Overview: United Airlines has been busy reinventing the Business Class experience on its international flights from the U.S. with the new Polaris Class cabin. It has enhanced the product with such details as amenity kits from Sunday Riley, plush blankets from Saks Fifth Avenue, temperature modulating pillows and now a new lounge design to go with it.
Polaris Class Lounges have been rolling out steadily over the past two years with lounges at Los Angeles LAX, Houston IAH, Newark/NYC EWR, San Francisco SFO and Chicago ORD. Business Class passengers accustomed to flying United will see some gleaming new designs and fancy new amenities at these lounges that show the US carrier to be on a solid path to appeal to business travelers and luxury-seeking sojourners.
On a recent trip to Brazil, I finally had the opportunity to visit the relatively new Polaris Lounge in the Newark Terminal C. It had been more than a year since I had traveled internationally so I was excited to see the new lounge. I had viewed the signs, observed the construction, been moved to temporary club lounges while the Polaris club was being upgraded but I still did not have the opportunity to qualify for a Polaris Club visit. That changed recently ahead of a planned visit to Brazil.
Where is It? It is located in the old main United Club space in EWR Terminal C.
Who Can Access it? United and Star Alliance first or business class passengers only. United Club members are not admitted unless they holding a business or first class ticket. But there are two United Clubs in Terminal C and one in Terminal A at Newark.
What’s it Like? After I checked in to the lounge, I wanted to spend some time walking around and taking in the new digs! For those who have flown in and/or out of Newark for years, you will recognize that the Polaris Lounge occupies the former United Club lounge in between the C2 and C3 part of the terminal. Formally this large lounge was typically busy servicing a large volume of United customers in one of their main North American hubs. On this visit, one of the first things I noticed was how much room there was a how the large space was very comfortable with the smaller number of guests that qualify for a visit.
As for some specifics, make sure you come to the lounge hungry. For those who want to enjoy a sit-down meal with waiter/waitress service, that option is available. The breakfast menu that day featured items for both vegetarian and gluten free clients. Kombucha strawberry bowl (Greek yogurt, banana, whey protein and berry granola), tropical yogurt smoothie served with a house made energy bar and cornmeal almond pancakes (toasted almonds, strawberry compote and maple syrup) all sounded good to me. The lunch/dinner menu featured small bites as well as larger entrees. That evening, I tried the char-glazed salmon, which I must say, was very good. There was also an option for a buffet meal for those that prefer that option and the selections were also very impressive. Soups, salads, hummus bar, salami & cheese station, tortellini areiabiata, salmon, Italian subs… this place had it all for food options.
The lounge had plenty of room for the number of visitors that were there on this Friday evening. There were work stations set up in pods of four with power and USB ports in abundance. With ample lighting and plenty of space to work, there was no concern for feeling cramped. Travelers will find shower suites to refresh in and quiet rooms to make a call or hold a small meeting. The restrooms have all been refitted to be individual and spacious with plenty of room to bring in luggage and be able to watch it.
Nice Details: Bright faux marble walls enhance the sense of space; quiet rooms and quiet areas; sit-down meals ordered from a menu and served by a waiter; a well-stocked buffet with kosher dishes; shower rooms.
Verdict: There was more to see and share but for this client, United definitely exceeded my expectations and the visit to the Polaris club was worth the wait. Now I need to plan my next international business trip so I can experience the club again.
Future locations for planned Polaris Lounges: Washington, D.C. IAD; London LHR; Hong Kong HKG; Tokyo NRT. More information: Polaris Class Lounges