U.S. airline club memberships are about to become just purchased add-ons for when you travel with the airline and not true memberships.
Effective November 1 both United Airlines and American Airlines will follow Delta and restrict access to their clubs to members who are flying the airline or one of its designated partners the same day.
Before 9/11 you could go air side any time you wanted and spend time in the lounge. My own first lounge experience was around 1982 when I went to the airport with my grandmother to meet and pick up my grandfather. I had a ginger ale and snacked on Goldfish crackers.
For years after security checkpoints became restricted to same day travelers airlines would issue gate passes to allow members to visit their clubs.
Soon however you won’t just have to be flying to get into the club you’ve joined, you have to be giving that airline your business that day too.
Delta continues to honor access without an eligible same day ticket for lifetime club members. In other words, they will continue to deliver the access that those members paid for, since when lifetime memberships were available for purchase there was no requirement that customers be traveling the airline same day use the membership.
Last month I reported that American Airlines was still considering whether to allow lifetime club members to keep accessing Admirals Clubs when not flying American or its partners same day.
According to spokesperson Leslie Scott, they’ve made the decision to honor access for lifetime members. She tells me, “We are making an exception for lifetime members, we will not require them to have a same-day ticket on American or partner airline in order to access the Admirals Club.”
American Airlines Admirals Club DFW Concourse A
Good for American! That leaves United – which has a history of reneging on lifetime promises – as the only airline refusing to continue to grant lifetime club members access to its clubs without a same day United Airlines or eligible partner boarding pass.