The new United Airlines Polaris lounge at Chicago's O'Hare airport is located in Terminal 1, Concourse C next to Gate C18. It's where the old United Global First lounge was located as soon as you exit the escalators from the tunnel that connects Concourse B and C. The new lounge is a blessing over the old GF lounge.
Access is granted only to premium class flyers on international routes. So even if you hold a United Club membership, are an elite United flyer and traveling first class from Chicago to Los Angeles, you would not be allowed access to this club.
The Polaris lounge is open daily from 7:15AM to 9:00PM.
Upon entry you find an oversized lobby to the lounge.
The club is not very large, registering only 12,780 square feet. My arrival was around 7:30, after the 6PM bank of European flights departed Chicago. Even though only a handful of international departures remained, LH to Munich and Frankfurt as well as United to Sao Paulo, the club was almost full. Presumably with folks connecting from their international arrivals. Still I can only image how busy this place can get. The club did empty out by 8PM or so.
I was told they were expanding into the adjacent United Club next door. Details were not available other than the attendant who told me was lamenting that the United Club closed at 10PM and the Polaris Club closes at 9PM, so he was concerned how they were going to deal with this issue. My guess is he didn't want to work until 10.
As you enter there are about a dozen private booths which were all occupied when I arrived.
Looking back up the row of private booths towards the entrance are restaurant style tables. These tables weren't reserved for dining as others were around the bar. However at peak times that may change because there were only about 10 tables reserved for sit down meals when I was there late in the day.
These 5 tables were reserved inside the bar area as well as another 4 or 5 in front of the bar.
The bar at closing time, with typical CNN content.
There are about a dozen lounge-type seats parallel to the bar and gate 18.
Finally there is more seating back behind the bar with windows showing Gate 18 and the taxiway around Terminal One.
The individual seat "pods" are comfortable and even have a coat hook.
The tables are the same finish as used on the actual Polaris business class seat and have a pull out tray for eating.
Plenty of restrooms were found as you enter the club in the hallway if you continue straight in. You have to love the starlit ceiling.
Back in the lounge next to the food buffet is the entrance to the Valet Services which include shower suites and daybeds. Note: Domestic United Clubs do not have showers, only Polaris lounges will have showers in the future.
An attendant was nice enough to show me around. This is the hallway for the shower suites.
The shower suites were spacious and nicely appointed. Clothes pressing services are available.
There were only a couple daybeds. Standard provisions are slippers, water and an eyemask.
Sit down dining as well as standard buffet food is available in the new Polaris lounge. I didn't partake in a full meal because of my impending feast while traveling Lufthansa first class. Teaser alert, mistake. Here are the menus for sit down dining. They serve breakfast until 11AM and lunch/dinner to 8PM.
The food buffet offers hot and cold items. Given the fact most international flights had departed and it was almost closing time, everything was pretty well picked over.
In the center of this food court are the hot items. They are served in mini skillets. I tried a couple and they were tasty, just not very warm.
While the mini-skillets are a fun idea, presumably they should be warm. Below are the plates made available to place them on. Maybe they only want you to take one skillet.
A full beverage counter is just outside the food court (no photo), and if you want something else such as a coke they are located in a self-serve refrigerator.
Back at the bar there is a display of some premium bourbons.
The impressive ceiling sculpture at the entrance foyer has a unique feature to this O'Hare United Polaris lounge that will be different in every other Polaris lounge throughout the world. The work was commissioned to English artist Wolfgang Buttress. On the wall of the entrance is a non descript plaque that appears to be a map of Chicago. It looks out of place on this wall and that may very well be by design.
A closer examination reveals an oval inside the city of Chicago.
Look to the sky and you will find.
The sculpture is in the shape of an oval that corresponds to the oval on the map. The lights and metal connections that make up the sculpture are the streets of Chicago as placed within the map oval. If you stand underneath it you can clearly see some of the Chicago's diagonal streets like North Milwaukee and Grand Avenue as well as the Chicago River.
Each new Polaris lounge will get a sculpture unique to the city the lounge is home to.
My Lufthansa flight did not leave until 10:35 PM and as stated the Polaris lounge closes at 9PM. The only ground service Lufthansa provides in Chicago, for any premium class traveler, is an agent who will walk you to the United Club across from the Lufthansa gates in Concourse B.
I found my own way.
Bonus coverage! United Club Concourse B across from gate B16. I remember when this lounge was the size of a closet many years ago. Now it's located one floor below and is slightly bigger. Take the escalator down to find a large lobby.
The main seating area with windows frosted out because you are in the basement anyway. A ramp leads to the bar and more seating in this upside down reversed "L" design.
The lower level where a single washroom, non-gender specific is located round the corner at the bottom of the ramp.
Looking back towards the bar.
At 9:30 PM the food selection wasn't outstanding. In fact it just wasn't other than maybe a banana or crackers.
The Polaris lounge was quite nice. The United Club was well, a United Club.