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Chicago (ORD) - London (LHR)
Scheduled Depart: 9:15PM
Scheduled Arrive: 10:20AM (+1 day)
Actual Depart: 9:00AM (next day due to delay)
Duration: 7hr 20min
Aircraft: Boeing 767-300
Seat: 1L (Business Class)
After arriving at Chicago O’Hare at 4:00 pm, I had quite a few hours to hang out at the United Polaris lounge. Our initial scheduled departure time was 9:15 pm but due to mechanical issues with the plane, we were given a 45 min delay. As 10:00 pm came around, the Polaris lounge staff eventually gave us the news that our departure would be pushed back until 9:00 am the next day. While that meant I would lose a day in London, the staff at the United Polaris lounge were efficient in issuing out hotel and meal vouchers to each passenger. Luckily, one thing that I had to look forward to from this ordeal was the fact that within the days prior to departure, there was an aircraft change and this plane was outfitted with the newer Polaris pod style seats in a 1-1-1 configuration, rather than the older 2-1-2 configuration.
Placed at our seats was an amenity kit, a gel pillow, a blanket, and accompanying pillow from Saks Fifth Ave, and a lighter blanket.
As I had an alert set on ExpertFlyer in the event of a change in aircraft or cabin availability, I was able to grab seat 1L, the front right seat in the bulkhead section. Note that 1A is reserved as a crew rest area with blackout curtains that come down from the overhead compartments.
Upon being seated, the crew were quick to welcome us aboard along with take requests for welcome drinks. I opted for my usual champagne and started looking through the amenity kit.
United uses Sunday Riley products in both their Polaris lounge and amenity kits. Within the kit were face cream, hand cream, lip balm, a facial cleansing wipe, a pen, facial tissues, socks, earplugs, a pair of eye shades, and a dental kit.
Internet access was available with payment options including cash or the use of United miles.
To my left was a reading light, universal power outlet, the in-flight entertainment remote and a cabinet which opened up to reveal the headphones.
On the right were the seat controls which had plenty of options in order to make yourself at home. Features also included a “do not disturb” light that would display outside of your pod.
The tray table was located under the monitor and can be unlatched by pushing it in and then pulling the tray table out.
Menus were then handed out to view during takeoff.
The United safety video had employees taking you around the world with a colourful Carnival in Rio theme.
The in-flight entertainment system had quite the selection with 100+ channels on DirectTV and over 20 pages of movies and shows in addition to the usual flight information display.
The bathroom had a ceiling to waist height mirror and more Sunday Riley products.
Meal service rolled around 1 hour into the flight and started off with an extremely hot ramekin of nuts. The cabin crew thankfully provided warning when serving them.
The Thai shrimp appetizer didn’t have any particular seasoning that made it “Thai” and tasted just like plain shrimp. However, the green papaya mango salad was refreshing with the tangy salad dressing. Although the beef short ribs was tender, it was a bit on the dry side. The mashed potatoes were buttery to the point where I wasn’t too sure if it was butter or mashed potatoes that I was eating. The vegetables luckily weren’t overcooked and remained crisp. The pretzel bread was soft, but nothing much else to comment on. Overall, my favourite item was definitely the salad and I would rate the beef as a step above most I’ve had on flights.
I opted not to have dessert as I already had a pretty big breakfast from revisiting the Polaris lounge and decided that it was time for a nap on the lie-flat bed. Even when lying down, there was a good amount of leg space.
After waking up with 3 hours left on the flight, I was feeling a bit peckish and hit the call button only for nobody to come even after 20 minutes of waiting. Eventually I headed to the front of the cabin and asked for some snacks only to be met with resistance and the mention that “breakfast would be served in an hour”. Thankfully another flight attendant offered me ice cream and didn’t know which desserts I wanted so she decided to give me all of them.
True to the flight attendant’s word, breakfast was served approximately an hour later and I went for some fruits, yogurt, and pastries.
As we approached London Heathrow, we were presented with a voucher which would grant access to the United Arrivals Lounge and on the back was a fast track voucher which wasn’t of any value as we landed close to 11:00 pm. There was also an announcement to visit the United Cares website and enter in our flight details where United would do their best to make “make things right” due to our unfortunate 12 hour delay.
Once I arrived at the London Marriott Park Lane which would be my home for the duration of my stay in London, I followed the website provided by the cabin crew. Due to the 12 hour delay, United allocated a compensation voucher of $300 per passenger which will likely go towards a future trip over a long weekend.
Having lucked out on a Boeing 767-300 with the new Polaris seats was definitely a huge plus for this flight. The new pods offer quite a bit of privacy, although this seating arrangement wouldn’t be ideal when travelling with a partner as you have to either get out of your seat and walk across the aisle in order to talk to them, or lean forward and hope to get their attention.
The in-flight entertainment had more than enough content to keep me busy and the cabin crew for the most part were attentive whenever I needed anything. The bedding from Saks Fifth Ave was high quality and provided an excellent level of comfort while the amenity kit from Sunday Riley was equally impressive.
Overall, I would say that United has definitely impressed with the new Polaris product and I look forward to seeing the remaining planes outfitted with the new Polaris product.
From a young age, Colin’s family travelled together from Japan to Thailand as well as take the occasional family road trip. This led to an interest in global affairs and an international exchange to the United States where he made friends from all around the world. When walking down the airplane aisle to the back of the plane, he always dreamed of a day where he would be able to sit at the front in the premium seats. After stumbling upon the points and miles community, he is now proud to be seated among those he marvelled at as a child.