New United Airlines ‘Club Lite’ Concept Being Developed In Denver With Grab-and-Go Food

United Airlines appears to be planning a new club lounge concept in Denver. Aviation watchdog JonNYC flags a new United Club concept being developed for the ‘B East’ concourse addition there, between gates B61 and B63, detailed on pages 146-147 of the airline’s contract with the City and County of Denver.

What’s striking about this lounge is that it is small at just 1582 square feet and with very limited seating – however there’s a service counter for an agent to provide booking assistance, a self-service drink area and ‘grab and go’ for packaged food. There do not appear to be restrooms. The concept design is called CLUB LITE.

Traditionally airport lounges have eschewed ‘grab and go’. In fact they’ve implemented rules around it and worked to ensure service items make it difficult. They don’t want you taking a bottle of water because everyone would, and that would be expensive.

Recently through there’s been a shift in thinking for some lounges. The Air Canada Cafe near the domestic gates in Toronto which opened in late 2019 offers grab and go. Many guests only have a moment, they go to the lounge for clean restrooms and ideally want a quick snack – not to linger.

Capital One has put this concept in action in an impressive way in their new Dallas – Fort Worth lounge. Restrooms are near the entrance to the lounge, and there’s a marketplace with gourmet items near the front too packaged for takeaway.

Passing through Houston I was actually impressed by the packaged foods in the United Club and realized these would be perfect for takeaway although historically United has frowned upon this practice.

The effort, though, perhaps most reminds me on American Airlines Service Centers that have been set up when that airline closes an Admirals Club temporarily. There’s an agent or two staffing a desk to help club members with itinerary issues, along with packaged snacks and sandwiches and a refrigerator with drinks. You can’t get free bottled water to go in an Admirals Club but you can generally get one when the club has been closed for renovation and replaced by a Service Center.

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 InsideFlyer.com, 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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Comments

  1. Denver has had labor unrest at the airport of late. Moreover, the minimum wage is $15 an hour. I imagine only offering a grab-and-go food option is a significant cost savings for United and/or its contractor.

    I also wonder if the airlines will use these grab-and-go options to basically eliminate meals on domestic flights under 3 hours. I won’t lie. The Air Canada and Capital One grab-and-go offerings look like they are of a higher quality than the meals served in first on most domestic flights outside of key markets.

  2. I like the idea. But I bet we all know at least one person or have seen losers fill up a bag in the lounge. Same people who take the blankets and pillows from the plane.

  3. Some of the AA clubs have beefed up their breakfast offerings with scrambled eggs and waffles. Based on the poor breakfast in F these days – the AA offerings are much better.

  4. No toilets in the lounge = less expenditure for cleaning the bathrooms.

    Maybe some of these smaller lounges will eventually go to just automated/self-service kiosks/gates gates so as to have even lower expenditures on staffing the lounges.

  5. I am constantly amazed by the low expectations of us passangers and the low quality service such low expectations then result in. Good luck with trying to get international class service. Ever.

  6. Pretty sure this is to minimize overcrowding in the one of two main lounges that is open while the other one is closed for renovations. Denver is a huge United hub and currently has a single operational lounge.

  7. Interesting change, but will UA again allow access to Chase One Time Passes?. Closed now and if they do not re-open a change might be in the works for our family.

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