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Your Guide To United Business Class
Whether you’re going on a short flight or a long-haul trip around the world, first class is pretty much always the most comfortable part of the plane. With United, a first-class ticket gives you benefits from the check-in desk to baggage claim. However, you will pay a little more for the extensive list of privileges.
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If you’re interested in learning more about the costs and benefits of United First, as its first-class experience is defined, read on to learn more about how it works and whether it might be useful for you.
United First is available on flights in the United States and Canada, including Alaska and Hawaii. It is important to note that United First is different from United Business and United Polaris. United Business Class is available on flights between the United States and Latin America or the Caribbean, as well as on some US transcontinental flights.
However, for long-haul international flights, business class is the highest level of service. It’s called United Polaris. This is a completely separate cabin and there is no first class for long-haul international flights. United Polaris offers a luxury experience with lie-flat seats, Saks Fifth Avenue bedding, restaurant-quality meals and more.
Since United First is available on shorter flights, you won’t find lie-flat seats in this cabin. Instead, you will get a large reclining seat. You’ll also receive a free checked bag, a larger seat, priority boarding, security lines and free alcoholic beverages.
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It may seem counterintuitive that United’s first-class cabin isn’t its best product. However, the best way to think about it is in terms of places. On domestic and short-distance international flights, your seat is always a lie-flat seat, whether in Economy (smaller seat) or First Class (larger seat). However, on long-distance international flights, you will receive a lie-flat seat (in economy or Premium Plus) or a seat that converts into a bed (business class – United Polaris).
Customers in this fare class have access to United’s Premier Access lane at check-in counters and the priority security line. If there are long queues, this can save you a lot of time and may even get you to the airport a little closer to your flight time.
When you land, you will be among the first to get off the plane, which will help you grab your bags and continue your journey or return home as quickly as possible. From start to finish, United First is definitely a step up from other levels of service.
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On United First you can bring up to two regular bags at no additional cost. When you land, your bags will have priority and will be among the first to appear on the baggage carousel. By contrast, Economy customers must pay an extra $30 to check a bag, and basic Economy customers must also pay extra to bring a carry-on bag.
Economy passengers can check one bag for free with an eligible United credit card such as the United℠ Explorer Card.
When you arrive at the gate with a United First ticket, you will automatically be given a Group 1 boarding position. The only passengers who board before Group 1 are people authorized to pre-board such as customers with disabilities and active members of the military.
Once on board, United First has a larger seat with more room to stretch out, a power outlet and extra tray table space so you can eat, drink and work or watch a show on your laptop at the same time.
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United First seating also includes some level of entertainment service. DirecTV is free in United First, but you’ll still pay extra for Wi-Fi.
One of the best parts about United First compared to economy is the food and drink options. The beers, wines and cocktails that cost in coach are free in first class. Many flights also include premium meal service at no additional cost.
Flights under an hour include basic snacks, while flights over an hour include refreshments. At two hours and 20 minutes or more, you will receive full meal service, depending on your flight time. Longer flights offer better meals and choices.
You have a few ways to become a United First seat. These range from paying a United First fare to getting an upgrade. Here are the most common ways to book United First:
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If there’s a chance you need to reschedule your flight, booking with United in nearly any class of service, whether United First or Economy, offers some of the most flexible travel of any U.S. airline. That’s because as of August 2020, United doesn’t charge change fees for most domestic premium cabin tickets (as well as Economy tickets).
That said, if your new flight costs less, you won’t receive a refund of the fare difference, even if there are no change fees. For example, maybe you really want an earlier flight and your ticket was booked on United First. If an Economy seat is available but not United First, you can have the Economy seat, but you will incur the higher cost of the United First flight. Likewise, if your new flight is more expensive than the original flight booked, you will have to pay the additional cost.
Additionally, United will let you join the waitlist for free starting January 1, 2021, if you want to take an earlier United flight on the same day.
MileagePlus Premier members have even more flexibility. Instead of trying to fly on standby, MileagePlus Premier members can request a same-day change at no additional cost, as long as the new flight is within 24 hours of the originally scheduled flight in the same origin, destination and fare class. If you change to a more expensive flight class, you will have to pay the difference.
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If you’re on the fence about trying United First, consider using frequent flyer miles or credit card rewards to get to the front of the plane. When you redeem rewards for flights, your out-of-pocket costs are very limited. It’s a great way to try it without spending much more than the economy.
If you’re interested in business class for long-haul flights, you’ll need to know the difference between United Business and Polaris.
United co-branded credit cards might be worth considering if you want to earn MileagePlus miles that you can redeem for flights. Additionally, credit cards that earn Chase Ultimate Rewards® points are also helpful. Not only can you transfer points to United at a 1:1 ratio, but you can also book United flights directly through the Chase Ultimate Rewards® portal.
If you’re loyal to United Airlines or simply find it to be the most convenient airline for your travel, you may be wondering if United First is a good deal. Since the cost difference between economy class and first class varies depending on the flight, there is no right or wrong answer to this question.
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For travelers who only care about getting from point A to point B as cheaply and efficiently as possible, paying extra for United First probably doesn’t make sense. But business travelers, people who prefer luxury, and those who are looking to earn elite status may find the extra cost worth it.
In many cases, flying first class costs more than double the price of a ticket. You need to consider your budget and travel preferences when deciding how much you’re willing to pay, or whether you’re willing to rack up more miles, for shorter lines, free drinks and a bigger seat.
United First is offered on flights within the United States and Canada. Those who fly United First Class receive pre-departure and in-flight benefits. Pre-departure benefits include up to two free checked bags and Premier Access, which allows you to check in at a designated counter, priority baggage handling, dedicated security lanes and priority boarding.
In flight, passengers sit at the front of the plane in a premium seat, have personal entertainment amenities, DirectTV, premium food and complimentary alcoholic beverages.
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Depends. Access to United Club lounges is limited to those flying in United Polaris business class (international flights) and United business class (premium international and transcontinental flights). So, if you’re flying domestic first class, you’ll only be able to access the lounge if you’re on a transcontinental flight. However, if you are a United Premier Gold Elite or Star Alliance Gold member, you will be able to access the United Club lounge.
United First is only available on flights within the United States and Canada. United Business class is available on flights