A new business class flight + a celebratory stuffed polar bear? United had me at 11A. Scratch that. United had me way before I stepped foot on that plane. The love affair commenced when I walked into the United Polaris lounge in Chicago O’Hare. Forget overcrowded gates. Forget bad airport food. United Polaris is like a beacon amid airport chaos.
What’s in a name? For United’s business class service, the name tells a traveler’s story from years past. The new United Polaris class was named for the North Star, the bright point in the sky that travelers have relied on as a consistent guide. Now, frequent flyers can look to United Polaris for that same dependence as they relax and rest in pure comfort.
United Polaris Lounge
Hours: 7:15am until 9:00pm seven days a week
Location: Chicago O’Hare International Airport, Terminal 1, near gate C18
Accessibility: Business and first-class passengers flying United Polaris or business or first class on Star Alliance partners
Other United Polaris Lounges: 9 are set to open worldwide including Houston, Newark, San Francisco, Dulles, LA, Hong Kong, London and Tokyo.
It’ll be the first thing you’ll notice upon walking into the foyer – lights, lights and more lights. The intricate art installation by Wolfgang Buttress was designed to mimic Chicago’s night sky. The same will be done for every United Polaris lounge (and thus, their night sky) to follow. You’ll notice twinkling lights as you head towards the shower suites as well. It’s all in the details here at United Polaris.
The incorporation of four day beds was a stand-out feature for the United Polaris lounge. Each pod has its own chaise lounge, white noise maker, comfy bedding and sleep accessories like eye mask, ear plugs and other amenities. The relaxation continues into the shower suites equipped with soft towels and heated floors. Ahhhhhhh.
What’s not to love about craft beer, curated wines and specialty cocktails? If you’re a whisky drinker, take down the signature drink, The Paper Plane. YUM. The bar also offers beers by the bottle and on tap, a large variety of wines and spirits.
Small plates are on offer in abundant variety, leaving travelers satisfied without being stuffed with options such as bagels, muffins, fruits, eggs, fresh salads, flavorful meatballs, and loads more. Restaurant-style dining is available in the lounge as well!
More: Wifi (lightning fast), washing machine (I’m serious), space and exclusivity (try the pods), Concierge Services (le sigh).
The Triple Seven
After only two hours inside any travelers heaven, it was time to board the flight. As I made my way to 11A, I was ecstatic that this would be ‘home’ for the next 4 1/2 hours as I traveled from Chicago to San Francisco.
Awaiting my arrival 11A in was my United Polaris bear, Saks Fifth Avenue bedding, slippers and a travel
blogger’s best friend: wifi and power outlets. Before takeoff, I was handed an amenity kit that resembled something like a binder it was so thorough. The Sleep section included a contoured eye mask and ear plugs. Relax had Soho House’s Cowshed Spa products like a chamomile towelette, hand cream, lip balm and lavender pillow mist. YAS. Aromatherapy for the win. The Rest section had socks and facial tissues while Refresh came in with a toothbrush, toothpaste, comb, hand sanitizer and peppermints. Who needs a fully functioning hotel when you have United Polaris at your fingertips?
One of my favorite bits about the kit was the little card inside stating that United has partnered with Clean the World to recycle unused portions of the amenity kits. I took mine home in its entirety because I wanted to be able to tell you about it, but frequent travelers who are gifted one of these on weekly flights may not have a need for them.
I’ve never been graced with such high quality food onboard a plane than when I flew with United Polaris. I chose the wine flight (hand-picked by Sommelier Doug Frost) with spinach salad, chicken soup and apple pie, but let me lay out this delectable menu for your salivating pleasure:
- Chilled appetizer
- Spinach salad
- Braised short rib
- Seared turbot
- Asian fusion chicken soup
- Portobello mushroom and caramelized onion ravioli
- Seasonal salad with grilled chicken
- International cheese assortment
- Signature sundae
- Mini apple pie
- Salted caramel bar
- Fresh seasonal fruit
- Sweet and salty snacks
- Assorted sandwiches
- Lobster mac and cheese
- Tomato basil soup with aged cheddar grilled cheese
- Noodle soup
- illy Coffee (!)
Dear Chef Gerry, thank you for concocting the most delicious meal I’ve ever devoured on a plane. Your Asian Fusion Chicken Soup with coconut ginger broth and udon noodles made my tastebuds and stomach very happy. I already told you this, but I thought you should hear it again.
With a 180 degree recline (which translates to lay-flat beds), a Do Not Disturb decal and a relaxation channel with noise reducing headphones, you may confuse your place of rest with an actual hotel. Some may even argue that living aboard this 777-300ER is even better than a hotel with friendly quick service, beautiful and spacious bathrooms and the best part: time travel (gotta love more hours in a day when going from east to west). Sleep came easier, too, with Captain Ellis, Captain Schroeder and Captain Peterson all totaling a combined 54,000 hours of flying and 88 years of experience! So much expertise was in the cockpit of this plane.
Many thanks to United, the Captains and the crew for getting us from Chicago to SF safe and sound! Looking forward to my next United Polaris flight!