United’s Classified Restaurant No Longer Very Exclusive

Two months ago OTG opened a new restaurant at Newark that received fanfare like pretty much no airport restaurant ever. It’s called Classified and everyone wanted to go because it was exclusive.

In partnership with United you needed to give them your MileagePlus account number and name and check to see if you were welcome. Most weren’t. I wasn’t.

It’s a private room inside the restaurant Saison where anyone can eat already, but Classified has better views. The menu is somewhat different but it’s food from the same kitchen.

It’s expensive, good for expense account dining but if you’re on a GSA per diem figure you can get out of there with one meal costing your whole day’s allowance. And the iPads here are just as out of place as they are at Newark’s CBGB.

Mommy Points got a reservation, so I checked if i was eligible. I managed to log right in.

I’m a United Silver. I have 19,854 qualifying miles this year off 15 segments, and $2,662 qualifying dollars. Supposedly there’s a focus on United travelers passing through Newark (since of course that’s who can access the restaurant):

Will I always be able to make a reservation at CLASSIFIED?

Your invitation is meant for your upcoming travels to or from Newark, so we recommend that you make your reservation as part of that trip. While you may be able reserve for a flight on a different date, we can’t make any guarantees.

However I haven’t been through Newark on United since last December and I have no upcoming Newark reservations.

Now, as they used to say, I wouldn’t want to be a member of any club that would have me. But if you’re curious try logging in and you may now be able to make a booking. After all, the place is reportedly usually quite empty and a restaurant doesn’t make money empty.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Either (a) you got targeted because you’re a travel blogger, or (b) they’re just doing this fairly randomly. I’ve been a 1K with United for many years, based in New York, so EWR is my “home base.” I have a bunch of trips booked and linked to my frequent flyer account, including several paid biz long-haul trips departing from EWR, and one paid biz trip where I’m departing from DCA, “connecting” through EWR, and then have a fairly long connection before a long-haul international flight. Even with all of that, I get a message stating that I can request “an invitation,” but cannot make a reservation.

    All that said, I’ve read that they’ll just let anyone who asks for it by name in even if you don’t have a reservation or aren’t on the “list.” The whole thing is just a marketing ploy borrowed from nightclub promoters — try to create the illusion of scarcity by having a line out front, even if there’s barely anyone inside.

  2. I’m a UA nobody and didn’t get access.

    Thanks for your interest by access is limited to select MileagePlus members

    and a checkbox to ‘get on the list’

  3. I am a Premier 1K member, and denied access – so you’re right – no wonder it’s reportedly empty.

  4. I’m a 1K and get invites every time I fly to Europe.
    I’ve been once and it was super greay except for the ipads and the freezing temperature !!!

  5. BOS based Plat past couple of years and 1K for many prior – no upcoming trips through EWR and only connected there a couple times this year. Out of curiosity, I was able to log in and make a reservation but doubt I’d even consider going given their menu prices.

  6. It was awful when I ate there. Almost empty but poor service and food was overpriced (and tasted just okay). Tables around me had dirty dishes sitting on them after the parties had left and there were only three other tables dining. They forgot our wine. Provided an awkward towel service while we were eating our soup and brought our second course within less than a minute of getting our soup. Then the server disappeared. I had to almost walk out of the restaurant to get someone coming in the door for a check.

  7. This is so funny. I would never go to a “tablet on the table restaurant”—seems rather unCLASSifed and Anthony’s description is priceless.

  8. “Everyone wanted to go” only because EWR is already an iPad infested S-hole on a good day, and it’s now even worse with both UClubs under construction

  9. I honestly cannot get my head around the attractiveness people seem to find in this concept. It’s seems literally insane to me that people are applying for invites to pay USD 100+/head for what appears to be standard upscale hotel fare in a walled off portion of an existing mediocre restaurant, with iPads on the tables.

    The concept becomes positively offensive when you realize that most respectable international carriers provide pre-flight dining approaching this quality FOR FREE to their top-tier elites and F passengers (think Cathay Pacific, Lufthansa, AF, even the much-maligned BA).

  10. @Kerry — Yeah, I don’t really “get” this concept, either. They’re already opening Polaris lounges for the int’l biz class pax. Isn’t that supposed to be upscale airport dining experience already included in your fare? Why do I want to pay for another meal — I’ve already got 2 included (lounge and in-flight). And for folks who aren’t travelling in Polaris, is there enough demand for a pricey airport dining experience? I know there are people who like to feel special and exclusive, but my guess is that there aren’t enough of them. The restaurant would have to be sensational, and it’s apparently not.

  11. I went this week. It was rather empty, but the food was great for airport food, and even if I wasn’t in the airport I would visit again. Yes, it was expensive, but a 40usd ribeye steak in NYC isn’t that abnormal, and 20 percent off for being the primary card holder for a UA credit card was nice.

  12. Got an invite and went with my wife yesterday.
    Fairly quiet and pleasant. Food did taste very good.
    $40.00 for a 40 oz. Ribeye is acceptable in NYC.

    But they clearly are NOT upscale, and the hype is WAY off the wall.
    They forgot the wine at first, didn’t know that it should be opened by the table,
    and those iPads … yes!! VERY annoying and also ridiculous for a place that attempts to be special.

    Compared to the Polaris Lounge in Chicago, where we got the same quality food and wine FOR FREE, this ‘Classified’ thing is unfortunately really VERY embarrassing for United.
    To have the food prepared in the ‘front door’ place, and then make like it’s a different restaurant in the back, is kind of cheap too.

    The whole idea will backfire, and will eventually attract those folks that like to make a lot of noise, scream around on their cell phones, and pretend they are alone in the world.
    It will, over time, scare away those people that enjoy a quiet stylish dinner in a cultured ambience.

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