WHICH UNITED CLUB IS THE BEST CHOICE AT NEWARK AIRPORT?
In recent years, United Airlines has made its presence felt in New York through significant investment in its Newark Airport hub. More and more travelers going to, from, or passing through the region now do so while flying United.
That means more passengers with one thing – layovers. And when stuck on a long layover there’s nothing better than finding a good lounge.
Thankfully, United is committed on this front. Impressively, there are three separate United Clubs at Newark – one in Terminal A which United uses for shorter distance domestic flights, and two in Terminal C, which serves international and long distance domestic flights.
At some airports, if you have a layover of several hours between flights, it can be worth going to another terminal for a really good lounge, perhaps even that of another airline, provided you don’t have to exit and reenter security. This is easily done at Newark, as United operates a shuttle bus between the two terminals, post-security.
Frequent fliers with time to kill at Newark are faced with a choice: Which United Club should they choose?
Our Preferred Lounge
The main lounge in Terminal C, next to Gate 120 in the main concourse is our preferred United lounge at Newark.
Although the lounge itself is enormous, and easily United’s largest at the airport, it’s easily missed by travelers. Unlike most lounges, it is not located in the concourse among the gates, where most people would expect, but rather in the concourse immediately after security before you even walk to most gates.
This is not only the largest United Club we’ve visited, but also one of the largest lounges for a US-based airline that we’ve seen, rivaling the Delta Sky Club at JFK for size.
This United Club is huge, containing two separate dining areas with food and coffee/tea, three seating areas, numerous bathrooms, separate shower suites, dozens of private workstations, enclosed worksuites, a business center, conference rooms for rent, and a full service bar. If it’s featured at any United Club, chances are you’ll find it here.
The bar is also larger than most United Clubs, able to accommodate 30 seated individuals. As usual, standard beer, wine and liquor is available gratis, while a large selection of premium beers wines, and liquor is available for a discounted purchase.
We visited early evening on a Wednesday around rush-hour. Despite the huge area of the lounge, it was packed, with barely a seat or table available. The wait at the bar was similarly long. With nearly 50 people attempting to get a drink at once, it was understaffed, with 2-3 bartenders doing their best, but unable to meet such demand.
The food selection, while still below that of foreign-based airline lounges, was decent and went beyond the standard packaged snacks/fruit/coffee layout you’ll find at most United Clubs throughout the US. Soups, fresh vegetables, pita/hummus, and other various hors d’oeuvres were all available.
Also notable and impressive was the amount of private workspace set aside for individual use – more than triple what you’ll see in other domestic lounges. Individual desks are each installed with power outlets, with private, enclosed cubbyholes available for a quieter work environment. Couple this with conference rooms available to rent, and this club is an oasis for the modern business traveler.
Our overall impression of the Club was strong, though we were somewhat confused by how crowded the lounge was – far above anything we’ve seen in the US. This was unexpected, given that United tightened up its elite status requirements last year, thereby reducing the number of passengers eligible for lounge entry.
A Calmer Lounge
If you have time and prefer a quieter, smaller United Club with more personal space, check out the United Club in Terminal A. It doesn’t offer as many office amenities, food options, or shower suites, but you’re likely to find a bit more room to relax.
It’s worth noting that until Summer 2016 when United will change its access requirements, you can still access United Clubs in the US as long as you have a United Club pass or credit card. Unlike other airlines, you don’t even need to be flying United or a partner airline that particular day to access the club. In fact you don’t even need to show a boarding pass. Simply show your Club pass or a United Club Credit card, and you’re in.
In summary, if you’re departing or passing through Newark, make sure to check out the United Club in Terminal C. It goes above and beyond what you’ll find at other United locations, and is one of the more impressive US airline lounges on the entire east coast.
Note: For a better view of the shuttle route and where/how the United Clubs in Terminal C are situated, please see United’s excellent map here.