Review: United Polaris Lounge San Francisco (SFO)

Australian Open Series

by Anthony
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a couch in a room

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United Polaris Lounge – Introduction

The United Polaris Lounge San Francisco Airport (SFO) was voted the best business lounge in 2019 by SkyTrax. It is spread over two floors and is United Airlines’ Flagship lounge, the largest Polaris lounge in one of United’s main hubs.

On my way from Canada to Australia to catch the Australian Open, I transited through San Francisco. I had the opportunity to visit the United Polaris Lounge, thanks to flying in the Polaris cabin on United.

United Polaris Lounge SFO – Location & Lounge Access

The lounge is located in the International section of Terminal G after security and right before the duty-free shop. The lounge was about a 5-minute walk from my departure gate to Australia. Access to the lounge is available to United Polaris Business Class passengers, long-haul First Class passengers on a Star Alliance airline with one guest, and long-haul Business Class passengers on a Star Alliance airline and United 1K members.

United Polaris Lounge SFO – Lounge Seating, Layout and Amenities

The United Polaris Lounge San Francisco is spread over two floors. The first floor has many quiet areas; in the back, there are showers and quiet suites. When I went, the quiet suites were already booked. It’s first come, first serve for them, and the lounge was more than 50% full when I arrived. So it’s the luck of the draw. The shower suites were available to grab a quick shower before your flight.

a woman sitting in a booth with luggage

Lounge Seating – personal suites

a group of people sitting at tables in a room with chairs

Traditional Lounge seating

a room with tables and chairs

More seating space

a chair and a table in a room

Individual workstation

people sitting in chairs in a room with windows

a round table and chairs in a room

Group seating options

a group of people in a room with a woman standing behind a counter

The main bar on the second floor serves an extensive menu of drinks, including signature cocktails, traditional cocktails, wines, and spirits.

a bar with bottles of alcohol

Main Bar – Second Floor

a bar with bottles of alcohol

Featured Wines

TIP: If you go to the Polaris lounge, I recommend you first stop at the dining room to put your name on the waiting list for a reservation. When I got to the Dining Room, there was already a 90-minute wait. Luckily, I had a 4-hour layover. Remember that you will probably take another hour to an hour and a half to eat. The Main dining room has a rotating menu, and below is the menu for my evening’s dining.

If you make a left at the escalators on the 2nd floor, you get to “the studio,” a quieter area with a concierge desk to assist you with flight details and more quiet areas to relax. I could hear a pin drop; it was that quiet.

a group of people sitting in chairs in a room with luggageThere is ample seating selection, from comfy leather couches to relax in to work cubicles if you need a little privacy to get some work done.

United Polaris Lounge SFO – Food & Drink

Food and beverage service areas include the famed dining room and a separate area for buffets and drinks. During my visit, the hot items at the buffet included shrimp in a tomato sauce, ramen noodles, Rice, winter squash bisque, an extensive salad bar, prepared sandwiches, a charcuterie board with meats and cheeses, fruit, and desserts that included donuts, cookies, cakes, and Mini cakes.

a counter with a variety of objects on it

Buffet Area

a row of glass containers with food on a counter

Snacks in Polaris Lounge SFO

a row of bowls of vegetables

Salad Bar

a cutting board with meat and scissors

Cold Cuts and Charcuterie boards

a pan of shrimp and sauce

Hot food options – Shrimp

The Dining Room

The dining room had under 20 tables, mostly seating two. Given the small seating capacity, I can see now why there was a 90-minute wait. When I was seated, I was told the kitchen would close at 9:30 p.m., so I should place my full order immediately.

a table with silverware and a laptop on it

The Dining Room – Seating

a menu open in a leather folder

The Dining Room SFO – Menu

I went with the coconut curry soup to start. A thick orange broth with tender pieces of tofu in a bed of crispy noodles. This Thai flavor-inspired soup was aromatic and delicious.

a bowl of soup with a lime wedge

Thai Coconut Curry Soup

I chose two entrees as they all looked great. First up was the five-mushroom ramen. Maybe it was the combination of mushrooms, but this dish had a displeasing aroma, so I was done after a few bites.

a plate of food on a table

Five mushroom Ramen

Then, the Seafood Ciopinno was a tomato-based sauce filled with shrimp, scallops, and mussels served with green beans and a crisp flatbread. This dish was much tastier than the ramen dish and had a more pleasant aroma.

a plate of soup with green beans and bread

Seafood Ciopinno

I had two desserts, starting with the Balsamic and honey roasted pear with creme anglaise. The pear was so soft and moist that it melted into the spoon when you dug into it. It was served in a yellow sauce drizzled with chocolate and caramel sauce.

a plate of food on a table

Dessert Course – Honey roasted Pear

Finally, I had the Banana Turon Spring roll with caramel drizzle and whipped cream. The spring roll that wrapped the banana was too thick to cut with my knife, so I had to eat it with my hands and soak up the caramel sauce.

a plate of dessert with fruit and whipped cream

Dessert Course – Banana Turon Spring Rool

After the meal, the server encouraged me to complete an online survey about the lounge. I was asked my opinion on various facets of the lounge, from the bar to the space and the Dining room. United wants to win another Business Class Lounge of the Year award because I can’t recall the last airport lounge that asked me to complete a survey like this.

Overall, the Dining Room is a must-do for visiting the Polaris Lounge. Make sure to have a 4-hour or longer layover in case there is a waiting list to be seated.

United Polaris Lounge SFO – Takeaway

Overall, I would give this lounge a 9/10. The only missing feature was the ability to go online before arrival and make an online reservation for the dining room or a quiet suite to grab some sleep if you have a long layover. Outside of that, the food, space, and various seating options were plentiful.

I can see why this lounge was voted the Best business-class lounge in 2019. The space is massive, and if you’re looking for a quiet area or if you’re looking to watch “The Game,” which a lot of the current passengers were doing as the NFL was in Playoff mode, this is the place to go.

During my visit, there was enough to keep you entertained. The one thing I didn’t find there was a children’s area. I’m not sure if they have one. But other than that, visiting the United Polaris Lounge San Francisco is a must. If you’re strapped for time with a short layover and don’t have time to eat inside the dining room, the buffet will not disappoint.

Safe Travels 😊


Title Image Credit: United

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