United closes all Polaris business class lounges

With fewer people flying, United closes the door on its flagship Polaris airport lounges.

By David Flynn, March 17 2020
United closes all Polaris business class lounges

United Airlines will close all five of its flagship Polaris airport lounges this week, as the effects of Covid-19 and coronavirus-related travel restrictions continue to cut into demand for international travel.

The Polaris lounges at Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Newark will all pull down the shutters on  Wednesday March 18, 2020.

United opened the first of the new-look Polaris lounges, which are restricted to business class passengers, at its Chicago home base in late 2016.

A sixth Polaris lounge is due to open this year at Washington DC, before United extends the concept to its key international hubs of London, Tokyo and Hong Kong.

"The coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak continues to have a significant impact on travel demand and that has resulted in far fewer customers visiting the airports where we do business," United said in in a media statement.

"As a result, we will temporarily suspend operations at some United Club locations at our hubs and Polaris lounges starting on Wednesday, March 18. For now, each of our US hub locations will continue to have at least one United Club location open for customers."

Several airports have more than one United Club lounges – the specific lounges slated closure from this week are:

  • Chicago (near gates B18 and F8)
  • Denver (near gate B32)
  • Houston (near gates A9, C33 and B mezzanine)
  • Newark (near gate A2, plus the 'pop-up' location near C93)
  • San Francisco (near gates E4 and BAE mezzanine)
  • Washington/Dulles (near gates C4 and C7)

The United States this week shut its borders to visitors who’ve been in the UK, Europe in the 14 days prior to US arrival, while several other countries are discouraging international travel, with Australia now requiring mandatory self-isolation for all international arrivals.

Cathay Pacific was the first international airline to shut down flagship lounges in the wake of the coronavirus, with three Hong Kong lounges – The Pier First Class, The Deck and The Bridge – closed from February 17 “until further notice."

The Pier Business Class lounge, along with The Wing First Class and The Wing Business Class lounges, have remained open, although Executive Traveller readers report that even those lounges are all but deserted.

Qantas also plans to close its Singapore first class lounge from April 20 through to at least September 2020, due to fewer passengers flying to Singapore, and none flying through Singapore to London or back due to the planned rerouting of QF1/QF2 via Perth.

However, today's announcement of sweeping cuts to the airline's international network from later this month – including up to 150 long-range aircraft being grounded – could see the Qantas Singapore First lounge closed even sooner.

Read more: Qantas to suspend almost all international flights


David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

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