United Polaris Lounge Openings No Longer ‘Early’ 2018, and Other United Club Food & Renovation News

United’s Polaris lounge in Chicago is so far the only new business class lounge United has opened.

Polaris lounges with elevated dining, beverage options, and amenities — and judging by the Chicago lounge, fantastic design — are available to United first and business class passengers flying long haul international flgihts (US – Asia, Australia, Europe, South America) and Star Alliance premium cabin passengers departing on international flights.

United’s Polaris Lounge Rollout Hits a Snag — No New Polaris Lounges This Year

United is already planning to expand the Chicago lounge due to crowding. And they’re planning to open up these new premium lounges in Houston, Newark, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Washington Dulles, Hong Kong, Tokyo and London.

However none of these additional lounges will open before the end of the year. And in fact while two months ago they were describing the San Francisco, Newark, and London lounges as opening ‘early 2018’ they’re now describing those as just 2018 (and dropping the ‘early’ modifier).

Houston, Los Angeles, Tokyo, Hong Kong and Washington DC Polaris lounges will be ‘later in 2018’.

Construction projects almost never finish on time, and airport construction projects are even more challenging. I’d be shocked if United meets the entirety of even this delayed timeline.

I’m saddened by the delays, largely because I’ve got a Virgin Atlantic redemption for ANA first class out of Houston where I thought I’d have an opportunity to use the new Polaris lounge but it seems like that’s now a long shot at best.

Updates on United Club Renovations

United shared a brief on the various renovations and closures to United Clubs across their system today — some of which are related to Polaris Lounge construction, where Polaris takes over a portion of pre-existing club space.

United Introducing New Food Options to Clubs

We’re seeing a lot more investment in clubs, refreshing them and bringing them to a higher standard, at United, American, and Delta as well as Alaska.

They leap frog and copy each other. So far the United Polaris lounge at O’Hare may be the best of the new premium cabin lounges (which Delta does not offer), but they only have one. And they’re learning the American Express problem which is that if you offer a better lounge product customers will want to use it and crowding will ensue. You always need more space than you think when the lounge is actually good.

I think United and American’s base lounges both have lag Delta’s for food.

However United has announced a few holiday special additions to their food offerings.

Perhaps more importantly United is testing Waffle Bowl stations in the morning and grilled cheese and panini station in the afternoon. I believe these are currently available in

  • Orlando
  • Houston (uncertain which clubs)
  • Las Vegas
  • Boston

Some will argue that paninis trump American’s made-to-order guacamole but that remains to be seen.

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 InsideFlyer.com, 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. How about something other than pisswater beer on the house? Wouldn’t that be generous.

    BTW they conveniently don’t mention that a big chunk of EWR C74 club is ALSO under construction for whatever reason

    I maintain Classified was opened as an elite “tax” to find some peace and quiet in that hellhole of an airport

  2. Reminds me of the United wifi rollout. They were advertising it like it really existed and it took about 5 years to finally install the wifi fleet wide. If they don’t have it they shouldn’t advertise it. Based on the pictures it doesn’t appear they do a very good job restocking the food in these lounges.

  3. At least the Heathrow United Club is excellent and almost Polaris standard already (just no sit down dining unless you’re flying F). And I have used the Polaris lounge at ORD. In fact I’d leave the UC side untouched and convert the GF lounge into the dining area (leave the showers where they are for everyone). Provide a “Polaris” card or stamp the BP to give access to the sit down dining section.

    And if they did close it (LHR) for renovations you have the almost as good SilverKris and just good (but better than US UCs) Maple Leaf as alternates.

    Yes Kacee really annoying about the up to 9 months delay re SFO, especially as half the UC on Intl-G has been blocked off since at least May. However unlike some FT’ers I won’t avoid SFO ; still the most convenient connection point to/from PDX.

  4. “Some will argue that paninis trump American’s made-to-order guacamole” …. that word makes me gag. It’s meaning has been ruined. Please phrase comments differently to avoid it in the future.

  5. What’s wrong with adding some protein to the breakfast offering in any of the lounges. Eggs are cheap and easy. Sausage maybe.
    Adding waffle bowls to the starchy oatmeal is not a benefit.

  6. No news on IAD? It is a place where United really needs to up their game to compete for paid TATL business. The C/D terminal is dark and depressing by itself, and the UA clubs are tattered. Even the GFL is not as good as the LH and TK lounges in the new terminal. Or I wish it could get a Centurion.

    By the way, you used to be able to get hardboiled eggs in the UA clubs, and those went away. Not sure why. Health concerns leaving them out?

    Also, one of the reasons I like the Alaska clubs, which are otherwise not that different than UA clubs, is the pancake maker and the free craft beer (not for consuming at the same time, though)..

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