As most who follow the blog know, United Airlines is our preferred air carrier. There are a few reasons for this – living in Newark, NJ, which is one of United’s hubs, number of choices for destinations, and frequent flyer membership, to name a few. One of the benefits of loyalty to a single carrier has helped us accumulate miles so that we can fly business class on our longer trips, including our most recent European vacation, where we were able to fly to and from Dublin in United’s Polaris business class.
One of the perks of flying in United’s Polaris business class internationally is that your ticket includes access to special lounges at Chicago O’Hare, Houston Intercontinental, Los Angeles, Newark, and San Francisco. These lounges are separate from the United Club lounges and are accessible based on your ticket for travel and not your frequent flyer status. Another plus is that not only are they accessible on your outward bound international flight but also on your return flight where you have a layover in any of the above airports. Be sure to show both your boarding pass from the international flight as well as the same day boarding pass for your domestic connection.
Now for the food options in these Polaris lounges. Similar to the United Club’s, the lounge offers a buffet with both hot and cold options that are similar to those you would find in the Club lounges. There are a few more hot items outside of a soup option, but in general, I was still more interested in the meats, cheeses and crackers available.
The food perk most appreciated when flying Polaris would be the dining room. In addition to the buffet, the Polaris lounge offers a specific dining area that has its own menu. The menu does change (although there are some items that are staples), but we were unable to find out how often and when the changes occur. We did find out though that we returned one day before the change in Newark, so that the menu when we left and when we returned were the same.
The dining area has both a breakfast menu and a lunch and dinner menu. As both of our Newark layovers were in the afternoon, we only had the opportunity to try the latter.
If you are hungry or looking for a hearty option, your best choice would be the Polaris Burger. It’s a decently-sized burger that comes with all the fixings as well as bacon and a fried egg and a small bowl of fries as a side. This item is one of the staples on the menu and is consistently prepared as I had this on both of our trips to the lounge.
Sonia opted for some of the lighter fare and was happy with all the small plates she ordered. One thing to note, some of the entree options do not include a side, so Sonia added a salad to help supplement it. Also, on our way back, she opted for 2 small plates, which was a sufficient amount of food to satisfy her until our next meal.
The Kale Caesar was a fresh and healthy option, but it did have some minor differences as to the cheese from when she ordered it on our first stop in the lounge as compared to our second (shaved versus grated).
Sonia’s favorite menu item was the Mediterranean pizzetta. The yogurt spread did leave for a wet crust in some spots, but the figs with the mozzarella and yogurt spread made for the most flavorful bite for her.
Other than the burger, the only other entree we ate was the salmon. This was probably the most disappointing of all the items. The sauce was more like a chimichurri in texture and not a glaze, and it lacked the expected heat (spicy not temperature) level for a XO sauce. To be fair, the texture as presented is in line with how the sauce is usually prepared, so I think calling it char-glazed was more inaccurate. Perhaps it should have been called XO topped salmon instead. The salmon itself looked like it was the same as those served on the buffet just without the XO sauce.
Other options where the dining room excelled was in the desserts and the cocktails. There are not many dessert options, but you can’t go wrong with either the brownie or the strawberry shortcake. We opted for the brownie as we wanted chocolate.
As for the cocktails, the lounge itself has a full bar with a menu of custom cocktails.
Overall, the dining room is a nice perk as it expands the food options available while waiting for your international flight or domestic connection. Specifically, for Newark, the staff is great (Michael is one of our favorites), and the area provides a nice view of the planes while you’re eating. This is definitely an option not to miss if flying through one of the airports that have the Polaris lounge.