7 Things to Know About United Club Lounge Access

There are many ways to access more than 45 United Clubs, from carrying a United credit card to having elite status.
Elina Geller
Keith M. Rosso
By Keith M. Rosso and  Elina Geller 
Updated
Edited by Meghan Coyle

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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’s how to get in and other things you should know about these airport lounges.

1. What is a United Club?

United Airlines has its own airport lounges called United Clubs. These lounges provide a quiet space in the airport to relax, work, dine or drink. There are currently more than 45 United Club locations, six United Polaris lounges and other partner lounges that travelers with access can enjoy.

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2. What is United Club Fly?

United Club Fly is a scaled-down version of a typical United Club lounge. It offers grab-and-go food for those who don’t have time to enjoy the lounge. This is a new concept and a great option for those who just want to grab some drinks and snacks to take with them on their flight. United opened its first Club Fly lounge in Denver.

3. How to get into a United Club

There are several ways to get United Club access, from purchasing a membership to being an active U.S. military member.

Fly business or first class on a United or Star Alliance flight

If you’re flying United Polaris or business class on international flights, United business class on transcontinental flights, or business class on a Star Alliance airline, you can access United Club lounges at the departure airport. You cannot bring a guest.

Guest policy:

You cannot bring a guest. If you’re flying first class with a Star Alliance carrier, you can bring one guest with you when visiting a United Club location. There is no guest access for United Club Fly locations.

Earn United Gold status

If you fly a lot with United and earn United Premier Gold elite status (or higher), you will get access to United Club lounges (at the departure airport) when flying internationally on United or a Star Alliance airline. You must present a Star Alliance Gold membership card or a same-day boarding pass that shows an airline status equivalent to Star Alliance Gold. Unfortunately, United Silver elites do not get lounge access.

Guest policy:

You can bring one guest as long as the guest is traveling on the same flight as you. However, guests are not allowed into United Club Fly locations.

Have Star Alliance Gold status

Those who have Star Alliance Gold status, can access United Clubs when traveling on an international flight on either United or any Star Alliance member airline. Lounge access is available at the point of departure or during a connection. To get Star Alliance Gold elite status, you will need to attain the corresponding elite status level with a Star Alliance member airline.

Guest policy:

You can bring one guest as long as the guest is traveling on the same flight as you. However, guests are not allowed into United Club Fly locations.

Purchase a United Club day pass

One-time passes to United Clubs cost $59 per person and can be bought in person or through United’s mobile app. You will need a boarding pass for same-day travel on a Star Alliance, United or partner flight.

Guest policy:

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. You are not permitted to bring any guests with you to a United Club Fly location.

Buy an annual United Club membership

If you’re a frequent flyer, United also offers annual memberships to its lounges that you can pay for with cash or United miles.

MileagePlus status

Cash cost for annual club access

Miles cost for annual club access

General member

$650.

85,000.

Premier Silver

$650.

85,000.

Premier Gold

$650.

85,000.

Premier Platinum

$600.

80,000.

Premier 1K

$550.

75,000.

Guest policy:

With a United Club membership, you can bring one adult and dependent children younger than 21, or up to two guests. However, if you’re considering purchasing a membership, note that there is a cheaper way to get access. Guests are not allowed into United Club Fly locations.

Get a United credit card that provides lounge access (U.S. residents)

You can also get into a United Club if you have certain United credit cards. Some cards offer guest passes, while others provide a United Club membership. Depending on your travel habits, it could be worth considering one of these credit cards:

Cards with United Club access
Chase United Airlines Mileage Plus Credit Card
United℠ Explorer Card
NerdWallet Rating
Apply now

on Chase's website

Chase United MileagePlus(R) Club Card Credit Card
United Club℠ Infinite Card
NerdWallet Rating
Apply now

on Chase's website

Chase United Mileage Plus Explorer Business Credit Card
United℠ Business Card
NerdWallet Rating
Apply now

on Chase's website

United Club℠ Business Card
United Club℠ Business Card
NerdWallet Rating
Details

Annual fee: $0 intro for the first year, then $95):

Lounge access: Two one-time United Club passes after account opening and each year for your cardmember anniversary.

Annual fee: $525.

Lounge access: Primary cardholders get a United Club membership.

Annual fee: $0 intro for the first year, then $99.

Lounge access: Two one-time United Club passes after account opening and each year for your cardmember anniversary.

Annual fee: $450.

Lounge access: Primary cardholders get a United Club membership.

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While the United Club℠ Infinite Card and the United Club℠ Business Card have steep annual fees, they could be an option for those who were planning on purchasing a United Club membership, which costs $650. In addition to the United Club membership, cardholders can also earn a welcome bonus, save on checked bag fees and get other perks.

Guest policy:

Since you’re receiving a United Club membership through the United Club℠ Business Card or the United Club℠ Infinite Card, the same guest policy applies as those who purchase a membership. Holders of the United℠ Explorer Card or the United℠ Business Cardcannot bring a guest because only two one-time passes are provided with the cards.

Get a United credit card (residents of U.S. territories and outside the U.S.)

The following United credit cards also offer United Club access, but the cards are only available to residents of these locations:

  • United® Credit Card: Two one-time United Club passes are provided per year. Card is available for Guam and CNMI residents only.

  • United Bank Leumi Visa Card: Two one-time United Club passes are provided per year starting with the second year. Card is available for residents of Israel only.

  • Dah Sing United MileagePlus World Mastercard: One United Club pass when you spend HKD 40,000 (about $5,122 at the time of writing) in the previous quarter. Card is only available to residents of Hong Kong. 

  • MileagePlus Saison Platinum Card: Two one-time United Club passes are provided per year. Card is only available to residents of Japan.

If you live abroad, check United Airlines’ list of international credit card partners for a credit card offer that may apply to you.

Other ways to access United Club lounges

Active members of the U.S. military

If you’re wondering how to get United lounge access as an active duty military member, you can visit United Club locations if you are flying on United or United Express and have a boarding pass for travel within 24 hours. You will have to show your valid military ID, be dressed in uniform, and show your leave orders or your rest and recuperation papers. It's best to check United’s website for more information for current requirements.

Guest policy: Family members with gate passes or are traveling on the same flight as the military member can access the lounge.

Air Canada Maple Leaf Club members

Depending on the type of membership to Air Canada’s Maple Leaf Club you have, you might also get United Club privileges. Those who have a Maple Leaf Club Worldwide membership and a boarding pass for a Star Alliance-operated flight can access a United Club. If you have a Maple Leaf Club North American membership, you can only access United Clubs located in the U.S.

Guest policy: Those who have a Maple Leaf Club Worldwide membership can access all United Clubs at the departure airport and can bring one guest. However, Maple Leaf Club North America members can only visit United Clubs in the U.S. and have no guest privileges. United has not disclosed a Club Fly guest policy for Maple Leaf members, but it’s unlikely guests are allowed.

Virgin Australia Velocity elite members

If you have elite status with Virgin Australia, you can also visit United Club locations when flying on United or Virgin Australia. You need to have Gold, Platinum or VIP status with Virgin Australia to take advantage of this perk. If traveling on United, one guest is allowed with you into the lounge.

Guest policy: If traveling on United, one guest is allowed with you into the lounge. Guests are not permitted into United Club Fly locations.

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4. What to expect at a United Club lounge

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 renovated 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. For example, a United Club Fly offers grab-and-go snacks for travelers looking for a quick pit stop, rather than a place to hang out and relax.

Also, while United Club lounges offer complimentary beverages and cocktails, note that you’ll have to pay for premium liquors and fine wines.

5. United Club locations

United Club lounges are located in 33 airports around the world, including 29 domestic airports.

  • Atlanta.

  • Austin.

  • Boston.

  • Chicago-O’Hare.

  • Cleveland.

  • Dallas-Fort Worth.

  • Denver.

  • Fort Lauderdale.

  • Guam.

  • Honolulu.

  • Houston-Intercontinental.

  • Las Vegas.

  • Los Angeles.

  • Minneapolis/St. Paul.

  • New Orleans.

  • Newark.

  • New York-LaGuardia.

  • Orange County.

  • Orlando.

  • Philadelphia.

  • Phoenix.

  • Portland.

  • Raleigh/Durham.

  • San Antonio.

  • San Diego.

  • San Francisco.

  • Seattle.

  • Washington-Dulles.

  • Washington-National.

  • Hong Kong.

  • London.

  • Mexico City.

  • Tokyo.

6. United Club vs. United Polaris lounges

The United lounge network includes more than 45 United Club locations and six Polaris lounges.

United Club lounge

United Clubs offer complimentary bar service, drinks and snacks along with free Wi-Fi and spaces to get work done.

United Polaris lounge

United Polaris lounges feature additional amenities like daybeds, shower suites and gourmet dining options. These lounges are located in Chicago-O’Hare, Houston Intercontinental, Los Angeles, Newark, San Francisco and Washington-Dulles.

Unlike all the different ways to access United Club lounges, United Polaris access 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.

A guest is only permitted when flying long-haul international first class on a Star Alliance carrier. Even if you have top-tier United MileagePlus status, you’ll still have to meet the above requirements to visit a Polaris lounge.

Arrivals lounge at London-Heathrow

United’s only arrivals lounge is at London’s Heathrow airport and access is limited. Only United Polaris business class passengers who arrive before noon on a same-day ticket can use the lounge. There is no guest access for day pass holders or United Club membership holders.

7. Does Priority Pass work for United Clubs?

United's lounges are not part of the Priority Pass network, so Priority Pass holders cannot access United Clubs. If you’re deciding between a Priority Pass membership or a United Club membership, you’ll need to look at your travel patterns and the cost of each membership.

If you are a United Club member, you have access to more than 45 lounges, including Copa Clubs and Star Alliance lounges. Priority Pass, on the other hand, has more than 1,300 lounges worldwide.

It also makes sense to compare the cost of each membership. An annual United Club membership costs $650 (unless you’re Premier Platinum elite or higher). Or you can get the United Club℠ Business Card (annual fee: $450) or the United Club℠ Infinite Card (annual fee: $525), both of which offer a complimentary membership to United Clubs.

Priority Pass offers several membership options. The Standard Plus membership is $299 and includes 10 free visits, then $32 per visit, or the Prestige membership, which costs $429 and offers unlimited visits. Many travel cards like the Chase Sapphire Reserve® (annual fee: $550) and The Platinum Card® from American Express (annual fee: $695) include a complimentary Priority Pass membership. Enrollment required. Terms apply.

The cost of lounge visits beyond free allowances provided via Priority Pass credit card benefits is $35 per person, per visit.

Overall, Priority Pass offers many more options, and a membership is cheaper. However, if you mostly fly United and there aren’t any Priority Pass lounges in your airport terminals, a United Club membership may be something to consider.

Final thoughts on United Lounge access

If you’re a frequent flyer on United Airlines, getting a United Club membership can make sense, especially since United Clubs do not accept Priority Pass. If you have good credit and are below Chase’s 5/24 rule, applying for one of United’s credit cards that offers lounge access is a cheaper alternative to buying a membership outright.

There are also other ways to get into a United Club lounge, ranging from flying on a United Polaris business class ticket to having United Gold or Star Alliance Gold status.

(Photo courtesy of United Airlines)

The information related to United Club℠ Business Card ($450 annual fee) has been collected by NerdWallet and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer or provider of this product or service.


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