Step inside the United Club lounge at Newark Liberty Airport – United's New York Area hub just a short train journey from Midtown Manhattan and the base of the airline's transcontinental p.s. Premium Service flights.
With a quiet and office-like business zone, complimentary alcohol and tarmac views, here's what's on offer at the United Club nearest Gate C120 in Terminal C.
Location & Impressions
After clearing security, you can choose one of two United Clubs – the central option here near Gate C120, or a secondary Club in the far right pier:We opted for the C120 lounge, and proceeded through those wooden doors to find a queue of around 20 people waiting to get inside the lounge proper, but which was speedily processed by the staff in around two minutes.
Our tip: you'll need photo ID in addition to your boarding pass, so have this ready. We used our Australian drivers licence in lieu of a passport without issue.
The lounge proved relatively crowded during our Saturday afternoon visit, although natural light was still plentifully flowing in from the tarmac... ... and it was still possible to locate the odd vacant seat.
While close to bursting at the seams, the 'vibe' in the lounge from other passengers was still a friendly one – one guest jokingly repeated an advertising tagline as I was helping myself to that product at the buffet, while another couple destined for a Venetian holiday joined my table for polite conversation.
- International United Business, BusinessFirst and Global First passengers including those connecting to Sydney or Melbourne via Los Angeles or to/from other international flights
- Wholly-domestic United BusinessFirst passengers on p.s. Premium Service flights to Los Angeles and San Francisco
- Other Star Alliance business and first class passengers
- United MileagePlus Premier Gold, Platinum, 1K and Global Services with a same-day international United/Star Alliance flight
- Other Star Alliance Gold frequent flyers whether travelling domestically or internationally with United/Star Alliance
- Paid-up United Club and Air Canada Maple Leaf Club members
- Amtrak Guest Rewards Select Plus and Select Executive cardholders
- U.S. military personnel
Not covered by that list? You can also pay US$50 at the door for one-off access, or can prepay for the same via the airline's mobile app.
For long-time Priority Pass members, take note that this lounge, and indeed all United Club airport lounges, departed from the Priority Pass scheme in May 2015.
Stopping by any time after breakfast finds an array of fruits and pastries at the buffet... ... treats and sweets including Skittles, cheese and crackers... ... a Mediterranean salad plus a few more comprehensive snack items like fresh hummus with pita thins or crisps, Greek olives and sliced red capsicum. That certainly looks a little different from United's publicity shot of its daily snacks (below), but all tastes fine just the same. Joining that is a selection of coffee, tea, cold water and also iced tea... ... and an all-day bar where domestic beer, house wine and basic spirits are all complimentary: Other drinks such as imported beer, premium wine, Champagne, liqueurs and brand-name spirits are available for purchase and tips of US$1 per drink are commonplace.
Overall though, the food selection is rather prosaic for Australian passengers – I've seen a better spread in a regional Virgin Australia lounge, let alone a flagship facility in a major airport hub catering to international business class guests.
It also trails that which competitor Delta Air Lines offers guests at its New York JFK lounge, being a restaurant with hearty menus and full table service... ... and also in American Airlines' JFK Admirals Club lounge, which too has an a la carte menu.
Certainly both airlines charges extra to partake in a restaurant meal, but it's a great option to have for guests looking to maximise their time spent sleeping in the air.
While lacking in the food department, the United Club is a standout for travellers hard at work – just head to the very middle of the lounge and venture into the private, and quiet, business wing.
There you'll find office-like desks with easy access to power... ... and if you don't want to nurse your cabin bag or other goodies, there are lockers provided to store them in. Wireless Internet is available but was on the slower side: our testing showed an average download speed of 0.91Mbps, an upload average of 1.98Mbps and ping speeds of 274ms.
That's barely usable, and while the lounge was filled with hundreds of other travellers also seemingly using the Internet, we'd expect to find a better connection at United's New York Area hub of all places.
If your journey to Australia tracks via Los Angeles, your last chance to shower before touching down on home soil is here at the Newark United Club – you'll find the facilities to your right after passing the service desk.
Also on offer is a media room where guests can catch up on the latest news or unwind with a little TV, a selection of reading material... ... and comfy chairs, whether having a snack or enjoying the company of others. All in all, the prominent mahogany throughout the lounge rings bells of the Golden Age of air travel, and when combined with free snacks and alcohol at any hour of the day, it's a pleasant place to spend an hour or two.
Just don't pack an appetite for anything more than snacks and crackers, else you'll go hungry until up in the air.
Visiting New York City on business? Also read:
- AusBT review: United Boeing 787 'BusinessFirst': Melbourne-LAX
- Five tips for riding the New York subway like a local
- How to get half-price tickets to Broadway shows in New York
- 'Delta One' Boeing 767 business class review: LAX-JFK
- Hilton New York Fashion District, Chelsea review
Chris Chamberlin travelled to New York as a guest of United Airlines.
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