United Reveals Their First Transatlantic 777-300ER Polaris Route

United Polaris seat (PRNewsFoto/United Airlines)

United introduced Polaris on December 1, 2016, which is the name for their new first & business class experience. This includes new airline lounges, improved food & beverages, better bedding, and also new seats.

The catch is that United’s new business class seat is so far only available on 777-300ER aircraft, and as of now United has just one of those. So while you can experience the new soft product, it’ll be a few years before most passengers in Polaris find themselves in the new seat.

At the moment United is operating 6x weekly flights between Newark and San Francisco on the 777-300R. Meanwhile the 777-300ER will make its international debut as of March 25, 2017, when United starts flying the plane between San Francisco and Hong Kong.

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Weekly Review: February 25, 2017

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Hello from Paris, after flying Qatar Airways here from Doha! I’m just finishing up a crazy trip that has spanned most of February, and am spending this weekend in Paris. As I reflect on my travels, I realize that it has been about a decade since I’ve last spent more than a layover in Paris. It’s a city I don’t love (unlike just about everyone else in the world) based on memory, though I’m curious how I feel about it this time around. On the plus side, the weather is gorgeous.

On the miles & points front we’ve seen a few cool promotions this week, including with the SPG Amex, American Business Extra, an extra bonus on purchased LifeMiles, and much more. It has been an especially crazy couple of weeks of travel for me, so I’ve also been writing about that.

With that out of the way, here’s a recap of this week on the blog:

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How I’m Flying To & From Bhutan (I Think?)

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I’m really excited about visiting Bhutan in March. It looks stunning, and there are two new and nice looking Le Meridien properties there. I love the outdoors, so it seems like a beautiful place to enjoy some fresh air and hiking.

As I’ve explained in a previous post, flying into Paro, Bhutan, isn’t easy. It’s one of the most dangerous airports in the world, and only a couple of airlines fly there. In our case, I booked us on Druk Air from Kathmandu to Paro, and then on the return from Paro to Dhaka (these flights tend to sell out in advance given the limited capacity, so that’s the best I could do).

Given that Druk Air doesn’t have any partnerships (at least that I know of), these tickets need to be booked with cash and on a separate reservation from longhaul tickets.

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Stupid: Egypt More Than Doubles Cost Of Tourist Visas

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Oh, Egypt.

Egypt’s tourism industry has suffered greatly ever since the revolution, and even more so after a Russian charter plane was blown up after takeoff from Egypt in 2015. I’ve had great experiences visiting Egypt (largely motived by the cheap first & business class tickets bookable out of Cairo), and have always felt safe.

Egypt is hoping to once again grow their tourism industry, and last I heard they were aiming for at least 20 million tourists per year by 2020 (which is a lofty goal).

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The Hilarious Conclusion To My Qatar Airways Nap Room Drama

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Yesterday I wrote about my ridiculous experience in Qatar Airways’ gorgeous Al Safwa First Class Lounge. While the lounge is physically stunning, I don’t think I’ve ever been to a lounge with such customer unfriendly rules. I won’t recap all of that here, so check out yesterday’s post if you haven’t read it already.

I’d also recommend reading the comments section of that post, because there are some ridiculous stories there. Like this one from Sean :

“Have you ever tried taking a slice of cake from the buffet near kids play area to eat in the general seating area? The first time I tried that they actually had a security guard come chase me down and he acted like I had stolen the crown jewels. Evidently, passengers are not allowed to carry food between areas themselves – you have to call for a staff member to assist you.”

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Cathay Pacific Will Soon Serve Beer Specially Brewed For 35,000 Feet

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Flying is known to dull the sense of taste, meaning that food and drinks will often taste different on the ground than in the air. This is why so much airline food is unhealthy, since they pack it with salt and all kinds of other artificial flavors so that it has taste.

Given the dulled senses at altitude, Cathay Pacific will be introducing a brew designed especially for consumption on planes.

This will be available in both first and business class on flights between Hong Kong and the United Kingdom (London and Manchester) starting on March 1, 2017, while supplies last. The beer will also be available on the ground in the lounges in Hong Kong and London (though that sort of defeats the purpose of a beer designed ideally for consumption in the air).

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Swiss Will Begin Charging Extra To Assign Select Business Class Seats

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We’ve increasingly seen airlines try to boost ancillary revenue by charging for things that were previously free. Full service airlines like Emirates now charge for seat assignments in economy on select fares, and British Airways even charges for seat assignments in business class.

Now we’re seeing Swiss come up with a creative way to increase ancillary revenue in business class, as they’re making a change to their longhaul business class seat assignment policy. The news can be decent or horrible, depending on how you look at it.

Swiss has a staggered configuration in business class on their A330s, A340s, and 777s.

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GREAT Deal: 650 Bonus Business Extra Points On Your Next Flight

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American’s Business Extra program has a fantastic promotion at the moment, valid for both new and existing members.

For those of you not familiar, this program is run in addition to AAdvantage, meaning you can double dip — you can earn miles with AAdvantage and points with Business Extra for a given flight. Reader Sam F. wrote a post last year sharing all the details of this program, which is a no brainer to join.

Through this program you earn two points per $10 spent on eligible flights, so you don’t earn points as quickly as you would with AAdvantage, but I don’t think anyone expects that to be the case. The cool thing is that you can credit points from multiple people to your Business Extra account, and over time rewards should nicely build up

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10 Best Credit Card Offers For February

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Every month I make a post with what I consider to be the best credit card sign-up bonuses of the month.

While there are several excellent long standing credit card offers, the specifics of the best offers are constantly changing (be it the annual fee, minimum spend requirement, or even amount of the sign-up bonus).

If you read my blog on a daily basis then by all means skip this post, but for me it’s a useful, “current” place to refer people who ask about which cards they should sign-up for, a question I get on a daily basis.

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Review: Mosaic City Hotel Madaba Jordan

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If you look at a map of Jordan, it becomes immediately apparent that the airport isn’t particularly close to the hotels of central Amman, and that most of the things you’ll want to see are South of the airport anyway.

Based on that and some recommendations from others, we decided to save Amman for the end of our trip, and instead booked our first night in the town of Madaba.

Even in the middle of the night with poor directions the drive to Madaba took less time than driving into Amman, so I think this was a good choice. Similarly, if you are planning on going to the Dead Sea, I would also consider heading there immediately versus dallying in Amman.

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World Of Hyatt May Encourage You To Stay Somewhere Else

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Hyatt is scrapping their Gold Passport program in favor of World of Hyatt starting on March 1. The new program has a few changes that you might like, but it’s also chock full of hidden gotchas and devaluations. I’ve been busy practically since the day it was announced and haven’t really had a chance to think about it much until recently.

In fact, it was the “Welcome to Globalist” email that sort of motivated me to write about it. And, given the response in the comments, I’m not the only one who finds this program insanely confusing. I mean, when many of the top miles and points bloggers don’t even know something so simple as the requalification requirements… well, you get the idea.

Anyway, there’s another hidden gotcha in the new program, this time concerning the policies surrounding the free night awards and Diamond Suite Upgrades. Here’s how you might find yourself in the situation where Hyatt’s loyalty program actually encourages you to stay with someone else. Crazy, eh?

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British Airways Is Introducing Business Class On Domestic Flights

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I don’t think there’s a region in the world that has a lamer standard of regional business class than Europe. For most airlines in Europe, business class is simply economy with a blocked middle seat. On top of that you get better food and drinks, and in theory more attentive service.

Historically British Airways has offered business class on all intra-Europe flights, with the exception of flights within the UK. I’ve always found this to be a curious decision. I suppose it’s because most flights within the UK are quite short, and British Airways doesn’t have much competition, aside from ultra low cost carriers.

The people who would pay for business class on those shorthauls likely wouldn’t be considering ultra low cost carriers anyway, or are likely on a longhaul itinerary, in which case EasyJet or Ryanair wouldn’t be an option anyway.

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Video From Last Night: Plane Crash Lands After Landing Gear Collapses

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There was an incident last night at Amsterdam’s Schipol Airport, where a Flybe de Havilland Dash 8 arriving from Edinburgh had a crash landing.

Here’s how the incident is described, per the AvHerald:

“A Flybe de Havilland Dash 8-400, registration G-JECP performing flight BE-1284 from Edinburgh,SC (UK) to Amsterdam (Netherlands) with 59 people on board, landed on Amsterdam’s runway 22 at about 16:55L (15:55Z) but came to a stop on the runway with the right main gear collapsed. The crew declared Mayday, Mayday, Mayday reporting the gear had collapsed, they were evacuating onto the runway. Tower reported fire brigades were already on their way and instructed the next arrivals to go around. There were no injuries, the aircraft sustained substantial damage.”

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American May Be Willing To Extend Expiring Systemwide Upgrades

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As I wrote about a few days ago, I have four American systemwide upgrades expiring on February 28 (though I’m in the process of trying to give them away). I guess I didn’t plan my travels well for this year, as I kept saving them thinking I’d have some great use eventually, but I didn’t.

Going back several years, American was typically happy to extend the expiration date of systemwide upgrades, or at a minimum, allow you to apply them for travel after their expiration date, assuming the space could be confirmed by the end of February. However, over the past couple of years they’ve gotten stricter.

Per View from the Wing, it looks like American is willing to extend the systemwide upgrade expiration date for some Executive Platinum members to May 31, 2017, which is a three month extension.

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