Here are Details of the Design and Timing of the United Polaris Lounges Still to Open

United opened their Chicago Polaris business class lounge over a year ago, and they expanded it because no matter what kind of planning an airline does if a lounge is good people will want to use it more than expected. Today is the official opening of the San Francisco Polaris lounge.

Entrance of Chicago Polaris Lounge

Newark is going to open in a few weeks’ time and Houston will open over the summer. The Los Angeles Polaris lounge is supposed to open later this year. So if they stick to that schedule United should have 5 Polaris lounges open by the end of 2018.

However we’re not going to see any more in 2019. The next batch won’t open until 2020, which considering these were announced nearly two years ago seems insane.

Australian Business Traveller interviewed United’s Director of Premium Services and has some details about the new lounges and their rollout plans.

The Newark Lounge Will Have Even More Seating Than San Francisco

The Newark lounge is almost as large as the San Francisco one — which itself is one of the largest lounges in the world, the same size as American’s Miami Flagship lounge — but will have more seats because it is on a single level. It occupies the space of the C3 United Club “plus additional adjacent space on either side” and will have amazing tarmac views.

Uh Oh: Houston Will Be ‘Boutique’

The Houston lounge will be more “boutique” — we’ll see if it is sufficient size but there are going to be fewer eligible customers than in San Francisco, Chicago and Newark — it’s the top floor of the current E concourse United Club. It sounds like the smaller size will also mean fewer features.

The Polaris lounge crowns the top floor of Terminal E, taking over that space from the current United Club.

“The lounge used to have an entry level, a main second level and then a third level above it,” Dorow explains. “The entire third level is now the Polaris Lounge, above the United Club and with sweeping views over the tarmac and runways.”

Buffet of Chicago Polaris Lounge

LAX Opens in November and Doubles the Size of the Former First Class Lounge

The LAX lounge opens in November in the former first class lounge space plus “all of the United management office spaces that we had to essentially double the size.”

The resulting lounge is a ‘bow tie’ in shape, built around either side of the terminal’s central rotunda, from which “you can actually look up and see part of the lounge, actually where the dining space is going to be.”

“The bar will look very different than what you see here in San Francisco or in Newark – it really feels like you’re in California, especially in Southern California, with the unique tiles that are indigenous to that area. We want the lounge to feel really ‘homey’ to our customers who call Los Angeles home.”

Chicago Polaris Lounge Sleep Room

No More Lounges Until 2020

At Washington Dulles they had a first class lounge space, they announced the lounge in 2016, but they’re only now “working through designs for that space” with plans to focus heavily on meal service late in the day because of the hub’s focus on transatlantic departures.

Similarly “London, Tokyo and Hong Kong will all involve expanding and reconfiguring United’s current lounge footprint at each airport.” Yet despite already having the footprint it’ll be at least four years from announcement to open for these.

[O]ur Tokyo lounge is one of the largest that we have (when measured) in square footage and we’re going to wholly work within our footprint.”

“The same is true for London Heathrow and Hong Kong lounge, where we will reconfiguring the existing space.”

Access remains for business and first class long haul customers of course, with elites and paying club members remaining in less desirable United Clubs.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. From what I understand, UAL is very interested in putting a Polaris Lounge in PVG, but that is several years off at minimum.

  2. I wouldn’t even count on 2020 for IAD’s club to open. There’s still the question of the new midfield terminal, which seems like it’s a permanent pipe dream. However, if the new terminal is constructed any time in the next decade, United’s investments in a Polaris lounge in the current C terminal (which will almost certainly be demolished at some point) will be for nothing.

  3. Not worthy to pay to get in the United Clubs anywhere in the world. No wonder UA ranked 88th in passengers’ satisfaction rating in 2018. Even Air India has better clubs than UA. You won’t even buy the food they serve inside the club. UA needs to hire new management and VP to change the corporate image. Saving money and cut cost end up cutting quality.

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