United recently said they think their United Clubs should charge more.
That’s after United raised the price of its clubs 18 months ago, raised the price of day passes a year ago (and started refusing access to holders of day passes at some lounges), and restricted paying club members to accessing lounges only when flying same day.
They no longer let members reserve conference rooms in advance. Conference rooms are relatively underutilized, they are a great amenity but clubs are crowded. Given limited space, what should an airline do?
United Club Food
Maybe this is old news but I’ve just learned United is taking away another amenity from United Clubs. A spokesperson tells me that US domestic United Clubs are no longer going to have showers, and that will become an exclusive amenity of Polaris lounges.
As we transition to a two-tier lounge program (United Clubs and United Polaris lounges), the domestic United Clubs will not include showers as a program element. The closure of the current showers will be timed with the renovations of each United Club, so a number of the Clubs will have showers for some time to come.
Oscar Munoz Introducing the Polaris Lounge Concept
Polaris lounges are United’s business class lounges which paid club members do not have access to. They feature sit down dining and as international lounges they’ll offer showers.
And as United Clubs are renovated — in some cases to become or give up space to Polaris lounges, in other cases simply for a refresh and to dedicate the space to other uses — they will lose showers.
Limited space always means tradeoffs. Sometimes it’s possible to lease more space from an airport (at quite high cost) though that’s not always possible. So they have to decide what to do with the space to best utilize it.
Showers are an amenity that while I do not use every time I visit a lounge that has them by any means, when I’m able to take a shower at the airport I really appreciate it so I see this as a fairly sad development. Even though I realize it’s going to be international premium passengers who have access to Polaris lounges that will have showers who will use them most.
United Polaris Lounge Chicago, Credit: United