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It’s been a big year for United on the customer experience side, with the airline finally ramping up the introduction of its Polaris business class product. Today we had access to United’s latest addition to its customer offering, its new Polaris Lounge at Newark (EWR). Newark is a huge hub for United, and New York City-based flyers are several other fantastic international lounges to choose from, like American’s Flagship Lounge at JFK, so United has been playing a bit of catch-up.
This new offering is a stunning lounge for Polaris customers. Polaris lounges are a big step up from the traditional United club, offering enhanced food and beverage options, showers, nap areas and more. There are only two other Polaris lounges, one in Chicago (ORD) and the other in San Francisco (SFO), both of which we reviewed.
Located in Newark’s terminal C, the new lounge opens to long-haul business and first class passengers on June 4. You’ll find the space between gates C101-115 and C120-139. Summer hours are from 4:30am to 10:30pm, giving passengers ample time to enjoy all the lounge has to offer.
Clocking in at 27,099 square feet, the space is huge, and it feels huge, too. Upon entering you’ll see a chic light fixture inspired by the constellations.
Because it’s so big, that means there’s ample seating.
United says there are a total of 455 seats, in 15 different styles, throughout the lounge.
Tables are a plenty too, from desks built into some of the seats and tables in the dining room you’ll be comfortable if you want to relax or if you need to do some work before your flight.
United says it has 44 work spaces inspired by the Polaris seat being introduced to its long-haul fleet. Four phone booths are available if you need to make a private call.
Staying charged won’t be a problem either, there are 570 power receptacles and 450 USB ports throughout the lounge.
One of the best parts of the new space, at least for AvGeeks, is the view you’ll get of the tarmac. We spotted a few 767s during our tour.
Rest and Relaxation
Those who value their comfort are going to enjoy the lounge’s shower suites and “quiet rooms.”
The shower suites were large and well designed — they even include heated floors that allow you to set the temperature to your liking. Soho House & Co’s Cowshed Spa toiletries and Saks Fifth Avenue towels are supplied for those who want to wash up before (or after) their long-haul flight.
And yes, the suite did pass the TPG shower test!
If you take a left upon entering the relaxation area you’ll soon find yourself in a hallway of quiet suites. It’s a good place to rest or chill out while you wait. There are 10 suites to choose from.
There’s Saks bedding, just like in Polaris aboard United aircraft, featuring a comfortable blanket and thick pillow. You’ll even have an eye mask, ear plugs, water and a relaxing white noise machine to soothe you to sleep.
Food is a focal point for Polaris and the lounge features two types of dining, buffet style or full-on sit-down service. There were plenty of options from the bistro-like buffet section including grilled veggies, ravioli, charcuterie, fresh bread, desserts and more.
We tried the bruschetta and curried salmon, both of which were excellent.
Lighter bites like veggies, cheese and charcuterie are available too.
In the Polaris lounge, United is actually the only US airline to offer complimentary full-service dining to business class passengers. Usually that type of service is reserved for first-class passengers like at American’s Flagship Dining.
The dining room is located behind the bar and features 24 tables that seats 48 people.
The menu, designed by Chef John Glowacki, wasn’t massive but everything looked tasty and offered vegetarian options. There’s s separate meal service for breakfast, lunch and dinner — breakfast service ends at 11am.
Some of the à la carte options included the United Polaris Burger and Bagel Tartine.
Decked out in white marble and blue lights, the bar is one of the first things you see upon entering the lounge. You’ll be able to choose from a wide variety of beer, wine and custom spirits.
There are eight beers on tap, and more if you ask the bartenders what they have in bottles.
For people who enjoy a craft cocktail, the Polaris lounge may be one of the better places to find one in an airport. United’s created its own signature drinks, like the bourbon-based Paper Plane or its own spin on the Cuba Libre.
They’ve even gone so far as to make their own house-made anise infused vodka, featured in the Lavender Lift.
Polaris Lounge Access is restricted to passengers traveling in the following cabins:
- United Polaris first class
- United Polaris business class
- Star Alliance long-haul first class
- Star Alliance long-haul business class
Travelers flying in first class (note that United is soon retiring its first class product) can bring one guest into the lounge.
Those in United Polaris can visit the lounge at departure, during a connection or upon arrival throughout their eligible same day trip. Those flying a Star Alliance carrier in first or biz can access it only when departing the US.
Unfortunately, the United MileagePlus Club card won’t be able to get you in since this is a Polaris Lounge, and not a United Club. You also won’t be able to access it even if you’re flying on a premium United transcon flight to San Francisco (SFO) or Los Angeles (LAX). If you’re a Star Alliance Gold member you’ll be relegated to the United Club too.
United is finally speeding up the rollout of its Polaris product — both in the air and on the ground. The airline plans on opening two more lounges at its hubs in Los Angeles (LAX) and Houston (IAH) over the next few months and will operate five by the end of the year. A United aircraft with the new Polaris seats enters service every 10 days.
All images by Brendan Dorsey / The Points Guy.
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