Fauxlaris: synonym for United Business Class marketing fail.
Reviewers at the very least are supposed to show impartiality and an openness toward the experience they are critiquing. Let’s be honest – that is basically no one and it’s certainly not me. In a world of 24 hour news cycles, social media and customer angst aired over the internet (or down the aisle of a plane) it’s impossible not to walk into any travel setting without some level of preconceived notion.
In this “Fauxlaris” journey from Los Angeles to London, I thought I knew what I was in for and I was wrong. I both loved and loathed United Polaris business class. Both are definitively possible.
Fauxlaris VS Polaris
United Polaris, is the revolutionary new seat, bedding, pillows and business class service United launched to compete internationally. It has gone down in marketing history as one of the absolute worst blunders of all time, thanks to the fact that to this very day, only extremely well informed travelers can actually tell whether they’re receiving true United “Polaris”, or United “Fauxlaris”, the fake version with the same old seat and better blankets. You need to know aircraft type, and even route to have a fighting chance. Here’s a good guide. I received the latter, “Fauxlaris”, but I did know this going in. I’m simply illustrating a point.
Polaris Lounge At LAX?
The journey was slightly disappointing long before it started. United had promised its gorgeous new line of Polaris lounges would launch in Los Angeles (LAX) in fall 2018. That figure was then pushed to winter 2018, and long after I booked my ticket, a cash fare of $1700 originating from Zurich, I found that United had once again pushed the opening date until January 5th, two days after my departure from Los Angeles. Hey, at least they’re consistently inconsistent. It counts for something.
On the Boeing 787-9, an aircraft which will be amongst the last to receive “true Polaris”, business class is strikingly familiar. United uses B/E Aerospace Diamond seats, which are also used by the likes of Qatar Airways on single aisle planes, American and Delta on transcontinental business class and Air China on many wide body jets. The seats are configured in a 2x2x2 layout on the 787-9 and although they are not revolutionary by any means, they’re quite effective.
Many of the crew members on this flight talked like characters out of the Coen brothers classic cult movie “Fargo”, which I found both amusing and personable. I was greeted promptly with a smile, offered a glass of something relaxing and presented with menu cards. My business class seat was predictably comfortable and my screen was fast and responsive. Most importantly, and far too overlooked in many reviews: my flight left on time.
Enough with the sweet lullabies. Food service came quickly, and it was decidedly dreadful. I’ll defer to the United Polaris cookbook to find out how you can make a “seared tuna”, which looked very lightly seared and tasted like something out of a frozen tin…. for cats. Please note, I rarely ever complain about food up front in business class, but I am only taking the opportunity to do so because any passenger in any cabin would’ve been offended. The poor fish died in vain. My partner politely told me her “chicken” dish, which was actually part Turkey was truly the worst meal she’d ever tasted on a plane, in any cabin.