Would You Have Spoken Up? Biting My Tounge in the Chicago Red Carpet Club

I find that it is generally a good idea to mind my own business. Sometimes, however, it is quite difficult. 

Yesterday I entered the United Red Carpet Club in Terminal C at Chicago O’Hare where a Lufthansa Senator flying on a domestic ticket was trying to gain access to the club. The agent flatly denied him, stating, "We can’t allow that unless you’re traveling internationally. If we did, we’d have way too many people in this lounge."

The man looked confused and said he held Star Alliance Gold status with Lufthansa and had never had trouble accessing the lounge before. The lounge matron shrugged and said he must be mistaken. Shaking his head, the man left the club.

While the man should have held his ground, I feel guilty for not piping up in his defense. He was entitled access to the lounge and I think it is inexcusable that United Red Carpet Club agents are not even familiar with general access rules. Sadly, unless you come prepared with evidence or prepared to fight, you may find yourself turned away from a lounge that you are entitled to use.

Stand up for yourself and don’t flinch if something similar ever happens to you. And consider speaking up if you see it happening to someone else—I plan to if and when this happens again.


Carl March 26, 2011 at 09:34 pm

I think you should have spoken up for him. It's better for us as UA passengers to have LH's Senators to have a good experience on UA, both to have their financial support and so we are reciprocally treated properly.

John March 26, 2011 at 10:11 pm

It might be good to have a RCC wifi access card handy (from previous RCC visit) to access the *A rules on line at RCC.

Jim March 26, 2011 at 10:45 pm

I had the experience of waiting to get into the Admiral's Club at DFW terminal D (the international terminal at DFW) where US military in uniform are supposed to be allowed into the club. The ID checker was denying access to two soldiers in camo, claiming there were already too many soldiers in the club and it might interfere with the experience of the regular members. The person ahead of me in line offered to take one in as a guest, and asked me if I would take the other. Of course, I did. My wife had to stay behind. (Well, no, not really.) The agent was embarrassed, but I'm sure this wasn't her idea.

The AC at DFW/terminal D is huge and can absorb maybe a battalion of soldiers with no impact on the regular members. I've not encountered this situation again. Kudos to the guy in front of me. Kudos to AA for their generally excellent support of service personnel. As a Vietnam Era veteran, I truly appreciate what they do for the active duty personnel nowadays.

Kevin March 27, 2011 at 01:03 am

Hmmm... I think you should have stood up for the poor guy! Bummer for him.........

I would have spoken up, "We can’t allow that unless you’re traveling internationally" is the wrong policy and it's a training opportunity for the agent.

If allowing the LH SEN in would mean "way too many people in this lounge" I do recall a provision allow Star Golds to be denied lounge access where lounge capacity was a problem however I can no longer find this on the Star Alliance lounge access policy page:


Lyndon March 27, 2011 at 11:57 am

On another note, I think I saw you Matt at the RCC last night. I wasn't sure, but were you wearing a suit and red tie? Was running to catch my flight to LGA but could've sworn that was you.

Marcus March 27, 2011 at 06:38 pm

I likely would not have spoken up only because I'm never confident I actually know the rules. The games changes so much with the airlines that I wouldn't want to "speak up" only to realize I was, indeed, wrong.

This coming from someone who always double checks simple things like "can I access the RCC on my international return once I get back in the U.S." ;).

@Lyndon: Yup. That was me--and Mike was onboard your LGA flight. You should have said hello!

Yes, I would have helped - and have helped in the past.

Some of those dragons sometimes need to be retrained in the Star Alliance Employees Guide (a copy of which is always on my phone) and "reminded" of their policies to force a "One Time Exception"

And sometimes those Dragons on C Concourse are in a world of their own. Let me put it like this: I've never been refused access to that vision of a wood....

Gene March 28, 2011 at 10:41 am

I am not sure if I would have said anything to the agent (depends on my mood), but I would have definitely invited the man to be my guest in the lounge.

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