United Polaris: Best US Carrier Lounge by Default

1

The United Newark Polaris Lounge Review is part of the ANA, Take Me ‘Round the World Trip Report.


One terrible thing about living in Puerto Rico is the red eye flights to New York. I’ve been intimately acquainted with JetBlue’s delayed service which gets me off the island in time to rejoin the working world.

This time, my flight was at 4AM but didn’t leave until 5AM. I arrived at 9AM to EWR in a good mood because I knew I had a day at the United Polaris Lounge without any worry about making my connection (see Cutting It Close: Will I Make My JFK-HKG Connection?).

Access

Much has been written about the limited access to the lounge. A lounge pass won’t get you in and neither will your status – two things I do not have anyway. The only way you are invited in is if you are flying international business.

Lounge Size

The place is huge. Sit where you please: by the dining room, by the windows, or in the quiet room.

Bar

Before heading to the quiet room, I went to the bar.

The bar is always the first stop, and a Bloody Mary and Miller Lite, per tradition, were ordered. I do not like peppercorn infused vodka so I did not finish it. Post Medalla, Miller Lite tastes worse than it did before.

Breakfast

I went to the dining room for breakfast. It was quiet and empty compared to much later on. I made two excellent choices and replaced the Bloody Mary with a Palona.

As far as presentation and cutlery is concerned, I give the nod to the AA Flagship Lounge in JFK. As far as food goes, on this day, Polaris came out ahead.

Quiet Room

Ready to sleep, I went to the quiet room and was disappointed to find a curved lawn chair instead of a flat bed. What’s the point of almost having a place to sleep in peace? I appreciated the United Polaris eye shades which rival Delta’s Tumi offering. On a strange note, the light kept turning on every hour or so. I was in a daze and would wake up to turn it off. I was too tired to figure out what was going on or change rooms. It happened a few times during my four hour siesta.

Shower 

After a long night of travel, I thought a shower was in order. The water pressure was decent, but the Fifth Avenue towels felt like a gym sweat rag.

Zoo

I left the shower to find the lounge was jam packed. No matter how large the lounge, no matter how restricted the access, on this day, Polaris was Centurion busy. There was now a line to go to the dining room.

Buffet

Rather than waiting to be seated, I checked out the buffet. It is clear why there is a line for the dining room: the food in the buffet is disgusting. The hummus was what you’d expect in a normal United Lounge only Sam’s Club in quantity (had it been Costco, it would have been delicious). I put a few olives on my plate and headed to my seat.

How is this paella?

Lunch

Eventually the line disappeared and I went to lunch. I ordered the famous Paper Plane to prepare for the big burger that was being prepared.

A Note on Listening to Others

I like to read other blog reviews before I go on a plane, train, or airport lounge so I don’t miss anything. It would be tragic to go to the AA Flagship Lounge in JFK and not know Krug is on tap. What I need to stop doing is copying other people’s orders. I don’t like bourbon so why am I ordering a drink with bourbon? Here, I’m referring to the Paper Plane. As obvious as it sounds, if you don’t like my taste in food/drink, you shouldn’t order it just because I did.

Caesar Disaster

A theme for Polaris, both the lounge and the flight, is that United trying too hard. Case in point was the Caesar salad which had gross croutons made out of something other than Costco bread.

Paper Plane replacement

Burger Redemption

The burger was quite good, but I don’t know why they put zucchini in it. Seriously, a burger is a burger. Cook the meat right and the rest takes care of itself.

Dessert

Why not have dessert and my signature espresso and Gran Marnier?

Overall

The United Polaris lounge is a solid lounge for spending a day. It is far better than any Centurion Lounge, and besides the cutlery and Krug in AA Flagship, it is better than the AA Flagship. Since Delta Sky Clubs are unimpressive, United wins the award for best US carrier lounge by default.


If you enjoyed the United Newark Polaris Lounge Review, read the rest of the ANA, Take Me ‘Round the World Trip Report.

1 COMMENT

Leave a Reply