Many or all of the products featured here are from our partners who compensate us. This may influence which products we write about and where and how the product appears on a page. However, this does not influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own. Here is a list of our partners and here's how we make money.
You don’t necessarily have to be a frequent flyer or business traveler to enjoy the perks of United Airlines lounges. Even if you’re a casual flyer looking to access one of the 45-plus United lounges around the world, here are five things you should know.
1. What to expect at United lounges
Visiting a United lounge before a flight can offer a relaxing place to enjoy free Wi-Fi along with complimentary beverages and snacks. While lounges can be a fantastic escape from airport chaos, it’s a good idea to set expectations since not all airport lounges are the same.
For example, United recently renovated lounges in Denver, Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco. Your experience at these locations may differ from other airports with older lounges or temporary pop-up locations that can be crowded or have limited snack and beverage options.
Also, while United Club lounges offer complimentary beverages and cocktails, keep in mind you’ll have to pay for premium liquors and fine wines.
2. What are the airports with United lounges?
You can find one or more United lounges in 33 airports around the world, including 29 domestic airports.
3. United Club vs. United Polaris lounges
The United lounge network includes more than 45 United Club locations and five Polaris lounges.
United Club lounges
You’re eligible to visit a United Club lounge if you have a same-day boarding pass and meet one of these requirements:
Flying United Polaris business class within the U.S., transcontinental business class or international business class.
Flying business or first class on a Star Alliance partner airline.
Star Alliance Gold membership or status.
United Club member.
Holder of a United Club one-time.
Active U.S. military personnel.
Air Canada Maple Leaf Club member.
Amtrak Guest Rewards Select Plus or Select Executive member.
United Polaris lounges
Polaris lounges feature additional amenities like daybeds, shower suites and gourmet dining options. They’re located in Chicago-O’Hare, Houston Intercontinental, Los Angeles, Newark and San Francisco.
Access to Polaris lounges is more restrictive. You can visit a Polaris lounge only if you are:
Flying United Polaris business class on a long-haul international flight.
Flying international business or first class on a Star Alliance partner airline.
Even if you have top-tier United MileagePlus status, you’ll still have to meet the above requirements to visit a Polaris lounge.
4. United Club membership cost vs. one-day pass
One-time passes to United Clubs cost $59 per person and can be bought in person or through United’s mobile app. One-time pass holders can only bring children under 2 for free; you’ll have to purchase a separate one-time pass for other traveling companions.
If you’re a frequent flyer, United also offers annual memberships to its lounges that you can pay for with cash or United miles.
Cash cost for annual club access
Miles cost for annual club access
With a United Club membership, you can bring one adult and dependent children younger than 21, or up to two guests.
5. Using a United MileagePlus credit card for lounge access
Depending on your travel habits, it could be worth considering one of these United credit cards, which offer lounge access:
United℠ Explorer Card (annual fee: $0 intro for the first year, then $95): Two one-time United Club passes after account opening and each year for your cardmember anniversary.
United Club℠ Infinite Card (annual fee: $525): Primary cardholders get a United Club membership.
United Club℠ Business Card (annual fee: $450): Primary cardholders get a United Club membership.
While the United Club℠ Infinite Card and the United Club℠ Business Card have steep annual fees, they could be worth considering rather than paying $650 to purchase an annual United Club membership. In addition to the United Club membership, cardholders can also earn a welcome bonus and save on checked bag fees.
Photo courtesy of United Airlines.
How to maximize your rewards
You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2022, including those best for:
Flexibility, point transfers and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Flat-rate travel rewards: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Bonus travel rewards and high-end perks: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card
IHG® One Rewards
- Cheers to new tiers: New tiers allow members to earn points faster.
- Piling on the perks: New members benefits that enhance every stay
- Milestone Rewards: Allows members to choose their rewards.
World of Hyatt
- Earn points for things you already enjoy with Hyatt
- Use your points for free nights at more than 1,100 hotels around the world
- Three elite tiers to unlock exceptional benefits - room upgrades and more.
Alaska Mileage Plan
- Join Mileage Plan and Save $25 on your next flight
- Our members earn 30% more miles on average than other airlines
- You earn based on how far you fly, not how much you spend