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Whether you’re getting ready to embark on a long-haul journey across the Pacific or just looking to pass a few hours by on a long layover, sometimes there’s nothing better than being able to escape the crowds and enjoy some nice lounge access prior to a flight.
Unfortunately, sometimes the rules and policies for lounge access can be quite confusing. In this article, I will walk you through the United Club access policy for getting entry into the United Club airport lounges. I’ll tell you everything you need to know about your access privileges based on things like your ticket fare (including Polaris), elite and Star Alliance status, and credit card memberships and also discuss some of the rules.
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What is the United Club access policy?
Getting access to United Club lounges is not always straightforward. Whether or not you will have access, will depend on the following factors:
- Club membership and credit card membership
- Class of service
- Which airline you’re flying
- Elite status
I’ll discuss each of these in detail below and provide you with some insight on when you can expect to receive United Club lounge access.
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United Club Membership and credit card membership
Three popular ways to get access to these lounges are the following:
United Club membership
With a United Club membership, you’ll get access for yourself and two adults or one adult and dependent children under 21 years of age.
You can purchase a United Club membership on an annual basis for you or for you and a spouse. The price in cash or miles will depend on your level of elite status with United. Below are the prices that you can’t expect to pay.
|MileagePlus status||Annual membership||Annual membership with spouse|
|General member||$550 or 70,000 miles||$1,100 or 140,000 miles|
|Premier® Silver||$550 or 70,000 miles||$1,100 or 140,000 miles|
|Premier Gold||$550 or 70,000 miles||$1,100 or 140,000 miles|
|Premier Platinum||$500 or 65,000 miles||$1,050 or 135,000 miles|
|Premier 1K®||$450 or 60,000 miles||$1,000 or 130,000 miles|
- A copy of the marriage certificate or an affidavit of marriage or spouse equivalency is required to obtain a membership card for a spouse or domestic partner with a different last name
- Memberships are open to anyone 18 or older.
United Club access via credit cards
You can get access to United Clubs if you or a cardholder of the United MileagePlus Club Card. This is a premium credit card that comes with a $450 annual fee which is pricey but it’s $100 cheaper than the United Club membership available to the public.
In addition to getting United Club Membership, this card also offers some other valuable perks like getting your first and second checked bags for free and United Premier Access benefits. If you fly United a lot it’s not a bad card to go with although I still think the Amex Platinum is the better overall credit card for lounge access.
The United Explorer Card is the more popular United credit card option in my opinion. This card comes with a much lower annual fee of only $95 and it offers you two one time passes for United club access. It also provides you with some great perks like a free checked bag and priority boarding.
United Club one-time passes are available for purchase for $59 at club locations or through the United app. This pass will allow one person one-time access to any United Club location. If you join within 30 days of your one-time pass purchase, United waive the price of your initiation fee, a $50 value.
Effective November 1, 2019, United Club customers, including members and their guests, and one-time pass holders will need to provide a same-day boarding pass for travel on United, Star Alliance or a contracted partner for entry into all United Club locations.
Class of service/airlines
Your lounge access will often depend on the type of class that you are flying and on what kind of airline you’re flying. Generally speaking, you will have broader lounge privileges when you are flying on United Airlines versus when you are flying on a Star Alliance partner.
United Polaris business class
Customers in United Polaris business class may access United Club locations at departure, connecting and arrival airports along their eligible same-day routing. No guests are allowed.
United business class
If you are just flying standard United business class, you get the same access at departure, connecting and arrival airports along their eligible same-day routing but you need to be traveling internationally. So, for example, if you are flying from Houston to Chicago in United business class you will not get access to a United Club lounge on the basis of your class of service. No guests are allowed.
Premium transcontinental flights
The exception to this domestic rule is when flying on premium transcontinental flights. Customers on premium transcontinental flights may only access United Club locations at the origin and destination of their premium transcontinental flight.
Premium transcontinental flights are those between airports like San Francisco and New York or Los Angeles and New York.
First class and business class on Star alliance partners
When you are flying first class for business class on a Star Alliance partner you will not get the same lounge privileges. The biggest difference is that you will only get to lounge access from the airport that you are departing from on your long-haul flight.
So, for example, let’s say you were flying economy on United from Houston (IAH) to San Francisco (SFO) and then business class on EVA Air from SFO to Taipei (TPE). In that case you would only get lounge access at SFO based on your fare class.
However, if all of your flights were on United Airlines, then you would have gotten lounge access in Houston as well as San Francisco.
One major difference between business class in first class on a Star Alliance partners is that first class passengers can bring along one guest in business class passengers are not allowed to bring along one guest.
Star Alliance Gold status
Star Alliance Gold status Is one of the best ways to get access to United club lounges.
If you have Star Alliance Gold status with an airline other than United and have a same-day boarding pass for travel on a flight operated by a Star Alliance member airline, you can get access for you and a guest when departing from that same same airport. (The guest must also be traveling on a flight operated by a Star Alliance member airline and departing from the same airport.)
If you have Star Alliance Gold status with United and have a same-day boarding pass for travel on an international flight operated by a Star Alliance member airline, you can get access for you and a guest even when departing an airport different from that of the United Club location being entered.
So if you were flying United economy from New York (EWR) to Chicago (ORD) and then ANA economy to Tokyo (NRT), it’s my understanding that you’d still have access to United Clubs at EWR.
United Polaris lounge
United Polaris lounges are the new, nicer United lounges popping up at hubs around the country.
If you have a United Polaris business class ticket, then you may access a United Polaris lounge at departure, connecting and arrival airports along their eligible same-day routing. No guests are allowed.
So, for example, if you were flying from Chicago to San Francisco and then on to Tokyo, and you were flying this in United Polaris, then you could access the United Polaris lounges at both ORD and SFO.
However, if your long-haul flight is on a Star Alliance partner then the same rules come into effect where you can only access the United Polaris lounge from the airport where your long-haul flight is departing from. In the example above, you’d only get Polaris access at SFO.
Once again, one major difference between business class in first class on a Star Alliance partners is that first class passengers can bring along one guest in business class passengers are not allowed to bring along one guest.
United Club Rules
There are quite a few rules that United publishes for their lounges. Here are a few of the rules that I think you should be aware of.
Guests must be at least 21 years of age to access a United Club location with a self-service bar, unless accompanied by an adult who is at least 21 years of age.
Getting cut off
United reserves the right to refuse to serve alcoholic beverages to any patron who appears to be intoxicated or is otherwise unruly.
United states that food may not be brought into United Club locations.
In practice, I’m not sure how strictly this rule is enforced. If you are setting up a full spread of fried chicken from a restaurant in the airport then that might be an issue but if you are just snacking on some items you purchased in an airport that’s probably not a big deal.
There is also a rule that prohibits you from taking food, beverages, and the periodicals from the lounge. Taking a water bottle with you probably won’t be an issue but walking out with a handful of NatGeo magazines definitely won’t be a good look.
United states that sleeping is prohibited in all United Club locations. However if you have arrived at a lounge very early in the morning and there are very few other guests in the lounge you can probably get away with getting some shut eye.
It only becomes an issue in my experience when you have rearranged the furniture and you are taking up seats from other guests or if the staff at the lounge could mistake you for a dead body.
There is no stated dress code in the rules. I would advise to try to keep it a little classy but don’t feel the need to dress up for a special occasion.
- You can read about all of the rules here
Are pets allowed in the lounges?
Where can I find United Club lounge locations?
Here is the full list of locations taken directly from the United Airlines website as of November 2018. You can go here to view an updated list of all of the United Club Lounges and see what types of amenities are offered at these lounges.
|Airport||Operated By||Location||Hours||Amenities & Eligibility|
|Atlanta, GA, US (ATL)||United Club||Located in Terminal T, between gates 11 and 12|
|Austin, TX, US (AUS)||United Club||West Concourse, mezzanine level, across from Gate 22|
|Boston, MA, US (BOS)||United Club||Terminal B, Level 3, near Gate 24|
|Chicago, IL, US (ORD – O’Hare)||United Polaris lounge – Eligible customers are welcome||Terminal 1, C concourse, near Gate C18|
|Chicago, IL, US (ORD – O’Hare)||United Club||Terminal 1, Concourse B, near Gate B18|
|United Club||Terminal 1, Concourse B, near Gate B6|
|United Club||Terminal 1, Concourse C, near Gate C16. *Note: This location offers a selection of beer and wine|
|United Club||Terminal 2, Concourse F, across from Gate F8|
|Cleveland, OH, US (CLE)||United Club||Between Gates C14 and C16|
|Dallas/Fort Worth, TX, US (DFW)||United Club||Terminal E, between Gates E6 and E7|
|Denver, CO, US (DEN)||United Club||West – Near Gate B32|
|United Club||East – Near Gate B44|
|Fort Lauderdale, FL, US (FLL)||United Club||Temporary Location – Terminal 1, between Gates C1 and C3. *Note: Limited seating availability|
|Guam, GU, US (GUM)||United Club||Concourse level, between Gates 10 and 11|
|Hong Kong (HKG)||United Club||West Concourse-Airside, Level 7, Room 7W504 (Take escalator located just before gate 61)|
|Honolulu, HI, US (HNL)||United Club||Diamond Head Concourse, third level, above Gates G2 and G3|
|Houston, TX, US (IAH – Intercontinental)||United Club||Terminal E, between Gates E11 and E12|
|United Club||Terminal C, South Concourse, toward Gate C33|
|United Club||Terminal B, South Mezzanine, above the United Express ticket counter|
|United Club||Terminal A, across from Gate A9|
|United Club||Terminal C, near Gate C1|
|Houston, TX, US (IAH – Intercontinental)||United Polaris lounge – Eligible customers are welcome||Terminal E, between the United Club location and Gate E12|
|Las Vegas, NV, US (LAS)||United Club||Concourse D Location: between Gates 33 and 35. Use elevator to access third floor.|
|London, GB (LHR – Heathrow)||United Club||Terminal 2 opposite Gate B46|
|Los Angeles, CA, US (LAX)||United Club||Terminal 7, adjacent to gate 71A|
|Mexico City, MX (MEX)||United Club||Airside, Mezzanine Level, Terminal 1 near Gate H|
|Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN, US (MSP)||United Club||Concourse E, between Gates E6 and E8|
|New York, NY, US (LGA – LaGuardia)||United Club||Concourse C, outside corridor behind Ticket Counter|
|New York/Newark, NJ, US (EWR – Liberty)||United Club||Terminal C, upper level near Gate 74|
|United Club||Terminal A, Concourse A2|
|United Club||Pop-up location – Terminal C, near Gate C93|
|United Club||Pop-up location – Terminal C, near Gate C124|
|New York/Newark, NJ, US (EWR – Liberty)||United Polaris lounge – Eligible customers are welcome||Terminal C, following security screening between Gates C102 and C120|
|Orange County, CA, US (SNA)||United Club||Next to elevator across from Gate 9|
|Orlando, FL, US (MCO)||United Club||Concourse B, near Gate 43|
|Philadelphia, PA, US (PHL)||United Club||Second level, between Concourses C and D|
|Phoenix, AZ, US (PHX)||United Club||Terminal 2, Past Gate 7|
|Portland, OR, US (PDX)||United Club||Concourse E, across from Gate E1|
|San Antonio, TX, US (SAT)||United Club||Terminal B|
|San Diego, CA, US (SAN)||United Club||Terminal 2 West, Mezzanine Level above Sunset Cove between Gates 47 and 48|
|San Francisco, CA, US (SFO)||United Club||International terminal between gates G98 and G100|
|United Club||Terminal 3, Concourse F, Rotunda|
|United Club||Terminal 3, Boarding Area E near Gate 60|
|United Club||Terminal 3, Mezzanine Level across from Gate 71A|
|San Francisco, CA, US (SFO)||United Polaris lounge – Eligible customers are welcome||International Terminal across from the G Terminal security checkpoint|
|San Francisco, CA, US (SFO)||United Arrivals Lounge – Eligible customers are welcome||Terminal 3, baggage level|
|Seattle, WA, US (SEA)||United Club||Concourse A, across from La Pisa Cafe|
|Tokyo, JP (NRT – Narita)||United Club||Airside, Satellite 3|
|Washington, DC, US (DCA – National)||United Club||Terminal B, opposite Gate 11|
|Washington, DC, US (IAD – Dulles)||United Club||Midfield Terminal, near Gate C4|
|United Club||Midfield Terminal, Concourse C, near Gate C7|
|United Club||Midfield Terminal, Concourse D, near Gate D8|
|United Club||Midfield Terminal, Concourse C, near Gate C17|
United Club lounges hard nice places to relax and unwind before a flight or while waiting for a connecting flight. The access rules do get a little bit confusing when talking about partners and the different types of guest policies, But generally you can expect to get more lounge access when you are flying on United’s own metal.
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Daniel Gillaspia is the Founder of UponArriving.com and creator of the credit card app, WalletFlo. He is a former attorney turned full-time credit card rewards/travel expert and has earned and redeemed millions of miles to travel the globe. His content has been featured in major publications such as National Geographic, Smithsonian Magazine, Forbes, CNBC, US News, and Business Insider. Find his full bio here.