The United Polaris Lounge San Francisco Might Be The Most Amazing Lounge in the United States
After a somewhat lengthy delay, United Airlines finally unveiled the airline’s second Polaris Lounge. The United Polaris Lounge San Francisco is set to open its doors to eligible passengers on April 30th. This comes over a year and a half since the airline’s first Polaris Lounge in Chicago opened. Though loyal United flyers might not have enjoyed the persistent delays, they were certainly worth it. The United Polaris Lounge San Francisco is a behemoth of a lounge boasting 28,000 square feet. Not only is the Polaris Lounge SFO massive, it may very well be the top airline lounge in North America. Here’s a preview of what you can expect.
Location of The United Polaris Lounge San Francisco
The lounge is located in the international terminal just beyond the main security checkpoint and adjacent to the Gucci store. It’s near gate G93. The location might be somewhat of a haul for domestic travelers, however, the lounge doesn’t cater to domestic passengers. The majority of guests accessing the lounge will be long-haul international passengers making the location of the lounge ideal.
The Polaris Lounge SFO is located in the space that used to house three independent airline lounges. This explains the size of the lounge as it encompasses two floors in a space that used to be home to three lounges. Space was a major concern in the design of this lounge and understandably so.
The Chicago-O’Hare location has been so popular that United is now having to renovate and expand the space. San Francisco is United’s main gateway to Asia. In addition to over a dozen long-haul routes to Asia, United operates other long-haul flights to Europe and South America. This makes an abundance of space all that more important.
Interestingly enough, the entrance is quite modest and easy to miss. The brightly-lit facade features a beautiful white marble finish. Once inside, you’ll instantly begin to get a feel for just how massive the Polaris Lounge SFO truly is.
1st Floor, The United Polaris Lounge San Francisco
I think the best way to go about writing this review is to split it up by floor, As previously mentioned, the lounge consists of two floors. The first floor is noticeably smaller than the second level. On the first floor, in addition to check-in, you’ll find a variety of lounge seating, a small snack bar, restrooms, shower suites, and quiet suites with daybeds.
The first thing that truly took me back was just how stunning the interior of the lounge was. US airlines have become notorious for failing to pay attention to detail. This isn’t the case with the Polaris Lounge SFO. There are so many small details that United addressed. For example, the Polaris logo is found throughout the lounge in various places. Additionally, United’s signature Polaris Lounge seat was designed by the same group that designed the Polaris Suite.
Art installations are from local artists and the music playing at the lounge was specifically crafted for the Polaris Lounge experience. These are just a few examples of small details that United addressed with their SFO Polaris Lounge.
The first floor features a variety of lounge seating including United’s signature seat which was features power outlets, USB ports, a private atmosphere, and leather upholstered seating. It’s one of my favorite seats found in any lounge. In addition to the signature seat, the first floor features more traditional lounge seating.
Self-Serve Snack Bar in The United Polaris Lounge San Francisco
First Floor Seating at The United Polaris Lounge San Francisco
Towards the far end of the first floor, guests will find both the shower suites and daybeds. I had expected shower suites. Shower suites are essentially an industry standard at this point. What I wasn’t expecting were daybeds.
The daybeds are located in a sectioned off wing just adjacent to the shower suites. Each daybed features a leather sofa, white noise machine, Saks Fifth Avenue bedding, and power outlets. I was especially tired during my visit to the lounge and part of me really wanted to break in one of those day beds.
After you catch up on some sleep, you can visit one of the lounge’s many shower suites. The shower suites feature warm and inviting interiors. Though a pretty standard shower suite, it certainly felt more premium in comparison to other lounges I’ve visited. Cowshed is the official supplier of shower amenities for the Polaris product.
If you’re wondering where the food is, look no further than the second level.
Level 2, The United Polaris Lounge San Francisco
Level 2 is just as beautifully designed as the first floor, however, is noticeably larger. The second floor of the lounge not only features additional seating but also the lounge’s four dining spaces. Oh, yeah, that’s right; four dining spaces.
I’ll knock the bar out first. I legally can’t drink so of course, the bar is the least of my concerns. However, I know just how important that space is to so many travelers so I’ll do my best to talk booze. The bar, like the entire lounge, features beautifully designed accents and decor. Additionally, the bar also features booze.
Another major focus of the United Polaris Lounge San Francisco is to incorporate California into the space as much as possible. United’s managed to do this in quite a few places throughout the lounge including the bar. The bar features a variety of signature cocktails and drinks. The bar also boasts a pretty generous liquor selection with quite a few top shelf options.
The buffet features both hot and cold options as well as some local and innovative options. These more innovative options include a noodle bar and high-end espresso bar. Cold options at the buffet include sushi, salads, and sandwiches. Hot options include soups, braised beef, and pasta. There was also an extensive selection of desserts. I went ahead and did the difficult job of trying some of the food at the buffet. Everything I tasted was fantastic and among some of the better food, I’ve had at a US airline lounge.
The Dining Room
The dining room is a sit-down restaurant-style space available to all customers. This differs from American’s Flagship First Dining Room which is extremely selective in terms of access. At the United Polaris Dining Room, guests can order a variety of items from a fixed menu featuring locally inspired options.
The studio is an innovative space that allows for United to feature seasonal cuisine and drinks. It’s a more experimental space designed to be interactive. The Studio will feature things like wine tasting and a ramen and sushi bar amongst other events. The Studio was one of my favorite parts of the lounge. I’m always excited when airlines go out of their way to experiment with new products and services.
In addition to the multiple dining spaces, the second floor features guest assistance, a viewing platform featuring binoculars, and even private workspaces. The private workspaces which we were simply referred to as phone rooms reminded me of what Lufthansa offers at its First Class Terminal in Frankfurt. The private workstations were just another unexpected plus found at the Polaris Lounge in SFO.
Overall, The United Polaris Lounge San Francisco
I’d thought I’d seen it all when it came to US carriers and their premium lounges. I’ve been to American’s Flagship Lounges and First Class Dining facilities and thought there was no way any US airline could top this. I think I might have been wrong.
United’s entire team has been working to overhaul the airline and the brand. After years of offering a subpar premium product, United’s Polaris experience is easily one of the best business class products available to and from the US. United has invested hundreds of millions of dollars to improve their premium product and it shows. The United Polaris Lounge San Francisco is a testament to the airline’s continued effort to enhance their premium product.
What do you think of United’s Polaris experience? Do you plan on flying United Polaris anytime soon?