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If you have a one-time pass to the United Club, and are hoping to use the club on a trip this summer, be ready for rejection.
United is in the process of big renovations at some of its busiest clubs that are taking up space, especially Chicago O’Hare, Los Angeles, and soon Newark.
That’s on top of an already busy summer for travel and clubs that were pretty full to begin with.
To deal with it, United has become more explicit about not accepting one-time passes at some of its clubs. In Newark, for example, you’ll see big signs like the one below posted during peak times (generally the late afternoon, early evening) denying one time pass holders access to the club.
— Peter (@pmessy21) June 14, 2016
While in Chicago, United has decided to stop accepting one time passes at all of its clubs in its main Terminal 1 until December, when renovations are expected to be complete.
Right now, United is short a club in Chicago, with the B6 club (near the security checkpoint) closed for expansion, and the Global First Class lounge in the C Concourse also closed as it gets converted to a United Polaris Business Class lounge. Which is a long way of saying it’s putting extra strain on the regular United Club next door.
Officially, the terms on the back of the passes say ‘access is subject to space availability,’ and United is making use of that provision during construction. Most passes are sent pretty far ahead of expiration – some being issued now expire in late 2017, so you generally have over a year to use them.
But that’s cold comfort to a lot of pass holders who earned them and hoped to use them.
@united I chose United for perks like United Club passes then you make me feel like a fool with my kids.
— Paul S. Flores (@PaulSFlores) June 20, 2016
If you really want to get into a club, in Chicago you can walk to Terminal 2 where there’s a recently remodeled and expanded club still open to one time pass holders.
And in Newark, you could get on an inter-terminal shuttle bus to Terminal A where the club there tends to be less crowded, but that’s a long haul that could take over 20 minutes each way.
The good news is when the work is done, the refreshed clubs will be a big improvement, with lots of power outlets, a fresh bright design, and more seats. And by next year, one time passes should go digital.
But United will lose customers in the process unless it steps up with a backup plan like extending the expiration of passes. It’s bad enough to be denied entry – and salt in the wound to know your pass will expire unused after a legitimate try.
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