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Last year, United raised the price of United Club membership from $500 to $550 for general members, and cut the ability to buy a discounted spouse membership.
Now, it’s finishing off two big club renovations at its Chicago hub, including doubling the size of its main club and adding a Polaris lounge exclusively for international Business Class passengers, but it’s coming at a price.
Despite increasing both club prices and the annual fee on its United Club credit card last year, moves meant to reduce crowding, memberships are up 4% this year according to United.
And its VP of United Clubs told the Chicago Tribune “I don’t think we’ve hit the sweet spot yet,” with United considering further increases or tiered membership pricing.
Tiered pricing would match what Delta did with its SkyClubs a couple years ago.
There, it introduced two membership levels: Executive and Individual.
The Individual membership has no free guest privileges and costs $450 a year for general members.
The Executive membership costs $695 a year for general members and includes privileges to bring 2 guests or your family in.
United’s current $550 a year membership includes 2 guests or your family.
And its United Club credit card, which costs less at $450 a year also includes full membership with guest privileges.
A tiered system could eliminate guest privileges from the base United Club credit card benefits, as well as the base United Club membership.
Though $550 a year for a membership without guest privileges wouldn’t be very competitive, and United might try to spin things by lowering the price of entry level membership while removing the guest privileges, and then creating a higher price for membership with guest privileges.
Either way, United looks like it wants to reduce crowding through higher prices, even as it increases the size of its clubs.
If you’ve ever struggled to find a seat in a club that might not be a bad thing. But if you’re used to bringing your family along on your vacations at no additional charge, be prepared to pay up if United goes the route Delta went.
The Delta Reserve credit card, with a $450 annual fee, only offers access similar to the basic Individual level membership, with no guest privileges.
If you’re not yet a member and are on the fence, you might want to get a membership or United Club Card soon, as you might be grandfathered in with the current privileges and prices for the remainder of your annual membership in case United decides to change things.
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