Several United Airlines customers have noticed that the airline seems to be tracking their lounge usage more closely than in the past — specifically noting when a customer has used more than one of their lounges at an airport in the same day,
[The club agent] made a “tsk tsk” joke about being a “lounge hopper” (it was friendly and in good taste, not rude). I explained I was meeting a coworker and went to the wrong club, and she let me in without incident. I asked if it shows that in the system now, and the agent said it was brand new. She didn’t have any details what they were supposed to do with the info, or if there’s going to be any kind of “enforcement.”
There’s been lots of speculation online that United might want to limit customers from going from lounge to lounge or “lounge hopping.” Although it frequently makes sense that you might visit one lounge and decide to move to a different one in airports like Houston, Denver, Newark, Washington Dulles, or Chicago O’hare that have more than one. For instance:
- One lounge is super crowded, could be worth trying to find a seat somewhere else
- You’re meeting up with another passenger who lets you know they’re in another lounge
- Your gate changes, or your flight cancels and you get rebooked onto another flight leaving from a gate closer to a different lounge.
Or, simply, “I’m a United Club member and want to try the soups and cheese cubes somewhere else.”
Airlines pay when their own customers use a partner lounge that they’re entitled to. But why on earth would United mind if a club member (or customer whose ticket gives them access) moves from one club to a different one instead of staying in the lounge they’re already in?
It turns out that… they don’t.
I reached out to United to ask why they were specifically tracking customers who visit more than one lounge at a given airport in a single day, and they explained it’s for their internal accounting needs.
United partners with Sodexho in their lounges and pays compensation based on the number of passengers using the lounges. When a single passenger visits two different lounges United explained that they are able to count that as a single visit. They want to know not just the total number of lounge visits but the total number of unique individuals visiting their lounges at an airport in a given day.
While agents welcoming customers into the lounge don’t appear to need this information, it apparently hasn’t been hidden from them and so they’re apt occasionally to share it. But there’s no new policy changes afoot.