I visited a United Club during the pandemic and saw how the airline is re-imagining the airport lounge as it slowly welcomes back travelers

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I visited a United Club during the pandemic and saw how the airline is re-imagining the airport lounge as it slowly welcomes back travelers

  • United Airlines is re-examining its airport lounges, called United Clubs, during the pandemic as the priorities of its top passengers have shifted towards health and safety. 
  • Only 10 lounges are open across a network of 33 airports as daily departures are slashed and international travel remains scarce but more are likely to be opened in the coming months.
  • We visited the United Club at Newark Liberty International Airport for a closer look at how the lounge is surviving the pandemic with fewer passengers and a reduced offering.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

United Airlines is slowly reopening its premium lounges, aptly named United Clubs, across the country as more flyers return to the skies.

Only 10 lounges have opened their doors with at least one at each of United’s hubs in the US  but locations at 25 airports across the airline’s global network remain closed. They normally cater to the airline’s top flyers – including those flying in business and first class on select flights, elite status holders, and cardholders of certain United credit cards –  who have not yet returned in meaningful numbers to warrant the opening of additional lounges. 

United was similarly forced to close all of the Polaris lounges, its flagship lounge product geared towards international Polaris business class flyers that included showers, sit-down dining, and private suites. All Polaris lounges had been opened except for one location in Washington before the pandemic hit and the loss of premium international travelers warranted their temporary closure. 

With passenger priorities changing, United has adjusted the purpose of its lounges, focusing more on social distancing and safety than anything else. A five-point plan was crafted by the airline to guide the reopening process with a focus on examining everything from how guests enter the lounge to training staff on new health and safety policies and procedures.

Take a look inside what is now the only United Club at Newark Liberty International Airport.

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