Norfolk to Chicago and the Polaris Lounge

To begin my trip, I flew a quick early morning flight out of Norfolk International Airport and then spent several hours at the Polaris lounge in Chicago. It should have only been around four hours, but we’ll get to that part later on.

…And we’re off!

United 825
ORF [Norfolk] to ORD [Chicago]
April 19, 2017
Depart: 6:20 AM
Arrive: 7:46 AM
Duration: 2hr26min
Aircraft: 737-900
Seat: 1A

My first flight took me from Norfolk to Chicago. Compared to most of the regional jet flights I fly out of Norfolk, this one was a real treat. This mainline flight was on a 737-900 and had proper domestic first class seats. Although when I fly economy, I enjoy the large regional jets, flying in First class on one just cuts the experience a bit short in my opinion.

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Row 1 on the 737-900

Boarding began right on time and I got settled into my seat at the front of first class and ordered my pre-departure beverage. Although SeatGuru only gave these seats a yellow rating, I was pleasantly surprised, as this turned out to be the only row that allowed you to exit your window seat while your seat mate remained seated. In addition, nobody could recline in front of you.

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This aircraft had a surprisingly large first class cabin with 20 seats

After a smooth and timely takeoff, the cabin crew came by to offer us warm muffins and drinks. At 26 years old, I’d never tried a gin and tonic and figured this would be a good time to try one.

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Warm muffin with a gin and tonic

Picking up the Hemispheres magazine, I noticed something familiar on the cover: Singapore’s Gardens by the Bay, which I planned on visiting on the latter part of my trip.

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Gardens by the Bay

As plebeian as it sounds and as much as I liked the multiple muffins the crew brought by, I was craving a Stroopwafel, so I ordered some of those as well later in the flight. They’re typically the standard breakfast snack for economy, but I’ve never had a problem snagging some in any cabin at any time of day. I also tried the Moscow Mule, which I think ended up finally completing my sampling of United’s entire domestic alcohol menu.

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Moscow Mule and a Stroopwafel

After landing, I made my way down the terminal to the Polaris lounge to grab breakfast and wait for my next flight.

The Polaris Lounge

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Entrance to the lounge
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Lounge entryway

Since I’d sampled the lounge’s breakfast offerings back in February, I decided to eat something light and save my appetite for lunch. I started with a parfait and a bloody mary and then got a plate of the eggs benedict and the delicious bacon that they serve here.

Taking care of me once again was Bela. Even with the lounge having been open for several months, I was glad to see that his excitement for the menu hadn’t waned since February.

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The Polaris lounge breakfast menu
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Parfait with a bloody mary
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Eggs benedict and bacon
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My awesome waiter, Bela

After breakfast, I went ahead and grabbed a quick shower in one of the shower suites. I was expecting to board my flight to Hong Kong around noon, so I wouldn’t have much time to grab a shower after lunch before I departed.

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The shower suite
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Towels by Saks Fifth Avenue

I went ahead and logged on to the lounge wifi to check it out. I think it was pretty much the fastest internet speed my phone has seen…ever. I also got a good look at the wine lockers they have in the lounge. According to one of the bartenders, they’ll give you a locker and anything you’d like to put in it if you spend at least $500,000 with the airline.

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The fastest internet my phone has ever seen
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The wine lockers

It was finally time for lunch. I already knew what I wanted to try. I started with the shrimp and grits and then made my way to the ribeye with a side of Auchentoshan scotch.

Bela also made a few recommendations and brought me the ahi tuna and a bread pudding dessert dish. Everything was pretty amazing but if you only get one thing, definitely try the ribeye. You won’t be disappointed.

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Shrimp and grits
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Ribeye served medium rare
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Ahi tuna plate
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Bread pudding for dessert

So it was almost time to head to Hong Kong. Unfortunately, shortly before boarding, they announced a 45-minute delay. I made a quick stop at the service desk to make sure all my connections were still good. I then went back to the bar area and ordered myself a Paper Plane. I’d tried the North American on my previous trip, so this time, I went with the South American version.

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A listing of the various Paper Planes on the drinks menu
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The South American Paper Plane

After finishing my drink, it was almost boarding time, so I made my way to the gate. As soon as I sat down, another delay was announced. Four hours this time, so I would definitely miss my 2.5 hour connection in Hong Kong.

I made my way back to the lounge and headed to the service counter. After a few minutes of searching, the agent was able to find me a new flight out of LAX to Auckland on Air New Zealand and then another from Auckland to Perth. Although this wasn’t what I’d originally had in mind, the new itinerary would get me to Perth 30 minutes earlier, so I was pretty cool with that.

So now, I was off to LAX.

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