United Polaris Business Class 767-300ER Washington to São Paulo

United offers a daily non-stop flight between Washington Dulles (IAD) and São Paulo (GRU). The aircraft utilized for this flight was Boeing 767-300ER with a retrofitted Polaris Business Class cabin. This is my first time flying United Polaris Business Class, so I’ve been looking forward to reviewing this product.

In this series:

  1. Unplanned Flight Path: Brazil!
  2. My First Impression of São Paulo
  3. United Polaris Business Class 767-300ER Washington to São Paulo
  4. 39 Hours in São Paulo: What I did
  5. Stop! Thief!
  6. Star Alliance Lounge – São Paulo
  7. United Economy 767-300ER São Paulo to Washington

Flight Number: UA861
Route: Washington (IAD) – São Paulo (GRU)
Schedule: 22:05 – 08:55 +1
Duration: 9h 50m
Aircraft Type: Boeing 767-300ER
Cabin: Polaris Business Class
Seat: 8D
Date: October 04, 2019

Boarded started 50 minutes before departure time, out of gate C12. The cabin has a 1-1-1 direct aisle access configuration due to a narrower cabin on the 767s. It is a major improvement over the old configuration: 2-2-2 on legacy United and 2-1-2 on legacy Continental.

The finish looks modern, though it stars showing some minor wear. One of our authors, Kevy, recently flew TAP Portugal A330neo with the same type of seats. He thinks the seat is tight – I disagree. While it’s not as spacious as American’s and Cathay’s reversed herringbone configuration, it’s certainly not tight.

Upon arriving at my seat 8D, I found a blanket, duvet, memory foam pillow, pillow, and amenity kit, menu, and headphones. Slippers are available upon request. When flying, I like using my own Bose noise-canceling earbuds. They are compact and easy to have them on while sleeping. I can’t help but noticed the headphones offered were not great. In contrast, American Airlines let you “borrow” their Bang and Olufsen noise-canceling headphones.

The flight attendant walked through the cabin offering pre-departure drinks. As we were taxiing, he took the meal order.

The menu as follows:


Chilled appetizer


Seared beef short rib
Ginseng chicken bowl
Seared yuan yaki salmon
Cacio e Pepe ravioli



International cheese assortment
Signature sundae
Sweet treats



Rustic omelet
Fresh Seasonal fruit

Dinner service commenced shortly after take-off. Unfortunately, they ran out of the first option, but it wasn’t a big deal at all. It didn’t take long for the appetizer to come. The duck was good, but the salad was rather basic.

A few moments later, the entrée was served. The salmon was flavorful but dry and overcooked.

The presentation was also a bit messy as it was pre-plated. I feel like this is something that United could improve. On a positive note, the service was very quick and efficient. To finish, I had an ice cream sundae, which was excellent.

After dinner, I scrolled through the entertainment system. The movie selections were pretty good, though I decided to lay down instead. United offers incredible bedding, which is superior to other airlines. I wished that they offered a turn-down service. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the case. I managed to get a solid 6 hours of sleep, which was pretty decent.

I woke up an hour before landing. I appreciate that they didn’t wake you up 2 hours before landing to collect headphones and make credit card sales pitches. The crews continued to offer breakfast for passengers less than 45 minutes before landing.

For breakfast, I had omelet and sausage, served with a fruit bowl on the side and yogurt.

We descended into São Paulo and landed ahead of schedule.


Overall, it was an uneventful flight. I’d have to say the service was great – better than I had expected. The flight attendants were friendly. The service was quick and efficient. I appreciate that they didn’t turn on the light and make announcement two hours before landing. This allows the passenger to maximize their sleep. I love the fact that they continued to offer breakfast until the final minutes.

There are a few things that United could improve. I feel like the food left a lot to be desired. While my dish was flavorful, it was overcooked and lack of presentation. The second thing is minor – I wish they offered a turndown service to complement their excellent bedding.

Aside from that, I love the new business class seats. They are comfortable and look elegant compared to the previous hard product. I enjoyed my quick 10-hour ride to South America.

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