United Airlines trails its close competitors in customer satisfaction. But CEO Oscar Munoz says the company is making sleep a priority to get business class travelers cozy with the airline again.
"We set out to reinvent the whole business class experience," Munoz told CNBC's "Squawk on the Street" Thursday. "We went back to re-engineer everything we had thought about and made sleep a priority."
The company unveiled its new "United Polaris" business class Thursday and began non-stop flights between San Francisco and Singapore a day earlier. The flight on a Boeing 787 Dreamliner will take about 16 hours and 20 minutes westbound and 15 and a half hours going east. It is the longest trip operated by any U.S.-based carrier.
United surveyed customers for the new business class to get a sense of what they needed on 16-plus-hour journeys. Sleep quality, Munoz said, was by far the most important.
"We all understand the restorative powers of [sleep], and that's been supported by a lot of research," Munoz said. "Ms. Huffington just wrote a book on it; it's what our customers incredibly over-index in regards to what they wanted in this new product."
The "sleep-enticing" amenities include bedding from Saks Fifth Avenue, with duvets, blankets, and two pillows, as well as slippers, pajamas, a gel-cooled pillow, eye shades, a lavender pillow mist and spa products.
The sleep-upgrade could help boost United's customer satisfaction results, as it looks to move up in the rankings. Alaska Airlines scored the highest on customer satisfaction surveys, with 751 points out of 1,000, according to data from J.D. Power. Delta is second at 725, followed by American and United Airlines.
"The level of improvement has been great across the industry, and we have improved along with everyone," Munoz said. "But we still have some lagging effect, and it is products like this that clearly differentiate and move us ahead."
Still, Munoz said United continues to struggle with in-flight connectivity.
"It's a problem we've been fixing for some time," Munoz said. "We have a platform issue, as we've merged the two companies, as we know, so the technical issues have been something we're resolving."
The company is adding a new portal across all aircrafts to fix what he called a "frustrating" problem, Munoz said.