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Has the Polaris Lounge Product been a Financial Success for UA so far?

Has the Polaris Lounge Product been a Financial Success for UA so far?

Old Dec 26, 19, 2:42 pm
  #1  
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Has the Polaris Lounge Product been a Financial Success for UA so far?

I've been reading up on a lot of trip reports on this forum and I'm curious in terms of how the Polaris Lounge product is doing financially. For one, it looks like the food experience on the ground is better than on the flights themselves (yet it looks like a costly affair to keep up with). And it seems there is a wide range of reactions of actually getting into the club itself. For instance, perhaps they should also include comped access on EWR-SFO/LAX as those routes are marketed as premium as well? It seems like people feel it's way too exclusive compared to the hard product served on board in terms of consistency. Should UA offer a path for others to get into the lounge (especially at EWR where there are serious renovation issues) for additional revenue?

Still trying to figure out the food situation in the restaurant. If you order off the menu, is the food also comped as well and all you have to leave is a tip? For me, I really don't like pigging out on the ground before getting on the plane and then being served more food on board. I'm sure many others are like me as well. I wonder if the bean counters have looked at food catering expenses because it truly seems like there could be a lot of food wasted at the end of the day inside the lounge.
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Old Dec 26, 19, 3:03 pm
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Originally Posted by LAX_AUS_DL_FLYER View Post
I've been reading up on a lot of trip reports on this forum and I'm curious in terms of how the Polaris Lounge product is doing financially.
Pure Speculation: Financially, the lounge itself has to be a net negative. But the hope its covered by the higher yield of C/J. They continue to build new polaris lounges (at a huge expense by the looks of the IAD lounge) , so I think it can be assumed the results are close to what they expected (or close enough to continue to roll out the program.

And it seems there is a wide range of reactions of actually getting into the club itself.
Yes, Several reactions and thoughts here: Polaris lounge access for global service and 1ks as a status benefit?


and all you have to leave is a tip
I thought the consensus was tips are not expected and the employees are compensated as "non tipped positions" Tipping in Polaris lounge
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Old Dec 26, 19, 3:11 pm
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Originally Posted by LAX_AUS_DL_FLYER View Post
I've been reading up on a lot of trip reports on this forum and I'm curious in terms of how the Polaris Lounge product is doing financially. For one, it looks like the food experience on the ground is better than on the flights themselves (yet it looks like a costly affair to keep up with). And it seems there is a wide range of reactions of actually getting into the club itself. For instance, perhaps they should also include comped access on EWR-SFO/LAX as those routes are marketed as premium as well? It seems like people feel it's way too exclusive compared to the hard product served on board in terms of consistency. Should UA offer a path for others to get into the lounge (especially at EWR where there are serious renovation issues) for additional revenue?

Still trying to figure out the food situation in the restaurant. If you order off the menu, is the food also comped as well and all you have to leave is a tip? For me, I really don't like pigging out on the ground before getting on the plane and then being served more food on board. I'm sure many others are like me as well. I wonder if the bean counters have looked at food catering expenses because it truly seems like there could be a lot of food wasted at the end of the day inside the lounge.
I don't think it's a good idea to include domestic flights, even just its premium US routes. Then how would you position INTL flights currently w/o access to PL? How would you further differentiate PL and UC?

Tips would be for attendants. Not sure tipping would play a significant factor in the bottom line.
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Old Dec 26, 19, 3:15 pm
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Originally Posted by Repooc17 View Post
I don't think it's a good idea to include domestic flights, even just its premium US routes. Then how would you position INTL flights currently w/o access to PL? How would you further differentiate PL and UC?

Tips would be for attendants. Not sure tipping would play a significant factor in the bottom line.
Ooof, then I'm confused. I thought all INT'L flights in J had access to the Polaris Lounge. Which routes aren't?

Maybe let the Premium Plus PAX inside instead, IDK?
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Old Dec 26, 19, 3:16 pm
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United Polaris is available on trans-Pacific or trans-Atlantic flights, and on flights from the U.S. to these South American destinations: Buenos Aires, Lima, Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo and Santiago. All other international routes are United Business® and include use of the United Club: Guam, Canada, Mexico, Caribbean, Central America, Colombia and Ecuador

https://www.united.com/ual/en/us/fly...es/access.html

Partners: Long-haul international flights include those from the U.S. to Asia, Australia, Europe and select South American countries, including Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Peru

Last edited by paperwastage; Dec 26, 19 at 3:23 pm
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Old Dec 26, 19, 3:18 pm
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Originally Posted by LAX_AUS_DL_FLYER View Post
Has the Polaris Lounge Product been a Financial Success for UA so far?
There is no one on this forum that can reply to provide a meaningful answer -- you will get just guess driven by other biases.

Originally Posted by LAX_AUS_DL_FLYER View Post
Should UA offer a path for others to get into the lounge (especially at EWR where there are serious renovation issues) for additional revenue? ...
UA offers the United Clubs for $59. Selling access to PL would just lead to even more overcrowding and dissatisfaction of the premier customers. Making PL exclusive is probably a better option to sell premium fares vs try to gain an entrance revenue.

Originally Posted by LAX_AUS_DL_FLYER View Post
is the food also comped as well ...
Yes

Originally Posted by LAX_AUS_DL_FLYER View Post
and all you have to leave is a tip? ...
Let's not open that can of worms here, please refer to Tipping in Polaris lounge

Originally Posted by LAX_AUS_DL_FLYER View Post
Ooof, then I'm confused. I thought all INT'L flights in J had access to the Polaris Lounge. Which routes aren't? ...
Just long haul, no North American international for instance. And only partner flights departing long haul from that airport.

Originally Posted by LAX_AUS_DL_FLYER View Post
Maybe let the Premium Plus PAX inside instead, IDK?
Given the fares are well below premium cabin, why? Why does UA want to encourage the purchases of lower fares for PL access?
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Last edited by WineCountryUA; Dec 26, 19 at 3:23 pm Reason: more
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Old Dec 26, 19, 3:23 pm
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Originally Posted by LAX_AUS_DL_FLYER View Post
For me, I really don't like pigging out on the ground before getting on the plane and then being served more food on board. I'm sure many others are like me as well. I wonder if the bean counters have looked at food catering expenses because it truly seems like there could be a lot of food wasted at the end of the day inside the lounge.
Many folks (myself included) do not eat twice. I eat in the Polaris lounge and forgo food on the plane. I’d rather sleep on the flight and skip the sub-par Polaris catering and instead enjoy the food in the lounge.
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Old Dec 26, 19, 3:27 pm
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I think it's pretty much impossible to meaningfully allocate revenue to non-subscription lounges. There are too many other factors driving airline revenue, principal among them demand for air travel and strength of network. Business class lounge quality is awfully far down that list.
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Old Dec 26, 19, 3:54 pm
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Originally Posted by paperwastage View Post
United Polaris is available on trans-Pacific or trans-Atlantic flights, and on flights from the U.S. to these South American destinations: Buenos Aires, Lima, Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo and Santiago. All other international routes are United Business® and include use of the United Club: Guam, Canada, Mexico, Caribbean, Central America, Colombia and Ecuador

https://www.united.com/ual/en/us/fly...es/access.html

Partners: Long-haul international flights include those from the U.S. to Asia, Australia, Europe and select South American countries, including Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Peru
Semantics, perhaps, and there’s a thread on it somewhere, but Canada appears to be back to United First (with the other listed non-TATL/TPAC/S. America remaining United Business). As proof, over Thanksgiving, my wife did a buy up on ORD-YYZ, which was indeed listed as United First in her itinerary and on her BP.
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Old Dec 26, 19, 4:36 pm
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It is also necessary to stay competitive. BA, AF and AA also have international business class pre-boarding dining depending on the airport, for example.
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Old Dec 26, 19, 4:44 pm
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It's difficult to assign a financial number, since the only actual revenue likely is other *A airlines paying for access for their business and first passengers. Someone in commercialization at UA might ask the question "Did (does) the Polaris lounge cause people to book United over another airline, compared to pre-Polaris and compared to current markets without a Polaris lounge". For folks with rather liberal travel policies, my guess is that the answer is yes.

There is probably a "keeping up with the Joneses" aspect -- United's long-haul lounge product in the US is now competitive, and in many cases superior, to the lounges of other carriers flying transatlantic and transpacific. I know in the case of AA, their joint business partners (and especially BA and JL) leaned on them heavily to make their lounge competitive with a BA lounge or a JL lounge, which they mostly did. UA seems to have out-done LH and NH with sit-down dining, but since they don't have international First any more, it makes sense to use that to differentiate the business class product.
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Old Dec 26, 19, 5:09 pm
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Originally Posted by LAX_AUS_DL_FLYER View Post
Still trying to figure out the food situation in the restaurant. If you order off the menu, is the food also comped as well and all you have to leave is a tip? For me, I really don't like pigging out on the ground before getting on the plane and then being served more food on board. I'm sure many others are like me as well. I wonder if the bean counters have looked at food catering expenses because it truly seems like there could be a lot of food wasted at the end of the day inside the lounge.
You do not have to leave a tip but generally in the USA you are supposed to. I do not, unless the bar is making a complex drink or something and I'm on my 3rd or 4th. I, or my customer, are paying good money for the ticket so I should feel welcome as a guest in the company's lounge without having to worry about anything but my own damn comfort. And the staff and their professional service in the polaris lounges reflect this mantra.

Sure, many are like you when it comes to eating reheated food v. made to order food on the ground, but I would say the majority of frequent flyers would rather pig out on the ground where the food is more fresh and delicious and one can choose from dozens and dozens of items at an airport, than the 3-4 that you would get reheated to you on the plane. Plus this allows for more sleep/work/drink/recline and watch a movie time. Plane food makes me bloated and constipated. Further the polaris lounge is also for arrivals, so it's nice to have a meal made to order after a sin-sfo or something.And based on a recent trip, the breakfast was nice! Fresh-ish.

Finally the cost of preparing a meal in an airport terminal kitchen is much cheaper than catering one in a commissary then putting it on the plane. Maybe someone else who knows more can explain whether that meal you did not consume would be re-cycled onto another flight.

Pay for Polaris access only makes sense if you pay for a business class flight PERioT this has been the plan from the very beginning. It's an amenity for their top tier customers.

Also if, for example, an SQ customer comes in, SQ pays UA for that lounge use.
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Old Dec 26, 19, 5:20 pm
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Originally Posted by n8-the-gr8 View Post
Many folks (myself included) do not eat twice. I eat in the Polaris lounge and forgo food on the plane. I’d rather sleep on the flight and skip the sub-par Polaris catering and instead enjoy the food in the lounge.
But from a cost perspective, does UA actually cater less food on-board as a result? Seems to me that in Polaris they don't have a choice but to cater as many means as there are passengers (if not more, but we know UA's impressions on first v's second choice).

Unless they are actually catering less meals as a result of the lounges then there's no on-board cost saving.
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Old Dec 26, 19, 5:23 pm
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Originally Posted by LAX_AUS_DL_FLYER View Post
Ooof, then I'm confused. I thought all INT'L flights in J had access to the Polaris Lounge. Which routes aren't?

Maybe let the Premium Plus PAX inside instead, IDK?
I think in the very first week of polaris ua did not realize (or probably did not care) that someone going ord-yyz in AC J was considered admissible but obviously that changed. This is a premium lounge for premium pax on real long haul flights. IAH-BOG, IAH-YVR, EWR-BOG, EWR-YVR, ORD-YYZ, HNL-GUM etc are not long haul and are not polaris flights although the aforementioned are INTL flights.

And no, do not allow PP Pax in. Then it is the United Premium Plus Club and not the United Polaris Lounge. The United Premium Plus Club will get crowded, all the food will be eaten so then they have to serve inferior quality, there will be nowhere to sit, it will be like a united club bus station, and all of those in real premium (polaris) seats will be less than gruntled, which is why the Polaris Cloub was invented. That is bad business.

Dude(tte), they serve fried chicken, a decent burger, crab cakes, and moderate-shelf japanese whiskey there. Polaris customers do not want that to change for the worse. Buy a damn ticket if you want to go in so bad.
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Old Dec 26, 19, 5:38 pm
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I don’t believe it’s a success UNLESS they let in some elite pax because we DESERVE it🤣
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