United 777-200 business class review: is it worth the upgrade?

United 777-200 business class review: is it worth the upgrade?

Finally! After years of lagging behind other aircraft in the fleet, United 777-200 business class is getting good. I recently had the opportunity to try the new Polaris configuration on a 777-200 from Honolulu to San Francisco, and it was just as comfortable as any other recent United Polaris experience that I’ve had.

The only issue that I had with this particular flight was that it was slightly inconsistent with my other recent United business class experiences. Thankfully, those inconsistencies skewed towards being better than worse.

They gave us real blankets and pillows, noise canceling headphones, and a cabin crew that actually gave a damn. Thinking back on it, I guess that’s what they gotta do to get a plane full of depressed people leaving Hawaii to cooperate…

UA372
Honolulu, HI (HNL) – San Francisco, CA (SFO)
Thursday, March 24, 2022
Aircraft: 777-224/ER
Registration: N78004
Duration: 4 hours 42 minutes
Seat: 11A (Polaris / Business Class)

united 777-200 side view n78004
United Airlines 777-200/ER side view illustration by Norebbo.com
UA372 flight track
Our route from Honolulu to San Francisco this morning as UA372.

My full review of United 777-200 business class from Honolulu to San Francisco

It’s never a good feeling to have to leave Hawaii. It’s even worse when you have to wake up at 4am to do it. My flight to San Francisco would be departing the Daniel K. Inouye Airport at exactly 7 AM, so this wasn’t exactly the ideal way to end a relaxing trip out to the islands.

My arrival at the airport

Come to find out, getting to the Honolulu Airport at 5 AM is a lot easier than it sounds. Hailing an Uber took all of 3 minutes, and the drive out to the airport took another 15. I completely underestimated how difficult it would be to get here this morning, so once again, I was the first to arrive.

G concourse departures curbside HNL airport
Where is everyone? It seems as if I’m the only person willing to leave Hawaii today.

What terminal does United Airlines use at the Honolulu Airport?

United Airlines occupies Terminal G at HNL, which is located on the far west end of the airport. Note that you can easily walk between all terminals once you go past a security checkpoint at the Honolulu airport, so in reality, you can enter whatever terminal looks the least busy.

If you need to check bags (or talk to an agent to sort out a ticketing issue), it’s really easy in Terminal G. The ticketing hall is massive, and the signage is plentiful and clear. United does a really good job with their ground operations here in Honolulu.

United airlines check in terminal G Honolulu airport
The United Airlines check in area here at HNL is huge! There’s lots of room to cry as well, should you need to do so.
SANspotter Honolulu airport United airlines check in
No tears for me today. I’ll be back in Hawaii soon enough, and besides – I’m very much looking forward to checking out United 777-200 Polaris business class for the first time.
Honolulu airport central terminal
I’m inside! Also, it seems as if 5:30am is a really bad time to be hungry at the Honolulu Airport.
SANspotter selfie Honolulu airport g gates
Ok, maybe I did cry a little. So what?
United 777-200 N78004 Honolulu airport gate g5
Now there’s a sight for bloodshot / teary eyes! This 777-200 is my ride to San Francisco this morning.
Gate G5 Honolulu airport
See? I wasn’t joking earlier when I said that I was the only one foolish to leave Hawaii today. This is what the gate area looked like just 40 minutes before boarding was scheduled to begin.
SANspotter sitting and waiting at Honolulu airport
Thinking that maybe I need to have my brain scanned for abnormalities when I get home. Voluntarily leaving Hawaii at this ungodly hour does seem like kind of an odd thing to do…

The boarding process for flight number 372 to San Francisco

Despite a massive ticketing hall that seems more like a stadium than an airport, gate G5 (where my flight to San Francisco would be departing from) was tiny. It was way too small for a fully-loaded Boeing 777-200.

United HNL-SFO mobile boarding pass
I have nothing to say about this boarding pass pic other than I’m willing to bet anything that whatever the guy in that chair paid to sit there, it was totally worth it. Rock on, brother.

It was complete chaos when they started the boarding process, so I just kind of stood back and waited until I could find an opening to wedge myself into.

Boarding flight to San Francisco in Honolulu
I’m not even sure I’m standing in the correct line, but whatever. I’m sure it all leads to the same place.
Honolulu airport jet bridge
If ever there was an airport to have glass jet bridges at, it’s HNL. What were they thinking?
United 777-200 boarding door
I couldn’t overhear what it was they were talking about, but it wouldn’t surprise me if she was voicing displeasure to her father about his choices in air travel. 777 or not…it’s too early to be leaving Hawaii!

My first impressions of the Polaris business class seeats on the United 777-200

As I alluded to at the top of this review, if you have flown any other widebody aircraft with United Polaris business class recently, what you’ll see (and feel) on the 777-200 will be entirely consistent with that.

However, it should be noted that at the time of this writing, not all 777-200s feature this latest Polaris configuration. There are many aircraft still flying around with the old BusinessFirst product (which isn’t very comfortable IMHO).

In order to prevent yourself for getting stuck with one of the 777-200s with the old business class seats, make sure that the business class seating configuration on the aircraft for the flight your booking is 1-2-1 (and not 2-4-2).

United 777-200 Polaris business class cabin
United 777-200 business class has come a long way since the last time I saw it. I guess if I’ve gotta leave the islands, this ain’t a bad way to do it.
United 777-200 Polaris seat 11A
Seat 11A is mine for the ride back to reality this morning.
United Polaris amenity kit with blank and pillows
I definitely wasn’t expecting an amenity kit with blankets and pillows on a flight from Honolulu to San Francisco. Nice!
United 777-200 business class interior
From a seated position, this looks exactly the same as, say, United 787-8 business class. Hate United Airlines however you want, but it’s not fair to say that they don’t offer a consistent business class seat from one aircraft to the next.
United 777-200 business class seat size
So good that I almost forgot to be sad about leaving.
United 777-200 Polaris seat looking forward
The things I’m feeling in this window seat are nearly identical to what I experienced the first time I sat in Polaris on the 767-300. Except for the watery eyes, it’s exactly the same.
United Polaris seat control buttons
I’m so gonna try out that recline button as soon as we hit cruising altitude.
United Polaris seat features 777-200
Noise canceling headphones, a mirror, and a cubby space large enough for a box of tissues.
United Polaris seat power outlets 777-200
I’m not sure what else there is to say about these power outlets and the entertainment system remote control that I haven’t said in my previous United Polaris reviews. “Ta-daa!” is all I’ve got left.
United Polaris seat USB power outlet 777-200
There’s also a USB port near the video screen. Basically, if there aren’t enough power outlets in this seat to charge all your devices, you might want to think about traveling lighter.
United Polaris Hawaii amenity kit
Amenity kits too!
United Polaris amenity kit for Hawaii
Well, it’s actually more like half an amenity kit (eye mask, toothbrush and toothpaste, plus a wet wipe) but…I appreciated it nonetheless.
United Polaris pre departure drink
The cabin crew came around with water and orange juice for anyone that wanted it. What I really wanted was to stay in Hawaii, but they weren’t offering that.
Dirty Polaris business class seat
A quick look over the seat rail (against the wall) revealed what I hope were crumbs (not dried boogers) and…compensation for having to deal with said crumbs / boogers.
SANspotter selfie United 777-200 Polaris business class
Other than the crumb / booger thing, I’m very pleased with the experience so far.

The departure out of Honolulu

Pushing off the gate and knowing that you’re leaving Hawaii sucks. Like, really bad. Unless you hate Hawaii, of course. In that case, you’re a weirdo who is most certainly in the minority. 

For the rest of you who have tears welling up in your eyes as you’re reading this, weep with me as we taxi our way to the reef runway for the departure back to the mainland.

Gate g5 jet bridge HNL airport
So long, Hawaii.
United 757-300 at HNL
Maybe next time I’ll try the 757-300. I had the option to do so today (routing through LAX instead), but in the end, I couldn’t resist the 777.
United 777-200 business class seat privacy
At least nobody can see me cry in these seats.
HNL taxi out to reef runway
It’s actually surprising how quiet HNL is in the early morning hours. This ended up being the fastest taxi out to the reef runway that I’ve ever experienced!
View of Diamond Head from Honolulu airport
That’s Diamond Head looming in the distance, which can only mean one thing: we’re about to wake up Waikiki.

View of Oahu after takeoff from HNL
What a view! This is totally giving me flashbacks to that time I flew on a Mokulele Airlines Cessna Grand Caravan from Honolulu to Molokai (and nearly barfed my guts out lol).

What is in-flight entertainment like in business class on United 777-200?

Thankfully, the in-flight entertainment options in United 777-200 business class are exactly the same as they are on any other internationally-configured aircraft in the United fleet.

You’ll get a massive video screen with loads of movies, TV shows, and audio selections. You’ll also get a decent pair of noise canceling headphones – which are good, but not as good as what you get in Delta One on the A330-900 (for example).

United airlines video entertainment system home screen
It’s much too early for mindless stimulation. Do I press that big yellow button…or don’t I?
United airlines 777-200 Polaris business class video entertainment
I did. This is a Polaris business class review after all, so I would be remiss if I didn’t tell you that it’s a high quality video entertainment system with an excellent selection of movies and TV shows.
United Polaris business class wired remote control
The wired remote control is by far the most dated (and old-school) component of this seat, but it’s still a “nice to have” feature that comes in handy if you don’t want to lean forward to touch the screen.
United Polaris business class noise canceling headphones
United Airlines noise canceling headphones have always been “so-so” to me. They are far better than wired ear buds of course, but not as good as what you’d get on other airlines.
SANspotter selfie United Polaris business class headphones
They only suck a little. Not a lot.

Wi-Fi is available as well, though United is extremely stingy with it. They are going to give you for free, so prepare to spend at least $20 for decent Wi-Fi to get you through an entire flight.

What kind of food does United Airlines serve in business class on flights to and from Hawaii?

As I was digging into the meal on this morning’s flight, it occurred to me that I have been flying far too many early morning flights on United over the past six months or so.

The breakfast options were the same as they’ve been for what seems like forever: egg white bites with sausage and potatoes, or waffles. I’ve had both too many times to count, and they’re both mediocre at best.

United airlines egg and sausage breakfast
Egg whites and sausage for breakfast (with a side of fruit, yogurt, and a croissant). See that empty spot on the plate? This was supposed to come with potatoes, but they seem to be missing in action.
United airlines first class Hawaii breakfast
“Supply chain issues” seems to be the most common excuse these days, so all I can assume is that potatoes are hard to come by at the moment. Either that or the flight attendant got a little hungry while making the delivery.
SANspotter eating United airlines first class breakfast
Whatever happened, I didn’t mind. It’s not like the potatoes I’ve had on past flights were all that great anyway.
SANspotter eating United airlines Polaris breakfast
In comparison, the breakfast I was served in Hawaiian Airlines A330-200 first class a while back was much better.

How comfortable are the United Polaris 777-200 seats for sleeping?

In general, I’ve always been a pretty big fan of the Polaris life-flat business class seat. Yeah, it’s a little hard, but it’s not all that bad. However, my biggest stripe is that they don’t seem to be all that consistent with doling out blankets and pillows on domestic flights. This flight from Honolulu to San Francisco was the first domestic Polaris experience that I’ve ever had where they gave us real blankets and pillows.

And when I say real, I really mean it. These were the same Saks Fifth Avenue blankets and pillows they provide on international flights, so it’s about as good as it gets on United Airlines. I’m happy to report that they feel great and do a great job holding in the warmth.

United airlines Polaris saks fifth avenue blanket
This Saks Fifth Avenue blanket is nice enough to make my cat purr just by looking at it.
United Polaris saks fifth avenue pillow and blanket
The pillow felt equally nice. This is high-quality stuff!
SANspotter United Polaris blankets and pillows
If this was a video, you’d hear me purring (just like my cat).
United 777-200 business class lie flat seat
Oh, and the lie-flat seats? As all Polaris seats are, this was stellar.
You’re lucky I have a smidgen of self control, because if I didn’t, I’m sure that I could’ve come up with really immature “pitching a tent” caption for this pic. All I’m gonna say is that combined with the blanket and pillows, these lie-flat seats are really comfortable.
United 777-200 Polaris business class seat footwell
The footwell is really tiny though. I’m talkin’ “having to take your shoes off in order to drive a Lamborghini Countach” tiny.

The descent and arrival into San Francisco

Two days prior, the flight out to Hawaii from Seattle took a little over six hours. Today, on the return to San Francisco, it took just a little over four hours. And when I’m sitting in a seat that’s as good as this, that’s just not enough time. I wasn’t enjoying flying away from Hawaii, but I was very much enjoying being in Polaris business class again.

United 777-200 Polaris business class lavatory
A reality check (just in case you thought the Polaris business class lavatory on the 777-200 would be fancy).
View from Boeing 777-200 window
We’re going down.
United Polaris cabin on the 777-200
Thank goodness the Captain didn’t announce our initial descent into SFO using those exact words. While technically true, the way he said it was much less panic-inducing.
Descent into SFO
We’ll be hitting the ground soon.
Landing at SFO in a United airlines 777-200
See? I wasn’t lying.
United 777-300er at SFO
Welcome to San Francisco!
United 777-200 business class seatbelt
Maybe if I can’t get my seatbelt unbuckled they’ll let me go back…
United 777-200 business class aisle
Dang it.
United Polaris business class interior
In all seriousness, Polaris business class on the 777-200 is pretty darn nice. I’m very much looking forward to trying this again sometime (whenever that may be).
SANspotter selfie SFO jet bridge
How much you wanna bet that it’ll be on another flight out to Hawaii?

Pros and cons of United 777-200 Polaris business class

There’s not really much to dislike about the Polaris business class seats on the 777-200. I really like how consistent United is when it comes to premium cabins on widebody aircraft, and this was no exception. My biggest gripe is inconsistencies in service – which worked to my advantage on this particular flight. The cabin crew was excellent.

Pros

  • It’s highly consistent with Polaris business class on any other United Airlines widebody aircraft. Knowing exactly what you’re going to get (even before you step onboard) is a good thing.
  • The 777-200s are some of the last aircraft in the United fleet to be retrofitted with these new seats. That means that they’ll feel newer (and look nicer) than what you might experience on other aircraft in the fleet.
  • The Polaris cabin on the 777-200 is slightly smaller compared to other widebody aircraft in the United fleet, so it’ll feel slightly more private. Too see an example of the size difference, check out my United 777-300ER business class review.

Cons

  • At the time of this writing, there are only a handful of United 777-200s that feature this new Polaris business class cabin. This means that you’re going to have to do your research ahead of time before booking your flight to ensure that you’ll be on an aircraft configured with these seats.
  • The mid-cabin galley on the 777-200 can be very active at times, and it might be annoying if you’re seated anywhere in the vicinity of it.
  • While not something that is tied to the 777-200 specifically, it’s important to note that the service you’ll get in Polaris on flights to and from Hawaii isn’t as good as what you’ll get on Hawaiian Airlines. I’d recommend reading my Hawaiian Airlines vs United comparison if you want to see exactly how they stack up against one another.

Comments (2)

  1. Jan

    April 13, 2022
    • Scott (SANspotter)

      April 13, 2022

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