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janders
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United Polaris Promise Never Matched Reality

Tue Feb 20, 2018 5:35 pm

Interesting article about how the much touted United Polaris product offerings have fizzled since its initial launch in 2016.


United CEO Munoz’s Polaris Promise Never Matched Reality
https://skift.com/2018/02/20/united-ceo ... d-reality/


Besides fact that fewer than 20 of 150+ widebody jets feature the actual new Polaris seat and only one Polaris lounge(ORD) has opened to date, many of the soft service elements have been eliminated or reduced. Just some changes:

- pre-departure champagne flutes eliminated
- eliminate bloody mary/mimosa cart service
- menus downsized
- preset wine selection removed. Now you get whatever is in stock
- no more magazine/newspapers
- cheese/port cart gone, now on request only
- desert selection reduced
- Reduction in Saks bedding pillow
- Gel pillow, PJs, and mattress pad no longer proactively offered, now only on customer request
- pre-arrival chocolates eliminated
- various dining ware/service items eliminated/changed

While on their own each of these changes is pretty small, but in combination, it seems to be a pretty different than initially envisaged.

As the article highlights some of these changes might very be due to issues with staffing and difficulty in FAs being able to deliver all that was promised without stretching the service out into a multi-hour project.

So did UA over promise, and under deliver with Polaris?

Personally, I find it pretty amazing new planes (787s) continue to be delivered with old seat product, while still marketing the overall Polaris concept so heavily when in reality majority of premium customers will be seated in the old product for years to come.
Last edited by janders on Tue Feb 20, 2018 5:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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usairways85
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Re: United Polaris Promise Never Matched Reality

Tue Feb 20, 2018 5:41 pm

And don't forget about the Polaris Lounge roll out that has been a complete blunder. What is there only 1 or two so far? EWR will take a year to complete while creating a complete lack of lounge space at EWR in the meantime.
 
jetero
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Re: United Polaris Promise Never Matched Reality

Tue Feb 20, 2018 5:41 pm

janders wrote:
Personally, I find it pretty amazing new planes (787s) continue to be delivered with old seat product, while still marketing the overall Polaris concept so heavily when in reality majority of premium customers will be seated in the old product for years to come.


Well you have two choices there:

(1) Write off all of the amounts already paid for the 787 business class seating, not to mention significantly delay their deliveries and keep otherwise revenue-producing assets out of service.

(2) Don't announce/advertise/implement Polaris at all until the majority of aircraft have the new seating.

But I know this site is not one for practicalities.
 
jetmatt777
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Re: United Polaris Promise Never Matched Reality

Tue Feb 20, 2018 5:47 pm

United can't ever win.

If they installed all of the seats and built the lounges before branding it Polaris, people would complain that United was just slapping a new name on 3-4 year old seating. They advertise it before they are installed and people are complaining that it isn't fast enough.

I guess United should just shut down for 6 months and install all of the seats at once.
 
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Re: United Polaris Promise Never Matched Reality

Tue Feb 20, 2018 5:50 pm

jetero wrote:
But I know this site is not one for practicalities.


You know, I don't really think that's fair. If a company plans to re-brand some or all of its services it should have a plan in place and said services should be upgraded in a timely manner. United was quick to launch Polaris, but there is no pace to their improvements. That will kill credibility and deservedly so.
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LAXintl
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Re: United Polaris Promise Never Matched Reality

Tue Feb 20, 2018 5:54 pm

As almost 20-year 1K, I agree that the broader Polaris hype has not matched reality.

In my book, they indeed over promised and under delivered. Some fatal mistakes made imo were;

o Way too heavily marketed the new seat which bulk of customers wont see for years. They since have backed of the seat marketing and pushed a more broader Polaris service product. I also agree the retrofit schedule is way too slow, and taking delivery of large number of shinny new 787s with the old seats only makes future retrofits even further away.

o New Polaris meal service concept indeed turned into multi-hour marathon. I cant really blame crews however as UA far under staff its widebodies compared to international peers. Its a bit hard to offer a world class product when you neither have the staff nor training to do it.

I agree while many cuts/adjustments on their own don't mean much, combined they create a large volume of back peddling, be it the result of cost cutting, supply shortages(wine), or crew and customer feedback.

So I guess while many parts of Polaris was good conceptually and tried match global peers, the reality turned out quite differently both on the ground and in the air.

I would not mind a more simplified and expedited meal service, however not having the seats really takes away from the entire pitch. Considering we are 2-years in and barely 20 frames out of 150 have the new seats, it will be a very long and disappointing wait for many customers.
Last edited by LAXintl on Tue Feb 20, 2018 6:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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WWads
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Re: United Polaris Promise Never Matched Reality

Tue Feb 20, 2018 5:55 pm

I think they saw that DL and AA weren't responding with similar product offerings, and that it wasn't driving additional premium customers to UA.

Polaris really could have worked, but UA bungled it from the beginning. It's disappointing, since a successful product could have boosted the J experience on their competitors.
Last edited by WWads on Tue Feb 20, 2018 5:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.
 
Flighty
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Re: United Polaris Promise Never Matched Reality

Tue Feb 20, 2018 5:59 pm

This is a really fascinating thread. The long modification time for a a big fleet of aircraft and lounges is unavoidable. One asks if UAL is conserving capital by doing it slowly, or are they beta testing, which might be a good idea.

Still, let me introduce a favorite brand assessment method: you are only as good as the worst product that wears your logo. Anybody can do a "best" effort. It takes real planning to achieve a high MINIMUM standard of quality. Airlines should be ranked according to that.
 
MaverickM11
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Re: United Polaris Promise Never Matched Reality

Tue Feb 20, 2018 6:05 pm

UA has always been synonymous with bungled, glacial execution, but it seems like a new seat is always a comedy of errors and endless wait and false starts, no matter the airline. Is there an airline that has rolled over its entire fleet with a new J seat in a timely manner? Without a seat manufacturer faking testing data, shutting down, or getting overwhelmed in the process?
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LAXintl
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Re: United Polaris Promise Never Matched Reality

Tue Feb 20, 2018 6:06 pm

WWads wrote:
I think they saw that DL and AA weren't responding with similar product offerings, and that it wasn't driving additional premium customers to UA.

Polaris really could have worked, but UA bungled it from the beginning. It's disappointing, since a successful product could have boosted the J experience on their competitors.


Or the other side of the coin.

Maybe UA realized the new offering was not driving the added revenue compared to peers which they were hoping for?

Of course, personally, I always took issue with the density of the new Polaris cabins. Both AA and DL (along with many airlines) have opted to go with less dense more spacious cabins, instead, UA sought out an almost entirely 1:1 seat count replacement solution.
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caverunner17
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Re: United Polaris Promise Never Matched Reality

Tue Feb 20, 2018 6:07 pm

Flighty wrote:
This is a really fascinating thread. The long modification time for a a big fleet of aircraft and lounges is unavoidable. One asks if UAL is conserving capital by doing it slowly, or are they beta testing, which might be a good idea.

Still, let me introduce a favorite brand assessment method: you are only as good as the worst product that wears your logo. Anybody can do a "best" effort. It takes real planning to achieve a high MINIMUM standard of quality. Airlines should be ranked according to that.

Well, when you continue to take new aircraft with old J seats, you aren't doing yourself a favor. A decent portion of the 787-9 fleet could have been delivered with these. Instead.... we have the 773's and a handful of 763's.
 
jpetekyxmd80
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Re: United Polaris Promise Never Matched Reality

Tue Feb 20, 2018 6:08 pm

jetmatt777 wrote:
United can't ever win.

If they installed all of the seats and built the lounges before branding it Polaris, people would complain that United was just slapping a new name on 3-4 year old seating. They advertise it before they are installed and people are complaining that it isn't fast enough.

I guess United should just shut down for 6 months and install all of the seats at once.



This post is so ridiculous. The timeframes for the new lounges keep getting pushed back and back. The timeframes for the new seat installations keep getting pushed back and back (due to major supplier issues).

The new flagship 787s which are operating some of the longest routes in the world.. don't even have a timeframe for getting Polaris seats,and it will probably be another 3 years or so.

All this added to the fact they had a massive media blitz for the product and really generated a good amount of hype.

You see no problems here? You see no basis for complaining? What world do you live in?
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jetero
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Re: United Polaris Promise Never Matched Reality

Tue Feb 20, 2018 6:10 pm

mbmbos wrote:
jetero wrote:
But I know this site is not one for practicalities.


You know, I don't really think that's fair. If a company plans to re-brand some or all of its services it should have a plan in place and said services should be upgraded in a timely manner. United was quick to launch Polaris, but there is no pace to their improvements. That will kill credibility and deservedly so.


You certainly have an argument about the lounges, but when it comes to aircraft getting the seats, I believe the only problem versus plan has been the delays at the beginning. Maybe they shouldn't have advertised if they knew about the delays, but I wouldn't say it was a real "credibility" killer because it wasn't like specific routes were being advertised as having the seat. The website is pretty transparent on the fleet types and number with the new seats.

The bloody mary cart, Saks bedding, etc., etc., is all a bunch of gimmicks if you ask me. What does that matter if the soft product is lacking? If people really buy a business class seat because of a bloody mary cart, then I guess I'm not normal.

I've flown it four times since the rollout (not in the new seat)--two flights there was no noticeable change from what I'd say was the old CO BF service (i.e., nothing to write home about), but two I was pleasantly surprised (granted, from a base of low expectations).
 
B737900ER
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Re: United Polaris Promise Never Matched Reality

Tue Feb 20, 2018 6:16 pm

Almost all of the changes were based on real world usage. Hardly anyone cared about the mimosa or Bloody Mary cart. People complained there was too much bedding. People complained about the champagne flutes, didn’t eat the cheese and passed on deserts. Wine tastings were a flop. UA or any of the US3 aren’t like other carriers where they can justify catering waste, and there was an excessive amount of food waste after the Polaris flights. Add to that crews who were already complaining about the added work, and a clientele who frankly aren’t there to be wowed by airplane food and you get what you have now.

I know many airlines go over the top to put on a show for bloggers but the changes are just a market correction, adjusting to the real world. And it’s business class. Compared to EK and LH business class, Polaris isn’t much different in terms of seat and service.
 
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Re: United Polaris Promise Never Matched Reality

Tue Feb 20, 2018 6:22 pm

caverunner17 wrote:
Well, when you continue to take new aircraft with old J seats, you aren't doing yourself a favor. A decent portion of the 787-9 fleet could have been delivered with these. Instead.... we have the 773's and a handful of 763's.

When you can’t get the seats what do you do? Do you not take the airplane? And really there’s only been maybe four or five 787-9 that have been delivered since the seat roll out.

I don’t think people understand how incredibly complex it is to modify an airplane in the United States. A three year time table to significantly modify a large portion of your wide body fleet is actually ambitious.
 
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Re: United Polaris Promise Never Matched Reality

Tue Feb 20, 2018 6:24 pm

janders wrote:
Sorry, I won't give UA much leeway due to seat manufacturer delays, as since day one UA published a very slow retrofit schedule, and did not even include the 787 fleet in the plans.
At this rate by the time the last widebody gets done, it might be soon time for a new seat again. Keep in mind the UA IPTE only had a 9-year shelf life from its announcement to the announcement of Polaris.

It takes about four weeks to mod ONE airplane. I swear people here think aircraft maintenance and mods are like moving the furniture around in your bedroom. It’s so much more complex than you realize.
 
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Re: United Polaris Promise Never Matched Reality

Tue Feb 20, 2018 6:25 pm

Sorry, I won't give UA much leeway due to seat manufacturer delays, as since day one UA published a very slow retrofit schedule, and did not even include the 787 fleet in the plans.
At this rate by the time the last widebody gets done, it might be soon time for a new seat again. Keep in mind the UA IPTE only had a 9-year shelf life from its announcement to the announcement of Polaris.
"We make war that we may live in peace." -- Aristotle
 
IADCA
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Re: United Polaris Promise Never Matched Reality

Tue Feb 20, 2018 6:27 pm

I've experienced a mix of things with Polaris - the soft product with the old 772 J seats, the soft product with the 788 J seats, and the 77W full onboard Polaris experience.

My $.02 is that the drinks/menu/bedding make very little difference with the old seats, and I suspect some of the reductions have a lot to do with the fact that there is still going to be a lot of 772 capacity in the old config for quite some time. The service took too long and there was simply too much bedding for that config - there was just nowhere to put the stuff during meal service.

On the 788, it was much better, but I only experienced that after some of the changes had already been made.

The actual full Polaris experience on the 77W was very good. But the problem is that very few people get that experience, and it's what's at least implicitly promised in all the promotional material. If I hadn't known what I was getting into, I'd be extremely disappointed to end up in the same old J seat as before on a 772 on a flight like IAD-NRT. I'll never complain about stuff like that, especially as I wasn't paying for it, but the 772 experience isn't even worth a miles+money upgrade from premium economy in my book. The 787 is worth the miles+money upgrade but isn't at all a difference maker versus competition and probably lags somewhat behind because of the lack of aisle access from the window seats. I would feel somewhat bad asking my clients to pay for that product at the prices usually charged.

Opinions like that are not a good sign if even mid-tier elite flyers like me are saying that when there's been all this marketing.
 
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keesje
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Re: United Polaris Promise Never Matched Reality

Tue Feb 20, 2018 6:45 pm

I worked on similar interior / product upgrades and we pulled a sizeable WB fleet to the ground to complete fleetwide implementation within 4 months.

All was communicated thouroughly to manage expectations during the launch campaign.

Additional groundtime was included in the business case.

I never flew Polaris but have been unimpressed by the cubical style business cabin photos I saw.
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LAXintl
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Re: United Polaris Promise Never Matched Reality

Tue Feb 20, 2018 6:48 pm

Yes certainly seat retrofits can be complex, especially on the first frame and get it all certified. However, we also know airlines can very much push the process along by running multiple lines and also not waiting on having retrofits coincide with major checks. Its really a decision company can make of chooses.
For example, AA has pushed its 777 biz and now premium economy retrofits quite aggressively with multiple airplanes out of service back to back at vendors to get it done.

Oh and on the 787s, UA has taken delivery of 6 787s since the first 77W delivery with Polaris, and plans 7 787 deliveries this year.
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keesje
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Re: United Polaris Promise Never Matched Reality

Tue Feb 20, 2018 6:53 pm

Maybe International, objective travellers rate the old seat better, or the same. Then you have situation in the boardroom.. :drool:
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UPlog
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Re: United Polaris Promise Never Matched Reality

Tue Feb 20, 2018 6:58 pm

Due deadheading I manage to try many global business class products.

Sorry to say coming from a United family, that I agree that the Polaris concept rollout was bungled from the beginning. Yes they blatantly advertised the heck out of the seat which virtually no one will see, but the food service and crew service was hardly consistently delivered flight to flight. It just seems there were way too many gimmicks that the crew either did not know how to deliver or just did not care.

Oh and the new Polaris seat - feels too narrow and claustrophobic imo. You can tell they really wanted to squeeze in as many seats as possible into the cabin.
While I have yet to try the DeltaOne product, among US carriers I give AA highest ratings among business class offering, though I look forward and prefer to fly on likes of CX, NH, SQ, QR, etc given the choice.
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jpetekyxmd80
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Re: United Polaris Promise Never Matched Reality

Tue Feb 20, 2018 6:59 pm

keesje wrote:
I never flew Polaris but have been unimpressed by the cubical style business cabin photos I saw.



Yeah, because this isnt the dominant trend in business class seats due to desire for privacy...
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Re: United Polaris Promise Never Matched Reality

Tue Feb 20, 2018 7:07 pm

I have found most airlines’ marketing to over hype just about everything.

I think it’s perfectly fine that UA has pulled back on some of the service items, especially if passengers do not want them or they are slowing down the overall service too much. Frankly some of the original Polaris offerings were gimmicky to the point of trying too hard to be gimmicky. It does beg the questions to what degree does UA understand and apply passenger insights in the design of new products/service offerings and how did UA test the offerings.

As far as the new Polaris seat, we would all like to have it sooner. And we’d love it on all the newly delivered aircraft, e.g., 789 and 77W. However there is a lot of information we don’t have, e.g., what is the point of no return in deciding seats for a newly manufactured aircraft and what are the contractual and financial ramifications of changing existing seat orders with manufacturers.

There is no doubt UA has bungled the rollout of Polaris where others wouldn’t have. It’s also about managing customer expectations which is another area UA continues to make missteps.

The Polaris concept was pre-Oscar. I wonder to what degree he is helping or hindering the rollout.
 
fun2fly
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Re: United Polaris Promise Never Matched Reality

Tue Feb 20, 2018 7:09 pm

caverunner17 wrote:
Flighty wrote:
This is a really fascinating thread. The long modification time for a a big fleet of aircraft and lounges is unavoidable. One asks if UAL is conserving capital by doing it slowly, or are they beta testing, which might be a good idea.

Still, let me introduce a favorite brand assessment method: you are only as good as the worst product that wears your logo. Anybody can do a "best" effort. It takes real planning to achieve a high MINIMUM standard of quality. Airlines should be ranked according to that.

Well, when you continue to take new aircraft with old J seats, you aren't doing yourself a favor. A decent portion of the 787-9 fleet could have been delivered with these. Instead.... we have the 773's and a handful of 763's.


So, here is where you are wrong. Seat manufacturer only makes so many seats per year. You have x amount. You cannot do everything at once, sorry.

Do you replace the worst seats in your fleet on the 3 class 763's? They consistently get the worst customer rankings and are flying premier routes to LHR. I think it's a wise decision to get the "worst experience" to a higher level vs. incrementally improving the 789 new birds just a bit. If you have recently flown one of these, as I have, you'd agree that the 3 class 763's are the first priority.

With all the 3 class 763's done, all the 77W's, 78J's and the first 3 class 772 mid Q2 + more, you should be north of 33% by the end of the year. With the governmental regulations out of the way on the first trials on the 772's, you should be all geared up to move quickly through them.

Even SQ takes a few years to cycle through their product.
 
gwrudolph
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Re: United Polaris Promise Never Matched Reality

Tue Feb 20, 2018 7:10 pm

I agree the seat and lounge delays are not too, but most J class customers could probably care less about the other items in the list. Mimosas and chocolates are seriously not a big deal either way . . .
 
caverunner17
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Re: United Polaris Promise Never Matched Reality

Tue Feb 20, 2018 7:24 pm

fun2fly wrote:
caverunner17 wrote:
Flighty wrote:
This is a really fascinating thread. The long modification time for a a big fleet of aircraft and lounges is unavoidable. One asks if UAL is conserving capital by doing it slowly, or are they beta testing, which might be a good idea.

Still, let me introduce a favorite brand assessment method: you are only as good as the worst product that wears your logo. Anybody can do a "best" effort. It takes real planning to achieve a high MINIMUM standard of quality. Airlines should be ranked according to that.

Well, when you continue to take new aircraft with old J seats, you aren't doing yourself a favor. A decent portion of the 787-9 fleet could have been delivered with these. Instead.... we have the 773's and a handful of 763's.


So, here is where you are wrong. Seat manufacturer only makes so many seats per year. You have x amount. You cannot do everything at once, sorry.

Do you replace the worst seats in your fleet on the 3 class 763's? They consistently get the worst customer rankings and are flying premier routes to LHR. I think it's a wise decision to get the "worst experience" to a higher level vs. incrementally improving the 789 new birds just a bit. If you have recently flown one of these, as I have, you'd agree that the 3 class 763's are the first priority.

With all the 3 class 763's done, all the 77W's, 78J's and the first 3 class 772 mid Q2 + more, you should be north of 33% by the end of the year. With the governmental regulations out of the way on the first trials on the 772's, you should be all geared up to move quickly through them.

Even SQ takes a few years to cycle through their product.

The decision with the Polaris seat wasn't just internally launched 1.5 years ago. As you said, it takes time and the 77W fleet wasn't decided overnight. I see that 9 of the 789's could have been delivered (June 2016-present) with a new seat and with I think 2 more to be delivered, that's just under half the 787-9 fleet that could have had a new product.
 
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fanoftristars
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Re: United Polaris Promise Never Matched Reality

Tue Feb 20, 2018 7:26 pm

How does their roll out compare to when Delta Announced all lie flat/direct isle access on international wide body aircraft? I seem to recall it was fairly fast. Now Delta is on to the new business class suite. Obviously new A350s are being delievered with the new seat and I hear 777s are already in process. How does DL's retrofit schedule compare to United's? I think comparing to your direct competitor gives a good idea of how well they are actually performing, or not performing with this roll out.

I'll have to give it to United to at least have a vision of having the same seat (or very, very similar seat) on all international planes, it's just too bad they can't roll it out fast enough.

I do find the comment funny that customers were complaining about champagne flutes? Really? They'd rather drink their champagne out of plastic? And to the other items, bedding, cheese plates, desserts... They didn't do any market research before? One would think this may be the case of a very small subset complaining and and an airline looking for excuses to cut services.
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Re: United Polaris Promise Never Matched Reality

Tue Feb 20, 2018 7:32 pm

fanoftristars wrote:
I do find the comment funny that customers were complaining about champagne flutes? Really? They'd rather drink their champagne out of plastic?


It seems more to do with the gimmicky style of the champagne flute than being served in glass vs plastic.

See:
http://onemileatatime.boardingarea.com/ ... d-improve/
 
Austin787
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Re: United Polaris Promise Never Matched Reality

Tue Feb 20, 2018 7:35 pm

Slow retrofits, are not unique to UA. AA was also slow to roll out its 1-2-1 business seats. AA announced its new 77W J seat in 2012 (also heavily marketed) and didn't start retrofitting its 772s and 763s until late 2014 and took until mid-2017 to complete the retrofits. DL announced its Business suites in late 2016 to much fanfare, and as of now only the A350s have it. DL starts retrofitting the 777s with the business suites later this year and it will take until 2020 for the 777 retrofits to be completed, assuming no delays. In other words, it will take DL 4 years from the announcement of its business suites for 25% of its widebodies to have the new J seat. Outside the US, Emirates, Qatar, Singapore, etc also heavily market their new business seats and then take many years to retrofit their fleets.

As people have already posted, retrofitting an aircraft is complex and time consuming with certifications required.
 
anonms
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Re: United Polaris Promise Never Matched Reality

Tue Feb 20, 2018 7:56 pm

Austin787 wrote:
Slow retrofits, are not unique to UA. AA was also slow to roll out its 1-2-1 business seats. AA announced its new 77W J seat in 2012 (also heavily marketed) and didn't start retrofitting its 772s and 763s until late 2014 and took until mid-2017 to complete the retrofits. DL announced its Business suites in late 2016 to much fanfare, and as of now only the A350s have it. DL starts retrofitting the 777s with the business suites later this year and it will take until 2020 for the 777 retrofits to be completed, assuming no delays. In other words, it will take DL 4 years from the announcement of its business suites for 25% of its widebodies to have the new J seat. Outside the US, Emirates, Qatar, Singapore, etc also heavily market their new business seats and then take many years to retrofit their fleets.

As people have already posted, retrofitting an aircraft is complex and time consuming with certifications required.


But here's the difference:

• United rebranded everything as Polaris. The 77W seats are Polaris. The pmCO seats are Polaris. The pmUA seats are Polaris. They're all very different experiences.
• Delta markets their suites as a different hard product ("Delta One" versus "Delta One Suites"). Even when you go to their website, it emphasizes the existing seats first and then mentions the suites as a new thing being rolled out.
• Qatar markets their suites as a different hard product ("Business Class" versus "QSuites").
• Singapore's business class seats honestly are all similar enough that customers might notice fit and finish differences but their experience isn't impacted. It's all still direct-aisle-access.

It'd be one thing if United announced just the seats as their new Polaris seats and the soft product as being their new long-haul premium experience. But if you see an ad for Polaris and you wind up with the pmUA seats? The promise definitely doesn't match reality. It's still bungled marketing.
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EChid
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Re: United Polaris Promise Never Matched Reality

Tue Feb 20, 2018 8:01 pm

As others have said, it's about the failure on the hard product side not the soft. People don't want cheese or chocolates? Fine, no biggie. Get rid of them. You learn from clients.

But the continued 787 deliveries in old configuration is a joke. They *can't* have just pulled this new hard product out of thin air in two weeks, there *had* to have been some prior planning years in advance to figure out this product. How did they not think to make that part of both of the new widebodies they were having delivered? I have the distinct impression that there were two working groups that just never talked to each other.

Other airlines (including American, Air Canada) have managed this far better, even with the supplier issues that American has had.

Here is what I don't understand: Why wouldn't they clearly label their offerings on their website as Polaris or non-Polaris? As many have said here, it's not about your best product - it's about your worst. Surely clearly delineating between the different hard products would have built up demand, perceived value, and ultimately given higher fares to the planes flying with them without misaligning expectations with reality for the rest of the planes. Why not make a big deal of that at booking time and differentiate instead of lumping in crappy seats with good?
 
User avatar
UPlog
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Re: United Polaris Promise Never Matched Reality

Tue Feb 20, 2018 8:04 pm

With so many soft product cuts under guise of feedback makes one wonder how United trialed all this?

Was there not solid proof of concept testing before launching to determine what really customers want onboard and what works crew and galley wise?

I either UA bungled the development of the concept really bad, or maybe cuts are instead being driven by desire to cut cost instead. :scratchchin:
I fly your boxes
 
Antarius
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Re: United Polaris Promise Never Matched Reality

Tue Feb 20, 2018 8:04 pm

mbmbos wrote:
jetero wrote:
But I know this site is not one for practicalities.


You know, I don't really think that's fair. If a company plans to re-brand some or all of its services it should have a plan in place and said services should be upgraded in a timely manner. United was quick to launch Polaris, but there is no pace to their improvements. That will kill credibility and deservedly so.


This. Heck, 5 years after merging there were bowling shoe livery jets, tulip jets and the current livery jets floating around. We all understand that it takes time to make sweeping changes but UA seems to really stretch that to the limit.

UA has to have know the pace would be glacial due to the seat issues etc. They should have waited to announce Polaris then.
Militant Centrist
Let's all just use some common sense
 
jetero
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Re: United Polaris Promise Never Matched Reality

Tue Feb 20, 2018 8:13 pm

Antarius wrote:
mbmbos wrote:
jetero wrote:
But I know this site is not one for practicalities.


You know, I don't really think that's fair. If a company plans to re-brand some or all of its services it should have a plan in place and said services should be upgraded in a timely manner. United was quick to launch Polaris, but there is no pace to their improvements. That will kill credibility and deservedly so.


This. Heck, 5 years after merging there were bowling shoe livery jets, tulip jets and the current livery jets floating around.


Um, no, not even close. You seem to have a distortion for time when it involves United.

Antarius wrote:
We all understand that it takes time to make sweeping changes but UA seems to really stretch that to the limit.

UA has to have know the pace would be glacial due to the seat issues etc. They should have waited to announce Polaris then.


See above:

Austin787 wrote:
DL announced its Business suites in late 2016 to much fanfare, and as of now only the A350s have it. DL starts retrofitting the 777s with the business suites later this year and it will take until 2020 for the 777 retrofits to be completed, assuming no delays. In other words, it will take DL 4 years from the announcement of its business suites for 25% of its widebodies to have the new J seat. Outside the US, Emirates, Qatar, Singapore, etc also heavily market their new business seats and then take many years to retrofit their fleets.


How do you convert to Delta time? 4 years=6 months, I assume?
 
B737900ER
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Re: United Polaris Promise Never Matched Reality

Tue Feb 20, 2018 8:15 pm

EChid wrote:

Here is what I don't understand: Why wouldn't they clearly label their offerings on their website as Polaris or non-Polaris? As many have said here, it's not about your best product - it's about your worst. Surely clearly delineating between the different hard products would have built up demand, perceived value, and ultimately given higher fares to the planes flying with them without misaligning expectations with reality for the rest of the planes. Why not make a big deal of that at booking time and differentiate instead of lumping in crappy seats with good?

Because you cripple the operation by having tiny subfleets.


Imagine you bought a ticket to fly from IAH-SCL and the polaris aircraft broke and was subbed for a non Polaris aircraft. No big deal, but down the line the customers who were expecting to coming back don’t have it, the flight the next day to AMS doesn’t have it, the flight to EWR won’t have it and when it turns around to GVA it won’t have it and every subsequent route that the aircraft will fly won’t have it, all the while you’ll have passengers who expect it and may have paid a premium for it.

You could confine them to certain stations and routes, but you still loose the operational flexibility that airlines rely on.
 
Aptivaboy
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Re: United Polaris Promise Never Matched Reality

Tue Feb 20, 2018 8:15 pm

This. Heck, 5 years after merging there were bowling shoe livery jets, tulip jets and the current livery jets floating around. We all understand that it takes time to make sweeping changes but UA seems to really stretch that to the limit.


Right, there was a picture on A-Net a few weeks ago showing UA/CO jets lined up at LAX, all with multiple liveries: current, blue tulip, battleship grey, and all at the same time.

While I often criticize UAL, I hope they can get their act together on this one. Polaris looked like such an inviting product. The lounge interested me less than the in-flight experience, personally, but whatever track it eventually took I was really rooting for UAL to get this one done, and to then fly it and try it. Here's hoping that they still can.
 
Antarius
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Re: United Polaris Promise Never Matched Reality

Tue Feb 20, 2018 8:18 pm

jetero wrote:

Um, no, not even close. You seem to have a distortion for time when it involves United.



Sounds more like someone has an agenda here
Militant Centrist
Let's all just use some common sense
 
B737900ER
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Re: United Polaris Promise Never Matched Reality

Tue Feb 20, 2018 8:18 pm

Aptivaboy wrote:
This. Heck, 5 years after merging there were bowling shoe livery jets, tulip jets and the current livery jets floating around. We all understand that it takes time to make sweeping changes but UA seems to really stretch that to the limit.


Right, there was a picture on A-Net a few weeks ago showing UA/CO jets lined up at LAX, all with multiple liveries: current, blue tulip, battleship grey, and all at the same time.

Do you know how old that picture is?
 
727200
Posts: 633
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Re: United Polaris Promise Never Matched Reality

Tue Feb 20, 2018 8:20 pm

The problem is that the old UA no longer exists. Instead the folks from co run the show and as they have shown since day one of this 'equal merger' they have no clue how to run an American international airline. They are in the big league now but still act like they are only serving Waco, Lubbock, and Austin.
 
jetero
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Re: United Polaris Promise Never Matched Reality

Tue Feb 20, 2018 8:20 pm

Aptivaboy wrote:
This. Heck, 5 years after merging there were bowling shoe livery jets, tulip jets and the current livery jets floating around. We all understand that it takes time to make sweeping changes but UA seems to really stretch that to the limit.


Right, there was a picture on A-Net a few weeks ago showing UA/CO jets lined up at LAX, all with multiple liveries: current, blue tulip, battleship grey, and all at the same time.


And that picture was taken in May 2015? I think not.
 
B737900ER
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Re: United Polaris Promise Never Matched Reality

Tue Feb 20, 2018 8:23 pm

UPlog wrote:
With so many soft product cuts under guise of feedback makes one wonder how United trialed all this?

Was there not solid proof of concept testing before launching to determine what really customers want onboard and what works crew and galley wise?

I either UA bungled the development of the concept really bad, or maybe cuts are instead being driven by desire to cut cost instead. :scratchchin:

Sometimes you don’t know. I’ll give UA credit for trying something new. Who else has a mimosa cart or Bloody Mary cart or does wine tastings? Somethings just don’t resonate with customers. And just because something is done away with doesn’t always mean that cost savings are a consideration.
 
Antarius
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Re: United Polaris Promise Never Matched Reality

Tue Feb 20, 2018 8:23 pm

jetero wrote:
Aptivaboy wrote:
This. Heck, 5 years after merging there were bowling shoe livery jets, tulip jets and the current livery jets floating around. We all understand that it takes time to make sweeping changes but UA seems to really stretch that to the limit.


Right, there was a picture on A-Net a few weeks ago showing UA/CO jets lined up at LAX, all with multiple liveries: current, blue tulip, battleship grey, and all at the same time.


And that picture was taken in May 2015? I think not.


UA changed from the battleship grey to tulip in what.. 2004? There were battleship grey aircraft floating around in 2013 if not later.

You can defend your agenda, but consumers have deemed the rollout of Polaris to be disappointing and poor. A lot of hype and nothing else. DL didn't hype it so much, so maybe thats why my DL flying friends are happier
Militant Centrist
Let's all just use some common sense
 
B737900ER
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Re: United Polaris Promise Never Matched Reality

Tue Feb 20, 2018 8:24 pm

727200 wrote:
The problem is that the old UA no longer exists. Instead the folks from co run the show and as they have shown since day one of this 'equal merger' they have no clue how to run an American international airline. They are in the big league now but still act like they are only serving Waco, Lubbock, and Austin.

You realize that there’s hardly anyone left from either UA or CO “running the show” anymore. Management has turned over twice. And as for everyone left, nobody really cares about the past anymore
 
Antarius
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Re: United Polaris Promise Never Matched Reality

Tue Feb 20, 2018 8:25 pm

B737900ER wrote:
UPlog wrote:
With so many soft product cuts under guise of feedback makes one wonder how United trialed all this?

Was there not solid proof of concept testing before launching to determine what really customers want onboard and what works crew and galley wise?

I either UA bungled the development of the concept really bad, or maybe cuts are instead being driven by desire to cut cost instead. :scratchchin:

Sometimes you don’t know. I’ll give UA credit for trying something new. Who else has a mimosa cart or Bloody Mary cart or does wine tastings? Somethings just don’t resonate with customers. And just because something is done away with doesn’t always mean that cost savings are a consideration.


I have less issue with small stuff like this. Sometimes customers react positively in focus groups but it doesn't translate to tangible revenue/satisfaction. In this case, it makes sense to phase out the extras.

The hard product is the major issue. That is why people are unhappy.
Militant Centrist
Let's all just use some common sense
 
jetero
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Re: United Polaris Promise Never Matched Reality

Tue Feb 20, 2018 8:26 pm

727200 wrote:
The problem is that the old UA no longer exists. Instead the folks from co run the show and as they have shown since day one of this 'equal merger' they have no clue how to run an American international airline. They are in the big league now but still act like they are only serving Waco, Lubbock, and Austin.


Interesting choices of cities. I think CO tried unsuccessfully to serve Waco 3 times. I'm not even sure they served LBB before the 2000s, certainly not before the late 1990s.

Indeed, there's something about United that always seems to bring the absolutely nonsensical and hyperbolic out.
 
MSPNWA
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Re: United Polaris Promise Never Matched Reality

Tue Feb 20, 2018 8:35 pm

Even when UA significantly ups their game and provides features not seen on its domestic competitors, some people will still find something to complain about. I don't trust these same sources to ever not complain, even if UA had perfect execution. They don't even report correctly. The funny thing is that many of the service "cuts" were in response to customer feedback and complaints (pillow, flutes, service taking too long). And when were the gel pillows, mattress pads, etc. ever not been on request? Poor reporting there. And the lounge delays are also likely partially caused by customer feedback and it being well-received (too crowded - need to be larger).

fanoftristars wrote:
How does their roll out compare to when Delta Announced all lie flat/direct isle access on international wide body aircraft? I seem to recall it was fairly fast. Now Delta is on to the new business class suite. Obviously new A350s are being delievered with the new seat and I hear 777s are already in process. How does DL's retrofit schedule compare to United's? I think comparing to your direct competitor gives a good idea of how well they are actually performing, or not performing with this roll out.

I'll have to give it to United to at least have a vision of having the same seat (or very, very similar seat) on all international planes, it's just too bad they can't roll it out fast enough.

I do find the comment funny that customers were complaining about champagne flutes? Really? They'd rather drink their champagne out of plastic? And to the other items, bedding, cheese plates, desserts... They didn't do any market research before? One would think this may be the case of a very small subset complaining and and an airline looking for excuses to cut services.


It took DL 5 or 6 years from the first delivery to the last, depending on how you want to call it. I believe the very first lie-flat aircraft was a new-built 77L in early 2008. I believe retrofits started in 2009. I know the 764 started that year, and the 77E was around that time as well. The last to be retrofitted was an A332, re-entering service in May 2014. DL also was replacing seats that were more obsolete--recliners and angle-flats. UA's major deficiency is its old seats is a lack of all-aisle access. So there's a level of urgency that DL had too. Since we're only a little past a year for UA's first new seat delivery, their pace is actually very similar.
 
xjetflyer2001
Posts: 299
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Re: United Polaris Promise Never Matched Reality

Tue Feb 20, 2018 8:43 pm

UPlog wrote:
Due deadheading I manage to try many global business class products.

Sorry to say coming from a United family, that I agree that the Polaris concept rollout was bungled from the beginning. Yes they blatantly advertised the heck out of the seat which virtually no one will see, but the food service and crew service was hardly consistently delivered flight to flight. It just seems there were way too many gimmicks that the crew either did not know how to deliver or just did not care.

Oh and the new Polaris seat - feels too narrow and claustrophobic imo. You can tell they really wanted to squeeze in as many seats as possible into the cabin.
While I have yet to try the DeltaOne product, among US carriers I give AA highest ratings among business class offering, though I look forward and prefer to fly on likes of CX, NH, SQ, QR, etc given the choice.


I'd have to agree with you on the Polaris Seat being narrow, I was able to test it out a while back and I'm a pretty small guy 5'6 at 160lbs and I even felt cramped in the Polaris seat. In regards to the bedding and pillows, way to many things on your seat, I couldn't find a place to put it all, but when I used it, it's 10 times more comfortable than the original pillows and bedding.
 
caverunner17
Posts: 267
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Re: United Polaris Promise Never Matched Reality

Tue Feb 20, 2018 8:44 pm

Austin787 wrote:
DL announced its Business suites in late 2016 to much fanfare, and as of now only the A350s have it.

How many other new long-haul aircraft has DL received since then though? That's the issue I see. Continuing to receive new aircraft with old seats means there was very little forward thinking.

The bigger issue I see is UA trying to open premium routes with the 789 with the old seats. Look at SFO-SIN. SQ is pretty consistently $700-1,000+ cheaper in J than UA and has a far superior hard and soft product. I just don't get it. If you're SFO based, why would you pay more to fly UA on a worse product? UA just doesn't have an interest in actually competing. They're great at marketing -- just following through they can't do successfully.
 
airzona11
Posts: 1800
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Re: United Polaris Promise Never Matched Reality

Tue Feb 20, 2018 8:55 pm

caverunner17 wrote:
Austin787 wrote:
DL announced its Business suites in late 2016 to much fanfare, and as of now only the A350s have it.

How many other new long-haul aircraft has DL received since then though? That's the issue I see. Continuing to receive new aircraft with old seats means there was very little forward thinking.

The bigger issue I see is UA trying to open premium routes with the 789 with the old seats. Look at SFO-SIN. SQ is pretty consistently $700-1,000+ cheaper in J than UA and has a far superior hard and soft product. I just don't get it. If you're SFO based, why would you pay more to fly UA on a worse product? UA just doesn't have an interest in actually competing. They're great at marketing -- just following through they can't do successfully.


Maybe this just further enforces that for the most valuable flyers, all the marketing hype is not needed. For us avgeeks, it's great to see all the bells and whistles. But business travelers are going to take the non-stop over a connection and many probably have loyalty or the golden handcuffs to a certain FF program. The schedule matters. While each little feature might be great, maybe it is just marketing fluff. If UA saw revenue increases from these different features, they could not rationally stop offering them. UA has the corporate contracts, they have the feedback from their valuable flyers, they have the pricing data.

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