Advertiser Disclosure

6 Things to Know About United Lounges

Aug. 16, 2019
Loyalty Programs, Travel, Travel Credit Cards, Vacations & Trip Planning
At NerdWallet, we strive to help you make financial decisions with confidence. To do this, many or all of the products featured here are from our partners. However, this doesn’t influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own.

When it comes to airport lounges, there are many options for travelers. If you’re evaluating which lounge will be the best for you, here’s what you need to know about United Airline lounges.

1. United lounges are everywhere

It’s not hard to find a United Airlines-associated lounge, especially if you’re flying first or business class internationally.

The official United Airlines lounges are called United Clubs. There are 48 United Club locations in 31 airports — 27 domestic airports as well as Tokyo, Mexico City, London and Hong Kong. In addition, United provides access to 30 partner lounges around the world.

Partner airline lounges have varying access requirements, so always confirm the requirements at any lounge you might want to access before traveling. For example, of those 30 partner lounges, five allow access to United Club members, 11 allow access for international travelers in United First and 17 allow eligible Star Alliance Gold members to enter. All partner lounges are available to anyone flying international business class or United Polaris.

» Learn more: Baffled by points and miles? Let the 80/20 rule guide you

2. Your United Club membership could be free

Nothing is truly free when it comes to air travel. However, there are a couple of ways to avoid the $650 annual fee for United Club membership. The first is to fly on an international business or first class ticket — an expensive option for complimentary lounge access.

The second is to get the United Club℠ Card. This card, with its $450 annual fee, provides United Club membership, two free checked bags, and earnings of 1.5 miles per $1 spent on all purchases (as well as 2 miles per $1 spent on United tickets).

3. You can pay for a United Club membership with miles

If you have extra miles, you can use those to purchase an annual lounge membership as well. Membership prices for the United Club increased on Aug. 13, 2019, and the standard rate is now 85,000 miles (with a small discount for higher frequent flyer tiers).

MileagePlus StatusCash Cost for Annual Club AccessMiles Cost for Annual Club Access
General Member$650 85,000
Premier Silver$65085,000
Premier Gold$65085,000
Premier Platinum$60080,000
Premier 1K$55075,000

If those options aren’t appealing, you can always get a day pass to a United Club for $59. But be aware that day pass users may not be allowed access if the lounge is too busy.

4. No matter your status, you’ll need a same-day boarding pass as of November 2019

The days of your United club membership allowing you to relax in its airport lounge, even if you were flying Delta, will soon be a thing of the past. Along with your club membership or day pass and a photo ID, you’ll need to present a same-day boarding pass to access the lounge. Starting Nov. 1, 2019, you’ll want to be sure that boarding pass is with United or one of its partners.

5. United lounges can be family- or guest-friendly

Guests under 18 are not allowed in a United Lounge unaccompanied. However, United Club members can bring two adult guests, or one adult and dependent children under 21 with them. Day pass holders can bring children under 2 for free, but no additional adults.

» Learn more: Top airline credit cards that offer companion tickets

Your furry family members are also welcome to join you in the United Club lounge. Unless restricted by local ordinances, United welcomes pets in its lounges with the same policies applicable to in-cabin pets. The primary things to remember are to keep your animals in their carrier, and ensure they’re quiet, well-behaved and clean. Make sure to bring your own bowls for your pet’s meal — United Clubs won’t let animals eat or drink from lounge-provided dishes.

6. The best lounges are even more elite

In addition to United Club lounges, United has elite Polaris lounges in Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Newark and San Francisco. These locations are available only to those traveling in Polaris business class, as well as some departures for long-haul international first or business class flights on a Star Alliance partner.

The San Francisco Polaris lounge was voted the Best Business Class Lounge in the World in the Skytrax 2019 World Airline Awards. While you’ll certainly feel relaxed in a United Club, Polaris lounges offer showers, daybeds and gourmet dining options for some extra pampering.

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 2019, including those best for:
Planning a trip? Check out these articles for more inspiration and advice:
Find the best travel credit card for you
How to sidestep the potential pitfalls of travel credit cards
Earn more points and miles with these 6 strategies

About the author