The United Polaris Lounge at Chicago O’Hare, located near Gate C18, opened on December 1st, 2016. The Polaris Lounge welcomes exclusively United Polaris business and first class customers, as well as Star Alliance premium passengers departing on international flights (Canada and Mexico excluded.)
United Club members and Star Alliance Gold members do not have access unless they are ticketed in business class, but may use one of the three United Clubs.
The Chicago location was the first in a burgeoning network of Polaris Lounges, which will eventually include clubs at all United hubs and international focus cities.
United Polaris Lounge ORD design
The United Polaris Lounge at Chicago O’Hare boasts a grand dimly lit entryway with a backlit marble reception desk, and a lighting sculpture by Wolfgang Buttress inspired by the Chicago street network.
With floor-to-ceiling windows, the Polaris Lounge offers terrific views on the tarmac and parked aircraft. At peak times, there may be several wide bodies parked immediately outside the lounge, a sight to behold for aviation lovers.
The color scheme is a soothing blue, gray and white, with high-end finishes which set the Polaris Lounge worlds apart from the United Club. The bar area boasts a more vibrant vibe with blue LED lighting, pristine white marble, and an under lit counter.
Travelers have their choice of custom seating, including: dining areas, club seats with tables and lighting, and a few spots for families and groups.
The Polaris Lounge was primarily designed with the solo business traveler in mind: a highlight of the lounge is the numerous semi-private seats that feature personal lighting, USB and power outlets, a coat hook, and a pull-out marble tray that can be used for laptops or eating. The seat concept was inspired by the design of the Polaris business class seat. The pods are spacious, comfortable and pleasantly private.
In response to passenger feedback and in order to minimize noise, there is only a single television in the lounge behind the bar. Still, the Polaris Lounge does get busy—and noisy—at peak times, especially in the afternoons when flights to Europe depart. We wish that United had included phone rooms in the design of the Polaris Lounge, in order to accommodate passengers who need to make phone calls. A family room would also have been welcome as well. Fortunately, there are quiet and private sleeping suites for customers who wish to rest.
United Polaris Lounge ORD amenities
The United Polaris Lounge at Chicago O’Hare features an upscale dining experience, with food created by celebrity Chef Art Smith, who served as Oprah Winfrey’s personal chef for 10 years. Offerings include a buffet with sandwiches, small entrees, cheeses, and a make-your-own salad bar, along with desserts. (See full menu.) The food is freshly prepared on site in a full kitchen.
There is also a complimentary full-service restaurant—a unique amenity among domestic carriers, which places United above the competition when it comes to ground services. The service is especially valuable for travelers bound to Europe, since most flights are too short for a full dinner service and a restful night.
Highlights of the a-la-carte menu include prime beef carpaccio, rare seared tuna tataki, Chef Art Smith’s signature fried chicken and shrimp and grits, and a pear and cranberry cobbler. (See full menu.)
A-la-carte service is only offered in the dedicated restaurant zone, but patrons sitting in other areas may help themselves from the buffet and order drinks from servers.
The Polaris Lounge bar is taking full advantage of the craft cocktail craze, led by mixologist Adam Seger. Forget about finding call brands or familiar premium liquors: Seger and his mixology friends are offering new twists on familiar cocktails using craft liquors that will be exclusive to the Polaris Lounge. One drink is the London Spritz, Seger’s take on a Pimm’s Cup, a British summer drink that’s especially popular during the Wimbledon tennis tournament. Instead of lemonade, Seger uses blood orange juice and Balsam Amaro Americano, a bittersweet liqueur made with rare teas, exotic citrus and “grandmother” spices like vanilla and cinnamon. It’s garnished with cucumber zest and mint and served over ice. Our personal favorite is the series of “Airplane cocktails” which come complete with a clipped-on paper airplane and a Polaris branded coaster.
Behind the bar are two walls with humidors, which United assigns to frequent high value passengers—a unique service within the airline industry. The airline’s best customers have the option to pre-order and store their favorite wine or liquor, and United picks up the tab.
Soda, juices, and bottled water to go are available for self-service in coolers by the buffet area. Barista coffee is also available.
After a meal and a cocktail, you may want to rest before your flight. The lounge features four relaxation suites that have custom-designed day beds. They may be a case of style over function, though—we would prefer a more traditional, fully-flat day bed.
The suites feature dimming lights, Saks Fifth Avenue-branded pillows, blankets, slippers and eye masks, as well as a bottle of water, ear plugs and Sleepy Cow Calming Pillow Mist from Cowshed Spa. While the slumber rooms lack a door, they’re very private nevertheless thanks to their isolated location away from the crowds, in a separate enclosed area. White noise is pumped in the area in order to facilitate relaxation, and patrons may choose between a variety of sleep and relaxation inducing sounds. A staff member will be happy to fetch you ahead of your flight should you wish to indulge in a nap.
In case you want to take a shower before or after your trip, the Polaris Lounge boasts six gorgeous shower suites. Inquire with the valet behind the double glass door; should there be a wait, a staff member will come find you in person in the lounge when your shower is ready. Decked in fine stone with soft lighting and high-end finishes, the shower suites are a luxurious haven reminiscent of five star hotels.
The oversized rooms come with an elegant sink, a Toto toilet, a hansgrohe rain shower, and an additional hand-held shower head. Amenities include a heavenly memory foam bath mat, plush Saks Fifth Avenue-branded towels, slippers, and Cowshed Spa bath products in wall-mounted dispensers. Essentials such as combs, toothbrushes, toothpaste, shower caps and shaving kits, are available upon request. We love the small details that make a difference: the digital clock, the USB outlet to charge your devices while you shower, and the convenient bench in the shower.
Pressing service is available upon request: hang your clothes through the double door, and they will be returned to you wrinkle free while you freshen up.
The bathrooms are equally impressive. Located in a futuristic hallway with fiber optic lighting, twelve individual oversized gender-neutral stalls with a sink and a bench offer patrons plenty of space to change.
Other amenities at the Polaris include a “wellness room” with a sink for new mothers, as well as a selection of newspapers. There are no magazines in sight, however: customers benefit from complimentary access to the Foli online service, where they can download a wide selection of reading materials to their personal device.
Travelers have access to a Concierge who can help with any request, from dinner reservations to tickets to entertainment events. United has enlisted the services of an expert: the former Head Concierge at the Drake hotel in Chicago, who also helped launch the St. Regis luxury hotel in New York City.
United Polaris Lounge ORD bottom line
The United Polaris Lounge at Chicago O’Hare is impressive. The space is elegant and functional, with several luxurious touches such as shower suites, relaxation rooms, private pods, and a-la-carte dining. With Polaris, United finally offers a product that is competitive with foreign airlines, and which currently beats domestic competitors.
While the range of amenities is outstanding for business class, we were most impressed by the service. The ratio of staff to passengers is impressive, and demonstrates United’s commitment to offering personal service. The staff has visibly gone through rigorous training, and appears to be genuinely proud of the product. Servers roam the room offering drinks, and staff members offer proactive assistance. In lieu of PA announcements, a dedicated team walks around the lounge to fetch passengers when international flights are about to board.
Update: The Polaris Lounge has been expanded, and now features a dedicated dining area.
Buffet: Afternoon and evening menu
- Chilled roasted ratatouille salad
- Seasonal fall panzanella salad with cornbread croutons, tomatoes, English cucumbers, roasted red and yellow peppers with white balsamic vinaigrette
- Charred Caesar salad with brioche croutons
- Shaved prosciutto and melon with balsamic glaze
- Organic baby lettuces, goat cheese crostini and cured tomatoes with cherry vinaigrette
- Pulled chicken salad, roasted baby corn, pickled Asian vegetables and glass noodles
A la carte dining: Afternoon and evening menu
- Fontina baked hand formed meatballs, roasted tomato sauce, olive oil dressed micro basil salad
- Prime beef carpaccio, Chicago style pickled seasonal vegetables, toasted gazpacho vinaigrette
- Charred carrot and apple soup, candied fennel slaw
- Roasted baby red and golden beet, whipped charred feta cheese, macadamia nut crumble petite tangerine lace, blood orange vinaigrette
- Ponzu dressed rare seared tuna tataki, micro mizuna greens, pickled daikon and carrots
- Art Smith Fried Chicken, Art’s famous fried chicken, pickled onions, thick cut tomatoes, pimento cheese
- Blue Door Kitchen Burget, cheddar, lettuce, tomato, pickled vegetables, garlic aioli, bacon, hand cut fries and fried egg
- Orange ginger garlic seared prime beef, forbidden stir fried Thai rice, and seasonal wok fried vegetables
- Chicken, Art Smith’s Famous fried chicken, braised greens, hot sauce, honey
- Shrimp and grits, white corn grits, Tasso ham, tomato stew, crispy okra
- Potato gnocchi, sage brown butter
- Decadence by Chocolate, milk chocolate panna cotta, white chocolate bark with dried cherries and pistachios, dark chocolate brownie truffles, Chantilly cream
- Pear and cranberry cobbler, buttery macadamia nut crust, red wine caramel sauce
- Chocolate and vanilla ice cream
Amari, Liqueurs & Cognac
- Coke Zero
- Daily selection of Rishi hot and iced tea
- Daily selection of smoothies
- Diet Coke
- Fresh juices
- illy coffee
- Seagram’s Club Soda
- Sprite Zero
You may have access to United Polaris Lounge as a premium customer of one of the following airlines, or as an elite member of their frequent flyer program. Check the Access rules tab for more details.
Access for eligible customers traveling on any Star Alliance member airline.
ANA (NH) Adria Airways (JP) Aegean (A3) Air Canada (AC) Air China (CA) Air India (AI) Air New Zealand (NZ) Asiana (OZ) Austrian (OS) Avianca (AV) Brussels Airlines (SN) Copa Airlines (CM) Croatia Airlines (OU) EVA Air (BR) Egyptair (MS) Ethiopian Airlines (ET) LOT Polish Airlines (LO) Lufthansa (LH) SAS (SK) SWISS (LX) Shenzhen Airlines (ZH) Singapore Airlines (SQ) South African Air (SA) TAP Air Portugal (TP) Thai Airways (TG) Turkish Airlines (TK) United (UA)
United Polaris Lounge at Chicago, IL - O Hare International (ORD) welcomes:Note: A same-day boarding pass for an international flight in a premium cabin is required. United Club members, United Club one-time pass holders, and MileagePlus elite members traveling in economy may not use Polaris lounges unless they meet one of the access conditions.View detailed access rules at united.com
- United Polaris first class passengers, within 24 hours of their international flight, at the departing, connecting and destination airports (+1 guest)
- United Polaris business class passengers, within 24 hours of their international flight, at the departing, connecting and destination airports (no guests)
- First Class passengers departing on an international flight operated by a Star Alliance member airline (+1 guest)
- Business Class passengers departing on an international operated by a Star Alliance member airline (Canada and Mexico excluded) (no guests)
- Based on 84 ReviewsSabina K.2018-06-18 11:32:15If you're traveling for business to international destinations, depending on your class of service and/or mileage plus status, you may qualify to go this...P P.2018-07-21 14:09:48I've been traveling United business for around 10 years now. Their lounges, for lack of a better more fancy word, just suck. Lounges overseas like in Europe...Victoria E.2018-04-21 17:40:47Polaris lounge is a new thing. SFO is not ready yet. This is my first experience. I refuse to use regular United Club because as we all know, it blows. This...