Review: Polaris Lounge Chicago O’Hare International Airport

As a traveler who doesn’t frequently travel business class or first class, I usually visit Priority Pass or Centurion Lounges by AMEX if I have the opportunity since neither require a premium cabin ticket. Don’t get me wrong, AMEX has some fantastic Centurion Lounges within their network, particularly from what I experienced in Dallas and Miami. Priority Pass also has excellent lounges within its network but most of the higher rated lounges are situated in Europe and Asia. Up until the opening of the Polaris Lounge in Chicago, the U.S. simply did not have a product that could compete with the business class lounges of Qatar Airlines, Etihad, Emirates, Cathay Pacific, Singapore Airlines, etc. United has expanded this product to San Francisco, Newark, and Houston. Polaris Lounges are considered the best airport lounges in the U.S. by many travel experts and bloggers. To get into the lounge, you need to have a business class or first class ticket on United Airlines or any of its Star Alliance partners (Turkish, ANA, Lufthansa, Singapore, etc.) In addition, you must be on an international long-haul flight that departs from Chicago O’Hare (or SFO, EWR, and HOU to access Polaris Lounge in those cities). This means a premium cabin flight to Canada, Mexico, Carribbean, or Central America will not get you into the lounge. If you have a first class or business class ticket to London and you are connecting in Newark, you won’t have access in Chicago but you would in Newark.  Chicago would need to be your point of international departure to have access to the Polaris lounge at O’Hare. I booked a business class ticket on Lufthansa to Lisbon, Portugal using United miles and thus had access to Polaris Lounge along with my wife. It’s not often that a place that’s been hyped up so much manages to live up to the lofty expectations. In this case, it not only lived up to it but exceeded it. My wife and I arrived at the lounge 5 hours prior to departure so we could experience just about every facet of what it had to offer.

     Location and Entrance

Polaris Lounge is located in the C concourse at O’Hare. You  have to take the tunnel with the quirky rainbow lighting and once you’re up the escalator, it’s right on the left close to gate C17. Once you enter, the receptionist will scan your boarding pass and you’re on your way.

PolarisEntrance2

 

PolarisLobby

The Polaris themed light fixture in the lobby was a great touch

PolarisLobby2

View of the front disk from the corridor

                        Polaris Lounge – Seating

One of the best attributes is the amount of seating this lounge offers. Since United only grants access to international travelers flying on a long-haul flight, this lounge will never have to worry about crowding issues. When my wife and I were there, I’d say the lounge was only about 1/3 full and never got any higher than that.

 

Polaris General Seating Area

Not a single person in this area of the lounge. 

PolarisGeneralSeatingPolarisGeneralSeating2PolarisPersonalSeating

 

As you can see in the pictures, absolutely no shortage of seats. United did nice job with the variety of seats and lighting that is offered. If you prefer a darker environment, they have that. And if you want a lot of natural light or like to watch planes takeoff and land, they have optimal seating for that as well

Polaris777view

This was my favorite seat.  Near the window and watching various jets takeoff and land.

PolarisSingleBooth

I was a big fan of these personal work areas that provided privacy but didn’t make you feel confined to a closed space. Excellent touch, United. 

PolarisSeating

                          Polaris Lounge- Buffet

This was one of my favorite aspects of visiting the lounge. If you’re going to visit any Polaris Lounge, please come hungry.  And pace yourselves. Their selection was the best I had ever seen at a U.S. lounge. And this was only the self serve buffet!

PolarisMedSalad

PolarisMozarella

Stacked caprese salad with fresh mozarella. This was delicious

PolarisPotPiePolarisSalmonTart

PolarisSalmonTeriyaki

The salmon teriyaki was excellent. Never had it before.

PolarisShrimpPasta

The shrimp baked pasta was also delicious. At this point, I had to keep it to a few bites if I wanted to experience the sit down dining

PolarisCakesPolarisCookies

PolarisPastries

Eating any of the desserts meant there would be no hope for further food consumption. It was a tough mental battle but I willed myself into avoiding any of the pastries and desserts. 

PolarisMiniBar

The minibar was stocked and had just about anything you’d want.

PolarisInfusedWater2

Fruit infused water

                    Polaris Lounge – Full Service Dining

This is another aspect of the lounge that differentiates it from other lounges. It has a full-service dining option that allows you to pick from a menu and have your meal made to order. PolarisMenuPolarisMenu2

Since my wife and I were there during the dinner hours, we chose to share a cheese tortellini and have our own ice cream. PolarisDiningPastaPolarisicecreamThe tortelleni was amazing and the ice cream was great as well. I really wish I didn’t sample as much from the buffet prior to dining but lesson learned for next time. Please don’t make this same mistake. Just a reminder that even though the dining is complimentary, remember to tip the waitress/waiter. They really go above and beyond at Polaris Lounge and help make the experience what it is.

        Polaris Lounge – Bedroom and Shower

This lounge has 4 dedicated bedrooms if you want to catch a snooze prior to your flight. Linen from Saks 5th Avenue is provided for your comfort. None of the rooms were occupied during my time at the lounge and the rooms have a 3 hour limit if there is a queue.

PolarisBedroomPolarisShower

PolarisVanity2

PolarisStarCorridor

The corridor that leads to the bathrooms. This is separate from the shower rooms which are found behind the buffet area. The Polaris themed lighting on the ceiling going down the corridor was a great touch by United. 

The shower area and bathroom were all well maintained and the receptionist was kind enough to give me a tour.

                     Polaris Lounge – Bar and Buffet Area

PolarisBarArea

The bar area was relatively empty and United did a great job with the blue ambiance. 

PolarisBar2

PolarisBuffetArea2

The buffet area was very elegant. Synced perfectly with the type of dishes that were being offered. 

                         Polaris Lounge – Conclusion

As I mentioned above, this lounge exceeded my expectations and I had some very high expectations going in. Even though I forgot to measure the wifi speed, I can assure you it was very fast when I was connected through my cellphone. This lounge has it all-excellent dining, comfortable sleeping rooms, spacious shower rooms, variety of seating areas, fast internet connectivity, vibrant bar area, and more. The Polaris brand of lounges is the standard barrer for U.S. lounges and I hope I have the opportunity to visit one again in the near future. This lounge gets a 5/5 rating.

One thought on “Review: Polaris Lounge Chicago O’Hare International Airport

  1. Pingback: Review: Lufthansa Business Class Chicago to Frankfurt. A $14,400 Value | Miles for places

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