united airlines business class flights

United Airlines Business Class vs. First Class

United Airlines has been around since 1926 and operates over 3,000 daily flights, making it one of the largest airlines worldwide. It competes with airlines like Lufthansa, Emirates, and Etihad on the global stage, but understanding the main differences between first and business class is no easy feat. 

There are six primary cabins aboard United flights: Economy class, Premium Economy, Premium Plus, United Business, United First, and United Polaris. United Business and United First service domestic flights, flights to Central America, and flights to the Caribbean. Premium Plus is technically a premium economy seat, but it functions as a business class for international flights

That brings us to United Polaris. United Polaris is a business class flight experience, but the amenities, lie-flat seats, and first-class lounge make it the equivalent of a first-class ticket

Confusing, right? United Airlines is transitioning its Boeing 777 fleet into the United Polaris, Premium Plus, and Economy class structure for long-haul international flights. 

Business ClassFirst Class
Business class is the middle-class on United flights and has extra legroom and upscale design choices.First class is the top-tier premium cabin with the best amenities, high-quality meals, and most comfort.

This article breaks down the difference between first and business-class cabins. We explore what makes Premium Plus equal to a business class ticket and why United Polaris is on-par with the best first-class seats. 

However you decide to fly, you can find the best last-minute deals on flights worldwide with Business Class Experts. Discover how premium cabins can be more affordable than ever with insider pricing, and start planning your trip today!

Flying with United Airlines Business Class

Business class could mean a completely different experience depending on your departure and arrival locations. Domestic business class offers passengers more legroom and recliner seats. But the United Premium Plus business class product provides more comfort for long-haul international flights.

Booking your flight

United Airlines has several hub airports across the United States, including Chicago, San Francisco, and Los Angeles’ LAX. The New York area also has a hub from EWR in Newark instead of JFK. These large airports typically have lower fairs than regional airports. However, you won’t find a better deal on business class tickets than with Business Class Experts. Business Class Experts can help you book discounted tickets you won’t find anywhere else!

Flight check-in

Business class passengers flying with United can use the Premier Access lines with faster check-in, reduced TSA queues, and priority boarding privileges. United’s baggage allowance is standard across all premium cabins, and business class passengers can check up to two bags up to 70 pounds (32kg). In addition to the checked bags, business class passengers may bring one carry-on and one personal bag.

Airport experience

United Airlines has business class lounges, called United Club, available in several airports worldwide. These lounges include complimentary amenities like private workspaces with free Wi-Fi, alcoholic beverages, and breakfast or afternoon snacks. 

United Club lounges are only available for transcontinental business class passengers, international Premium Plus, or through membership purchase.

In-flight amenities

United Business for domestic and transcontinental flights provides passengers with more space, but not as much as first-class. Business class has recliner seats, universal A/C power adapters, and DirecTV entertainment for viewing pleasure. A selection of entrees and beverages for purchase. 

Although United markets the United Premium Plus cabin as an upgraded premium economy class alternative, it acts more like a business class on international flights. It provides passengers with even more legroom, upgraded dining options, and complimentary alcohol. Passengers also receive a larger entertainment screen, Saks Fifth Ave. bedding, and complimentary amenities. 

Flying with United Airlines First Class

First class with United Airlines is just as confusing as its business class layout. United First provides passengers with a first-class domestic experience but doesn’t extend beyond the Caribbean. First-class international to places like Hong Kong or Europe is in the United Polaris cabin. United Polaris is technically a business-class product, but the amenities put it firmly in first-class territory. 

Booking your flight

Like United Business and Premium Plus bookings, United has hubs across the United States and around the world, making it easy to find a United flight anywhere. The cheapest way to find the best first-class seats is to partner with Business Class Experts who can help you find flights aboard United, Delta, or American Airlines at deep discounts over direct airline prices. 

Flight check-in

First-class passengers have the same Premier Access that business class tickets enjoy. Premier Access expedites check-in with dedicated baggage handling, shorter security waits, and priority boarding. Like United Airlines’ business-class products, United First and United Polaris passengers are allowed two complimentary checked bags, one carry-on bag, and one personal bag.

Airport experience

United First allows passengers complimentary United Club access. However, only United Polaris boarding pass passengers have access to the United Polaris lounge. The United Polaris lounge has spa-like showers, daybeds, and private buffets. More exclusive still is the arrivals lounge at London’s LHR

In-flight amenities

United First passengers have reclining seats in two-toned leather, extra storage spaces, and a granite top cocktail table for upscale style. United also supplies DirecTV entertainment, in-flight Wi-Fi for purchase, and premium snacks or entrees. Plus, beverages, including alcohol, are complementary. 

International first-class flights aboard the deceptively marketed business class service, United Polaris, offer even better amenities. United Polaris has elevated meals, complimentary beverages, sleep-centric amenity kits, and dedicated flight attendants. Passengers flying United Polaris have the only lie-flat seats in United’s fleet and come with Saks Fifth Avenue bedding.

Book Your Next Flight with Business Class Experts

The easiest way to remember the main differences between business and first class is to determine if you’re flying domestically or internationally. Short-haul flights are United Business and United First. Long-haul, international cabins are Premium Plus and United Polaris. 

Although the Premium Plus and United Polaris don’t have the traditional business and first class designations, they are worthy of those titles. All things considered, United Polaris is the best way to fly with United Airlines. The exclusive access to the United Polaris lounge, the only lie-flat seat aboard United flights, and extra perks make United Polaris tickets the best. 

Business ClassFirst Class
DefinitionThe middle cabin on United Flights with more space and meal options. Top-tier premium cabin with comfortable seats, lounge access, and elevated dining. 
Booking your flightFind the cheapest business class tickets with Business Class Experts. United Polaris is only available on select long-haul flights. Business Class Experts can help you find discounted United Polaris tickets.  
Flight check-inPremier Access with priority check-in, exclusive TSA security, and priority boarding. Premier Access with priority check-in, exclusive TSA security, and priority boarding. 
Airport experienceDiscounted lounge access with United Club lounges. Domestic first-class complimentary United Club access. Exclusive United Polaris lounge access for United Polaris passengers.
In-flight amenitiesExtra legroom and reclining seatsSome beverage and meal optionsIn-flight entertainment and Wi-FiReclining or lie-flat seatsElevated meals with complimentary beveragesSaks Fifth Avenue bedding and sleep-focused amenity kits

Credit card miles and the MileagePlus rewards programs provide opportunities for discounts or upgrades. These perks are nice, but to get the best prices on airline tickets, Business Class Experts is the only way to go. Business Class Experts have the tools to find two-for-one flight deals, discounted business class tickets, and the best first-class seats in the industry. Plus, you can still enjoy all the benefits of flying with United Airlines.