Fly the sleepy skies: United’s Polaris upgrades aimed at helping business travelers get more rest

File photo The entrance to United Airlines' Polaris Business Class Lounge in Terminal C at Newark Liberty International Airport.

United Airlines announced this week the largest upgrade to its Polaris international business class experience in seven years — revealing new in-airport and onboard amenities that have one goal in mind: Allowing passengers to get more sleep.

The airline, by far the largest that operates out of Newark Liberty International Airport, said it is teaming up with Therabody and Saks Fifth Avenue on amenities that are designed to give customers “the best sleep in the sky.”

United Therabody kits
United’s Therabody collaboration includes wellness products across the entire travel experience.

The new Therabody offerings include an onboard kit that features an eye serum, face spray, hand cream and cleansing towelette. Polaris customers also will have access to award-winning Therabody devices, such as the Lounger, Theragun and RecoveryAir JetBoots, in Polaris lounges — and inflight wellness videos on the airline’s Inflight Entertainment screens.

Better yet, there’s this: United Polaris said it is the only U.S. business class cabin that provides two pillows per person and the only airline to offer a cool gel pillow.

The reason for the upgrade? It’s the biggest request of travelers, who said it’s more important than Wi-Fi.

According to a recent survey of international travelers:

  • 66% said sleep on a flight is more important than having access to Wi-Fi;
  • 74% said it’s more important than bingeing their favorite shows;
  • 61% said it’s more important than the beverage service;
  • 83% said catching up on sleep is important on a flight;
  • 61% said they book flights with sleep in mind.

United is adding these new amenities as demand for international travel surges and the carrier continues to expand its role as the largest airline across both the Atlantic and Pacific. So far this year, the airline’s international bookings are up 20% overall compared with 2022 and customers are booking premium cabin seats — United Polaris and United Premium Plus — 30% more than last year.

New planes coming

United Airlines announced this week it has placed orders for 110 more aircraft for delivery beginning in 2028.

United converted previous options and purchase rights into firm orders for 50 Boeing 787-9s for delivery between 2028 through 2031, as well as 60 Airbus A321neos for delivery between 2028 and 2030.

The company also secured new options for up to 50 more Boeing 787s and purchase rights for an additional 40 A321neo aircraft at the end of the decade.

“International travel is booming, and our customers have direct access to more places around the globe than any other airline — with these new amenities, now, they’ll also have the best experience flying there,” Chief Commercial Officer Andrew Nocella said.

“We know amenities can really elevate the overall flying experience and are confident United Polaris flyers will love the new wellness-focused offerings created with our best-in-class partners Therabody and Saks Fifth Avenue and increased focus on sourcing recycled materials.”

The new Saks Fifth Avenue bedding includes select items that are made with recycled plastic, aligned with United’s commitment to reducing its environmental impact, and feature a new limited-edition day blanket from fashion designer Claude Kameni, who was named as one of the most influential Black designers to watch in 2023.