Skift Take

United's highest-paying customers have a new place to call home at Chicago O'Hare. The Polaris lounge opened late last week and will be followed with similar properties across the globe through 2018.

United Airlines opened the first of its Polaris airport lounges in Chicago’s O’Hare airport last week.

The launch is part of a broader-scale overhaul to the airline’s premium cabins and airport experience, merging the current long-haul business and first class products into one unified product.

And while it will be some time until the majority of aircraft have the Polaris seats on board, the airport experience is already well on its way.

United’s Polaris lounges will be positioned to serve the airline’s Polaris and Star Alliance premium customers specifically (meaning United Club and Star Alliance Gold members will not have access). To that end, amenities will be on the higher end, including “spa-like” showers and a better food and beverage selection than what’s in the current United Club product.

Numerous writers and bloggers were given access to the lounge opening last week and so far, feedback on the O’Hare space has been exceptional. Among other amenities, the lounge offers:

  • Pre-flight, multi-course sit-down meals
  • Specialty wine lockers
  • Spa-like shower facilities with premium Cowshed amenities
  • Daybeds with slippers, earplugs and eye masks

The lounges also subscribe to the current industry trend that’s building out higher quality lounges and better airport experiences for premium travelers. For the past few years, American, Delta and United have all overhauled the catering experiences in their lounges, offering a wider spectrum of healthier and heartier food as well as renovated and updated spaces. Last month, Delta opened a lounge in Los Angeles that had many falling to their knees in weeping glory. American has also heralded the overhaul of its Flagship lounges, which include multi-course sit-down meals.

As all ships rise in the tide, United appears to be taking a prominent role in the lounge evolution — and if the rest of the spaces turn out like O’Hare, premium passengers on the airline will no doubt be pleased. The airline plans to open up Polaris lounges in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Houston, Newark, Washington-Dulles, Tokyo Narita, Hong Kong, and London-Heathrow throughout 2017 and 2018.


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Tags: airport lounges, Business Travelers, polaris, united airlines

Photo credit: United's Polaris lounge at Chicago O'Hare airport caters to elite travelers. United Airlines

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