On June 4 (next Monday), United Airlines will open its third United Polaris lounge, this one in Newark Liberty International (EWR)’s Terminal C. Today, JohnnyJet.com was among the media group invited for a ribbon-cutting and preview. In sum, it’s a huge (27,000 square feet), beautiful, impressive space and a huge leap from United’s older lounges in Newark’s Terminal C. By many of today’s accounts, it’s already the best lounge at EWR. Here’s a quick look inside:
The newest United Polaris lounge is part of the airline’s investment in both its Polaris premium class product and its growing EWR hub. This United Polaris lounge is the third so far, following those already wowing guests in Chicago (ORD) and San Francisco (SFO). Two more Polaris lounges are expected to open by the end of 2018, in Houston (IAH) and then Los Angeles (LAX). In addition, it was reiterated today that United plans to add one aircraft with the new Polaris business class seat every 10 days through 2020.
Aesthetically, the space is clean and modern, a symphony of blue, grey, and taupe. Lighting, at least during the day, is led by the sun’s own rays, which pour in through floor-to-ceiling windows that look upon the bustling tarmac outside. Above the rounded foyer at the entrance, meanwhile, hangs the glow of perhaps the signature piece: a light fixture twisted into the cosmos—specifically, the 12 signs of the zodiac—by Brooklyn-based Richard Clarkson Studio.
Where to find it:
- Terminal C behind security, between Gates C102 and C120, just past the Starbucks
- Daily from 4:30am until 10:30pm (starting June 4)
- United Polaris first class flyers
- United Polaris business class flyers
- Star Alliance long-haul first class flyers
- Star Alliance long-haul business class flyers
Among the vitals:
- 27,000 square feet
- 455 seats
- 15 different types of seating
- 570 power outlets
- 450 USB ports
- 1 buffet
- 1 private dining room with table service (it’s basically a restaurant)
- 10 private daybeds
- 10 shower suites with rainfall showers
- 4 private phone rooms
Food and drink
The offering begins with a fairly robust buffet spread, which includes three rows of hot and cold dishes (two side by side in the middle with one against the wall). The food is clearly not an afterthought. Today’s spread included tender cheese ravioli topped with parmesan, a chickpea curry, slices of a big tomato-based sandwich on crackly bread, a do-it-yourself bagel bar, curried salmon salad with cucumber raita, a charcuterie board, and a whole lot else. There’s also coffee and tea, some juices and a surprisingly extensive collection of hydrating drinks and waters (including what tasted and looked like a rosemary-grapefruit water).
Away from the buffet, in its own separate area, is one of the highlights of the lounge: a private dining area that seats 48. You can order as you like off the menu, which is a revelation considering the context. NYC chef John Glowacki’s menu includes a strawberry-mint açai bowl, crème brûlée French toast, slow-cooked meatballs in roasted garlic tomato sauce, Moroccan spiced lamb, and the United Polaris Burger (cheddar, lettuce, tomato, pickled vegetables, garlic aioli, bacon, and a fried egg). The full menu is below:
There’s also a bar that, if I may say so, makes some outstanding cocktails. This United says is “a nod to [New York City’s] recognition for preeminence in the world for craft cocktails.” The big four:
- London Spritz: Pimm’s No.1, Amaro Nonino and blood orange sour with cucumber, citrus and mint garnish
- Paper Plane: bourbon, Amaro Nonino Quintessentia, Aperol, chamomile honey, and lemon with a little paper plane garnish
- Fernet About It: Fernet-Branca, Coca-Cola, and a lemon twist
- United Polaris Old Fashioned: Riger’s Kansas City Whiskey, house simple syrup and Dale DeGroff bitters with a muddled orange wheel and a Luxardo cherry
There are also eight (I think) beers on tap.
Relax and refresh
As noted above, the 455 seats in the lounge come in 15 different styles. That means options, including some right beside the giant windows.
Around a bend from the buffet, or following the signs from most anywhere inside, is the way to the 10 “Shower Suites” and 10 “Quiet Suites.” The sleek “Shower Suites” (of which two are handicap-ready and therefore larger) feature rainfall showers, Soho House & Co’s Cowshed Spa toiletries and Saks Fifth Avenue towels. While I was wandering through them today, I overheard The Points Guy wonder aloud about whether the shower would pass the “Points Guy shower test.” I’m not sure what that refers to, so check out his write-up, I guess.
The 10 “Quiet Suites” are built around private daybeds, each softened with Saks Fifth Avenue linens. There are also two handicap-ready units. On my walk through, below a ceiling twinkling with starry lights, I was washed over in the noise of soothing sound machines.
Valet services like clothes steaming are also available.
What can I say. It’s a beautiful lounge. If you’re flying Polaris out of Newark, you can certainly justify building a little extra time into your airport experience to get in there and eat, and if you’re flying Polaris through Newark (but probably not if you’re flying Star Alliance partners, as most arrive into Terminal B instead of C), well, grab a United Polaris Old Fashioned and settle in.
And for an extra touch of gold…
This month, United introduced a luxurious and remarkable service to Newark flyers: transport to EWR by helicopter from Manhattan. It’s a United Signature Service and a healthy add-on at $2,099 for one to three people and $2,199 for four to six people. Via the W. 30th Street Heliport, it’s an eight-minute flight down the shoulder of Manhattan to the United Signature Service helipad, from which a driver will take you to your terminal. Pretty special.