If you haven’t heard about United’s Polaris lounges, they’re designed to be lavish, luxurious, and an overall upscale experience for the airline’s business class customers. In this Forbes article, Eric Rosen shares more about the latest lounge opening and what travelers can expect:
“The rollout of United’s new Polaris business class and lounges has been slower than expected since the airline first announced in 2016 that it would be overhauling its business class seats and onboard amenities and creating a new network of Polaris-branded lounges at its major airport hubs both in the U.S. and abroad.
However, it looks like things are picking up speed now as the airline has opened up the second new Polaris lounge in just over a month. Following last month’s unveiling of the new Polaris lounge at San Francisco International Airport, United has opened its third Polaris lounge at its east coast hub, Newark Liberty International Airport today. The two join the airline’s original Polaris-branded lounge at Chicago O’Hare, which opened in December 2016.
“More United customers begin their journey in the New York/New Jersey region than in any other of our hub cities,” said United’s President New York/New Jersey Jill Kaplan. “From here, our route network reaches across the globe, and we are thrilled to now offer our customers traveling in United Polaris business class a best-in-class lounge experience. The addition of the United Polaris lounge for our customers traveling on long-haul flights strengthens our service offering in Newark for the most enjoyable experience.”
The new lounge opens to passengers today past security between gates C102 and C120 at in the airport’s Terminal C. The lounge hours are 4:30am – 10:30 pm daily. Passengers traveling in business class on long-haul international United flights as well as those flying business or first class departing on the airline’s Star Alliance can access the lounge.
Measuring up at over 27,000 square feet, the lounge is only slightly less spacious than its cousin at the San Francisco Airport, and much larger than the Chicago Polaris lounge. It has 455 seats arranged in 15 different styles including 44 workspace-style desk-chair hybrids. There are 570 power outlets and 450 USB ports, four private rooms for phone calls, 10 private daybeds outfitted with Saks Fifth Avenue bedding (this partnership extends to the airline cabins as well) and 10 shower suites stocked with Soho House Cowshed Spa products. Guests can take advantage of personal valet services such as having garments steamed.
The lounge contains several unique, setting-specific features. Among them is a lighting fixture at the entrance created by Richard Clarkson Studio, a Brooklyn art and design lab, that depicts the 12 signs of the zodiac. The private dining area offers table service for up to 48 guests with an à la carte menu of New York-inspired dishes created by local chef John Glowacki, such as potato latkes, and the “Brookie,” a brownie-cookie combo served with milk. Guests who can prefer to graze can peruse the offerings at the buffet, which includes a make-your-own bagel bar, sandwiches, wraps and charcuterie.
Though guests will find classics like an Old Fashioned on the cocktail menu at the bar, the drinks list will also feature signature items like the Fernet About It, which is a twist on the Cuba Libre, and the United Polaris Star, which includes house-made vodka infused with anise.
Though this is certainly a good sign, the airline has been making slower progress than expected, both rolling out this new network of lounges, and overhauling its long-haul fleet with the new seats. Newark is just the third Polaris lounge location, though further ones are expected to open at George Bush Intercontinental in Houston later this summer and Los Angeles International LAX in the fall, with more locations planned for Washington Dulles, London Heathrow, Hong Kong and Tokyo Narita at some point in the future.
As for aircraft, according to United’s Polaris tracker page, the airline has taken delivery of 17 out of 18 Boeing 777-300ERs with the new seats and has refitted seven out of 14 767-300s and just a single 777-200 out of 55. So while fliers can find the seats in service on several routes from San Francisco to Asia and Europe, and a handful from Newark, the vast majority of the airline’s international fleet retains the airline’s older business-class seats, and will for some time to come. United has said it will add one aircraft with the new seats every 10 days from now through 2020, though.
At least fliers can look forward to updated amenities on the ground thanks to the rollout of the three Polaris clubs so far, with more to come soon.”
*Photo courtesy of forbes.com