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How to get United Lounge Access

There are a couple of ways to access the United Lounges in airports across the world.  The official membership rules are found on United’s Lounge  Access page.

  • Star Alliance Gold members (including United’s Gold, Platinum and 1K) have lounge access, providing they also have a boarding pass for travel in conjunction with a Star Alliance international flight.  1 guest can also access the lounge, providing the guest also is flying on a Star Alliance international flight
  • If you are flying internationally in either first or business class, you are able to access the lounge.  If you’re flying in First Class, you are also able to bring 1 additional guest, though they have to be flying on the same itinerary as you.  The official rules say that travel within the U.S. (including Hawaii) is not eligible, though I believe that United does give access to first and business class passengers traveling on a transcontinental flight (such as JFK-SFO)
  • Join the United Club, which has a $500 /year price tag.  This also lets you bring 2 guests, OR your spouse and all children under 21
  • Purchase a day-pass, which runs $50, or $45 if you buy it through the United mobile app.
  • Certain United brand credit cards also offer lounge club access.  The United MileagePlus Club Card comes with a $395 annual fee, but gives you United Club membership (see above).  The United Mileage Explorer card has a $95 annual fee that is waived the first year, and comes with 2 one-time use passes.

My United Lounge Club Access

I got the United Mileage Explorer card a few months ago when it had the signup bonus of 50,000 miles.  That offer is now no longer publicly available, though there are some possibly targeted offers for 50,000 bonus miles floating about.

My 2 one-time use passes came in the mail today, and now I’m trying to figure out where I should go!


As you can see, they don’t expire for about 18 months, though it is my understanding that United can tell if you still have the actual United MileagePlus card, so if you cancel the card, your one-time use passes will no longer be accepted.  Since I view it as possible if not probable that I will cancel the card before the annual fee hits, I really have until the summer of 2015 to use them.

United Lounge Club locations

Here is the full list of United Lounge Club locations.  If you have lounge access by way of traveling in first or business class, you can also access affiliated lounges like the Star Alliance lounges and others, but my one-time passes are going to be good only for the United Club.

In the United States, the United Club locations are at the airports in: Atlanta, Austin, Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Dallas, Denver, Fort Lauderdale, Honolulu, Houston, Las Vegas, Las Angeles, New  York (JFK, LGA and EWR), Orange County, Orlando, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Portland, San Antonio, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington DC (DCA and IAD)

Internationally there are also locations in Guam, Guatemala City, Hong Kong, London, Melbourne, Mexico City, Osaka, Panama City, San Jose, Santo Domingo, Tokyo

Of course the only good locations are the ones that you’ll actually BE at!!  I did visit the Club at ATL (not a United Lounge) thanks to free access with the Chase Ink card a few months ago


Rockin the free snacks at the Club at ATL lounge

(READ: Airport Lounge Review: The Club at ATL and how to get in for free)

(READ: Free Lounge access with your Chase Ink card)

And I spent a few hours at the American Express Centurion Lounge at the Las Vegas airport back in September.


(READ: Lounge Review: AmEx Centurion Lounge Las Vegas Airport)

(READ: Should pets be allowed in airport lounges like the Centurion Lounge Las Vegas?)

(READ: Eats Shoots and Leaves (grammar is important!))

 So… which United Lounge Club should I go to?

Having not been to any United Lounge Clubs, I don’t know which ones are the “good” ones.  I know that generally speaking, the domestic lounges are not as good as international lounges, but that is tempered by the fact that typically I do more domestic travel than international.

Of course the best lounge is the one in the airport where you ARE.  I currently have no travel plans – but I want to hear recommendations – which lounges are the best and which ones should I consider visiting with my one-time passes?

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