I had a trip planned to Hawaii for a while now, and was originally flying Delta in the Main Cabin. A week before my flight, I saw that the once a day LAX-HNL on the 777 with Polaris was available with saver availability, so I decided to book that.
With the AMEX transfer bonus that ended on Sept 30, I decided to use Air Canada Aeroplan miles to book this flight, as they only charged 25,000 points for United flights in Business/First. It’s a distance based award chart so the flights between 1,501 – 2,750 are all a flat 25,000 if there is United Saver availability. With the 20% bonus, it came out to 20,834 AMEX Membership Rewards points per person for the flight plus about $36 USD in fees/taxes. Not too bad! Plus, it was super easy to get the flights booked. AMEX points transfer instantly to Aeroplan, and I was able to book the ticket online. If I booked directly with United Mileage Plus, it would have cost 42,800 miles.
If you have Turkish Miles (or Citi points to transfer there) you can snag awards from the mainland to Hawaii for just 12,500 miles in Business/First! Be aware that it does take 1-2 days to transfer and since the website is kind of janky, you may have to call/email to get it booked. Since I have no Citi ThankYou Points, I did not go this route.
If you wanted to pay cash, fares for the flight were $579 per person when I was booking.
Los Angeles (LAX) to Honolulu (HNL)
United Flight 1158
Date of Flight: September 2021
Seat: 5L- United First (Polaris Seat)
Aircraft: Boeing 777-300ER
Status: On Time
At the Airport:
Flying in United Domestic First gets you Premier Access, which allows you access to an expedited security line. That ended up becoming really helpful for me, as my family arrived to the airport quite late, and needed to get to the gate ASAP.
With the Hawaii Safe Travels in place, there is supposed to be a place where you can get your QR code and vaccine card/negative test checked, then you can get a wristband, so you don’t need to be checked upon arrival in Hawaii. We were so late and made it to the gate five minutes before closing, that the staff told us we would just clear upon arrival. Apparently, when we landed in Honolulu most people couldn’t get their wristbands at LAX. I heard an agent in HNL say that at LAX there is a lack of staffing so they didn’t even have a place set up to distribute wristbands. Looks like we didn’t miss out on much being late lol. And, flying in First allowed us to deplane quickly, so we were in the front of the line to have our vaccine card checked. The line ended up being quite long behind us, so another perk of flying first! Be aware of this if you are flying United out of LAX to Hawaii anytime soon.
The 777-300ER I was on was quite new, delivered to United in 2017. The layout of the plane consists of 60 seats in the Polaris cabin split across 2 cabins. I chose seats in the forward cabin, and put my parents in row 3, while I took a window in row 5. There are 8 rows in each cabin, and I preferred the forward cabin, as you just turn left if they board from the second door (which they did on my flight) which has less foot traffic than the back cabin when economy passengers need to pass through on boarding.
For single travelers, you want to choose odd numbered rows along the windows for maximum privacy as these seats are positioned closer to the window and further away from the aisle.
And for couples, you’ll also want odd numbered rows in the center as these are “couples” seats perfectly nestled from the aisle and close to each other so you can talk to your significant other. That is of course, if you want to talk to them lol.
Waiting at my seat were the Amenity Kit and Headphones. The amenity kit was basic and had a theme from the Turtle Bay Resort on the North Shore of Oahu, and contained earplugs, eyeshade, toothbrush and toothpaste. The headphones were decent, and it was nice that the flight attendants didn’t have to hand them out and grab them back 30 minutes before landing so you could finish up on any movies.
Additionally, bedding was provided by Saks Fifth Avenue. I asked my friend who recently flew from Newark to Los Angeles on the same plane, and that’s treated as a premium flight. She said the blanket was the exact same.
I found the bedding to be sufficient, especially for a Domestic First flight.
The seat controls were pretty straightforward, and there was ample space for storage. To the left, I had a nice marble looking counter and a cabinet for storage, as well as a USB port and outlet for charging. One thing is that the walkway to the aisle is a bit narrow, so for those who aren’t super slim, it might be an obstacle course getting in/out of your seat.
One interesting feature is that the tray table pops out from under the IFE system. And, there is a little stand to place a tablet to hold it up.
The IFE system was great, with plenty of movies that were new releases and shows as well. I watched Snake Eyes while eating my breakfast. I really enjoyed their Relax Mode when you want something to run on the screen while you are trying to relax or nap. Great feature United!
WiFi was available, but a bit steep. $22 for the full flight, or $12 for one hour. And, they didn’t offer free messaging like some airlines. For reference, my Delta flight home offered WiFi for the full flight for $10.
For comfort, there are two vents above your seat to control the climate. In terms of the seat itself, it was fairly comfortable and had adequate shoulder room. I noticed that between the small armrest next to the window and the actual window there was a noticeable gap, which I think they could have definitely shrunk for more elbow room and to make the space feel larger.
When in lie-flat mode, the bed is advertised to have a length of 6’6. I found it decently roomy and comfortable.
About an hour from departure, meal service began. Our meal options for breakfast were between an Egg Quiche with Chicken Sausage or French Toast. I opted for the egg quiche, which was not the best, but the not worst for airplane food. On the plus side, the fruit was fresh and sweet. My expectations might be set a bit high given my excellent dining experience on JetBlue Mint earlier in the month.
My mom said she enjoyed the French Toast, so you should probably try that. Again, I asked my friend who flies the Newark-Los Angeles premium route, and she said the meal options for breakfast were the same. So, it seems like Los Angeles-Honolulu might be having somewhat of premium service.
As of my flight at the end of September 2021, drinks were served in plastic cups. I asked if they had any Mai Tai’s given the nature of the flight to Hawaii, but sadly they didn’t. The very friendly attendant said she could make me a Mimosa instead which I took.
About an hour before landing, a prepackaged cookie was served (a bit too sweet for my liking).
Service was pretty good; it was relatively easy to find an attendant if you needed anything and the attendant who served my row was super friendly. One thing I would have liked is that from the breakfast service to the cookie, I do wish they brought out a snack basket or something in between. Felt like something was missing.
There are 4 bathrooms serving the Polaris cabins, with 2 in the front, and 2 in between the forward and back Polaris cabin. I visited one of the forward bathrooms, and it was quite clean and automatic sinks (yay!).
I feel like my photos don’t do the plane justice, but I think the Polaris cabin is really pretty, with nice colors and cool decor.
Overall, I truly enjoyed my 5 hour hop to Hawaii in the United Polaris cabin. I think the hard product is solid, and while the food can be improved upon, this is probably the most comfortable first class product serving Los Angeles to Honolulu. I will definitely be on the lookout for this flight on my future flights to Hawaii!
Have you flown on the United 777 with Polaris to Hawaii? Comment below!