One way to fly in comfort is to grab a seat in a premium business class cabin. Two of the best domestic and international business class cabins today are from American Airlines and United Airlines.
American Airlines not only boasts a global fleet, but they also have the largest one in the world! It’s no surprise their Flagship business class delivers all the bells and whistles (and a bit more) to offer an indulgent stay. On the other hand, United Polaris has also been scoring high marks for its stylish cabins and fantastic hard product.
But, one edges out the other when it comes to overall performance. Want to know which one? Find out in this American Airlines Flagship Business Class vs. United Polaris Business Class comparison.
- Quick Glance: American Airlines Flagship Business Class vs United Polaris Business Class
- The Details: American Airlines Flagship Business Class vs United Polaris Business Class
- American Airlines Flagship Business Class
- United Polaris Business Class
- Best For: Which Airline Class Should You Book?
- Wrapping Up
Quick Glance: American Airlines Flagship Business Class vs United Polaris Business Class
|American Airlines Flagship Business Class||United Polaris Business Class|
|Ground Experience||On the ground, American Airlines Flagship Business guests are entitled to priority check-in as well as boarding. There’s access to the famed Flagship Lounge, available in select airports, or Admirals Club lounges found across the globe.||Pre-flight check-in clearance and boarding are provided to United Polaris guests. There’s also access to the famed Polaris Lounge where you’ll find liberal food and drinks as well as excellent amenities to make sure your ground experience is comfortable.
|Seat||There are 52 American Airlines Flagship business seats aboard the 777-300er. Arranged in a 1-2-1 layout, all have aisle access and carry a 45-inch pitch and 21.5-inch width. For the 777-200, it has 37 forward seats, each with a 60-62 inch pitch and 21-inch width. On the 787-9 are 30 seats. However, if you take the 787-8, these only have 20 Flagship business seats but carry the same 60-62 inch pitch.
|United Polaris seats are readily available but it can be confusing since United also offers a regular business class. The more premium United Polaris is found in transatlantic flights and includes large cabins, lie-flat seats, and aisle access. These seats are inside the 787-9 Dreamliners, 777-300ER, 787-10 Dreamliners, 767-300ER, and 777-200ER. All feature a 1-2-1 layout with a 24-inch width and 75 to 76-inch length. However, aboard the 767, the cabin configuration is more private at a 1-1-1 layout.|
|Amenities||American Airlines has partnered with Shinola to create its amenity kit. Inside these slim pouches are earplugs, a toothbrush with a toothpaste kit, hand lotion, a pen, socks, and an eye mask. AA provides Casper with pillows and a duvet on the seat as well.||United Polaris guests receive a stylish hard shell case from Away. Inside these kits are Sunday Riley skincare items, a pen, socks, earplugs, and a dental kit. United also gives out Saks Avenue-designed blankets and pillows on long-haul flights. These are ultra comfy, earning rave reviews from guests repeatedly. If you’re flying more than 12 hours, you might also get a pajama set and a chance to ask for a duvet mattress to serve as extra padding for the seat.|
|Food and Beverage||Passengers on AA’s Flagship Business class can preorder meals and drinks at least 30 days to 24 hours before their flight. For in-flight meal service, it’s a bit confusing. Some routes will provide menus while other routes will have attendants telling guests what’s available and having them choose. Meals are provided soon after takeoff and served in carts. Breakfast is served at least an hour from the landing.||Pre-flight champagne is provided alongside warm nuts. Dinner service begins at least 40-50 minutes after take-off. The mains are served with a side salad in one tray. Their signature ice cream sundae is available as dessert too. The second meal starts at least an hour or so before landing.|
|Entertainment||There’s an 18-inch monitor installed in every seat and it has over 500+ movies, shows, music, podcasts, and more. These monitors might soon disappear in domestic fleets since AA is swapping them for more streaming content instead. Amazing Bang & Olufsen headphones are also lent to each guest.||In-flight monitors measure anywhere between 15 to 16 inches and are filled with a multitude of shows and movies to watch. There’s also an interactive map. Headphones are provided but these are subpar quality.|
|Lavatories||AA’s lavatories are clean and decent, but there’s nothing special about these compared to those of other airlines.||The lavatories are kept clean and include a touchless sink with Sunday Riley toiletries.|
|Bed||American Airlines Flagship business class seats all lie flat, measuring 81 inches in length. For more width, you can also lower the armrests. Both pillows and blankets are on the seat when you board.||The beds fully recline up to 75 inches. Together with the Saks Avenue bedding, it’s one of the most comfortable beds up in the air.|
|Service||A common complaint with AA is their inconsistent service. There are times when the crew is prompt and proactive, while on occasion, they seem indifferent to the guests.||It’s great for the most part. However, there are times when service is lackluster.|
|Wi-Fi||You get full Wi-Fi access for the entire flight for only $35 without any data cap. However, if you need the bare minimum, the lowest plan starts at $10. There are also subscription options starting at$49.95 for a single gadget. If you have two devices, you can opt for the $59.95 plan.||Getting Wi-Fi on short and long flights is straightforward. The plans start between $8 to $10. You can also avail of monthly plans starting at $49 per month or obtain a full flight pass for $23, depending on the route and aircraft.|
The Details: American Airlines Flagship Business Class vs United Polaris Business Class
American Airlines Flagship Business Class
Offering several cabin tiers, American Airlines Flagship Business is the second most luxurious cabin next to Flagship First.
On the ground, Flagship business guests receive access to the stunning Flagship Lounge. You can find these lounges if you’re flying out from the following hubs:
- Miami (MIA)
- Chicago (ORD)
- New York (JFK)
- Los Angeles (JFK)
- Dallas Fort Worth (DFW)
In case there’s no Flagship Lounge in your airport, you can head to the Admirals Club instead or access any of AA’s partner lounges all around the world.
Flagship lounges are revered for their huge array of amenities, trendy decor, outstanding buffet and drink selection, and other amenities. Guests also receive priority boarding and check-in.
Get ready to experience premium seats onboard AA’s premium Flagship Business cabin – considered among the best in the air right now.
The seat and the design will depend on the type of aircraft you are flying in. For example, aboard the B777-300ER, you’ll find 52 Safran Cirrus seats in a 1-2-1 layout. This provides easy aisle access for each guest. Meanwhile, both the 777-200 and the 787-9 also feature around 30 and 37 seats, all front-facing Rockwell Collins Super Diamond Seats in a 1-2-1 configuration. These seats are comfier, offering a 21-inch width and 60-61 inch pitch.
Each seat has a lot of legroom with a gigantic monitor, ample storage, charging ports, and more. There are several storage chambers and a handheld remote dedicated to the IFE. A large tray table pulls out for meals or if you want to work.
On your seat, you’ll find a pillow and a blanket, as well as an amenity pouch. There’s also an individual air nozzle to keep you cool during sleep.
American Airlines has partnered with Shinola amenity kits to create a modern kit. The pouches are all handmade and contain earplugs, hand lotion, an eye mask, socks, a pen, and even a dental kit. It also contains a D.S. & Durga lip balm.
While they don’t give out pajamas, on certain long-haul flights, such as those heading to Sydney or Hong Kong, guests receive a set of slippers and Casper pajama sets including a duvet mattress. For Korea and Japan flights, they also hand out slippers.
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Food and Beverage
American Airlines allows Flagship business guests a chance to pre-select their meals at least 30 days to 24 hours before their flight. This option is available in premium cabins for international flights and particular local routes.
You can reserve meals by logging into the website or the American Airlines app and then hitting “Reserve a Meal.” You can also input any special request like allergens, Kosher, or vegan meals. If you make any changes to the flight, you will have to order your meals again.
Onboard, the attendants will hand out the menu and take your orders. After all the orders are taken, the meal service begins shortly. All meals are served out of trays and carts. It’s not very luxurious but quite efficient. Everything starts with appetizers, alongside a basket of bread. Mains are provided with a selection of poultry, seafood, pasta as well as meat.
If you do have special requests, AA will try and accommodate this. However, be warned the quality can differ depending on the local caterer of your flight.
Dessert is a selection of pastries, cakes, cheese, or sundaes. There’s also coffee and tea. On occasion, you can ask for your meals to be served later and the crew can be accommodating depending on how long the flight will take.
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American Airlines has a fantastic in-flight entertainment system with hundreds of Hollywood movies, music, podcasts, and TV shows. These can be accessed via an 18-inch touchscreen monitor. It’s responsive and the navigation is easy, but you can also control it using a handheld remote found in one of the armrests.
One thing to note is while the monitors are present and will remain on transatlantic flights, American Airlines has expressed its desire to remove them completely from local routes. This move puts more emphasis on robust Wi-Fi and emphasizes streaming content so guests can access entertainment content on their phones or devices via the American Airlines app. As a result, they’ve also partnered with top streaming content channels like Skillshare, Rosetta Stone, and Apple TV.
Each guest also received Bang & Olufsen headphones to use with the IFE. These are fantastic noise-canceling headphones and are praised for their quality. However, because they’re so good, AA has resorted to collecting the headphones an hour before landing since some guests have loved them so much they’ve stolen them.
There’s no free Wi-Fi for Flagship business guests, but you can purchase access for as low as $10. If you prefer having full access throughout the flight without any data cap, you can pay up to $35. Frequent travelers, on the other hand, can opt for subscription options that run at $49.95 per month for one device. It goes up to $59.95 for two devices.
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Depending on the aircraft, you get anywhere between 2-3 lavatories onboard. There’s nothing special about these. Some may contain high-end toiletries but others might not.
All seats aboard the American Airlines Flagship business have lie-flat seats. They also provide a blanket and pillow including a mattress for longer routes to help you sleep comfortably. When laid flat, the seats measure 76 up to 81 inches in length.
Staff and Guest Services
Service on board the AA Flagship business cabin is dependent on the crew that you’ll get. It can be great or it can be substandard.
Who Is It For?
If you want to fly in luxury and comfort, or need better seats for cushier travel, the AA Flagship business class is a great choice. On the ground, guests receive priority check-in as well as boarding. There’s also free access to the Flagship Lounge or Admirals Club lounge where you can get gourmet meals and drinks and relax before your departure.
While it’s true the service can be hit or miss at times. AA still attempts to ensure guests are happy while taking this unique cabin. If you want to try the Flagship business cabin, make sure to check if you’re getting the Boeing 777-300ER to get the best experience possible.
American Airlines Flagship Business Class Gallery
United Polaris Business Class
United offers free access to the world-class Polaris Lounge when you’re flying on the United Polaris cabin. You can find the Polaris Lounge in different hubs all across the United States. Their branch in Chicago (ORD) even counts as one of the best airport lounges in the world.
The Polaris Lounge features gorgeous seating with contemporary decor and a fashionable setup. Gorgeous leather sofas and work desks fill the space with views of the apron on others. An extensive buffet serves hot and cold food items including fridges packed with beverages. There’s a coffee machine as well as a bar for cocktails and spirits too.
If you need to catch sleep, several lounges offer a sleeping room. They even come with different accessories like a pillow, sleeping spray, and an eye mask to promote good sleep. Shower rooms are also available too in case you need to freshen up in the lounge.
But perhaps the best part of visiting the Polaris Lounge is The Dining Room. This is a special à la carte dining space where you get treated to delicious gourmet dishes and wine right before flying on a premium cabin. You can reserve a table if the area is full since this is on a first-come, first-served basis.
When you’re ready to board your flight, as a United Polaris guest you receive priority check-in and boarding.
United Polaris is a stunning cabin. It is stylish, spacious, and has beautiful seats ready to impress its guests.
It’s worth noting, however, that United also has United Business class, which is different from the United Polaris. The former is the regular business class you would find on domestic flights while the United Polaris is a premium business class cabin found on United’s international flights.
A majority of United’s fleet does carry the United Polaris cabin. You’ll find this on the 767 where the seats are in a 1-1-1 layout, each with aisle access. However, on the 787-9 Dreamliner, 777-200ER, 787-9 Dreamliner, and 787-10 Dreamliners, the cabin is arranged in a 1-2-1 configuration with a 24-inch width and 75-76-inch length.
The seat is upholstered in a thick and beautiful fabric with a flippable backrest so it cradles your neck. You’ll also find charging areas, compartments, and USB ports for convenient access. In addition, a large footwell provides room for your feet when you sleep.
United gets a lot of praise for their choice of amenities on board the United Polaris. For one, they’ve partnered with the brand, Away, to hand out stunning hard shell cases similar to the Rimowa kits once handed out by airlines like EVA Air on their premium cabins.
Inside the amenity kit are socks, a dental kit, a pen, earplugs as well as items from Sunday Riley like a hand cream, lotion, and lip balm.
While the Away kits are stunning, guests also rave about the Saks Avenue bedding provided by United Polaris to its guests. Both the blanket and pillows are made from top-quality materials and provide restful sleep. If you do it early, you can even ask for a Saks Avenue padding mattress to help create an even more plush sleeping surface. The company also provides a gel foam pillow for a cooling effect.
Another thing is that even though United doesn’t provide pajamas on most of their flights, for international flights longer than 12 hours, they do offer United pajamas.
Food and Beverage
The food service onboard United Polaris is good but not exactly consistent. In some flights, United has returned to providing a printed menu while in others the attendants come around and tell the guest what they have to offer. It’s an unusual thing to have in a high-end cabin, especially since without a printed menu, you have no clue what sides you’re getting with your meal.
In fairness, the meals themselves are good. There’s pre-flight champagne including warmed nuts in a ramekin and a glass of water. After 40 minutes from takeoff, the meal service begins. All the meals are served on a tray. A side salad is handed along with the main entree. You’re then given options for dessert including their signature ice cream sundae.
At least 90 minutes before landing, the second meal is handed out.
The United Polaris seats come with a 15-16 inch touchscreen monitor. Compared to other airlines, the monitor is a bit clunky, only capable of showing four titles at a time when scrolling. However, it does have a lot of shows and movies. There’s also an air show available for aviation geeks.
The monitor can also be controlled using a handheld remote. Headphones are provided but these are subpar in quality so if you’re picky, do bring your headset.
Wi-Fi plans start at $8 to $10. There’s an option to buy a full-flight plan starting at $23. If you’re a frequent traveler, you can purchase a monthly subscription starting at $49. Do note the Wi-Fi availability and plans can vary depending on the type of aircraft you’re taking.
While clean and simple, there’s nothing special about the lavatories inside the United Polaris cabin. These do have touchless sinks as well as toiletries from United’s partner, Sunday Riley.
The Saks Avenue bedding helps make the United Polaris seat extra special. When fully flat, the seat measures at least 75-76 inches.
Staff and Guest Services
Service aboard the United Polaris, while generally pleasant, can also be affected by the type of crew you have. Customers have praised how proactive and attentive the crew is but on occasion, it can be lacking especially during key services like mealtimes.
Who Is It For?
If you want to travel in luxury and comfort, the United Polaris is great for you. There’s no doubt you will get a fantastic hard product, with roomy storage and good meal service. It’s also extremely comfortable with bedding designed to lull you to sleep. One con is that the soft product can be inconsistent depending on the aircraft or crew you have.
United Polaris Business Class Gallery
Best For: Which Airline Class Should You Book?
|Winner||What Makes It Great|
|Best for Food||United Polaris Business Class||United Polaris edges out slightly because the food is good. However, it can be frustrating there’s a lack of a printed or even digital menu on some flights.|
|Best for Seats||Tie||Both the AA Flagship business class seat and United Polaris seat is comfortable, with enough storage space, and good IFE to keep you entertained.|
|Best for Ground Experience||United Polaris Business Class||Polaris Lounges are fantastic. They even have The Dining Room where you can get complimentary restaurant-quality meals at the airport.|
|Best For Comfort||Tie||Both AA Flagship Business and United Polaris are comfortable to use especially on long flights.|
|Best for Families||Tie||The center seats are great for families traveling together since these are built with privacy dividers that can be lowered or pulled up as needed.|
|Best for Couples||United Polaris Business Class||United Polaris center seats are great for couples.|
|Best for Service||Tie||There are pros and cons to the service both in AA and United’s offerings.|
|Most Exclusive||United Polaris Business Class||United Polaris has slightly better hard products, creating a nice exclusivity for each seat. Plus, the cabin is gorgeous and sleek.|
American Airlines Flagship business class delivers a premium hard product with solid seats you can enjoy on long travels. The IFE is robust, with plenty of great options to watch and the Bang & Olufsen headphones are a real treat too! However, the meal service does lack refinements and the service can be hit or miss.
On the other hand, United Polaris provides fantastic access to its world-class Polaris Lounge. The cabin is marvelous, especially on the Dreamliners and the seat itself is inviting. The beautiful seat and the incredible amenities along with it ensure you’re going to have a comfortable time. Sure, the soft product could use improvements here and there but it’s still pretty reliable.
Whichever product you go with, these two airlines furnish great perks. They’re not perfect, particularly on their soft product delivery, but they still count as among the best you’ll get in the air today.