Is the United Polaris Lounge in Chicago Worth Visiting?

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Is the United Polaris Lounge in Chicago Worth Visiting?

Million Mile SecretsIs the United Polaris Lounge in Chicago Worth Visiting?Million Mile Secrets Team

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This week, I had a chance to visit the brand new United Polaris lounge at O’Hare airport in Chicago!

United Polaris Lounge Chicago Review
Getting Ready to Experience the New United Polaris Lounge for the First Time!

Here’s my United Polaris Lounge Chicago review, complete with my photos of the space, seats, food, menus, and Wi-Fi speed.

United Polaris Lounge Chicago Review

Link:   The United Polaris Experience

United Airlines is revamping their international long-haul Business Class experience.  They’re calling it “Polaris,” named for the Northern Star.  I don’t know about you, but “Polaris” also brings to mind images from the Cold War. 🙂

As part of the branding, they’re updating their lounges, seats, and in-flight experience from top to bottom.

And the first United Airlines lounge to get the Polaris treatment is in Chicago O’Hare airport – it just opened last week!  So I was excited to see what they’d put together.  And I have to say, this may be the best airline lounge in the United States!

I was traveling on Lufthansa business class and so had access to the lounge.  United Airlines is trying to make this a premium lounge, so you only get access to the lounge if you’re:

  1.  Flying in Business (or First) Class internationally on United
  2. Flying in Business or First Class on a Star Alliance partner airline (such as Lufthansa)

You won’t be able to access this lounge if you have a day pass to a United Club lounge or a United lounge membership.  And Star Alliance Gold members can only get in if they are flying in Business or First Class.

Here’s a look inside.

1.   Location in Chicago (ORD) and Access Policy

In O’Hare, the Polaris lounge is located near Gate C18 in Terminal 1.

United Polaris Lounge Chicago Review
The Polaris Lounge Is Near Gate C18

It’s a hike from the main gates.  So wear your comfy shoes and prepare for a trek.

United Polaris Lounge Chicago Review
The Musical Passageway Makes the Walk a Little Better 😉

But I liked walking through the underground tunnel lit with colorful lights and filled with music.  Plus, you’ll definitely want to get to the airport early to hang out in the lounge for a while!

United Polaris Lounge Chicago Review
Outside the Polaris Lounge

You can only access the lounge if you are a Business Class or First Class passenger on a United Airlines or Star Alliance international flight.

The check-in process was fast and efficient.  And the agents were very welcoming and friendly.  They checked my boarding pass and invited me in.

2.   The Space

United Airlines is taking the “Polaris” name seriously.  There are lots of touches and references to things celestial and starry throughout the lounge.  Starting with the lit-from-within check-in desk!

United Polaris Lounge Chicago Review
The Glowing Check-In Desk

The lounge is spacious, light, and airy.

United Polaris Lounge Chicago Review
First Glimpses of the New Polaris Lounge

There’s plenty of seating, so it never felt overcrowded.

United Polaris Lounge Chicago Review
A Row of Pods for Single Travelers

If you’re traveling solo, you can snag your own pod, compete with a table with a pull-out tray for your meal and drinks, or laptop.

United Polaris Lounge Chicago Review
There Are Booths for Larger Groups

Or, if you’re traveling with companions, you can sit a booth with enough room for 3 or 4 people.

United Polaris Lounge Chicago Review
My Pod 🙂

I sat my things down to claim a pod and set about exploring the rest of the lounge!

3.   The Food

What do you think I checked out first?  The food, of course!

United Polaris Lounge Chicago Review
Fresh Lox and Cheese

There was only cold food because they hadn’t secured their permit to serve hot food yet.  But hopefully they’ll get it soon!

United Polaris Lounge Chicago Review
Fruits, Veggies, and Bread

I was still able to find plenty of things to snack on.

United Polaris Lounge Chicago Review
Lots of Small Dishes

The portions of the prepared snacks are small.

United Polaris Lounge Chicago Review
Small but Tasty Sandwiches

You can look at that two ways: take more than one or have enough room to try everything! 🙂

United Polaris Lounge Chicago Review
Cookies and a Selection of Rolls and Breads

There were also a couple of sweet treats for dessert, including cookies, and plenty of breads and rolls to try.

United Polaris Lounge Chicago Review
Coffee, Tea, Juice, and Water

Some drinks, like coffee, tea, and water, were self-serve.

United Polaris Lounge Chicago Review
Tea and Coolers Full of Soft Drinks

You could also reach into the coolers for soft drinks, juices, sparkling water, and other types of beverages.

United Polaris Lounge Chicago Review
The Polaris Food Menu

And again, there will be even more in the future once they get their hot food permit.  So you could have a proper, filling meal here before your flight.

United Polaris Lounge Chicago Review
What I Got to Munch On. Luckily, Seconds Are Allowed!

4.   Drinks

There are plenty of drink options in the Polaris lounge, too.

United Polaris Lounge Chicago Review
The Cocktail List From Master Mixologists

You can have a fancy cocktail dreamed up by a mixologist, free of charge.

United Polaris Lounge Chicago Review
Or You Can Choose From Traditional or House Drinks

There’s also a list of traditional cocktails.  And a few are unique to the lounge, like “The Paper Plane.”

United Polaris Lounge Chicago Review
Like It Neat or on the Rocks? Take Your Pick!

There’s a selection of spirits as well if you like it straight, no chaser. 😉

United Polaris Lounge Chicago Review
There’s a Substantial Wine List, Too

If you want a glass of wine, there’s a curated list of wines from all over the world.  A treat for the wine enthusiasts out there!

United Polaris Lounge Chicago Review
The Bar Is Gorgeous and Well-Stocked

The bar area has plenty of seating and beautiful mood lighting.  It looked like a relaxing place to unwind with a nice drink.

United Polaris Lounge Chicago Review
Here Are the Mixers. I Mean, Non-Alcoholic Drinks!

You can take coffee, tea, and soft drinks.

United Polaris Lounge Chicago Review
Many Teas to Choose From

I was impressed with the tea selection!  That’s what I ultimately settled on.  Jasmine tea to be specific, though I was looking at the Tumeric Ginger tea too!

5.   Special Touches

What really sets the Polaris lounge apart is the other offerings.

United Polaris Lounge Chicago Review
Care for a Nap? Stay a While!

For example, you can take a nap in a daybed in your own enclosed nap room.  How cool is that?

United Polaris Lounge Chicago Review
You’ll Get Water, Pillow Spray, and an Eye Mask

They’ll even give you a glass of water and some accessories to help you relax right away.

United Polaris Lounge Chicago Review
The Pods Were Very Quiet

The lounge overall is peaceful.  I conducted a sound test int the back pods and recorded levels of only 50 decibels.  That’s pretty quiet!  Even the pods in the center of the lounge were only around 60 decibels.

United Polaris Lounge Chicago Review
Beautiful Fixtures Reminiscent of the Night Sky

United Airlines really took the Polaris theme to heart.  There are light fixtures that look like stars in the ceiling right when you walk in!

United Polaris Lounge Chicago Review
Not an Ordinary Hallway

Even the hallways have the starry theme.  Throughout, there are touches of marble, nice wooden floors, and modern decor.

United Polaris Lounge Chicago Review
All the Bathrooms Are Unisex

The bathrooms are sleek and clean.  And there are shower suites if you have a long layover and want to refresh.  There are toiletries and shave kits – be sure to ask for them when you request your suite.

There are valet services for special requests, too.  So let them know what you need!

United Polaris Lounge Chicago Review
Excellent Views of the United Airlines Birds!

And, like any good lounge, there are great views of the tarmac.  So you can watch the United Airlines planes take off while you snack and sip your beverage.

6.   Amazing Internet Speeds

Another thing I look for in a lounge is internet.  Because I like to get work done before a flight.  So you can send those final emails or write lounge reviews before your flight leaves. 😉

That said, WOW!

United Polaris Lounge Chicago Review
Some of the Best Internet Speeds I’ve Seen

If you have some serious work to do, be sure to get to this lounge early.  Because the internet speeds are simply incredible!

Anything you need to do on the internet will take seconds at speeds like this – and probably faster.

Bottom Line

I was very impressed with the new United Polaris lounge in Chicago’s O’Hare airport.  This is the best domestic lounge I’ve visited.

You can get in when you fly international Business Class or First Class on United Airlines or a Star Alliance partner airline.  It’s an added reason to collect miles!  😉

This easily rivals the AMEX Centurion Lounges.  And even some international lounges, which is saying a lot!

I’m glad to see United Airlines improving not only their Business Class seat on international flights, but their domestic lounge network.  And if the opening of the Polaris lounge in Chicago is any indication, it looks like more good things are on the way!

At the United Polaris lounge in Chicago you can enjoy free fancy cocktails, a daybed for a nap, shower suites, and hot meals (in the near future).  And there is plenty of seating in this spacious, quiet, and modern space.

If you’ve been here, what did you think of the Polaris lounge?

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Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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What up speed do you normally get? What type computer?

Do you actually have to pay for wine? Those large numbers look more like wine numbers than prices, and I thought I read that all food and drinks (including wine) is complimentary.

Darius–so if I am not a Red Carpet member but fly on a mileage plus upgraded ticket to first class, am I admitted to Polaris?

Author
Million Mile Secrets

If it is international first class, you’ll be able to use the lounge.

Looks amazing! Are only departing passengers allowed, or will an arriving Business/First passenger with a connection be allowed entry?

Yes, I just flew AMS-ORD with a 2 hour layover for my ORD-SPI flight, no problem getting in.

Daraius I really enjoy your blog. I wonder if you ever feel that you are treated differently while traveling with longer hair and beard?

Author
Million Mile Secrets

Thanks! I haven’t noticed a difference, besides some TSA agents squinted at my ID (where I have no beard and long hair) and then looking at me. 🙂