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.
(It isn't just a small UA club, it's a totally new concept with a focus on grab and go items.)
— ˜”*° JonNYC °*”˜ (@xJonNYC) December 6, 2021
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.