United Airlines has denied reports that it intends to close its Arrivals lounge at San Francisco following this week's opening of the airport's new Polaris lounge.
Located on SFO Terminal 3's lower level near the baggage claim area, the spartan Arrivals lounge is certainly not in the same league as the lush Polaris lounge – in terms of decor and meals, it arguably doesn't even belong in the same century.
But its 14 spacious shower suites are the main drawcard for travellers hopping off an international business class or first class flight.
There have been reports that United Airlines would pull down the shutters on this compact lounge, however a spokesman for United denied this, telling Australia Business Traveller "we have no plans to close it at this time."
Asked to clarify the phrase 'at this time' – which is often used as an escape clause – and to rule out closing the arrivals lounge in at least the near future, the spokesman stated "That’s all I have from our Clubs team. In other words, the Arrivals lounge remains open."
United's lounge focus for now is picking up the momentum on its impressive Polaris facilities. The spacious new Polaris lounge at San Francisco will be followed by similar but locale-centric Polaris lounges at Newark, Houston and Los Angeles this year, with a second wave from 2020 including Washington DC, London, Hong Kong and Tokyo.
However, in a decision which has largely pleased business class passengers but gotten top-tier frequent flyers offside, United doesn't admit its own MileagePlus Premier members or their Star Alliance Gold-grade equivalents into Polaris lounges when flying in premium economy or economy.
Making the Polaris lounges exclusive to business class travellers was central to "the overall (Polaris) business class experience," the airline's Director of Premium Services, Alexander Dorow, told Australian Business Traveller, by "ensuring that customers who are travelling internationally in business class have a dedicated lounge product (just) for them.”