How to Get Access to United Club Airport Lounges

Free Access to United Club Airport Lounges


United Club airport lounge access questions are ones I get frequently from my Award Booking Service clients and readers. Here are the top ways to gain access, along with a FAQ for the questions I most frequently get asked.

1. Book an International Business Class or First Class Award Ticket or Revenue Ticket

One of the best ways to gain access to the United Club (and better, international first class and business class airport lounges) is by flying on an international United first class or business class award ticket. Note that you will need to produce your international United first class or business class boarding pass, since domestic United business or first class (except for United's p.s. service) does NOT get you into the United Club.


2. Book a United P.S. (Premium Service) Flight Between LAX or SFO and JFK

As just noted above, United's Premium Service between JFK and LAX and between JFK and SFO also gets you into the United Club. If flying on an award ticket, the cheapest award chart is not United's, however–Lufthansa Miles & More charges just 17K miles each way (35K roundtrip) for United BusinessFirst within the U.S., excluding Hawaii (see Best Ways to Use the Lufthansa Miles & More Award Chart), and Singapore KrisFlyer charges just 40K roundtrip for United BusinessFirst within North America, so both are cheaper than the 25K each way or 50K roundtrip using United miles.

Free Access to United Club with a United Premium Service Flight

3. Use one of Your Two Complimentary Passes from the United MileagePlus Explorer Card

The United MileagePlus Explorer can come with up to a 65,000 mile signup bonus, see United MileagePlus Explorer 65,000 Bonus Miles Offer Tips (which is more accurately a 55,000 mile signup bonus, unless you're willing to spend $25,000 on the card for the final 10,000 bonus miles). 

But in addition to the bonus, you receive two United Club day passes per year, good for one year. These can come in very handy if you don't otherwise have access to the United Club. Note that a child does require his/her own pass.


4. Buy a Day Pass for the United Club

You can pay $50 per person to access the United Club. If you buy a paid annual membership within 30 days of buying the pass, United will credit the $50 to your initiation fee of $50, but you'd be better off simply getting the United MileagePlus Club Card (see below).

Some folks buy discounted United Club and other airport lounge day passes on eBay, and this could be very economical if it works out. That said, it's always buyer beware; if the buyer doesn't provide them or the pass isn't valid you may be out the money paid, and still not have a United Club pass.


5. Have Star Alliance Gold Status (Not from United or US Airways)

Ironically, if you're Premier Gold with United (giving you Star Alliance Gold) or the equivalent with US Airways you *don't* get access to the United Club. But if you earn Star Alliance Gold via an international Star Alliance partner airline, you do get access to United Club lounges, even on purely domestic itineraries. The favorite airlines to quickly earn Star Alliance Gold with are Aegean and Turkish. Also see Lifetime Star Alliance Gold with Aegean: Worth It? 


6. Be a Guest of Someone Who Has United Club Access 

If you frequent FlyerTalk, you probably know about this United Club FlyerTalk Wiki where you can post which United Club you'll be at and guest someone in to, or post that you're looking to be someone's guest.


7. Hold the United MileagePlus Club Card

The United MileagePlus Club Card gives you United Club membership, so if you would otherwise pay for this membership it may be worth getting.

Unfortunately the United MileagePlus Club Card doesn't have a signup bonus and carries a hefty $395 annual fee that is normally *not* waived the first year–the current public offer just provides a $100 statement credit.  but check with your local Chase branch to see if there are any better deals. There have been times in the past when it was possible to sign up with a waived first year annual fee, see United Club Card Annual Fee Waived: Worth It?

 

FAQ

Do I Have United Club Access if My Departing Domestic Flight is in Coach, But I'm Connecting to a United International Business Class or First Class Flight?

Yes, if you hold a United boarding pass for international United BusinessFirst or United Global First for travel later that day, you are able to access the United Club prior to a domestic United flight, even if in coach.

 

Do I Have United Club Access for United BusinessFirst Flights to Hawaii?

If you don't have a United Club Membership or pass and are simply trying to gain access based on a United BusinessFirst ticket, per United's terms, no: “Travel within the U.S. (including Hawaii) in United First or United Business is not eligible.” A few years back I did have access to the Continental Presidents Club Lounge in Newark when flying BusinessFirst EWR-HNL, but that was in the pre-merger days. I've also heard of at least one FlyerTalker getting into the United Club in HNL based on a United BusinessFirst ticket, but s/he appears to have been lucky, as this counter to official United policy.

 

Do I Have United Club Access as an Arriving Passenger with no Further Onward Travel?

No, United Club access is for departing passengers. If you are simply connecting, with a further onward flight, and flew United BusinessFirst or United Global First that same day, you should receive access. But make sure you keep your international United BusinessFirst or United Global First boarding pass, since you do *not* have access for purely domestic travel unless you otherwise have United Club membership or are Star Alliance Gold via a non-U.S. Star Alliance frequent flyer program.

There is a United Arrivals lounge at SFO (invitation required).

 

Which United Clubs Offer Shower Facilities?

  • Chicago (ORD), Terminal 1, Concourse C, near Gate C16
  • Hong Kong (HKG), West Concourse-Airside, Level 7, Room 7W504
  • Houston (IAH), Terminal C, South Concourse, toward Gate C33 and Terminal E, between Gates E11 and E12
  • Melbourne (MEL), Airside, Level 1
  • NYC Newark (EWR), Terminal C, toward Gate C120
  • Sao Paulo (GRU), Airside, Terminal 1, Wing A, upper level
  • Tokyo (NRT), Airside, Satellite 3

What's your preferred way to gain access to the United Club and other airport lounges?

Related Posts

United Upgrade Award and Waitlist Tips

Best Credit Cards for Free Airport Lounge Access

United BusinessFirst Review and United Club in LAX

Lifetime Star Alliance Gold with Aegean: Worth It? 

Comparing Oneworld and Star Alliance Lounge Access Benefits

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2 Comments on "How to Get Access to United Club Airport Lounges"

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Nancy Hake
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Do I have United Club Access in Chicago on my first class flight that stops in Chicago on the way to Quebec City, Canada?