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The massive, 27,000-square-foot United Polaris® lounge opened at Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) in June of 2018. The lounge can accommodate up to 455 passengers, but I have never seen it at capacity or struggled to find a good seat. The Polaris® lounges are some of the nicest in the US and the world for that matter with a sit-down restaurant, buffet, shower suites, nap rooms, phone booths, and plenty of comfortable seating.
International business class passengers traveling on United have access to the lounge before departing, when connecting, and upon arrival. If traveling business or first class on a Star Alliance carrier (like Lufthansa, SWISS, ANA, etc.), the lounge is only available pre-departure. I have been fortunate to check out all six of these lounges across United’s hubs many times. The one in Newark is one of my favorites.
Anthony’s Take: When flying United internationally, make sure that you leave some time to visit this gorgeous lounge. The sit-down restaurant offers a small, but solid menu so that you can dine before you fly (you’ll want to do this as the food onboard is improving but mediocre at best). I find the lounge a great place to relax, get some work done, and get ready for the journey ahead. Try the burger from the restaurant and if you have a long wait, snag one of the nap rooms.
Entering into the Polaris® lounge provides a respite from the chaos that is often filling one of United’s biggest hubs. Staff check boarding passes and passports before passengers find themselves in an oasis of calm and comfort.
The lounge is stylishly decorated with modern art and touches that make you know where you are (in this case NYC or close to it in Newark).
Past the first seating areas, you’ll find the massive bar. Unlike other US lounges (like the United Club℠ or Delta Sky Club®) premium wines and spirits are complimentary. The bar offers a selection of bespoke cocktails and is usually pouring a drinkable champagne.
To the right of the bar, you’ll find more seating on the way the buffet as well as a customer service counter with agents on hand to assist passengers.
The buffet is to the left of this area with many tables for diners to have a meal. I visited last on Thanksgiving and seasonally appropriate dishes were found in the buffet. Service in the buffet area and around the lounge is inconsistent. Some attendants are constantly cleaning and clearing dishes while others seem preoccupied with their phones or chatting with each other.
There is a large variety of hot and cold dishes, soup, and salad available in the buffet area.
Cold sandwiches stacked up.
A variety of cheeses and meats (with desserts next door).
A selection of veggies ready to make your own salad.
More veggies and salad additions.
Soup and soft drinks.
Several beverages are also on hand not too far from the buffet including iced tea and water with fruit.
A self-serve espresso machine is a bit further down the counter along with several types of milk. United made the switch to Illy a few years back.
Behind the bar you’ll find the sit-down restaurant. At peak times it is busy and you might have to give your name to be called for a table. Hit up the buffet while you’re waiting.
The menu is small but everything is made well with quality ingredients.
Each Polaris® lounge has a different menu with some dishes having a local feel and others random. The only consistent choice is the Polaris® Signature Burger. It changed a bit from when the lounges first opened and Chef Art Smith helped to design the menu, but it’s a consistently good choice.
Walking away from the restaurant, you’ll find the shower suites. These individual rooms provide a private toilet, sink, and shower. These are also first come, first serve. The attendants clean them and turn them over quickly. I have never waited too long when I have wanted one.
Towels, a blow dryer, and basic toiletries are provided.
Toiletries are Sunday Riley brand. They get the job done but are not particularly memorable.
If you don’t need a shower but just want a moment of privacy to refresh, the Polaris® lounge has plenty of individual, all-gender bathrooms. These can be found down a hallway near the bar.
In the same area as the shower suites, you’ll find several nap rooms.
These provide eye shades, ear plugs, water, and a sound machine.
Across the lounge, there are several phone booths for taking calls.
The seating throughout the lounge is comfortable and varied. Some of the setups are there for work and others just for relaxation.
United’s Polaris® lounges offer the best premium experience of any US airline. In my opinion, these are better than American’s Flagship lounges. It will be interesting to see how the Delta One lounges stack up once they open. I find myself relaxed and comfortable in the Polaris® lounges. The food, drinks, and amenities make time before a flight pass quickly while getting me ready for my flight.
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