The new luxury airport lounge at San Francisco’s airport has a full bar, nap pods, and 492 power outlets — take a look inside

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The author enjoying a cocktail at the United Airlines Polaris Lounge at San Francisco International Airport. Melia Robinson/Business Insider

Flying can be a real pain. But for United Airlines’ international travellers with money to spare, a high-end experience awaits them at San Francisco International Airport.

The airline raised the curtain on its new Polaris lounge – only the second of its kind – at SFO’s international terminal on April 30. The business-class clubhouse features a full restaurant and bar, a library, shower suites, and nap pods for weary travellers.

Business Insider got a peak inside United’s Polaris lounge. Here’s what you’re missing.


For United Airlines international travellers, the premium experience of flying business-class starts before they leave the ground.

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Past the reception desk at the Polaris lounge, travellers enter a library area that was quiet but bustling when we visited.

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The lounge seating has comfy chairs and privacy boards that, like cubicles, offer fliers privacy to take a call or do sensitive work.

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There were outlets galore! 492 UBS ports and 492 outlets in total.

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The lounge stretches nearly a football field in length and has two floors. Its oasis of calm draws a stark contrast to the chaos of the international terminal.

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Down the hall, ceiling lights glitter like stars in the night sky.

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They set just the right mood for a snooze. There are five private daybeds, or “nap pods,” outfitted with Saks Fifth Avenue bedding.

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The nap pods come equipped with earbuds and an eye mask.

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There’s even a white-noise machine for tuning out sounds.

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The shower suites feel bigger than some studio apartments in San Francisco. Staff will steam travellers’ clothes upon request.

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The experience continues upstairs …

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I made a beeline for the bar, where bartenders craft locally inspired cocktails, including the Mai Tai, invented in Oakland in 1944.

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I tried the Paper Plane, a sweet tea cocktail featuring oolong-steeped bourbon, two types of honey, Amaro Nonino Quintessentia liqueur, and lemon.

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With a drink in hand, I stopped for a moment to take in the opulence around me. The walls are dressed in white Calacatta marble, while the floors have Turkish marble imported from Italy.

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Glass baubles hang like rain drops from the chandeliers.

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There are no fewer than eight pieces of art by prominent Bay Area artists, on loan from the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

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Travellers can watch United planes taxi from a window seat.

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Food is a pivotal part of the Polaris lounge experience. The Dining Room restaurant has a menu that blends California cuisine with international comfort foods, such as a traditional Chinese congee breakfast and hand-cut pappardelle pasta with mushroom ragout.

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Travellers who are more crunched for time might grab bistro food from the buffet. This is no continental breakfast, however.

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It’s better. Deconstructed Cobb salad, anyone?

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A ramen noodle bar, available in the afternoon, has all the fixings.

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The full dessert bar does not disappoint.

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To enter the Polaris lounge at SFO, travellers must be flying United Airlines business-class on international flights.

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First- and business-class international fliers on the Star Alliance partner airlines also have access.

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United plans to expand the Polaris lounge to Newark, DC, Los Angeles, Houston, London, Hong Kong, and Tokyo, but has not announced all opening dates yet.

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Time to fly!

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