It’s practicalities that count at 35,000 feet. You just want things that work. United Airlines recently revamped its Polaris Business Class offering.

The result is two cheers and at least one raspberry.

Take the toothbrush in the Polaris vanity set – obviously designed by a woke committee at a company offsite.

It’s made of wood. Yeah! We’re saving the environment! And it’s got real bristles.

There is only one problem with the brush – it doesn’t clean your teeth. Its pathetically weak bristles do no more than move the paste around in your mouth, while the ergonomically designed handle is too short for most human hands.

The cabin staff onboard United Polaris
The cabin staff onboard United Polaris

Luckily, I never leave home without my trusty Singapore Airlines kit. No point in saving the planet with another object that won’t perform the function it’s designed for.

United Airlines has been getting some good raps for the Polaris revamp, so I wondered if the airline had really changed. They are stepping up flight numbers in a bid to capture the heavily contested Australian market – Singapore Airlines and Emirates rule the skies here, alongside Qantas. So they will have to be smart.

It’s been a while since I’ve flown any American airlines. An aging fleet and trolly dollies with attitude made United a no go zone for me. With Asian and Middle Eastern airlines trying so hard to in my business, why would I want a stewardess who looks like Joan Rivers on a bad day.

However, my flight was to Miami, home of cruise, and United Airline’s fare and connections made the airline compelling.

The food onboard United Airlines Polaris
The food onboard United Airlines Polaris

So what did I think? Well, the United Airlines Polaris class seats are better. The pod is nicely designed, with lie flat beds, good entertainment, storage for shoes and water. I’m even impressed with the PJs.

Our custom Saks Fifth Avenue sleep set has a Saks Day Blanket made from recycled plastic, a duvet and a cooling gel pillow. On flights longer than 14 hours, we also offer pajamas.And the pillow

In our amenity kits designed by Therabody, you’ll find eye serum, facial spray, hand cream, socks, ear plugs and an eye mask to block out any noise or distractions.

This is a classic long haul – 15 hours to Houston and another two hours on domestic to Miami.

My Therabody hand cream and lip balm came in a handy bum bag. Food was fresh and tasty – I had salmon and crab cakes along with the cheese board from four options on the outward leg, though I was peremptorily told the beef had run out – odd, since we’d just taken off. The sauteed Cajun shrimp (large prawns to you and I) and salad on the way back was delicious.

The champagne is Charles Heidsieck Monopole Blue Top Brut – nice! Even being served in a blue plastic cup didn’t change the fact that this is a top drop.

Breakfast was, as with so many airlines, a sad affair. Spinach and fetta frittata certainly hadn’t survived the cooking process and, in a Masterchef masterstroke, the the egg white omelette had absolutely no taste at all.

United Airlines Amenity Kits
United Airlines Amenity Kits

So what’s my verdict?

From the individual goodbye as we left the plane – “Thanks for choosing United have a nice day” to the better seat design, United has indeed lifted its game.

Now, all they need to do is get a toothbrush that cleans teeth.

Peter Lynch flew Polaris to Miami on a Boeing 787 in December 2023.