United's first Polaris business-class lounge opens in Chicago

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The new Polaris lounge at Chicago O'Hare features pods with power outlets and pullout desks.
The new Polaris lounge at Chicago O'Hare features pods with power outlets and pullout desks.

CHICAGO -- United on Wednesday unveiled its first Polaris lounge, one day before the carrier's partial rollout of its new Polaris business class.

"Our most significant new product in more than a decade revolutionizes business-class travel all the way from the lounge to landing," United chief commercial officer Julia Haywood said at a media preview of the lounge in Chicago's O'Hare Airport.

The O'Hare Polaris lounge is one of nine that United plans to open by early 2018. The 15,000-square-foot facility will open to long-haul business class customers of United and other Star Alliance carriers on Thursday.

The lounge features seating pods, configured to resemble the pods in a business-class cabin, in which travelers can connect their laptop or mobile device and work in semi-privacy with the aid of a pullout desk.

Travelers can also make use of four private relaxation suites complete with day beds and adjustable lighting and temperatures. Nearby, six private shower suites are equipped with rainfall showerheads.

Polaris guests can use a private day bed suite, complete with adjustable lights and temperature.
Polaris guests can use a private day bed suite, complete with adjustable lights and temperature. Photo Credit: Robert Silk

Maria Walter, United's director of product development, emphasized that one of the critical components of the Polaris lounges is the restaurant-style dining, in which travelers can order from a menu developed by James Beard Award-winning chef Art Smith. That option, she said, will be transformational, giving Polaris travelers the option of enjoying the meal service they expect as part of a business-class ticket, but without taking up valuable sleep time on the flight.

The entire Polaris service, Walter said, was designed with sleep in mind.

United will open Polaris lounges in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Newark, Houston, London Heathrow, Washington Dulles, Hong Kong and Tokyo Narita as well as Chicago O'Hare.

The new Polaris cabins won't debut until after the first of the year, when United begins taking delivery of new Boeing 777-300s.

But the onboard Polaris service -- featuring new menus, upgraded amenity kits, bedding from Saks Fifth Avenue and Bloody Mary carts -- debuts Thursday.
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Correction: United's chief commercial officer is Julia Haywood. She was misidentified in a previous version of this report.

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