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Air Travel Gets an Upgrade

A look at United Airlines’ Polaris lounges

Air Travel Gets an Upgrade

The Polaris Lounge at Chicago O’Hare

In 2016, when United Airlines debuted Polaris, its new International business class, amenities like Saks Fifth Avenue bedding, 100 percent cotton pajamas, and cool-gel memory foam pillows helped raise the business class flight experience to a new level. The Polaris experience, however, starts before take-off at their lounges at several U.S. airports. We took a look at what has quickly made the Polaris lounges a favorite of frequent travelers.

The first four United Polaris lounges are now open to long-haul international premium cabin travelers are at Chicago O’Hare, Houston Intercontinental, Newark Liberty, and San Francisco International, and an additional lounge will open later this year at Los Angeles International Airport and next year at Washington Dulles United Polaris lounge experiences are in the works for Hong Kong, London Heathrow, and Tokyo Narita airports.

The name Polaris comes from the Latin for the North Star, the still point that navigators used for centuries to orient themselves. It’s a fitting name given that the United Polaris experience is already setting the standard that other airlines’ business classes will be measured against.

The Dining Room at Houston Intercontinental

The Dining Room at Houston Intercontinental

Wayne Slezak

Whether you arrive a short while before your departure or have time to linger in the lounge during a layover, when you enter the Polaris space you leave the noise and crowds of the public airport areas behind.

More than 12,000 hours went into designing the Polaris lounges’ passenger experience, and it goes above and beyond that offered by competitors.

Feeling peckish? The restaurant-quality foods at all the Polaris lounges include self-serve hot and cold options as well as seated, chef-imagined meals with multiple courses in a stylish dining room—a perk that is generally limited to first-class passengers on other airlines. Menus spotlight international recipes as well as ones that evoke a sense of local place—your breakfast may consist of Texan hash skillet or French toast topped with peach compote and candied pecans. The signature Polaris burger, with bacon and a fried egg, makes for a satisfying lunch or pre-flight dinner.

At cocktail hour, you can toast your travels with handcrafted cocktails inspired by the destinations United serves, like caipirinhas, as well as craft beers and specially curated wines.

The lounge’s relaxation spaces have been designed to reflect the sleek, smart design of the inflight premium class cabins, with the signature leather Polaris chairs (of course, there’s even more room to spread out in the lounge). You can sit back and work on your laptop or read from a selection of newspapers and magazines in a cocooned area that fosters a sense of privacy. And with more than 500 outlets and USB ports in each lounge, staying connected and powered up is never an issue.

A Shower Suite at San Francisco International’s Polaris Lounge

A Shower Suite at San Francisco International’s Polaris Lounge

Travelers with longer layovers will appreciate the chance to freshen up in the Polaris lounge’s spa-like shower suites. Smooth surfaces and natural materials, oversized showers, and Cowshed amenities from Soho House & Co round out the wellness-oriented appeal of this serene space.

If you want to lay down and sleep for a spell in a space with soft lightning and soothing white noise, the Polaris lounge has a tucked-away area with body-contoured daybeds outfitted with the same luxury linens you’ll find inflight. Settle in a stay while, and when it’s time to board, prepare for the Polaris experience to continue. This lounge has all the elements necessary to turn your trip into a true bon voyage.

Learn more about United Airlines’ new business-class experience, both in-flight and on the ground, at united.com/polaris.

United Airlines
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