This story originally appeared on BusinessInsider.com
United Airlines said on Thursday that it will undergo a major overhaul of its international-business and first-class offerings. At the heart of this undertaking is the airline's new Polaris Business Class. According to the airline, Polaris signals a fundamental shift and rebranding of the airline's international premium-cabin products.
"This completely reconceived experience exemplifies the new spirit of United and the innovation, excitement and operational momentum across our airline," United Airlines' president and CEO, Oscar Munoz, said in a statement.
That experience begins with the airline's new Polaris Lounge at airports around the world and continues with new seats, menus, and amenities on board the flights.
With rivals from the Middle East and the Pacific Rim setting the new benchmark for in-flight service and luxury, US airlines have been forced to step up their game significantly to compete for lucrative business and first-class passengers. In recent years, Delta and American have implemented significant upgrades to their premium-cabin offerings. Now, United is jumping into the fray.
According to a United Airlines representative, the first Polaris Lounge opens in Chicago on December 1. Flights featuring the Polaris Business Class product will commence in early 2017 on board United's new Boeing 777-300ER jets.
Here's a closer look at United Airlines' new Polaris Business Class, courtesy of the airline:
The experience begins at the Polaris Lounge. In some locations, these lounges will exist separately from the airline's current United Club lounges. But in some instances, the Polaris Lounge will be a reserved section of a United Club location.
According to United, gourmet food and beverages will be served in a "boutique restaurant setting."
The menu is developed by Chef Art Smith, while cocktails are by mixologist Adam Seger.
There are day beds to grab a quick nap as well as showers to freshen up between flights.
United expects to open its first Polaris Lounge on December 1 at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport with other airport locations in Newark, LA, San Francisco, Washington, DC, Houston, Hong Kong, Tokyo, and London to follow.
On board, Polaris will replace United's current International Business First offering.
...International Business First offering.
Planes currently equipped with the airline's Global First Class will be rebranded "United Polaris Global First."