The New United Polaris Lounge Chicago Opens Tomorrow

As I explained last week, tomorrow is a huge day for United, as they’re transforming their premium cabin product. United Polaris will be available on all longhaul flights starting tomorrow, Thursday, December 1, 2016.

The announcement of this new product first came in June, when United said they were completely revamping their business class experience. United will eventually have a new seat as well, which will debut on the 777-300ER in the coming months. However, in the meantime it’s simply the soft product that’s being enhanced, as the seats (obviously) won’t be updated overnight.

United is also opening several Polaris Lounges around the world, the first of which opens tomorrow at Chicago O’Hare. Passengers traveling in longhaul first or business class can use the new United Polaris Lounge starting tomorrow.

Per a press release today, here’s what United is saying about their new Polaris Lounges:

United will also open an exclusive portfolio of United Polaris business class lounges in nine locations around the world – the only lounge of its kind offered by a U.S. airline to business class customers – that will feature custom-designed chairs, private daybeds, spa-like showers, bespoke art installations by artist Wolfgang Buttress, and chef-inspired hot meals served in a boutique restaurant setting so customers can refresh and dine before boarding their planes. Premium sparkling wines and spirits, refreshing snacks and bottled water will also be offered.

The first United Polaris lounge opens at Chicago O’Hare International Airport near Gate C18 and lounges in eight other locations – Los Angeles, San Francisco, Houston, New York/Newark, Washington Dulles, Tokyo Narita, Hong Kong and London Heathrow – will follow.

United has also shared some pictures of the new lounge, which looks very stylish, as an international premium cabin lounge should. At first glance it’s certainly the best looking lounge I’ve ever seen for a US airline.

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Overall this looks great. It seems like the dining will primarily be buffet style, so I suspect it may be slightly better than what you’ll find in an Amex Centurion Lounge.

However, some of the other amenities look great, like day beds, great shower rooms, and if I’m seeing things correctly, a real espresso machine.

I’m excited to experience the new soft product, though it’s unfortunate that it’ll be several years before United’s hard product is updated throughout their fleet. United continues to have eight seats per row in business class on their legacy United 777s, which is a tight fit.

I’m now trying to decide if I should plan a longhaul flight on United in the coming days to experience the new product. Hmmm…

What do you make of the new United Polaris Lounge in Chicago, and the product overall? Do you think it’ll actually be a reinvention of the current product?

Comments

  1. Take United to London to position for the Garuda flight? Then AA back to the US after Garuda to check out the new LHR Cathay lounge?

  2. Plan it! Fly with united to say hello to the new soft product and experience for the last time their 8 abreast hard product.

  3. UA has saver space Tuesday-Thursday next week on the ORD-NRT flight which is a 744 and they still have upstairs seats available. I would love to see a review!

  4. How can u say Polaris is available on all long haul flights from tomorrow when in reality it’s just the soft product that’s available tomorrow. The first line is rather misleading (or poor English) as it’s not clear. As you note further down in your article the hard product- which arguably is more important than the soft product to majority of fliers- won’t be across the fleet for years.

  5. i am relatively new to your site and enjoy it tremendously. why do many of your readers delight in pointing out trivial mistakes?

  6. @Amit No Polaris lounge access is only for those arriving or departing in UA Polaris Business or First, and star alliance business or first. No access for GS in Y or even UC club members. So no day passes.

  7. I certainly wouldn’t even think of going out of my way to fly it until they get the new seats. If I had a daytime Europe-US flight I wouldn’t avoid it, which is more than I would have said for the old United J.

  8. Can you access this lounge if you are connecting to a Polaris flight at another United hub? I’ll be flying ORD-SFO-SYD next week, with SFO-SYD in business. Can I use the Polaris lounge at ORD?

  9. @Bare, because there are a bunch of jealous bitches who troll this site. I have made the rare not so nice comment when something was soooooo egregious that it couldn’t be ignored, but overall I am very supportive of what Ben does and this site has helped me big time over the years.

  10. Re-iterating Erik’s question here. If I understand United Club policy correct, access is granted to premium class passengers connecting to a long-haul flight at their next destination, but not the other way around. For example, flying from Taipei-SFO, SFO-LAX, I was denied entrance at SFO’s UA Club (which turned out to be a blessing!).
    Anyway, it’s probably a moot comparison since Polaris and UA Clubs will be operating under a different set of rules. As they should be.

  11. Just began to enjoy the lounge moments ago. First impressions of what standouts in this lounge is the pride in this new establishment by its staff. It does not resemble the cold unhelpful attitude of its North American counterparts. Almost maybe a glimmer of European service. Needless to say this is day one and may fade quickly let’s hope not. Showers rival lufstansa first class lounge standards. Day beds look inviting although there are no doors therefore not completely private but they do occupy an area behind the valet services desk. Good things may be on the horizon after opening day glitches are ironed out. That big beautiful espresso machine is not working yet and food a slight bit scarce . Will have to move into one of their cocktails apparently created all by a famous mixologist using only premium shelf products.

  12. Just flew to Europe in United Polaris Business class. What a disastrous bait-and-switch! These seats are shoe-horned in 8 across! We were so close together we could wear eachother’s clothes. This is the worst business class experience I have suffered in 1.9 million United miles. There is zero storage space, and i mean really, truly zero. The bed goes flat with a bend in the middle of your back–think fold-out sofa bed. The Polaris marketing scheme is just that: marketing lipstick on a pig. Avoid Polaris at all costs and seek business class seating on any alternative flight.

  13. I’m booked to Shannon and its listed as Polaris. Won’t this lounge be really crowded with all the ORD flights?

  14. Terrible customer service. Arrived today on ANA First and proceeded to terminal C for the next leg of the journey on United. The two staff guarding the entrance to the lounge in Terminal C (the only United lounge in Terminal C) stated I do not have access to the lounge nor would I have access to the staff in the lounge to determine access to the other lounges. And so I proceeded to the other lounges to receive more contradictory information on access to the United lounges at O’Hare. I proceeded to enter the United lounge via a pass only to find no shower, no food and no luggage storage. I turned around and went to the Admirals Club.

    Based on the information provided access to the lounge is limited to United flights only and not Star Alliance flights regardless of class.

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