We splurged on our flight to Rome and bought United Polaris seats. I wanted to have the highest likelihood of arriving in Rome rested (spoiler alert: didn’t happen) and 8+ hours is just too long to try to sit up and sleep.
We flew Tampa to DC to Rome. I was disappointed to learn that my beloved Tampa airport didn’t have a United club. TPA is one of the best airports for convenience and dining options, but they very much lack in the club variety. After getting $21 mimosas at Ducky’s, we boarded our first flight. It was standard domestic first class. Despite the Air Canada vomitgate of 2022, we booked row one and thankfully no one puked on us.
We headed straight to the United Polaris lounge. It was around 2 pm EST and basically empty. It was so nice to not be crowded. The lounge was huge and had tons of seating areas, including standard tables and chairs, lounge chairs, and phone rooms, which were like little glassed in offices.
The bathrooms were super nice, too. The ceiling had little lights so it looked like the sky and there was a light on the outside of each bathroom, letting you know if it was in use or not. There was also a separate shower area.
There was a beautiful bar, serving Lanson champagne and not some cheap garbage. There was a large buffet, including a Passover section. I loved the inclusiveness, and I love matzo ball soup. There was also separate sit down restaurant that we didn’t try.
When it was finally time to board our flight we got into the chaotic mess that is the boarding line. Say what you want about Southwest, but at least their boarding is controlled and not in the middle of the hallway.
They used facial recognition for boarding. Instead of scanning your ticket and showing your passport, they scanned your face and if it was in the system (from uploading your passport or other government ID) you could just board.
We booked seats 9 D and E, which are the two middle seats that face each other. The even rows face away. They are the first seats behind the bathrooms and flight attendant work stations, and it was louder and brighter than I would have wanted on an overnight flight.
The seats were prepped with blankets, pillows, water bottles, a menu, and an Away luggage amenity kit. The blanket was scratchy and static-y, but the pillows were super comfortably.
The Husband and I don’t eat red meat usually, and I’ve watched Airplane! too many times to eat fish on plane. I don’t really like chicken, so I opted for the vegan three cheese tortellini. The vegan Bolognese looked like cat food, and the vegan meatballs were so hard I couldn’t cut them, so I definitely didn’t eat them. It was also served with chilled ginger beef salad, despite being the vegan option. The salad was good enough, as were the tortellini, so it was fine. The piece of garlic bread was delicious.
The Husband ordered the seared chicken breast. It was fine. Nothing special but good enough. He doesn’t eat anything else on the plate, so he basically had chicken and bread for dinner.
The star of the meal was the dessert. United recently brought back their ice cream sundae cart and it was a delight. I had vanilla ice cream with hot caramel and chocolate chips.
After dinner, we put our beds down and settled in for what I hoped was a long nap. The seat was actually pretty comfortable but it was so hot. I forgot to charge one of the portable fans and it was so warm that my face started to sweat under my sleep mask. I think I slept for maybe an hour combined.
Thankfully, the movie choices were pretty good. I finally watched Bros and it was hilarious.
We were served breakfast about an hour before landing. I had the eggs in a mushroom sauce. The mushrooms were pretty good but the eggs were a bit scary. The Husband had the French Toast and it was actually quite delicious.
The food was overall pretty bad, but the staff were a delight. They were all so nice and accommodating. We had champagne during dinner, and they topped us off before our glasses were empty.
Our arrival was super efficient. We went right to our gate and deplaned quite quickly. Customs also used facial recognition, and it took about two minutes to get cleared. Our luggage came out quickly and we were out of the airport within 45 minutes of landing.
Compared to other domestic carriers, United was the best, despite the food. The lounge was great, the staff was amazing, and the seats turned beds were really comfortable. I would definitely fly them again.