United Airlines has been rolling out a new business class product for almost 2 years now. Dubbed Polaris, it was rolled out with much fanfare almost 2 years ago. The combination of the new seat and the in-flight amenities looked very impressive. While I haven’t had a chance to fly in the new seat yet, I have gotten to experience some of the new in-flight amenities. Overall, I’ve been impressed with elements like the gel pillow and wine tastings. Some of those amenities have since been phased out, but I read recently where the gel pillow appears to be here to stay.
United also announced a re-branding of some lounges specifically for Polaris business class customers. The first Polaris lounge opened up in Chicago in late 2016. While there weren’t any openings in 2017, a fabulous Polaris lounge opened up recently in San Francisco. Multiple folks I know have visited and came away really loving the experience. With all that in mind, I was invited today to a sneak peek inside the Newark Polaris Lounge.
Where To Find It
The Polaris Lounge at Newark Airport is located in Terminal C. As you pass through security, head to your right towards the signs for gates C120-139. Just past the wing for gates 101-115, you’ll see a Starbucks. Keep walking a few more feet and you’ll see the entrance to the new Polaris Lounge.
This lounge will open to the public on June 4th and the hours of operation will be 4:30am to 10:30pm for starters. The Newark Polaris Lounge is 27,099 square feet, which makes it a smidge smaller than the SFO Version.
In the front lobby you’ll find a creation by Brooklyn-based art studio Richard Clarkson which combines the 12 zodiac signs.
Inside The Lounge
As you walk in, straight ahead is the bar and dining room. The bar itself is fairly sizable. You won’t get an un-adultered view of the tarmac from here but the occasional airplane tail will pop up. The bar features plenty of bar seats as well as a number of tables with seating for 2. I took an opportunity to snap pictures of the specialty drinks and a sneak peek at the wines. Sampling will have to wait until my next visit!
There’s also one of two restroom areas behind the bar area. All of the restrooms are individual rooms and gender neutral. Carrying over from the in-flight product, you’ll find the Cowshed amenities.
The dining room is located right on the window line. That means plenty of views of the planes coming and going at Newark. You’ll need to wait to be seated and then can choose from a variety of lighter bites as well as entrees. We sampled most of the dishes on the menu and I found them to be enjoyable. I didn’t get a chance to compare the Polaris burger to the incredible American Airlines Flagship version. I guess I’ll need to loop back for a future trip!
If the dining room is packed or you’re in a hurry, you can avail yourself of the buffet option located right next to the bar. The hot buffet is double-sided. You’ll also find a handful of cold buffet stations. If the spread during the pre-launch event is anything like a typical day, there are a wonderful variety of selections.
The service team was walking around offering drinks. For expediency, you’ll find a few refrigerators throughout with soda, juice and bottled water. At the far end of the space you’ll also find a station with a handful of fresh-brewed flavored iced teas. Specialty coffee machines and some candy round out a fun action station.
Throughout the Polaris lounge are a number of different seats that should fit all your various needs. My favorite seating area was one that I saw in pictures from the SFO lounge. It’s an extra wide chair with a built-in table, charging station and light. As the TPG Brian Kelly stunt double illustrates, there’s plenty of room for taller folks to get some work done in the seat.
There are some smaller pods of seating throughout that offer varying levels of privacy. Consistent throughout the entire space? Power. Lots of power. All located within easy reach.
The lounge has 10 shower suites. A handful of them are handicapped accessible. All have the standard amenities you’d expect along with some Saks Fifth Avenue branded items for the showers.
Topping it off is one of the best features I’ve seen in an airport lounge. Each shower room has heated floors with an individual control. Great attention to detail!
You’ll find 10 quiet suites as well. These are essentially small rooms to grab a nap in. If the pre-opening layout holds true, you’ll have a bottled water, Polaris eye mask, Ghirardelli chocolate, ear plugs, lavender spray and a sound machine. The rooms don’t come with curtains, so you’ll need those eye masks to block out the light.
There were two work areas located directly behind the front desk. Once you enter the lounge, pull a u-turn to your right. There are two longer tables with Windows PCs on them. Additionally, you’ll find a small handful of “phone rooms”. Honestly, if I needed to get some work done, I’d probably hide out in one of these spaces. Instead of phone room, I’d label these “office away from home”!
During our walk-through, United provided the following key bits of information:
- 27,099 square feet
- 455 seats in the lounge
- 10 shower suites
- 10 quiet suites
- 570 power receptacles
- 450 USB ports
- 44 work spaces
- 24 private dining tables with total seating of 48 people
- 14 different types of seating
My Polaris Moment
Great food? Check. Ambience? Check. Showers, lounge chairs, cool drink garnishes? Check, check, check. All of that pales to my moment. I was sitting in the corner trying to get this blog post done. Allergies are driving me nuts right now. I started sneezing. I didn’t think I was overly loud but someone has a keen eye for service. A United employee walked over and quietly handed me some tissues, noting to let me know if I needed more. Turns out this was Michelle, the operations manager of the lounge. She had such an awesome demeanor, and this small act of kindness went a long way with me. I wanted to hire her on the spot! Alas, she looks pretty happy in her current position. I’ll be sure to remember to say hello to her next time I stop by.
How Do You Get Access To The Polaris Lounge?
Only a select group of folks get access to the Polaris Lounges. Obviously, folks who are traveling in Polaris business class on United Airlines (and Polaris First, while it still exists). Additionally, if you’re traveling long-haul business or first class on a Star Alliance carrier that day you’ll also have access. My understanding is you’ll have that access even if you have a connection to get to your long-haul flight (SFO-LAX-FRA in Lufthansa First, for instance). Unfortunately, you won’t be able to bring a guest into the lounge unless they’re also in business or first class.
The Final Two Pennies
The Newark Polaris Lounge is the third one opened in the US. By the end of 2018 United expects to open two more. These lounges will obviously be an integral part of the Polaris product moving forward. For me, the biggest benefit is being able to eat a great meal before boarding a flight. Generally speaking, I don’t expect over-the-top catering onboard anyways. I’m always happy to trade a decent meal for sleep. In the case of the United Polaris lounges, I don’t have to! They’re proud to say they’re the only US carrier offering a sit-down meal to their business class customers. They should be. The Polaris lounge is a winner. With one new plane being delivered every 10 days with the new seats, Polaris is starting to become a reality for more travelers.
Have you had a chance to visit one of the Polaris lounges yet or try out the new seat?
The post First Look At United’s New Polaris Lounge At Newark Airport (EWR) was published first on Pizza in Motion