Is the United Polaris Lounge in Chicago Worth Visiting?
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This week, I had a chance to visit the brand new United Polaris lounge at O’Hare airport in Chicago!
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
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:
- Flying in Business (or First) Class internationally on United
- 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.
It’s a hike from the main gates. So wear your comfy shoes and prepare for a trek.
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!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!
The lounge is spacious, light, and airy.
There’s plenty of seating, so it never felt overcrowded.
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.
Or, if you’re traveling with companions, you can sit a booth with enough room for 3 or 4 people.
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!
There was only cold food because they hadn’t secured their permit to serve hot food yet. But hopefully they’ll get it soon!
I was still able to find plenty of things to snack on.
The portions of the prepared snacks are small.
You can look at that two ways: take more than one or have enough room to try everything! 🙂
There were also a couple of sweet treats for dessert, including cookies, and plenty of breads and rolls to try.
Some drinks, like coffee, tea, and water, were self-serve.
You could also reach into the coolers for soft drinks, juices, sparkling water, and other types of beverages.
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.
There are plenty of drink options in the Polaris lounge, too.
You can have a fancy cocktail dreamed up by a mixologist, free of charge.
There’s also a list of traditional cocktails. And a few are unique to the lounge, like “The Paper Plane.”
There’s a selection of spirits as well if you like it straight, no chaser. 😉
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!
The bar area has plenty of seating and beautiful mood lighting. It looked like a relaxing place to unwind with a nice drink.
You can take coffee, tea, and soft drinks.
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.
For example, you can take a nap in a daybed in your own enclosed nap room. How cool is that?
They’ll even give you a glass of water and some accessories to help you relax right away.
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 Airlines really took the Polaris theme to heart. There are light fixtures that look like stars in the ceiling right when you walk in!
Even the hallways have the starry theme. Throughout, there are touches of marble, nice wooden floors, and modern decor.
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!
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!
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 LineI was very impressed with the new United Polaris lounge in Chicago’s O’Hare airport. This is the best domestic lounge I’ve visited.
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! :)