LOS ANGELES — A new star is born at Los Angeles International (LAX). United Airlines recently completed a $573 million renovation of Terminal 7 and it shows an efficient ticketing area and security check, a multitude of trendy eateries, and passenger-friendly amenities.
Waiting areas have plenty of work stations and seating and they surround abundant power outlets and USB ports.
Near the mid-terminal rotunda sits the oculus. Hurried travelers walk past this area dominated by Wolfgang Puck Express and a food court.
It is easy to miss the sole elevator and hidden staircase leading to LAX’s newest star, the United Polaris Lounge.
United’s newest long-haul Business Class lounge at LAX is the airline’s fifth Polaris Lounge.
After initial rollout at Chicago O’Hare in late 2016, the lounge experienced overcrowding which forced the airline to go back to the drawing board.
To the eager anticipation of its premium passengers, United quickly rolled out additional Polaris Lounges throughout 2018: San Francisco, Newark, and Houston. The Los Angeles Polaris Lounge is the airline’s fifth.
At LAX grand opening, United Airlines Chief Executive Officer Oscar Munoz said, “2018 was the year everything began to come together – our customer satisfaction, our product, our financials are doing very well.”
“Los Angeles is one of United’s most important gateways, particularly to Asia and Australia, and this lounge provides our customers with a best-in-class experience before they board their flights,” said Janet Lamkin, United’s California President.
This lounge is designed “especially for those customers with late-night departures and early-morning arrivals,” he said.
Architects and designers for the LAX Polaris Lounge were presented with a challenge. How to utilize the historical 10,000 plus square feet space known as the “oculus”?
Shaped like a bow-tie, the oculus formerly opens to the floor below. With windows only to the east and west, how do you close off the oculus and design an inviting, open-concept premium lounge?
The designs aligned amenities with available natural lighting. The buffet and dining area surround the oculus center – walled off but added windows – so view to the busy terminal corridor below is retained.
Spa Space faces east invites in the sunrise while the main lounge area faces west with a view to the sunset.
Designers want customers to have a curated experience. Which means artwork from local artists and unique food and drinks using local ingredients. The space had to be intimate, more like a residence instead of a sterile airport.
The customer service center is a desk with large comfortable chairs instead of an obstructionist counter. Here, large monitors easily swivel so the service agents can easily show customers their travel details.
The lounge uses the familiar “Polaris Star” design theme found in other lounges, but elements remain distinctive for the Los Angeles market.
With LAX being both an important hub to Asia and Australia, care was taken to cater both to local customers and connecting passengers.
The buffet is the primary dining area in the lounge. Menu selection rotates throughout the day.
The focus is on light bites – small items, nothing heavy – such that travelers can design their own meal and combine items to suit their needs.
The menu is also insightful on the local market and
For something more substantial and more intimate, The Dining Room is an eight-table, 16-seat private sit-down dining area.
Available to use for all guests, the seasonal menu offers restaurant quality “international comfort food” developed using locally sourced ingredients.
Finally, the Action Station offers light bites. It is designed to be an engaging space for people to gather and there will always be something different to satisfy regular customers.
In a nod to LA’s cocktail culture, the bar offers both something familiar and special. Polaris Lounge’s famous “Old Fashioned” and “Paper Plane” can of course be had, but LAX offers two unique signature drinks.
“On Sunset” is a variation on tequila sunrise where the drink gets prettier like a sunset as you drink.
“Let’s Rumble” is made using locally based Crusoe Spiced Rum. The bar also makes their own syrups and infusions.
In keeping with the local theme, eight of the 13 wines currently being offered are from California. The wine menu rotates every quarter.
A functional wine and champagne wall showcases almost 200 bottles, allowing guests to see the available selection.
Polaris Lounge’s Spa Space consists of shower suites and quiet suites. Upon entry, a valet offers guests any amenities that they may need, such as hairdryers or curling iron. Pressing and steaming service is also available.
There are six shower suites. Each is spacious enough for luggage allowing guests to change clothes.
Designed with travelers arriving from overnight flights in mind, this area faces east such that guests can catch glimpses of the natural morning sunshine as they recover from jetlag and get ready for their onward connection.
Quiet suites are perfectly located around the corner at a cul-de-sac, away from all foot traffic. Each of the two suites are equipped with a “Z” shaped daybed and a white noise machine For the avgeek, view of the aircraft ramp below is a soothing bonus!
A Wellness Room is available for nursing mothers and travelers with infants. This is a popular and well-received feature in United Clubs and Polaris Lounges. There is a sink, changing space for infants, comfortable seating, and large enough space for luggage.
Saks Fifth Ave linen and Cowshed spa amenities – same as those found on board the aircraft – are offered in the Spa Space.
Finally, a starry hallway leads to the washrooms. Since flying is not so private, designers wanted to give travelers personal space for the washrooms. Each of the seven washrooms is spacious enough for luggage to allow change of clothes. 5D3 0405
With LAX’s iconic theme building dominating the view, the main lounge area has vast windows to aircraft movement below.
The lounge consists of three different types of seats – each suited for a different need: relax, recharge, or engage.
Modeled after the Polaris Business Class seats found on board the aircraft, the Signature Seat is a popular private space for the individual traveler.
The oversized chair has integrated power, an integrated table sized for either work and dining , a personal lamp, and privacy dividers.
The LAX Polaris Lounge is scheduled to open to travelers on Saturday, January 12th.
Located between Gates 73 and 75A, it is centrally located in the middle of Terminal 7. All long-haul flight gates are just a short five-minute walk away.
Access policy: Customers in United Polaris business class may visit the lounge at departure, connecting or on arrival throughout their eligible same-day trip.
Customers in first or business class on Star Alliance member airlines may access the United Polaris lounge at the departure airport for their long-haul international first or business class flight.
Travelers booked in a first-class cabin on a Star Alliance member airline may invite one guest to join them in the lounge.