offering on the Hong Kong – New York/Newark route with new Boeing 777-300ER aircraft and the latest United Polaris business class seats. Exclusive to United, the individual suite-like pods were designed in partnership with Acumen Design Associates and PriestmanGoode, and manufactured by Zodiac Seats United Kingdom.
The airline spent 12,000 hours researching what matters most to business class customers — sleep, unsurprisingly — and designing a new business class seat to give passengers the best possible sleep while cruising at 35,000 feet. The Boeing 777-300ER features 60 business class seats, all of which are forward-facing and have aisle access thanks to the 1-2-1 configuration; each one converts to a 180-degree lie-flat seat with 6’6″ of bed space. To create an unparalleled sleep experience for business class fliers, United partnered with Saks Fifth Avenue and Soho House and Co’s Cowshed Spa to develop new products.
All Polaris passengers are given custom-designed slippers and pyjamas, and custom bedding designed by Saks includes new duvets, day-blankets, mattress pads and pillows — there are even gel-cooled pillows if you’re worried about getting too hot. Amenity kits, meanwhile, come with ergonomically designed eye shades, calming lavender pillow mist and other premium products.
In-flight service has also been improved to allow passengers to get all the sleep they need. For example, meal service has become more efficient in order to shorten the time it takes to serve meals, allowing for more time to sleep. Of course if you can’t sleep and have the urge for a snack, on-demand mid-flight snacks are available whenever you want. Happily, there are also enhanced dessert offering to enjoy, made-to-order signature ice cream sundae service, a variety of smaller dessert options and a selection of gourmet cheeses.
When you’re not eating or sleeping, the latest Polaris business class seat offers plenty of nifty design features that make working and relaxing easier than ever. Each seat has multiple storage areas, so you can get everything you need for your flight put in its proper place before you settle in and get comfortable. There are multiple surfaces for working and dining, so that you never feel too cramped. There’s mood lighting, so that you can customise the illumination to match how you’re feeling. Perhaps most important are the 16-inch high-definition screens that offer an expansive range of option for gate-to-gate entertainment. And if you’re in the centre of the cabin, don’t worry about privacy as there are electronic dividers that you can raise between the two centre seats.
After a premium in-flight experience, you might be wondering if the lounge can live up to high expectations. Fortunately, you can rest assured that the United Polaris lounge at Newark Liberty International Airport offers an exceptional experience. Spanning more than 27,000 square feet, the expansive space caters to first and business class passengers with a variety of exceptional features. A curated collection of pieces by local artists give the lounge a uniquely New York feel, while more than 450 seats ensure that no one ever looks too hard for a place to sit and relax. For those on work trips, the lounge offers 44 work spaces, including phone rooms and signature seats inspired by the business class seats found on the plane.
Food and drink is arguably the most important part of any lounge experience, at least in our opinion, and here the United Polaris lounge doesn’t disappoint. For a quick bite, travellers can grab something from the buffet bar, but if you have the time and the appetite, don’t skip a proper meal in the private dining space which sits close to 50 guests. With an inventive, seasonal menu and table service, diners can expect international comfort foods, such as Moroccan-spiced braised lamb, with staples such as the United Polaris burger. And if you fancy it, try some of the signature cocktails before takeoff, including the The Paper Plane, a bourbon-based drink with Amaro Nonino, Aperol, chamomile honey and lemon — aptly garnished with a paper plane — and the London Spritz, a refreshing English drink enjoyed at sporting events like Wimbledon.
United Airlines flies from Hong Kong to Newark/New York daily at 10:25am, arriving at Newark at 2:05pm the same day. The return flight departs Newark at 3:15pm daily, arriving in Hong Kong at 7:10pm the next day. For more information, visit united.com.