On Thursday afternoon I had the change to check out United’s new Polaris Lounge Newark, which opened in early June. I was flying Austrian business class from Newark to Vienna, which is how I gained access. I’ll have a full review of the lounge soon, but in this post wanted to share my initial impressions.
Overall United did a spectacular job with the Polaris Lounge Newark. The lounge is huge, at about 27,000 square feet, and is beautifully furnished. There’s such a great variety of seating, including dining tables, semi-private seats, comfortable leather seats along the windows, and more.
The lounge is so beautiful that I have a hard time believing this is a US airline lounge. In terms of decor, I think Polaris Lounges are a bit step up from virtually any other US airline lounge.
I timed my visit to be sure I could check it out while it was empty, so I arrived at 11AM, just as the flight to Beijing was boarding. The next international departure wasn’t until four hours later, so the lounge was empty until about 12:30PM, and then slowly started to fill up. However, even later in the afternoon it never really felt overcrowded, given how large it is.
For dining there are two options. There’s a buffet, which I found to be fairly basic. There were a few hot dishes, and then a few cold options that didn’t look all that appetizing. The food didn’t strike me as being very high quality. For example, the charcuterie tasted like what you’d expect from packaged meat at the supermarket.
The lounge also has an a la carte dining area, which is beautiful, with great views of the apron.
The food quality was good, though not great, and certainly not as good as I remember it being at the Polaris Lounge Chicago. I ordered an Italian chopped salad and seared fresh cod. My main course (bottom right below) was tiny. My companion ordered the meatballs in roasted garlic tomato sauce (a “small plate” that was bigger than my main course), and then the Moroccan-spiced braised lamb. The meatballs were apparently good, while the lamb not so much.
The desserts were excellent, with the choice between a New Yorker dessert trio and a brookie (a combination of a brownie and cookie).
I also love that the Polaris Lounge offers freshly made espresso-based drinks, including cappuccinos with the Polaris logo.
The staff in the lounge were incredibly enthusiastic. I think airlines so greatly underestimate the positive effect of having a product employees are proud of, because everyone in the lounge was over-the-top friendly. They’d ask each guest how they were doing, if they could get them anything, etc.
The lounge also has several day beds, as well as nice shower rooms, with Saks Fifth Avenue towels.
I’ll have a full trip report soon, though hopefully these initial thoughts are interesting.
United is doing a spectacular job with their Polaris Lounges, and they’re a big step up over American’s Flagship Lounges (though the entry requirements for those lounges aren’t as strict). I would note that while I appreciate the variety of food they offer, I didn’t find the food to be all that high quality, so I imagine there have been some budget cuts when it comes to what they’re spending on food.
Regardless, I’m very impressed by United’s new Polaris Lounge.
If you’ve visited one of the new Polaris Lounges, what was your experience like?