New Flight Restrictions Announced For Accessing United Clubs

Starting January 1, 2019 Delta will require ‘members’ to by flying either Delta or one of its airline partners same day for access.

Effective November 1, 2019 American will require ‘members’ to be flying either American or one of its preferred airline partners (oneworld, Alaska) same day for access.

So in the least surprising move in the history of earth United announced that they, too, are going to require a same day boarding pass for travel on United, another Star Alliance airline, or “a contracted partner” in order to access their clubs.

  • United no longer needed to treat its customers better, since competitors won’t
  • As with Delta and American, United’s lounge access is really sold on a subscription basis rather than being a ‘club membership’.

Effective November 1, 2019, United Club customers, including members and their guests, and one-time pass holders will need to provide a same-day boarding pass for travel on United, Star Alliance™ or a contracted partner for entry into all United Club locations.

United was first to require paying members to be flying same day to use their lounge, although it could be on any airline. For instance all major airlines are in the same terminal at my home airport of Austin.

A United Club member could be flying American or Southwest and still access the lounge. That changes a year from now. Fly Southwest and you won’t be able to experience:

It’s reasonable they’re giving a year’s notice, annual paid members aren’t having terms changed on them. However lifetime members are having the deal changed on them.

At least United’s terms allow admittance to a club with same day arriving boarding passes, access is not limited to departure, however that’s become less useful now that United Clubs no longer have showers.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. I’m kinda surprised that the big 3 still let their employees/retirees with memberships access the club with only a standby reservation.

  2. Is this really much of a change? Most, if not all, airline clubs are beyond security and don’t you need to have boarding pass to get through security…

  3. @Gary – you hit the nail on the head “…least surprising move in the history of the earth…” I know It shouldn’t surprise me, but I still find myself dumbfounded at the dearth of innovation in this industry (i.e., they simply copy each other). Almost makes me long for the days of “..Avis, we try harder…” where a second place competitor actually raises the bar to compete, rather than lowering the bar, knowing their competitors will simply follow suit.

    I just recently used one of my Hyatt globalist UC day passes in ATL (flying SW) in the United club on the T concourse. Not a bad experience, especially when my flight was delayed two hours.

  4. Bummer! It’s been so handy to relax in United clubs, then board a Southwest flight with the Companion Pass.

  5. My membership just renewed. While I tend not to access United Clubs when flying other airlines due to inconvenience, this was a nice option to have.

  6. US lounges have declined so much in benefits and value that they are rarely significantly better than a bar at the airport. Spend your money there. Of course, lounges can be helpful with IRROPS, but that is hardly a reason to shell out $400+ a year. I gave up on United and its pittiful lounges years ago. As a free agent, my life became significantly more stressfree

  7. Currently, my husband and I both hold presidential plus cards with the hefty close to $500 a year fee, which includes the total lounge access. Does this mean my card will no longer be useful next year unless I fly UA?

  8. As an Explorer cardholder I’m able to use United’s lounge passes (when not over crowded) and fly Alaska from terminal A at EWR. In a year no more. Buh-bye United. Fun while it lasted.

  9. Why even bother to keep the clubs open? Given all those dues/membership paying club members who will now be excluded from club entry, club employees will be likely have to be laid off. Shuttering more clubs is bound to occur. United, American and Delta all racing to the bottom, doing everything imaginable to screw their customers. Bastian, Munoz and Parker would all look great in orange jumpsuits at the federal supermax prison.

  10. I am optimistic that United will eventually decide not to enforce this restriction on lifetime members. For lifetime memberships the appropriate advance notice period is one lifetime.

    The number of lifetime members is a small percentage of total membership but probably large enough for a profitable class action lawsuit, especially if combined with DL and AA.

  11. I think it’s likely a positive move
    I left years ago because of overcrowded Untied clubs but mostly bad UA management
    Who damaged United’s ff program saver availability ,their horrible policies and arogant customer service

  12. While the short sighted idea of this makes some sense in that the clubs are all overcrowded now. It’s like death by a 1,000 cuts. One day, say in about 2020, they will wake up and see that they saved money by having less members access the clubs, the club vibe will has improved and also required them to employ less staff. Then somebody will notice how customer loyalty is falling. This should be great news for Priority Pass. I can only imagine how many credit cards will be cancelled over this so that will also thrill Citi, Chase and AMEX I’m sure.

  13. Why is there no original, competitive, do better than the other airline, thinking in the airline industry? Is it the customers’ fault (chasing the lowest airfare) or the CEO’s fault (thinking copying the competition is the best move)?

  14. Got my lifetime membership to the Presidents Club in 1986 for about $800.
    Where do I join the class action lawsuit?

  15. Lifetime membership is continually devaluating…at least we can still use it with Amtrak…

  16. In 1973, I bought a lifetime membership to the Red Carpet Club for the then-magnificent sum of $250. This was a special offer to law school graduates from UA. And, it included a spouse card, which UA would not issue to my second wife after my first wife died from cancer.

    Where do we want to bring the class action?

  17. @Retired Lawyer overlooks the meaning of lifetime membership. The same T & C’s would apply to the spouse card, and as the nominated spouse is now deceased, the lifetime membership for the spouse ceases. It is not transferrable.

  18. Don’t need a boarding pass to get thru security? All my airports require gov’t issue ID & boarding pass…what am I missing here?

  19. Would love to join a class action lawsuit over United’s new restrictions on lifetime members. Were denied admission to a United Club yesterday (12-1-2019) even though we are “lifetime members”. Reason for denial was that we were flying American that day.

  20. Kind this restriction be skirted by buying a ticket same day and cancelling it same day for a refund?

  21. We purchased lifetime memberships some years ago and last year were denied access to a Club because we were traveling on another airline. We do not have our original contract so it is hard to defend our selves from this change. If anyone has a copy of their lifetime contract we would love to see it.

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