United Is Expanding Their Polaris Lounge At Chicago O’Hare

United opened their first Polaris Lounge at Chicago O’Hare late last year. Polaris is the name for United’s new premium cabin experience, which involves a completely new product both on the ground and in the air.

While I haven’t been to United’s Polaris Lounge in Chicago, it looks stunning, and like the best business class lounge we’ve seen from a US airline. Travis has reviewed the Polaris Lounge, as well as every dish on the menu, given that the lounge has a sit down restaurant.

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United Polaris Lounge Chicago O’Hare

United isn’t the only US airline investing in their lounges. American is also introducing new Flagship Lounges for international business class passengers, which are much better than Admirals Clubs (they also have new Flagship First Dining facilities, but those are for international first class customers).


American Flagship Lounge New York JFK

However, my concern with all of these lounges is crowding. At the end of the day the single most important feature of a lounge is that it’s a quiet space in which you can work and relax, and that requires having a large enough dedicated space.

It looks like United is starting to run into crowding issues with their Polaris Lounge in Chicago. Chicago Business Journal reports that United will expand their Polaris Lounge at Chicago O’Hare Airport by the end of 2017. The Polaris Lounge will be taking over a portion of the Concourse C United Club footprint, which is right next to the Polaris Lounge:

A United spokeswoman said today the Polaris lounge expansion at O’Hare is scheduled to done by the end of 2017, with the adjacent, reconfigured United Club near Gate C16 expected to open “in early 2018.”

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United Polaris Lounge Chicago O’Hare dining

Also interesting to note is that the story quotes a United spokesperson as saying that the Polaris Lounges in Newark and San Francisco should open by the end of 2017.

The story also mentions how American is ahead of schedule on construction of their new 17,000 square foot Flagship Lounge at O’Hare, which could be completed as soon as September. As a point of comparison, the United Polaris Lounge is 15,000 square feet, so the Flagship Lounge will be bigger. I could be mistaken here, but I think United’s international presence out of Chicago is significantly bigger than American’s, so that lounge shouldn’t be too crowded by comparison. Then again, American also lets elite members traveling internationally into the lounge, while United doesn’t.

If you’ve used the United Polaris Lounge Chicago, did you find it to be overcrowded?

Comments

  1. The Polaris Lounge was very crowded this past Thursday afternoon. Had a very tough time finding a seat and it was quite full between 3-5, which I think are peak hours. Service definitely suffered as a result.

  2. If you want to talk about overcrowding, take a look at the United Clubs in Concourse B at ORD with the Concourse C lounge closed. They need that Concourse C lounge open ASAP!

  3. If you want to experience it in it’s entirety, go early like at noon or even 11 am. It began getting crowded at around 2 pm on Thursday, good thing my flight was at 325 pm.

  4. The problem with “quiet” lounges is that by definition, quiet lounges aren’t being used by enough customers. Extravagant lounges that are empty are at risk of being closed, downgraded, neglected, etc. Why should airlines lease and maintain all of that space if customers aren’t using them? The sign of a healthy lounge is one that is “full” at peak times, but not necessarily “overcrowded”.

  5. What separates an airport lounge from the rest of the airport is peace and quiet, and amenities, food and drinks, otherwise I’ll just wait at a restaurant near my gate. What’s the point.

  6. @BrianK, I’m sure that’s the case, but recent visits to the AA H/K club have also been brutal. It is under construction and very overcrowded. Even when done I’m skeptical they’ll have enough seating (as it was overcrowded pre-construction).

  7. I’d take a crowded lounge with free food, free drinks, and free wifi anyday rather than sitting at a gate or spending to eat at an overpriced airport mediocre restaurant. Sure it sucks if theres a lot of people, but hey, its a free perk 😉

  8. Jerry
    I agree just give u a $40 voucher and be Done with it . Good food around I bet that space is Huge $$$ then the People . But their trying to Sell Their Brand ..

    CHEERs

  9. I’ve asked a few times at the concourse B club about the status of the club at C. It’s seemingly kept being about six months from reopening for about the last six months!

    I agree with BrianK, the concourse B club gets very crowded and the service seems also to be dipping from when it first reopened. Such a contrast to the still exemplary LHR lounge that is often the other leg of my trips

  10. The closure of the C United Club for the last 9 months is unacceptable to me. I might use the Polaris lounge 1 or 2 times a year but the United Clubs every week. United should provide alternate accommodations in C while this construction occurs. In particular, there should be a dedicated set of lines at the C customer assistance area for Club member use. Food/beverage vouchers would be nice too.

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