United’s San Francisco Polaris Lounge Opening April 30, 2018

Filed Under: United

United opened their first Polaris Lounge in Chicago in December 2016, which coincided with when the Polaris concept was launched. I had the chance to check out this lounge last year, and was impressed by the quality of the lounge, as it was beautiful, featured a la carte dining, and had an excellent food and drink selection as well.

United’s Chicago Polaris Lounge

The problem with this, and perhaps the Polaris concept on the whole, is the slow pace at which United has been rolling it out. It has now been over 16 months, and not a single other Polaris Lounge has opened. Not one. This is hugely disappointing, not just because they don’t yet have a better lounge experience, but also because they’ve closed existing lounge space to start building these lounges, so as of now passengers at several hubs are worse off than before.

It wasn’t supposed to be this way, as initially we were supposed to see a few Polaris Lounges open last year, though their opening dates kept getting pushed back further.

At least there’s finally some good news on this front. United’s San Francisco Polaris Lounge is scheduled to open on April 30, 2018. United has updated their Polaris tracker to reflect this, and that page also indicates that the Houston and Newark Polaris Lounges will be opening in the summer, and the Los Angeles Polaris Lounge will be opening in the fall.

It’s fantastic news that the San Francisco Polaris Lounge will be opening at the end of the month, though it remains to be seen how accurate the timeline is for the Houston, Los Angeles, and Newark lounges, especially as the one in Los Angeles apparently isn’t even under construction. I wouldn’t hold my breath for those.

I’m also curious to see how United’s second Polaris Lounge compares to their first. Given that United has been cost cutting their Polaris product, could we see some cuts reflected in the lounge experience with their second lounge as well? I guess we’ll find out soon.

United’s Chicago Polaris Lounge

This will be a massive improvement for all Star Alliance longhaul international first and business class passengers departing San Francisco, and I can’t wait to check out the lounge myself. United longhaul international business and first class passengers were have access on departure and on arrival, as long as they have a connecting flight. Meanwhile those flying on other Star Alliance carriers will only have access before their international longhaul flight.

I’m happy to see United finally making progress with these lounges. If they could open these lounges already then their product would be much more competitive, as I do think the Polaris Lounges as such have a slight edge over American’s Flagship Lounges. Of course this assumes United doesn’t make more cuts.

Do you think United’s San Francisco Polaris Lounge will be as good as their Chicago one? Do you have plans to check it out?

(Tip of the hat to View from the Wing)

  1. I thought UA international First class is being discontinued? Let us see if it can deliver a great product or a new victim of cost cuttings..

  2. @Myles — The Polaris lounge is available for business class fliers.

    Let’s see if they stick to April 30. It would be nice to actually have a Polaris lounge followed by the Polaris seats!

  3. Speaking of premium lounges, do you know anything about the AA “Premium Lounge” listed on AA’s website at DFW, between gates 34 and 36?

  4. Do you know if Star Alliance Gold Members can enter the Polaris Lounge before a long haul international flight?

  5. @Matthew they cannot enter Polaris Lounges. Only Polaris, Polaris First (+1 guest), Star Alliance Business (certain restrictions), Star Alliance First (+1 guest, certain restrictions.

  6. @brooklynboy

    thanks!..does it mean they still have a UA internat. First lounge in SFO?

    @tommy trash

    solely domestic transcon: No…if your finally destination is outside the US: Yes..meaning for example LAX-IAD-FRA…

  7. Transcon Biz does not get Polaris lounge.
    Star Gold does not get Polaris lounge. You must be traveling in business or first class on a long haul TPAC/TATL flight on a Star Alliance carrier to have access.

    Ben, the LAX Polaris is going in where the old Global First Lounge was located (plus a bunch of other space up there is being taken over for the lounge). It’s been under construction for a long time, you just didn’t notice it.

  8. Note to those flying Polaris out of IAD — go to the United Club and they’ll give you a pass for the GlobalFirst lounge if you ask for it. I haven’t tried this myself, but plan to try it next month.

    And… looks like no date at all for when IAD will get a Polaris lounge…

  9. @jim

    why do you specifically have to ask for it? could UA just hand them out directly at check-in? isn’t unfair to those who paid for Polaris and does not about it or will nevet know!

  10. I wish Delta would up there game in the International/Transcon lounge game. The JFK and ATL International SkyClubs are architecturally successful, have interesting art, and are large (though not large enough during peak times) but aren’t “special,” but are instead just larger versions of their domestic SkyClubs with showers. ATL was trying out a pre-flight meal on demand option in the International Terminal a few years back, but it never took. I’d at least like them to allow free premium drinks including wines with an international J boarding pass.

  11. @David – ” Speaking of premium lounges, do you know anything about the AA “Premium Lounge” listed on AA’s website at DFW, between gates 34 and 36?”

    I was actually going to ask the same thing! @Lucky

  12. @Myles Well at this point, most of the Polaris experience is on a need-to-ask basis, like just about all in-flight amenities 🙂

    I haven’t tried it yet myself – maybe they just hand it to you at the regular United Club check-in, but I can see them easily overlooking it since few people entering the club are in that category and things get busy.

  13. LAX is being under construction for a while – it will be located in the old UA first class lounge near gate 74-77 second floor. BUT I can bet that it won’t be opened this year.

  14. @jim

    Thanks for the info! I am really getting fed up with this need-to-ask attitude, especially in premium products. It is a bad sign for an airline to behave like that. Hopefully it is local phenomenon and not pandemic!

  15. This Is an on demand lounge.

    Within two weeks all signs and directions will be removed. Only people that know how to get to it on their own will get in.

  16. Glad to see this lounge finally being added. Actually, glad to see any forward progress for Polaris.

    This coming summer, I’ll be arriving at SFO on a Polaris (biz) flight, with a modest layover there in SFO, then connecting to an onward domestic (First) flight on UA metal. As a business class passenger arriving on a Polaris international flight, then connecting onward in domestic first (all UA metal), do I get past the lounge dragons?

  17. Thanks, Myles.

    Anyone know the size (square footage) of the SFO Polaris lounge? That shouldn’t be too hard to figure out at this point, I assume it’s rough footprint should be knowable.

    Given the overcrowding at other premium SFO lounges (the worst IME is the Amex Centurion lounge), I can easily imagine a lot of demand here. The Polaris lounge at ORD is great, but it gets quite crowded, too – apparently this came as a shock to United (really? why?). Would hate to find the new SFO lounge badly overcrowded right from its opening…

    Still, it is encouraging that it’s coming online soon. I’m now actually looking forward to my 2 hour layover there this summer coming back from FRA.

  18. @David and @Andre — The AA Premium lounge is a temporary lounge open while the Terminal D Admirals Club is renovated. While I haven’t been in there yet, my understanding is that it isn’t “premium” as far as a lounge experience goes but rather it’s premium in that only premium passengers can access it (e.g, international business or first, OneWorld Emerald or Sapphire on International trip). Regular Admirals Club members are directed elsewhere (to B, C, or the renovated A club).

    I haven’t been able to find a review or picture of it yet, but I wouldn’t expect much. I’m betting the A club is better until D reopens.

  19. @ brad

    hope you’ll enjoy it and you’ll have a great experience..pls. tell us your experience afterwards..

  20. FYI, when you travel with LH biz class to/from the US, you can not access UA lounges. Found this out the hard way (6 hr layover in ORD)

  21. @Brian – Just awful! I hope we are all pleasantly surprised, but I think you’ll be ultimately correct.

  22. I’m a Global Services member but don’t have international travel planned for the immediate future. Wish I could get in with a domestic F ticket, as I’d be curious to check out the lounge.

  23. Yoyoma says:
    April 11, 2018 at 2:13 pm
    FYI, when you travel with LH biz class to/from the US, you can not access UA lounges. Found this out the hard way (6 hr layover in ORD)


    Not true. When leaving the US in LH C, you have access to the UA lounge. However, it is not an arrivals lounge.

  24. @Kevin
    That is incorrect. The new Polaris lounge will comprise the space of the former United Club in the International G concourse, plus the space of the former Singapore and Eva Air lounges.

    The former GFL between 98 & 100 which is currently a special Departure Lounge for business and first passengers only will be converted to a United Club.

  25. Thanks @Brian.
    Last time I flew through there in January, they had the “First Dining” in a conference room connected to the main AA Club.
    In two weeks, I’ll be flying to SYD in One World First out of DFW, so I’ll check it out. Then I fly UA Home, via SFO, so I’m stoked I get to check out the new Polaris Lounge (and the Arrivals Lounge, for that matter).

  26. I am flying out of SFO and hoping to use the new Polaris lounge, but our first leg out of SFO is economy. We connect in Houston for our Polaris business class leg. Since our second leg is Polaris, will we be able to use the lounge on departure from SFO? Thanks in advance!

  27. Will there be a “secret” menu here too, just like the Polaris onboard product, wherein you’d never know what was on offer because the servers have no interest in providing the product?

  28. Ben,
    FYI the folks at EWR Global Reception said 4/16 that the EWR Polaris Lounge would be opening in 2 weeks. (4/30, same as SFO)

    If true, that’s way ahead of their “Summer 2018” schedule.

    Do you have a source you can verify this with?


  29. EWR Polaris Lounge officially opens on June 4, 2018
    Journalists will be invited on May 31, 2018 to view.
    So excited since we are leaving from EWR-FRA on June 4 on 777-300 Polaris!!!

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