It’s funny how this stuff works out sometimes. This morning I wrote about how I booked an Air Canada flight from Chicago to Toronto to access United’s O’Hare Polaris Lounge.
Polaris Lounges are United’s new lounges for longhaul premium cabin passengers (in reality only one is open, so perhaps I shouldn’t pluralize it yet). However, the access requirements are a bit unusual. United international longhaul first & business class passengers get access to the lounge, as do all non-United Star Alliance first & business class passengers departing from the airport with the Polaris Lounge.
This opened up an interesting opportunity — specifically, Air Canada business class passengers traveling between the US and Canada have had access to United’s Polaris Lounge. This is by far the cheapest way to access the lounge on a revenue ticket, as a ~$305 business class ticket from Chicago to Toronto will get you in.
However, there’s no denying the rules are a bit strange. If you’re flying United business class from Chicago to Toronto you don’t get access, while if you’re flying Air Canada business class from Chicago to Toronto you do.
When I wrote earlier about how I booked an Air Canada business class ticket from Chicago to Toronto, a reader pointed to a FlyerTalk post from yesterday where someone claimed they were told by a Polaris Lounge representative that access on Air Canada tickets would not be available going forward.
Well, unfortunately I can confirm that this is in fact the case, even though United’s website hasn’t yet been updated. As of October 1, 2017, Air Canada business class passengers traveling between the US and Canada will no longer receive Polaris Lounge access. Instead these guests will be directed to United Clubs.
On one hand this doesn’t make much sense to me, since presumably Air Canada was paying United the same for access to the Polaris Lounge as any other Star Alliance partner was. At the same time, I sort of get it — it’s not entirely logical that Air Canada passengers get access to a United lounge, when United passengers traveling on the same route don’t. Furthermore, the Polaris Lounge Chicago has had serious crowding issues, so I guess they’re trying to restrict access however they can. Soon the lounge will be expanded, though I still doubt that they’ll update their access policy.
Oh well, it was nice while it lasted. Fortunately I booked my ticket within 24 hours, so was able to refund it. I’ll be finding another way to get to Toronto.