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5 Reasons to Purchase a United Club One-Time Pass

United Airlines offers one-time passes to its United Club for $50, available online or at the club check-in counter ($45 if purchased on the United mobile app). Is it worth it?

the-airport-lounge-of-the-future-3

With clubs in 38 airports around the world (and multiple clubs in several hub airports) there is a good chance you will come across one of these lounges in your travel with United. If you have more than a couple hours on your hands, even the United lounges become a very attractive alternative to sitting in the gate area or at an overpriced concourse eatery.

I personally like United Clubs and submit that it is shortsighted to dismiss them as lacking in value, as many seem to do. Here's where I place the highest value--

1. Help During Irr/Ops

When something goes wrong, I will generally pick up the phone first, but airport agents are often empowered to do more (like switch you to another airline if the situation warrants) and the single greatest thing about United Club access is the availability of agents to help with your same-day travel needs. It sure beats waiting in a line 100 people deep outside the club, which is not out of the ordinary at a hub when the weather is poor.

2. Internet + Power

Thankfully, more major airports are offering free wi-fi, but many still do not and since United abandoned T-Mobile I have found the internet in United Clubs to be consistently fast and reliable. That keeps me productive and power-ports allow me to re-charge after a long flight with no in-seat power.

3. Snacks + Drinks

I generally do not have to rush between flights, but I do try to squeeze in as much work between flight as possible considering most of work is internet-based and United still does not have wi-fi on the majority of its fleet. That means I do not want to take 20 minutes out of my 80 minute layover to wait in line for food. Instead, I set up shop in my favorite nook and cranny of each club (yes, I have my own "cubby" at SFO, LAX, DEN, IAH, EWR, and IAD) then grab some snacks to tide my hunger to the next flight.

United Clubs offer a pretty decent breakfast spread--bagels, pastries, cereal, yogurt, and whole fruit. When I have early morning flights--like I will tomorrow--it is nice to eat a little something while I am working.

Beer, wine, and certain lower-shelf liquor is also free, with better alcohol available for purchase. United trialed a food for purchase program in many of its lounges, but scrapped it.

4. Bathrooms + Showers

It is always nice to have a clean bathroom available without having to wait for a stall and that has always been the case for me in United Clubs. Plus, showers facilities are available at several clubs, allowing for a shower and shave before a meeting or after a redeye flight. 

>> Read More: Showers at Newark United Club

5. Quiet

You do get children in the club sometimes, but generally they are the well-behaved ones. I have always found United Clubs to be tranquil and a few of them (Chicago C, LAX 7, and SFO domestic) have quiet rooms.

*     *     *

Coming from Europe last week, I again marvelled at what a tremendous job Lufthansa does with its Senator and Business lounges and wished for something similar here in the States. But America is not Europe, the lounge concept is different, and if we evaluate the benefits of lounge access versus not having it, I simply cannot imagine forgoing lounges--it has become an ingrained part of my travel routine.

United Club one-time passes are up to $50--they were $39 for awhile if purchased online--but that is still a reasonable exchange if you have some time to actually use the lounge. You can save $5 by purchasing the pass on United's mobile application. 

Finally, keep in mind that you can apply the $50 one-time pass fee toward the purchase of an annual membership should you decide within 30 days of your visit that you wish to join the club.

The beauty of one-time passes is that you do not have to buy them advance. Say you run into an unexpectedly long layover or a flight cancellation. Use the United mobile app, united.com, or just step into a club to obtain a day pass and avoid a headache. Once you do it, you will never look back.

Here's another picture of the recently remodeled United Club in Chicago:

the-airport-lounge-of-the-future-5

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Comments

#1
Phil M May 16, 2013 at 08:26 am

I believe the day passes are still $45 from the United mobile app.

#2
Derek May 16, 2013 at 08:42 am

Anybody have any experience in buying them on ebay ?

#3
AceK May 17, 2013 at 02:29 am

So not worth it. Only three UCs in the entire country have showers - IAH, ORD, and EWR. Many are run down and crowded. Internet is often hopessly slow (last time I was in SFO it was basically nonfunctional). Snacks are limited and generally unappealing (packaged cheese and crackers, etc.). I'll take access for free when I'm on ps or an international itinerary, but would never pay for it.

@AceK: I really disagree, though if your only concern is the showers then you are right. I'm surprised you mention internet at SFO. I was just there last week, fly through quite often, and have not had a problem with internet speeds since the lounge changed from T-Mobile to "UnitedClub" with no password.

For all the combined benefits, I maintain that day passes are worthwhile in many circumstances.

#5
IflyfromABE May 17, 2013 at 06:02 pm

I regularly purchase the chase card one visit coupons on ebay at $12-15 a piece as irrops insurance. $50 I would not give :)

#6
Fred May 23, 2013 at 04:05 pm

I have a quick question can someone else can use my two passes you get for using united explorer credit card from chase? can you give it to someone else??

@Fred: Yes, they are transferable and your name is not on them.

#8
mabs June 11, 2013 at 11:44 pm

Do i have to be flying on an united flight? Or star alliance is fine? Becuz i got a few from a frd.

@mabs: No, you don't have to be flying on United or Star Alliance--they shouldn't even check your Boarding Pass if you just present the pass.

#10
Val July 13, 2013 at 01:02 pm

Do I need a United Boarding pass to use the lounge? I have a one day pass, but am traveling on another airline.

@Val: No United boarding pass necessary.

#12
Kara July 30, 2013 at 08:11 pm

My husband and I both have one-time passes but will be traveling with our 7 & 9 year old children. Will they need a pass as well?

@Kara--they will need passes as well. Some clients have told me that UA will refuse entrance when using the pass because of the so-called (and rarely enforced) age restriction. Just put your foot down if they give you a problem.

#14
Harry August 4, 2013 at 12:05 am

Our family will be travelling via Europe, and we have a few free United club one-time passes owing to our credit cards. Can we use them at the Swiss business lounge at Zurich airport ? It does say that they accept United club paid members.

Hi Harry, the passes are not good at the Swiss lounge in Zurich. Though the club accepts paid United members, the one-time passes are valid only at physical United Club location. Outside the USA, that includes only Sao Paulo, Buenos Aires, Hong Kong, and Tokyo.

#16
Anne Strauss August 23, 2013 at 07:43 pm

I booked thru United and they booked my return with US Air. Will a 1 day United pass work in the US Air Club in Charlotte? Thanks Anne

Hi Anne, Unfortuantely the club pass will not work in Charlotte--it may only be used in United Clubs--

http://www.united.com/web/en-us/content/travel/airport/lounge/locations/default.aspx

#18
Robert August 29, 2013 at 03:13 am

will the passes work at the Copa Club lounge in Panama City?

http://www.united.com/web/en-us/content/travel/airport/lounge/locations/default.aspx

@Robert, Likely not, but it would not hurt to try to use them in Panama City.

#20
Brittany Brown October 17, 2013 at 12:30 pm

Hi there, I have two one-time United Club passes that expire on Nov. 30th this year and I will not be able to use them. Send me an email if you are interested, and I will mail them to you for free. :)

#21
Christine Longe October 24, 2013 at 01:53 pm

Brittany - I am interested in your passes if you still have them!! Please let me know :)

#22
Joel Terhune December 1, 2013 at 04:10 pm

Can I buy two passes at two separate occasions? Or is it just a one time thing.

#23
Joel Terhune December 1, 2013 at 04:18 pm

Can a 17 year old enter by himself? I have a 9 hour layover in SFO

@Joel: How old do you look? The rule is 18, but they don't card you if you just present your boarding pass and card (unless you look real young, I would imagine).

You can buy passes for separate occasions. I recommend you check out eBay for passes, especially if you have 9hrs to spare. They are going for as little as $10.

#25
tzviki February 27, 2014 at 11:25 am

I am flying through MSP with southwest, the united club lounge is in a different terminal, can I use the one time pass to get in??

@tzviki: Yes, if the TSA will let you past.

#27
Brad February 27, 2014 at 09:51 pm

@tzviki- You have to take the train to the Lindbergh terminal, then clear security to get to the United CLub, then reverse the process for your onward Southwest flight. Unless you have a really long layover, it is likely not worthwhile. As Matthew said, that is if TSA would let you through without a ticket for that terminal, only to visit the club.

#28
Sam March 9, 2014 at 02:00 pm

Hi there. I just want to mention that you can use the UA Club Passes at the Copa Clubs located in Guatemala City, Panama City and Santo Domingo in Republica Dominicana since they are partnered with UA Clubs.

#29
Kristen March 19, 2014 at 04:44 pm

@ Kara and Matthew we tried to use our 2 one time passes in Newark airport while traveling with our 8 yr old twins and they denied them access. Putting our foot down did nothing. In fact, I called United the night before and we were told the children could accompany us, and then were flat out denied at Newark airport. I don't know why they would issue passes to parents and not allow them to bring children. To us, the one time passes are useless.

#30
Betty March 30, 2014 at 12:43 am

What is the documents I need to show al checking in the airport with a united club pass that I got from ebay

#31
richard March 30, 2014 at 10:07 am

what is the age restriction? I am flying with 4 kids and my wife. are they allowed in the lounge?

#32
Joseph April 7, 2014 at 05:57 pm

How firm are they on the expiration date? They are bar coded on the back, so I assume the date is non negotiable, but I wonder, if someone shows up with passes that just expired a few days before, would the United Club let them in?

With some companies, I'd assume some goodwill, but at United everyone seems to be just a cog in the wheel these days.

#33
Milburn Drysdale April 10, 2014 at 04:32 pm

Some of the questions here are unreal. 'Can I use it at the US Air Club?' And people, did you ever think to keep the whole 'buying them from other sources' thing on the QT? To keep the prices down? Shaking my head

#34
Jared April 22, 2014 at 07:15 pm

Can I use my one day pass at the star alliance lounge at LAX the international terminal does not have a United Club Lounge. I will be flying on Thai Airways. On the star alliance lounge site it says that paid club memberships such as United's are eligible.

http://www.staralliance.com/en/benefits/status-benefits/lounges/star-alliance-lounge-los-angeles/

@Jared: the pass is not available for use at the LAX Star Alliance lounge. However, as you note a paid UC membership would allow access.

#36
AGA May 28, 2014 at 09:59 pm

Can I use my United Pass in star alliance lounge like Asiana in Incheon, South Korea?

@AGA: No, only United and COPA lounges.

#38
John June 1, 2014 at 10:43 am

Hi, What are the food and beverages that are available for free in the EWR United club if I enter using a one time pass? What are other benefits apart from shower, power/internet and help with change in reservations that are mentioned above in the thread?

@John: In the mornings there are bagels, cold cereal, yogurt, and donuts. From late morning onwards there are crackers and cheese, celery and carrots, cookies, and snack mix. There is also a full-service bar.

#40
Rob June 23, 2014 at 07:37 pm

Matthew, quick question - do you know if there are in and out privileges at the EWR United Club location? We have a 10hr layover and while snacks might cut it for a bit, we'll be needing some real nosh by midday.

Thanks mate!

#41
Courtney June 25, 2014 at 02:04 pm

I also have a one time pass courtesy of my United Credit Card. It appears that they have a United Lounge at Heathrow Airport in London. Will my one time pass work there?

@Rob: There are in/out privs and you just have to let the lounge matrons know on your way out that you will be back. It should be in the system as well if they scan your BP, but I don't have a lot of confidence in SHARES.

@Courtney: Yes indeed, and that is a great use of the lounge pass as the London Heathrow United Club is UA's best in the world.

#43
TGR July 25, 2014 at 04:14 pm

We are traveling United from Newark next week, 4 adults and 4 kids. Kids ages are 15, 10, 6 and 2. I have 6 of one time passes from our business partners. Do you think they will get us in?

@TGR: Unfortunately, no. I think you'll get six in only. But it never hurts to try.

Note, it is not worth paying the rate at the door. Check eBay for two more as a back-up.

#45
Jean August 24, 2014 at 03:53 am

Flying into Osaka on Asiana Airline -- can we used our Chase One-time United Club pass in the Osaka, Japan (KIX) Asuka Lounge in partnership with United?

@Jean: Unfortunately, the pass will not be valid in Osaka. Only at United Airlines' own "United Clubs" or at COPA Clubs in Central America.

#47
Sandi Yukman August 25, 2014 at 05:57 pm

Can we use our United Club one-time pass at the Star Alliance Club in the Lima airport? Also, if so, is it open 24 hours?

@Sandi: While the lounge is 24-hours in Lima, the United Club one-time-pass is not accepted.

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