Lounge Review: United Polaris Lounge Chicago O’Hare (ORD)

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Lounge Review: United Polaris Lounge Chicago O’Hare (ORD)

Lounge Review: United Polaris Lounge Chicago O’Hare (ORD)

Here we go! After a quick, painless flight from Springfield (SPI) to Chicago (ORD), the trip, and the fun, has really begun.

After landing at gate F2, I made my 15 minute walk from the F concourse in Terminal 2 over to the C Concourse in Terminal 1 and the United Polaris Lounge!

United Polaris Lounge ORD review business class chicago

Concourse F in Terminal 2

United Polaris Lounge ORD review business class chicago

Who are the cubs and did they win something? Didn’t see a ton of Orioles gear….weird.

United Polaris Lounge ORD review business class chicago

The B Concourse on the way to the lounge – love those ceilings.

United Polaris Lounge ORD review business class chicago

About to take a left for Concourse C….

United Polaris Lounge ORD review business class chicago

The tunnel bright – and had the United theme song playing – kinda cool

Just to make sure we’re all on the same page, here’s where we are:

  • Introduction: Quick First Class Trip to Tokyo and Back!
  • Lounge Review: United Polaris Lounge Chicago O’Hare (ORD)
  • Flight Review: ANA 777 First Class Chicago O’Hare (ORD) to Tokyo Haneda (HND)
  • Hotel Review: The Prince Sakura Tower Tokyo
  • Hotel Review: The Grand Hyatt Tokyo
  • Hotel Review: Royal Park Hotel The Haneda
  • I don’t speak Japanese – 4 days in Tokyo!
  • Lounge Review: ANA Lounge Tokyo Haneda (HND)
  • Flight Review: Asiana A380 First Class Seoul (ICN) to New York (JFK)

After you come up from the tunnel connecting Concourse B and C, the lounge is almost right in front of you on the left-hand side.

United Polaris Lounge ORD

Terminal 1 Map – where it says United Club in the center of Concourse C is the new Polaris Lounge

United Polaris Lounge ORD

Not a good photo, but that was what it looked like when you came off the escalator and walked straight.

The lounge is right immediately up against gate C18. It’s exactly where they old United Global First Lounge was located. The normal united club is still on the other side, however it’s under renovation.

You could almost reach out and touch the plane at the gate from the back-right corner of the lounge.

United Polaris Lounge ORD

C18 Gate/Plane

Anyway, let’s get inside the lounge.

The entrance of the lounge is beautiful. The first word that comes to mind is sleek. It’s stunning as you walk in, and really gets you excited to enter the lounge. That may seem like a no-brainer for international lounges, but it definitely hasn’t been that way for United.

United Polaris Lounge ORD

Entrance signage

United Polaris Lounge ORD

Entrance signage round (with my reflection)

United Polaris Lounge ORD

Just to the left of the signage is the entrance!

United Polaris Lounge ORD

Entrance reception desk

United Polaris Lounge ORD

Entrance

United Polaris Lounge ORD

Cool entrance lights

Now, as I walked around the lounge, I was continually asking the employees questions, trying to glean as much information from them as possible regarding the renovations, amenities, and future changes.

While I was taking the above picture, the reception agent came up and explained to me that this spherical light design was actually a representation of the lights in the greater Chicago area.

The picture below is on the wall on the left hand side when you walk in – I took this photo from a weird angle so you could see it. The lightly shaded sphere is the area that’s supposed to be represented by those lights on the ceiling.

United Polaris Lounge ORD

Map with the light representation shaded on it

The reception employee went on to say that they will be doing this same thing at all the Polaris lounges they’re opening up, with the local city (area) represented by the lights when you first enter the lounge. I’ll be curious to see how different it looks with the cities they do around the world!

At the reception desk as they check you in they give you a booklet describing the services and amenities of the lounge.

United Polaris Lounge ORD

It describes the major aspects from food and drink, to Wi-Fi and the relaxation room.

United Polaris Lounge ORD

Speaking of Wi-Fi, it’s not only and extremely easy to get onto, it’s incredibly fast. It’s the best airport Wi-Fi I’ve ever used, and probably better than what I have at my house. It got and A+ on the Ookla Internet Speedtest.

As you enter the lounge, immediately to your left are the concierge and reservation agents who can help you with anything you may need (all three happened to be away from their desks when I took this photo, but were there almost the rest of the afternoon).

The desk on the far right is for Global Services members, while the other two can be used by any guest.

United Polaris Lounge ORD

United Concierge/Reservation agents desks. They were helping travelers here most of the afternoon.

Directly in front of you is the hallway to the 10+ private restrooms. They’re all individual rooms, with no men/women differentiation.

United Polaris Lounge ORD

Hallway to the restrooms

United Polaris Lounge ORD

Nothing crazy about this restroom picture – very nice.

United Polaris Lounge ORD

This is me trying to get artsy in the bathroom. Did it work?

If you turn right after walking in, you’ll be in the main lounge area.

United Polaris Lounge ORD

This is actually the view from the opposite side – you can see the reservation desks in the back and the hallway to the bathroom is in the back right.

United Polaris Lounge ORD

Little cubbies – almost feel like being in a large herringbone style business class seat – very spacious. This is where I spent the majority of my afternoon.

United Polaris Lounge ORD

Sliding table that comes out.

To the side of the main seating area, and located directly behind the reception desks is the food buffet area and the relation/shower area.

United Polaris Lounge ORD

Seating near the buffet area

There isn’t hot food in the lounge yet (not until December 15th), but the lounge had small plates and other foods in the mean time.

United Polaris Lounge ORD

Food area

United Polaris Lounge ORD

Cool lighting above the center food table

You’ll notice the center table is pretty much empty. This will be where the hot food is located once they start serving it.

United Polaris Lounge ORD

Food buffet table

United Polaris Lounge ORD

Soft drinks, breads, meat, cheeses, etc. – nothing to write home about.

United Polaris Lounge ORD

The stuff you won’t write home about.

United Polaris Lounge ORD

Food table #2

United Polaris Lounge ORD

United Polaris Lounge ORD

Plates/cups/glasses in-between the food tables.

Immediately past the food is the relaxation lounge where you can reserve daybeds or shower rooms.

United Polaris Lounge ORD

Relaxation Room Entrance

While I didn’t reserve either a daybed or a shower room, the attendant offered to take me on a tour just for you guys and gals.

United Polaris Lounge ORD

I f***ing love these ceilings. Above the shower-room hallway

The shower suites were very well done. They have clean, sleek finishes, and added touches such a heated floors that really make it a wonderful experience.

United Polaris Lounge ORD

Shower room

United Polaris Lounge ORD

Shower room shower

United Polaris Lounge ORD

Shower room

After showing me the shower rooms, we headed back down the hallway to the daybeds.

United Polaris Lounge ORD

Awesome

There are four day bed suites in this lounge, and they can be reserved at the desk. You can also give the attendants your flight information and/or wake up time and they will make sure you don’t miss your flight. I love the fact that you can sleep without having to freak out about missing an international connection.

United Polaris Lounge ORD

Daybed rooms entrance

United Polaris Lounge ORD

Daybed Suite #2

United Polaris Lounge ORD

Table next to the bed with slippers, eye masks, etc.

United Polaris Lounge ORD

Daybed

United Polaris Lounge ORD

Saks Fifth Avenue bedding

United Polaris Lounge ORD

Room controls

United Polaris Lounge ORD

Day bed room – looking from suite #1 to suite #4

United Polaris Lounge ORD

Day bed room ceilings – nice and high – very spacious

The entire space is just very calm and relaxing. There’s opportunity to improve the room that I’ll talk about a bit later, but it’s 90% of the way there.

Exiting back to the main lounge, we’ll head to the bar, which is just past the first long row of “cubicles”.

United Polaris Lounge ORD

United Polaris Lounge ORD

Right edge of the bar

United Polaris Lounge ORD

Bar

United Polaris Lounge ORD

Get your drink on.

There are a few really interesting parts about this lounge. The coolest by far is that on the far left side of the bar they have little cubbies with alcohol in them. A United Representative (from corporate, not the lounge staff) told me that the cubbies are actually going to be for their top-tier customers to store wine and spirits in. They will be complimentary, and each individual will have a shelf. They are currently sending out the invitations, and presumably they’ll target their top Global Services customers that actually depart/transit through Chicago. I thought that was really cool/unique.

United Polaris Lounge ORD

Super special booze lockers for the people better than me.

Another cool aspect of the bar is that they have a small bourbon bar offset from the bar where customers can self-serve.

United Polaris Lounge ORD

Bourbon Bar

United Polaris Lounge ORD

Some good stuff on there!

United Polaris Lounge ORD

View of the bar from the Bourbon Bar

The drink selection at the bar was very good. You won’t get the extremely high-end assortment you’d get at international First Class Lounges (like The Pier, The Wing, etc.), but their cocktails are tasty and the beer selection is solid and growing.

One of the bartenders let me know that they will actually have 3-4 more beers on tap coming shortly (as you’ll see there are empty spaces for them). It was great to hear that they won’t be repeats of the other taps or crappy light beers, but local craft beers.

Let’s look at the drink menu.

United Polaris Lounge ORD review business class chicago menuUnited Polaris Lounge ORD review business class chicago menuUnited Polaris Lounge ORD review business class chicago menu

United Polaris Lounge ORD review business class chicago menuUnited Polaris Lounge ORD review business class chicago menuUnited Polaris Lounge ORD review business class chicago menu
United Polaris Lounge ORD review business class chicago menuUnited Polaris Lounge ORD review business class chicago menu

I personally tried the “Bubbles and Yellow Jackets” and the “French 75” – they were both delicious!

United Polaris Lounge ORD

French 75.

United Polaris Lounge ORD

Seating area, similar to what is right in front of the bar, directly behind the bar.

United Polaris Lounge ORD

Cubicle area behind the bar by the back windows

So that’s the lounge! Here’s my overall impressions, but I’d say it lived up to the hype!

  • Yet to be seen:
    • How will the fact that so much light is let in through the daybed room windows affect people’s sleep? I asked if they had blackout shades – they don’t. It was a really overcast Chicago day and still fairly bright in there.
    • How will the food compare to other international FC and Biz lounges? I’m not sure the small plates are an accurate barometer for the how hot dishes will go. Expectations are high!
    • As I told the United Twitter team while I was in the lounge, my favorite part of the lounge was the amazing staff and their willingness to help with anything and everything. I hope this continues and isn’t just ramped up for the opening…
  • What could be added/improved:
    • If they truly want to make this the premier lounge for US Airlines around the globe, added spa services could be a simple way to help that. They don’t take up much room, as we’ve seen in the Amex Centurion lounges.
    • The lounge attendants in the food area literally didn’t know what a single small dish was. They couldn’t have been nicer and really tried, but they didn’t know what any of the food actually was, and, moreover, there were no signs.
  • What I loved:
    • Customer Service. As I said above, the customer service was fantastic, and above and beyond anything I have seen for a US airline.
    • THE WIFI. It was freaking amazing – cannot be understated.
    • The Cubicles. They were very simple yet comfortable. Plenty of room and plugs for your devices.
United Polaris Lounge ORD review business class chicago menu

My wife hates when I wear sneakers and jeans…but I was comfortable!

Up next: Flight Review: ANA 777 First Class Chicago O’Hare (ORD) to Tokyo Haneda (HND)

*Spoiler alert – it was freaking awesome.

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