In a recent lever at New York Liberty International Airport in New York, I spent some time. United Club Lounge I used the space for light lunches and some work.
There aren’t many lounge options in Newark – the Priority Pass app shows La Guardia as the nearest lounge! I would appreciate a commuter, unless the pedestrian is released from a miserable Terminal A concourse.
United Club Newark (Terminal A) – Access
Newark has three United Club Lounge. I went to the lounge at Terminal A, from where the Air Canada flight departed. The lounge is open daily from 5:00 to 9:15.
The lounge is located right in the middle of the three circular concourse of Terminal A. Entrance has been blocked along a narrow corridor running alongside security checkpoints.
If you continue beyond that, you will reach the lower number of gates, which are currently under construction. There, you’ll see the Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge, which is currently closed during construction.
The lounge is framed by automatic sliding glass doors, United’s signature blue tones.
In the foyer, there is a small seating table under a picture of a United aircraft from many decades ago. The space has cream, tan and light gray tones, a palette you will notice throughout the bright lounge.
As soon as you enter you will check in at the desk to your right.
Accidentally booking a lever through a terminal with a few lounges, I was pleasantly surprised that I deserved complimentary access. I was able to enter the lounge because I had an International Departing Boarding Pass in the business class cabin of the partner Star Alliance Airlines.
I was flying an airplane award ticket in latitude fare class, successfully upgraded to business class. Arriving on a United-operated route from Memphis, my next segment was Air Canada from New York to Toronto – in fact business class cabins, despite being technically an economy rental, thus giving me access to the lounge.
You can also get entry to United Club with Star Alliance Gold status, which will have your Airplane 50K members or above. Alternatively, if you have purchased an Air Canada Maple Leaf Club membership, you can enter the United Club Lounge, although I do not believe that this is equivalent to the benefits you would get with a premium airplane credit card.
If you do not have access to the complimentary lounge, you can pay US $ 59 plus tax – a reasonable use of any funds you have at United Travelbank if not used for your paid airfare.
In addition, you can head to Terminal C, one of United’s main hubs, where you’ll find two United Club Lounge. Terminal C offers a United Polaris Lounge with more limited access.
United Club Newark (Terminal A) – Seats
The lounge is arranged in a rectangular layout, with three separate rooms. There is a tarmac view of A gate from each seating area.
As you enter, there is a full lounge seating area to your left. Most seats have separate armchairs, end table lamps and multiple power outlets in between.
Set to add some seating by the window, the two lounge chairs across a small coffee table face each other, but without any power outlet.
With a few large tables, chairs and a banquet on the back wall. (In the absence of a sleeping room inside the lounge, I did not take any pictures out of respect for the people who used benches for sleeping.)
To your right, there are two phone booths with floor-to-ceiling glass doors, where you can call with some acoustic privacy. Each room has an empty desk and a swivel chair.
Upon entering the lounge you will head to the main dining and bar area. The bar is lined with some high-top stools and dining chairs are arranged around a medium-sized table for a group of three.
Finally, in the third room, there is more seating in the lounge than in the first room. There are two high-top tables with large power banks for groups of eight, so you can eat or work as a group.
In the back corner, there is a small table surrounded by the same executive-style conference chairs in the foyer. This would be a really comfortable conversation place, as the table is too small and away from the chair to eat or work comfortably.
I split my time into a standard lounge chair with a dining room table, a phone booth and a private power outlet. I found them all to be reasonably comfortable for their intended purpose.
United Club Newark (Terminal A) – Dining
Featuring a self-service buffet in the main dining room across from United Club Bar. The food is protected by a sneeze guard.
I went to the lounge from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., as lunch was being served.
All options were served cold except for a lemon chicken arjo soup.
I tried soup, a honey turkey wrapper, a grilled pesto panini, a vegan couscous salad and a chocolate chip brownie. Everybody was perfect for a varied light lunch and none was different in any way, Panini was my favorite.
Other options available include oats, a green salad and a snack box with cheese, grapes and pretzels.
I’m not sure if this is a COVID-19 service reduction, but the food presentation didn’t impress. Paper plates and bowls are provided. Plastic cutlery is wrapped separately. Some foods are packaged in plastic containers. Spices are available in single serving.
The selection seemed a bit thin and unimaginable, although I wonder if this impression is further enhanced by the presentation. The buffet had some empty space with an induction cooktop, which I guess was used for hot meals as part of a more elaborate dinner service.
All foods display a prominent allergy / food alert, which I thought was a significant touch.
In the third room, there is a snack bar behind the main buffet, with fresh fruit, chips and eli coffee.
United Club Newark (Terminal A) – Bar
Bar service was also limited during my visit.
Most notably, the bar had a very small selection of complementary drinks. You can order a peroni, a Sam Adams, or a Brooklyn lager, a house red or white wine, or good spirits.
All other drinks had a significant upcharge, which in my view was a huge loss for the price of airport lounge access. Most importantly, the bartender does not seem to be incredibly enthusiastic about serving guests. Charging those who expected free drinks is definitely a bit awkward and frustrating, which I feel has affected the quality of service.
The selection was not very extensive, either. I didn’t look at a cocktail menu, but I didn’t realize they featured any signature recipes. A handful of premium spirits like Gray Goose Vodka, Tankere Jean, Jakapa Ram and Jim Beam Bourbon are available. There is also a selection of red and white wines.
They weren’t brewing beer for some reason, which dropped a good portion of the beer list that appealed to me. I settled for a bottle of Brooklyn lager with my lunch.
For a place that charges a hefty entry fee for non-members, I hope United Club will offer a little more. I guess most of the lounges are returning to full service level with the expiration of the COVID-19 policy, but perhaps the time of day I visited enhanced the limited experience.
Overall, however, I found the food to be more of a favorite than the one I visited at Maple Leaf Lounge (albeit to a lesser extent, a lesser one). For me, it surpassed the trivial bar service offered during my visit.
It looks like United has broadened its offerings between Club Lounge and Polaris Lounge, just as Air Canada does with the Maple Leaf Lounge and Signature Suites in Toronto and Vancouver. I would like to go to a Polaris lounge soon for comparison.
Although I would never again go out of my way to the United Club at Newark’s Terminal A, I was glad to find a peaceful place to relax and do some work. It was a long lever saving grace during which the Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge was closed, which will reopen shortly after construction is completed.