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What Is It Like to Fly United Polaris on the New Route to Dubai?

United's newest long-haul route debuted in March 2023, making it the first U.S. airline to have daily direct flights to the United Arab Emirates

by Rachel Dube

April 6, 2023

Photo: Courtesy of Rachel Dube

If you previously wanted to reach Dubai from Newark, your only option was to take a flight with a stopover in a European city (like Zurich or Munich). The journey came with increased flight time, the fear of losing your luggage, and a late-night arrival in Dubai. So, when United Airlines launched a game-changing direct flight from Newark to Dubai, I tried flying to the Middle Eastern city onboard the Boeing 777-200 in the airline’s signature Polaris Business Class.

The milestone flight fully displays United’s new codesharing partnership with Emirates. The partnership gives the Dubai-based carrier and United passengers access to more than 200 cities in the U.S. and more than 100 destinations through Emirates or Flydubai.

With a sleek cabin, lie-flat seats, and luxe Away amenity kits, the airline provides an excellent experience for the 12-hour journey.

I arrived at Newark’s Terminal C early to take advantage of the airport’s gorgeous Polaris Business Class Lounge. The lounge, which features a sit-down restaurant, ample seating, and more, is only accessible for passengers flying Polaris internationally or intercontinentally.

Boarding and Cabin

Since this was the inaugural flight, a ceremony took place at the gate with speeches by top United executives, like Patrick Quayle, the senior vice president of global network planning and alliances. There were also traditional Middle Eastern foods (like falafel, hummus, and pita) and a wide array of celebratory decorations.

Once the ceremony commenced, the boarding process began. It was quick, efficient, and organized, beginning with pre-boarding for loyalty members followed by priority boarding with group one for Polaris passengers. During the process, United’s biometric boarding process was put into play.

Photo: Courtesy of Rachel Dube

The luxurious cabin had 50 spacious Polaris seats configured in a 1-2-1 layout. Every seat was decked out with a heap of inaugural favors, including a special United bear and commemorative pin, two Saks Fifth Avenue blankets, two pillows, and a mattress pad. Flight attendants came around with a complimentary glass of champagne or water, and the journey to Dubai began.

The Flight

After takeoff, commemorative inaugural pajamas and slippers were given to all Business Class passengers, and it was smooth sailing for the 12-hour flight ahead.

Photo: Courtesy of Rachel Dube

Once the dinner service commenced, I turned my seat into a lie-flat bed and settled into a comfortable slumber for about nine hours, waking up only once the breakfast service’s cabin lights were turned on.

Meal Service

Before dinner, my tray table was set, and I was given a hot towelette for the full meal service ahead. A salad and appetizer started the meal, and the entree was followed with options such as halal herb-crusted lamb, halal chicken thigh tagine, miso black cod, and tomato eggplant chutney. United’s signature ice cream service cart rolled down the aisle before the lights were dimmed.

Photo: Courtesy of Rachel Dube

During the flight, turkey sandwiches and an assortment of packaged snacks and water bottles were available for passengers to grab at leisure. In addition, we had breakfast before landing, and I enjoyed a halal cinnamon French Toast with chocolate sauce, caramelized bananas, and maple syrup. Overall, the food was a significant step up from other past United flight experiences that I’ve had.

The Seat

My seat faced forward in a private nook by the window. It was very roomy, with lots of storage space, including enough room to comfortably place my oversized purse.

Photo: Courtesy of Rachel Dube

After dinner, I used the customizable buttons to turn my seat into a lounge position to watch TV before switching to a lie-flat bed for sleep. I put the mattress pad, along with the two different pillows and blankets, and it was extremely comfortable. I fell asleep almost instantly and slept for the bulk of the flight.


Overall, the onboard experience was fantastic for the long-haul flight. While the food options could still use work, they were a significant step up from what the airline had in place previously.

The seat felt almost as comfortable as my bed at home, and the entire journey sped by.

The Polaris seat was spacious, and I could have easily stayed onboard longer if needed. With ample storage space, luxe amenities, and impeccable service onboard the new route, I’ll be flying the aircraft anytime I need to head to the Middle Eastern city.