Review: United Airlines Polaris Lounge, Newark Liberty International Airport

Private booths, free-flowing Champagne and à la carte dining are a taste of what awaits inside.

Overall Rating

By Sid Raja , December 20 2022
United Airlines Polaris Lounge, Newark Liberty International Airport
Country

United States

City

Newark (NJ)

Airport

New York (Newark)

Alliance

Star Alliance

Airline

United Airlines

Cabin-class

Business

Notes
The Good
  • Superfast internet
  • Multiple seating areas with AC power
  • A la carte dining
The Bad
  • Some service deficiencies
X-Factor
  • Private productivity work pods
  • Buffet and à la carte dining
Location
Dining
Work
Overall

Introduction

New York’s Newark Liberty International Airport is one of the busiest travel hubs in the USA. Yet amid the non-stop hustle and bustle, there’s an oasis of calm and refinement: the United Airlines Polaris Lounge – and it’s open exclusively to business and first class passengers.

One of the six Polaris lounges in the country – together with San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston and Washington Dulles – the Newark outpost delivers a relaxed and modern feel with luxurious amenities for premium United and Star Alliance guests.

À la carte dining with free-flowing Champagne, comfy quiet rooms to recharge and individual shower suites to freshen up before or after your flight are just a handful of the appreciated perks that await inside.

Here’s how the rest of the lounge stacks up.

Location & Impressions

Once at EWR Airport, a quick scan of your boarding pass gets you straight into the United Polaris Lounge, located in terminal C – just after the main security checkpoint and next to Starbucks. The entrance is rather hard to miss.

And it’s not just any Polaris Lounge. Clocking in at roughly 2500 sqm, it’s among the biggest in the airline’s stable, with multiple zones tailored to working, relaxing, socialising and more.

From the entrance, it really opens up, with the bar, seating spaces and buffet area flowing nicely from one to the next. Nothing is walled off, though clever design makes it easy to differentiate between the distinct zones.

The thread tying it all together is United’s hallmark blues, slates and soft silvery sheens, all enhanced by the natural light that floods the lounge through extensive floor to ceiling windows. It’s certainly a class above the feel of your typical United Club.

United operates a ton of long haul flights out of the Newark hub and, while the lounge was relatively quiet during our morning visit, it tends to get quite crowded in the early hours evenings – despite its exclusiveness.

If you land or depart from another terminal – many United partner carriers do so from others – the Newark AirTrain runs between the terminals fairly quickly and 24/7.

Access

The Polaris business class lounge at Newark International Airport is open daily from 5am to 10pm.

Unlike other Star Alliance business class flyers – who can only get into United’s Polaris lounges at their point of departure – those flying business class with United Airlines can enjoy complimentary lounge access both on departure and upon arrival.

On top of that, Polaris lounge access is exclusively reserved for long-haul international business or first class passengers, meaning United MileagePlus members and other Star Alliance Gold-grade frequent flyers booked in economy or premium economy are out of luck.

Also, note that United passengers on flights to Canada, Mexico, Central America, Colombia, Ecuador, the Caribbean and Guam aren’t allowed into the Newark Polaris lounge – as those are not considered as ‘long-haul’ routes. Such travellers are instead redirected to the adjacent United Club lounge.

Dining

Dining is definitely a stand-out part of the experience, and at EWR this means, among others, an extensive self-serve buffet and an enticing restaurant style à la carte menu.

As you head left into the lounge, you’ll get your first look at one of the main focal points: the bar, with a wide range of spirits, wines and cocktails.

There are over 10 different wines on the menu, including some French and Californian favourites and a lesser-known – yet still surprisingly popular – Chardonnay from Israel.

There’s also an interesting cocktail selection – the High Altitude Bloody Mary is a highlight.

In the centre of the lounge, you can dish yourself up with a generous buffet, which rotates from breakfast to lunch at around 10am.

There were several different offerings from the hot and cold bar, with food to match any dietary preference.

In my case, I went for an assorted plate of scrambled eggs, bacon and sausages, with a side of Mexican beans.

You’ll also find several fridges scattered throughout the dining room, as well as a dedicated self-serve beverage station with freshly infused water, tea, coffee, and fruit juices.

For something lighter, a variety of cold cuts stood ready in the central area of the buffet, which was swiftly replenished when necessary.

That’s also where you'll find the yoghurts and a diverse assortment of fruits, which proved very popular during our visit.

Those with a sweet tooth are also looked after with a well stocked dessert station boasting a mix of baked pastries, assorted cakes and sweets…

…as well as an overly tempting station with candy and nuts, with cups set beside them to take on the go.

But the main feature of United’s Polaris lounges is the à la carte dining, which offers sit-down, restaurant-style service all day long. And at Newark this comes with a separate and well-appointed dining room with tarmac views to match. The dining room opened a little late, with a few fellow travellers prompting staff that they had made time to eat and had flights to catch. 

The menu rotates quarterly, with highlights during our stay including the salmon…

… and the United Polaris burger (served on a brioche bun with sweet potato fries)...

… which we paired with an Piper-Heidsieck Cuvee Brut champagne.

All of the dishes came out fairly quickly, which makes the a la carte dining a suitable option even for those who run short of time.

Work

Travellers tackling a build-up of emails or other work ahead of their flight are catered for at a number of high walled ‘productivity pods’ with comfy chairs, a small desk, accessible power points and a dedicated lamp providing ample lighting…

They’re not the most comfortable desk to work on though, so a proper dining table you can stretch out on may be a better choice. You’ll find plenty of these seats around the buffet area:

If sensitive matters need to be dealt with, a handful of private, wall-enclosed phone booths – assigned on a first come, first served basis – can be found near the entrance to the shower and sleeping suites. More on those later.

Also in this area is where you’ll find the lounge’s concierge desk, where there’s a printer for passengers to print off any last-minute documents before their flight.

As for internet access, WiFi is beamed throughout the entire lounge.

You’ll find the password at reception or on many of the information stands throughout the space. Like most other Polaris lounges the speed is lightning-fast, with speeds of up to 170 Mbps for downloads and 21Mbps for uploads.

Relax

Ideal for either after or before a long flight, United Airlines’ Polaris business class lounge boasts several individual shower suites – available upon request and cleaned after each use. 

These come well appointed with all essential shower amenities, including a sleek marble-clad vanity, a toilet, a bench and of course, a nice rain shower. The floor was also heated, and you could control the temperature with a small control panel by the door.

Other amenities available upon request include a dental kit, deodorant, hair dryer, hair straightener and curling iron. Additionally, a steaming service is also at hand to help you get your clothes freshened up if needed.

Those looking to kick back and relax can do so at one of the many seats across the lounge. The first room had a fair number of lounging options – specially suitable for those travelling in groups.

For a more comfortable option, there are several oversized chairs – all with both AC and USB power outlets at hand – nearby.

You’ll find more of those seats over by the windows, conveniently placed to take in some Newark Airport tarmac views.

For making a long stopover between flights, the Polaris business class lounge also features ten ‘quiet rooms’ where you can recharge with a quick power nap. Each is fitted with a lounger, a side table, some bottled water and a comfy Saks Fifth Avenue pillow. 

They don’t have closing doors, but the rooms are located in a private hallway isolated from the main part of the lounge. The one I got was near the end of the corridor, which was ideal given the fact that the motion-detecting lights kept turning back on each time someone walked by. 

Verdict

As expected, the Polaris business class lounge at Newark did not disappoint. There’s no better way to start (or end) your United Airlines flight, especially if you’re looking to freshen up with a shower, enjoy a restaurant-grade meal or take a relaxing nap before a busy day ahead.

The writer travelled as a guest of United Airlines.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

12 Jun 2019

Total posts 4

The Polaris Lounge at SFO is on par with Newark.

21 Dec 2022

Total posts 1

@PasGro -- additionally the SFO Polaris Lounge is the largest one, with more floor space (2,612 sq-meters) than the one at EWR (2,519 sq-meters).

29 Jan 2012

Total posts 153

Guam isn't recognized as a long haul flight from New York - Interesting! Yes the flight may not be non stop, but the destination should be the focus, at least given it's pricing in the premium classes.


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