United Failed to Open a Single Polaris Lounge in 2017, and Stops Promising When We’ll See Another

United’s Polaris lounge in Chicago is so far the only new business class lounge United has opened.

Polaris lounges with elevated dining, beverage options, and amenities — and judging by the Chicago lounge, fantastic design — are available to United premium cabin class passengers flying long haul international flgihts (US – Asia, Australia, Europe, South America) and Star Alliance premium cabin passengers departing on international flights.

The Chicago lounge opened over a year ago and United didn’t open one in 2017.

The plan for 2017 was supposed to be as follows:

  • Newark – phase one (phase two in 2018)
  • San Francisco – phase one in 2017 (phase two in 2018)
  • Houston
  • London
  • Los Angeles

None of that happened. Hong Kong, Tokyo Narita, and Washington Dulles were supposed to launch in 2018. (At one point Hong Kong and Tokyo were supposed to come before Los Angeles even, so things have been consistently getting pushed back from the get go.)

October brought more announced delays. Nothing would open in 2017. San Francisco, Newark, and London would open in 2018, but no longer ‘early 2018’.

Houston, Los Angeles, Tokyo, Hong Kong and Washington DC Polaris lounges would be ‘later in 2018’… but still 2018.

In the meantime in 2017 American Airlines opened new Flagship business class lounges at New York JFK, Chicago O’Hare, Miami and Los Angeles.

Now United updates us again and no longer promises any delivery date for lounges on its Polaris Tracker website. They merely list San Francisco, Newark, and Houston as ‘under construction’ with the rest ‘in planning’. (HT: One Mile at a Time)

United tells One Mile at a Time that the three ‘under construction’ lounges will open in 2018 — suggesting that the others will not, and of course given the pace United has driven on this project there’s hardly a guarantee that all 3 of these will be opened a year from now.

Of course over a year and a half since airline CEO Oscar Munoz announced the project only 3 planes already in United’s fleet have been retrofit with new seats (the other 14 planes with Polaris seats have been new delivery aircraft).

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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Comments

  1. @Gary, the ORD Polaris expansion opened a few weeks ago. Looks like a la carte dining has moved from the middle of the lounge to a semi enclosed space in the expanded section.

  2. I still find it amazing (and stupid) that they are retrofitting the PMUA 67s ahead of the 77s. The 67 2-2-2 in biz is fine esp. for the shorter TATL flights; the 77 2-4-2 most definitely not given it being run on 5,000+ mile flights

  3. I was SO pissed that they didn’t have EWR’s ready when I flew in September. Since the Polaris seats weren’t installed, there was no polar bear or pjs, I was looking forward to the lounge. Instead, the United Clubs are being torn up and showers unavailable. Polaris was just extra dessert and snacks available up front. Nothing like the commercials I watched for a year.

  4. SFO is proving to be a difficult situation. Recently spoke to someone in operations and they said the original plan for the Polaris Lounge is being enlarged with the closing of other airline lounges adjacent to the old United Club in the International Terminal. As I understand it, the existing (closed) United Club at International Terminal G – as well as the former adjacent Singapore lounge and one other will be transformed into the new Polaris Lounge at SFO. At the same time there is planning & construction going on at the former International Transit Lounge (closed after 9/11) which will become a United Club and located somewhere on the ground (arrivals) level by Gates G91 – G93. The the existing Intl First Class (now combined with a UA Club) will be renovated.

  5. I’ve said it once (twice), I will say it again – no one beats United at over promising and under delivering.

  6. They learned the lesson of the too small lounge at ORD. Half the SFO United Club (on G) was closed for retrofitting from early in the year. If they opened that half lounge “on time” there would have been “outrage’ just as with ORD. They’ve learned that you can’t be all men to all people and now shut that UC completely (and the SQ and BR lounges) which has brought its own faux outrage.

    And London doesn’t need a Polaris lounge. I’m sitting in the LHR United Club right now and its essentially Polaris quality already; and large and quiet even with having to share with the pond scum StarG economy fliers (which more often than not is me). To make it “Polaris compliant” all they need to do is convert the small Global First lounge into a sit down dining area, without disturbing the main club.

    And when they finally open a few more Polaris lounges in the US they should focus all their marketing on the sit down dining, especially for transatlantic/red eye flights. When I used the ORD lounge I ate before the flight to FRA; nobody around me on the 2-4-2 configured 777 did, so I had to endure the clatter of plates and crockery around and over me while trying to sleep from the get go.

  7. I find it amazing that the various Airline Management Teams do NOT check with You Mr. Leff regarding Ongoing Projects since You appear to have ALL the Answers (lol). They probably look at You as nothing as an ANNOYANACE……Always a Critic, Always Negative and basically a PITA. Your schitck serves No purpose anymore.

  8. Friends of mine who don’t keep up with up-to-date news keep telling me they were unimpressed by “Polaris” only to have me find out that they didn’t visit the only Polaris lounge out there and flew an old 2-2-2 configuration and not the new one. United has botched this rollout.

  9. @Gary Leff – I respect your blog, but it seems somewhat pointless for you to simply mirror almost exactly what OMAAT is posting.

  10. @A – he and I often cover the same things, while some people read both you may be surprised to learn that a majority of each of our readers do not

  11. Jen wrote she wanted polar bears and PJ’s, the polar bears have been gone for close to a year and you have to ask for the PJ’s as they don’t give them to everyone and they have limited supply on most international biz flights.

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