Review: United Airlines Business Class 767-300ER (LHR-ORD)

After a lengthy visit to see family in Europe for the holidays, I headed back to Chicago from London. United’s award availability is the most open I’ve ever seen so, despite my wanting to fly back British Airways first class, I booked a seat in Polaris on United’s ancient 767-300ER.

Though the plane is 22 years old (only a few years younger than me!), the interior was modern and clean. The 1-1-1 configuration afforded me excellent privacy, which was nice since I was traveling alone. Traveling with one or more companions, however, isn’t great on this plane since every seat is designed to face away from its neighbor and no two seats are next to each other. 

By and large, this was a pleasant experience, and I think it’s better than Delta’s transatlantic business class offering on the 767, which I flew on my way to Europe a few weeks ago. Considering the ease of booking this award, I wouldn’t hesitate to take this flight again.

How I Booked My United Polaris Ticket

There was award availability on multiple daily flights from London to Chicago on the date I wanted to return, all pricing out at 60,000 points and about $370 in taxes and fees. Because of high taxes levied on premium tickets to and from the UK, flying in business class in or out of London is fairly pricey, though this was still the cheapest direct flight available.

I got the Aeroplan miles for this flight by transferring Chase Ultimate Rewards Points. Thanks to a 30% transfer bonus, I transferred just 47,000 Ultimate Rewards for this redemption. Even with $370 in taxes and fees, that’s still very good value considering the cash price of the ticket was north of $4,000.

My flight details were as follows:

  • United 959
  • London (LHR) – Chicago (ORD)
  • Departure: 3:10 PM, January 9
  • Arrival: 6:35 PM, January 9
  • Scheduled Flight Time: 9h 25m
  • Delta One, Seat 9A


I arrived at Terminal 2 around 90 minutes before my scheduled departure. This terminal, termed “the Queen’s Terminal,” serves as the base for most Star Alliance airlines operating out of Heathrow. As far as Heathrow terminals go, I like this one–its large windowed ceiling lets in good natural light, letting me enjoy one of London’s rare cloudless days.

a large white ceiling with windows

The check-in and security areas were completely empty and I breezed through in a matter of minutes.

a large building with a sign and people walking around

A quick aside: I love looking at Heathrow’s departure boards. As the world’s most internationally connected airport, there are just so many long-haul flights at any given time. Within a span of two hours, there were departures to Addis Ababa, Bangkok, Beijing, Bogota, Chengdu, Mumbai, and Taipei–all from just one of Heathrow’s four passenger terminals. I’m not sure any other airport in the world can boast that kind of traffic.

a sign with text and numbers on it

Boarding & Takeoff

My flight, like all United flights at Heathrow, departed from satellite terminal 2B, which is at least a 20-minute walk from security. About an hour before our scheduled pushback, I made my way to gate B47 and, moments later, walked onto our 767-300ER. 

a group of people in an airport terminal

I took my seat at 9A. Surprisingly, there was no pre-departure beverage service (though we did get drinks around 10 minutes after takeoff).

a seat on an airplane

Related to my previous point about how incredibly globally connected Heathrow is, one thing I love about taking off here is the wealth of wide-body jets on the apron at any given time. In under five minutes of taxiing, I saw a Malaysia Airlines A350-900, Etihad A380, Gulf Air 787, and 777s from Saudia, Kuwait Airways, Air Canada, and, of course, British Airways. My iPhone couldn’t fully capture it, but these planes looked absolutely gorgeous in the warm dusk light.

a group of airplanes on a runway
a group of airplanes on a runway
a plane on the runway
a plane on the runway

United Polaris 767-300ER Cabin & Seats

United has three configurations for its 767-300ER, though this one contains 30 seats laid out across 10 rows in a 1-1-1 configuration.

a diagram of a flight exit

Though the plane itself is over 20 years old, the cabin was refurbished within the last few years and features the same Polaris seats as United’s new planes.

an airplane with a television set

Seats are staggered such that window seats in odd-numbered rows are much more private than even-numbered seats that face the aisle.

a seat with a pillow and a monitor in the middle of the seat

I opted for 9A which, as you can see, is pleasantly set back from the aisle, right up against the window. Like all Polaris seats, these are doorless.

a seat in an airplane

The seat itself is a comfy 24 inches wide and 75 inches long when fully flat. Thanks to the extra width and generously sized footwell, it felt quite a bit roomier than Delta or American business class seats.

a seat inside a metal box

To the right of the seat is a surface that fits a small laptop and phone. There’s also a universal outlet, clicky IFE remote, a small closet, and a snazzy accent light.

a close up of a television

Upon boarding, the closet contained headphones, a water bottle, and an amenity kit.

a small safe with a bottle of water inside

An adjustable reading light sits around shoulder height on the right side of the seat.

a camera on a device

Just above the right armrest is a row of seat control buttons and a tactile wheel to control recline. They’re sturdy and surprisingly satisfying to use.

a close up of a seat

In front of the seat was a 16-inch touchscreen display that was crisp and responsive, albeit a bit small by today’s business class standards.

a screen on a plane

Below the screen is a small storage slot and a USB charging plug.

a close up of a microwave

A large tray table is nested below the IFE. For reference, it could probably fit two of my 15-inch MacBook Air.

a seat in an airplane

The cabin was kept warm throughout the flight but, fortunately, the seat had two air vents.

a light bulbs and a light switch

United Polaris Amenities

United’s amenity kit comes in a gray fabric bag that strongly resembles a fanny pack. The kit, as well as most of its content, including eye serum, face spray, cleansing towelette, and hand cream are provided by Therabody, a brand better known for making those vaguely sinister massage guns. You’ll also find a bamboo toothbrush, toothpaste, eye mask, earplugs, socks, and a tiny pen.

a grey bag on a wood surface
a group of items on a wood surface

United Polaris Entertainment & Wi-Fi

United’s 16-inch IFE screens are somewhat small by business class standards, but work just fine considering how close they are to the seat. The selection of movies and TV shows was fairly deep, and the interactive map kept me occupied throughout the flight.

a map of the world

Sadly, I’d left my Sony XM4 noise-canceling headphones (which I can’t recommend highly enough) at home and had to make do with the pair United supplied. Long story short, they sucked. They didn’t keep out a decibel of engine noise and sounded terrifically tinny. If you’re flying Polaris, you’ll want to double check you have your headphones before leaving for the airport.

a pair of headphones on a white surface

United Polaris Lunch Service

About half an hour after takeoff, a flight attendant came to my seat and laid out a blue tablecloth. She dropped off a ramekin of warm nuts and a cold glass of Heidsieck Monopole Blue Top Brut champagne, both of which hit the spot. 

a glass of water and a bowl of nuts on a blue surface

The menu for this flight looked promising, and I was looking forward to a burrata appetizer and halibut main course.

a menu on a seat
a menu on a piece of luggage

The entire meal sans dessert, which was served around 45 minutes after takeoff, was served on a single tray. That’s not the end of the world, but I find it a nice touch when courses are served separately.

a plate of food on a tray
a bowl of salad and bread on a tray
a bowl of food on a table

The presentation was fine, and the burrata tasted great. The potatoes and peas that accompanied the halibut were nice, but the fish itself was overwhelmingly fishy. The sauce partially covered it up, but I still couldn’t stomach the whole plate.

a bowl of food on a table

After clearing my tray, flight attendants circulated the cabin with a dessert cart, from which I took an ice cream sundae with strawberry sauce, slivered almonds, and whipped cream. Because I was hungry and, more importantly, because I’m so thoroughly dedicated to my duties as a flight reviewer, I also had the chocolate tart. Both desserts were the highlight of the meal by a very large margin.

a bowl of dessert with a scoop of ice cream on top
a chocolate cake with nuts on a clear plate

United Polaris 767-300ER Bed

This being a daytime flight, I only slept for an hour, but a good comforter, plush pillow, and the seat’s spacious footwell made for a very sound nap. I think this is one of United’s best Polaris seats, especially for sleeping.

a bed in an airplane

Fortunately, I remembered to bring my own pajamas since United only provides theirs on flights exceeding 14 hours.

United Polaris 767-300ER Bathrooms

There are two dedicated Polaris bathrooms on the 767-300ER. Since the cabin was only about half full, there were never any lines. As far as amenities, there was a bottle of Therabody hand cream and a spot cleaner for clothing. Kind of a weird mix, but not bad.

a person taking a picture of a sink and a mirror
a bottle and a spray in a holder

 I found the bathrooms clean throughout the flight.

a sink with a bottle of soap and a bottle of liquid

United Polaris Pre-Arrival Meal

A light meal comprising vegetable risotto and a cookie was served around 90 minutes before landing. It was nothing special, but tasted fine.

a plate of food and a glass of champagne

United Polaris 767-300ER Service

On the past ten or so flights, I’ve found Polaris service subpar, but the service on this flight was uncharacteristically friendly and attentive. Flight attendants were lovely, proactively offering top-ups on drinks and clearing dishes quickly. For reference, this is the sort of service I’d expect from a top Asian carrier.

The Highlight: A Six-Hour Sunset!

Taking off around 3 PM on a westbound winter flight out of Europe effectively means you’re chasing the last hours of sunlight. In practice, that means that you’ll experience an incredibly drawn-out sunset. I think it’s one of the most special experiences one can have in the sky and, for me, it was the highlight of this flight.

a window of an airplane with a view of the clouds and the sun

Maybe it’s my eyes playing tricks on me, but I thought I could just make the slight curvature of the earth.

a view of the sky from an airplane


I had a largely positive experience flying United Polaris business class from London to Chicago on the 767-300ER. Despite the plane itself being over 20 years old, the refurbished cabin featuring United’s latest Polaris seats and amenities made for a comfortable flight.

The spacious, private seats afforded me some quality rest, while the friendly service from the flight attendants was a welcome surprise. The food left something to be desired–I found the halibut entree rather fishy–but the appetizer and desserts were quite tasty.

While there were some small disappointments, like the lack of noise-canceling prowess from the supplied headphones and courses not being served separately, overall, this was an enjoyable way to fly business class across the Atlantic. Considering the relative ease of booking award seats on this route, I wouldn’t hesitate to fly Polaris on the 767 again.

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