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The hidden United Club access benefits for Star Alliance lounges

by on Tue August 25, 2015 • 10 Comments
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United Club access doesn’t come cheap, at $450 a year for a new United Club credit card, or over $500 if you get membership on its own.

And it includes access to all United Clubs for you and 2 guests, or your spouse and children.

The United website makes that clear.

But it doesn’t make clear you can access any Star Alliance airline Business Class lounge by presenting your United Club membership card and a boarding pass for a Star Alliance operated flight departing that airport.

There are hundreds of Star Alliance airline Business Class lounges.

Yet the United website makes it look like there are only 5 of them.

staralliancelounges

That’s becasue the site is only listing lounges branded as ‘Star Alliance’ with no airline affiliation.

And that hides the fact there are hundreds of lounges operated by individual Star Alliance airlines.

The only way that’s clear is if you leave the United website and check your lounge access options at StarAlliance.com.

There, you’ll find a Lounge Finder tool, and if you select the ‘Paid Membership Card’ option you can see all the lounges you can access with a United Club membership on your trip.

For example, at New York JFK you can access the Lufthansa, Swiss, and Air India lounges with your United Club membership card. You just need to present a boarding pass on any Star Alliance flight departing JFK that day to secure the access.

staralliancelounge

And in London you can access the Singapore, Air Canada, Air India, and Lufthansa lounges, in addition to the United Club itself.

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You don’t need United Premier frequent flier status to enjoy this access.

You just need a United Club membership card.

The catch is if you’re visiting a Star Alliance partner lounge you can only bring in one guest, instead of the two guests, or your spouse and children that the United Clubs allow. So this benefit isn’t helpful for family travel.

And many Star Alliance airline lounge agents aren’t familiar with this benefit, so make sure you have the physical membership card in your possession, and be prepared to be denied entry by some who think you must be a Star Alliance ‘Gold’ level member to access lounges.

That’s untrue for base Business Class level lounges – your United Club membership grants you access – but unless you want to pull up the lounge finder tool on your phone, you may be out of luck if you run into a rogue agent.

 

 

 

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10 thoughts on The hidden United Club access benefits for Star Alliance lounges

  1. Ted

    This is clear as mud on both United and Star Alliance web sites. We were hassled at the Star Alliance lounge in LA with our credit card, but finally admitted after they went off to verify our eligibility. We did not know there was a second card issued by United that would be required and had no recollection that one had ever been sent to us. United, Chase, and Star Alliance really need to come up with a better one of managing this.

    Reply
  2. Damian

    Your site is super useful. I have a layover in Frankfurt and flying Lufthansa. Which lounges can I visit using my united Mileage Club Card pass?

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Damian – Is it a ‘one time pass’ from the United Explorer card? If it’s one of those unfortunately no option as those can only be used at United’s own lounges (and even some of those you can’t right now because of construction.).

      If it’s a full United Club card, then you can use any of the Lufthansa ‘Business Class’ lounges (not the Senator or First Class lounges).

      Reply
  3. Aimee

    This is very helpful. Access rules are no at all clear on the united club site. We just got into the ANA lounge in Fukuoka thanks to this.

    Reply
  4. Toni

    Unfortunately Star Alliance lounge access doesn’t come with the United lounge passes you get as part of the United credit card benefits.

    Reply
      1. ERIC CARROLL

        i HAVE THE CLUB CARD FOR $450.00 AND WAS TURNED DOWN AT THAI AIRLINES IN BANGKOK AND TURKISH AIRLINES IN ISTANBUL AND i CALLED THE CLUB CARD AND THEY SAID THAT IS CORRECT I CANNOT USE THESE STAR ALLIANCE MEMBER LOUNGES WITH THE CLUB CARD

        Reply
        1. MileCards.com

          @Eric – Sorry to hear about that. Part of the confusion might be that you should have been sent two separate cards. One is your United Club credit card, which you use to make purchases. The other is a separate United Club access membership card, which has the Star Alliance logo on it. Showing the credit card won’t get you into Star Alliance lounges, but showing the club access card with the Star Alliance logo will, as long as you are flying a Star Alliance carrier that day. The club access membership card gets sent from United, rather than Chase, and is re-sent to you every year.

          Reply
          1. Steve

            Eric, We were also (wrongly) denied access at the Turkish Airlines lounge in Istanbul. I wish we had been more insistent about the fact that we DO have access with our United Club membership. Someone needs to do a better job training their lounge staff.

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