Updated February 3, 2024, with more pictures and more food.
One can almost argue that in May 2022, when the United Club in Newark Airport (EWR) opened its doors near gate C123, it has completely changed the landscapes of airport lounges for domestic airlines in the US. Spanning an area over 30,000 square feet and accommodating close to 500 seats, it is among the largest in the country. But it is not just the mere size that matters! It is the ingenious design that creates a brand-new personality as well as functionality that separates it from many other players in the game.
Table of Contents
- First Impression
- Seating and Work Areas
- Beverage Service
- All Day Snacks Menu
- Ticketing Agents
This flagship United Club at Newark International Airport (EWR) is located near gate C123. The entrance is easily identifiable as you will see the escalators and signs pointing to it from a distance, as shown in the picture above.
The moment I entered the lounge, it was obvious to me that it was a breakthrough design that was the first of its kind. Different sections of the club have its own uniqueness and personality – from the bookshelves and comfy seating that create an atmosphere of a library or private study to the contemporary design of the bar and its surrounding high tops that exude the vibes of a gastropub. From the floor-to-ceiling windows that offer a glimpse of the Manhattan skyline to the red brick walls that line the booths in the dining area, every component of the place stands out on its own but together they blend harmoniously into a welcoming space with an innovative design and stylish décor.
As I ascended up the escalator for the first time, I was greeted by a spacious reception area that exhibited a sense of simple elegance and efficiency. Automated admission gates (the first in the club’s operations) were to the left of the entrance and customers who needed further assistance could see an agent at the counter.
The automated gates can process admissions by the scan of your boarding pass for a simple case such as:
- UC members.
- Passengers flying in premium transcontinental Business Class.
- United Gold or Star Alliance Gold members traveling on a United or Star Alliance international flights.
(Note: Those traveling on international Business Class have access to the Polaris Lounge).
The machines can also process admissions for guests. First scan the boarding pass of the primary member then select “add guests” then scan the boarding pass of the guest.
Customers with Chase Explorer one-time passes, those who would like to purchase access, or those with a more complex case of admission can see an agent for assistance.
The above only serves as a very rough guideline in a nutshell and is incomplete. The access rules of the airline are numerous and complex. Please refer to the airline’s website here for detailed admission policies.
Seating and Work Areas
As I have mentioned earlier, this United Club at Newark C123 is loosely divided into several sections and each of them has their own flavor and personality. My favorite area (and most of my readers and followers can probably guess it) is the space near the long sandwich counter which has plenty of two-top or four-top rectangular dining tables that closely resemble the setup of a restaurant.
There are a few booths too, which I think are the best seats in the house, but there are only a few of them so you need to be very lucky to be able to grab one of those. But as you can see from the picture above, yours truly was really lucky!
There are many long conference-room-like tables that sort of resemble the shared-table concept of a contemporary gastropub, but they are low, and not high tops.
Many comfy sofas or lounge chairs in all kinds of sizes and shapes are available for your relaxation.
Does this look like a love seat? This is certainly a comfy and intimate space for couples. There are only a few of these and they are scattered over various areas of this club. My wife and I managed to grab one of these cozy sofas the last time we were there, and we enjoyed it. The only downside is that there are no charging outlets anywhere near them.
In the first main room that you see after passing through the library are some sofas and chairs set up in a trendy-looking cocktail-lounge appearance. This accentuates the diverse decor of the space that the entire design is a blend of many flavors.
Those who need to get some serious work done will like the individual cubicle-like workspace that minimizes distractions. They are all equipped with both AC power sockets as well as USB outlets. There are quite a few of these workspaces spread throughout different areas within the lounge.
A full-service bar complete with bar stools is staffed with two bartenders most of the time. Complimentary house beers are usually Coors Light or some similar domestic brews. Premium beers like Stella Artois or selected IPAs will set you back five bucks. House wines are also free, but they are really mediocre at best. Serious wine drinkers could inquire about selected premium wine by the glass, but they will set you back anywhere from $8 – 15 or more. Well liquors are free, but premium brands like Grey Goose, Bombay Sapphire or the likes cost from $7 – 12 or more.
As of this writing, the complimentary drink menu is as follows:
- Coors Light
- Modelo Especial
- Blue Moon
- Samuel Adams
- Miller Lite
- Mainline White Blend
- Mainline Red Blend
- Bollicini Brut Prosecco
- Svedka Vodka
- Cruzan Aged Light Rum
- Beefeater Gin
- Evan Williams Bourbon
- Cutty Sark Scotch
The main beverage area is located right near the entrance and serves a wide variety of coffee drinks and hot teas. Tubs of infused water are also available. Several other beverage stations are also spread throughout various areas within the place.
Another one-of-its-kind and innovative addition to this Newark United Club is a coffee bar that comes complete with a barista who will custom make your favorite espresso drink. I think this is a very nice touch that enhances both the experience and the value of the lounge.
As of this writing, drinks available on the menu include:
- Cold brew
Coffee lovers will also appreciate the self-served espresso machines that makes a decent cup of latte or similar drinks quite easily and efficiently.
And if there is not enough coffee for you or if you are in a hurry to grab a cup very quickly, there are ready-to-pour Illy regular brews and decafs accompanied by various milk and creamer options to satisfy your needs.
Two soda machines are located in the dining area next to the sandwich counter. These appear to be a newer version which offers a lot more selections than the similar machines that I’ve seen in other UC locations.
All Day Snacks Menu
The centerpiece of this United Club’s food service is a long and elaborate sandwich counter which displays an array of premade sandwiches.
Pre-cut pieces are plated and placed at the end of the counter for guests to select.
The Newark United Club rotates a menu of various sandwiches and among them, the Cuban sandwich is my favorite. It is made with ham, roasted pork, Swiss cheese, pickles and mustard and served in a warm and toasted roll. Other sandwiches on the menu include:
Tomato and mozzarella with balsamic glaze in focaccia bread is a tasty vegetarian treat.
Chicken salad with lettuce and tomato in Kaiser rolls which are sliced in halves.
Shown above are subs made with roasted turkey, cheddar cheese, lettuce, and tomato sandwiched in whole wheat rolls.
Just around the corner from the sandwich counter is the hot food buffet. The lounge offers a substantial menu that you can count on for a complete lunch or dinner that fills up your tummy. They rotate a good variety of hot entrees and on my various recent visits, I’ve tasted some really delicious food which included:
Their braised chicken is one of my favorites. As you can see the tray is loaded with large chunks of chicken. The meat is tender and is tossed in a tasty lemon thyme sauce.
Chicken cacciatore with onions, tomato, peppers, and olive are made with large chunks of breast meat which are quite tender. The dish is richly flavorful, and it goes well with rice or pasta.
Roasted vegetables consisting of butternut squash, Brussels sprouts, red onions, and cranberry are yummy and healthy.
The “rainbow carrots” are a medley of various carrots served in a honey-glazed sauce seasoned with a strong hint of ginger.
Another vegetarian entree comes with an Asian twist. General Tso’s vegetables with tofu are served in a soy-based sauce with a slightly sweet and sour flavor.
Vegetarian ziti is baked with eggplant, basil, mozzarella, and lemon ricotta.
Penne pasta in vodka sauce is one of my favorites. It is great as a side dish or as a vegetarian main course on its own.
Lentil rice pilaf always goes well with a chicken dish with gravy. It is a great vegetarian entree with plenty of fiber.
Typically, two soups are offered daily. Based on my recent visits, their current rotation includes the following:
Vegetarian Minestrone is loaded with plenty of vegetables. A healthy choice for me!
Italian Wedding soup comes with mini meatballs.
The chicken with wild rice soup is rich and flavorful. It has plenty of shredded chicken meat and rice and is quite filling.
Lentil soup is one of the vegan selections on the menu.
Other goodies on the menu include a salad bar that is loaded with lots of fresh veggies, a platter of cold cuts, cheeses and fruits that makes a good light snack to go with your drink, as well as brownies and cookies for dessert.
I took this picture when the employee stepped away for a moment, but there are usually one to two agents available who can handle complex ticketing, cancellation, rerouting, or other IRROPS matters. They are typically the most experienced and competent, and definitely one notch above those at the airport kiosks or those available on chat. Many people may not realize this, but having access to these seasoned agents is one of the greatest perks of a United Club membership.
This United Club at Newark International Airport (EWR) is definitely a signature creation in the airline’s non-Polaris lounge category, and it now serves as a blueprint for other “mega-lounges” such as Chicago and Denver. A more expansive and ambitious project that is even bigger than this one is already in the works in Houston. Although the Newark lounge serves as a blueprint, I’ve heard that each of the newer creations will each have their own personalities and uniqueness.
For a long time, frequent flyers and critics alike have claimed that UCs are the worst airline lounges among the big three players in the US, and they have been quite right, especially when food offerings are concerned.
The opening of the Newark lounge marked a significant turning point for the airline, which has made huge steps in the right direction in many aspects of its operations in recent years. If there has been one quantum leap among all its major improvements, I have to say that it is the new C123 United Club in EWR. And it is not just the innovative design and its enhanced food offerings, it is also about its execution, that every employee that I’ve encountered contributed positively to making a passenger visit a pleasant and memorable experience.