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The hidden United Club access benefits for Star Alliance lounges

by on Tue August 25, 2015 • 40 Comments


United Club access doesn’t come cheap, at $450 a year for a new United Club credit card, or over $500 if you get full 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.

NOTE: One day passes don’t get Star Alliance lounge access. Only full membership cards get access.

There are hundreds of Star Alliance airline Business Class lounges.

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


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

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.


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


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


      @Joe – If you have a confirmed seat on the flight you can use Star business class (not Gold) lounges.

      1. Nicole

        So it sounds like those of us that travel non-revenue (stand-by) are most likely to be unable to take advantage of the United Club / Star Alliance lounge benefit with United Club membership as we generally don’t get confirmed seats until shortly before our flights leave. Do I have this right? I’m curious because I’m considering getting the United Club card but I fly standby much of the time I travel.

  1. Audiendi

    If you’re on a Star Alliance flight, does United Club membership get you into Singapore Airlines SilverKris Business Class Lounge at Changi Airport?

    Their policy seems really unclear. I understand that Star Alliance Gold members can’t get into that lounge, although they can get into the Krisflyer Gold Lounge.

    Singapore is strange in that their Business Class lounge is considered a higher level than the Star Gold lounge.


      @Audiendi – According to the lounge finder on the Business Class lounge isn’t available with United Club membership, nor is the Gold Lounge. Instead the Thai lounge is available.

  2. Mike

    Chase Plus Card- the star alliance card will only allow you to enter the international Star Alliance Lounge if you are flying with one of the partnered airlines. If it’s a domestic flight, you can enter the United club lounge now matter what airlines you fly with.

  3. Brent

    I will be booking a trip through United Airlines and 2 of the flights are “Operated By Air Canada”. I have 2 of the One-time United Club passes which come with the Chase Visa card. Am I able to use one of these at the Air Canada lounges in Toronto?

  4. Allen

    if I have a united club card membership and I’m flying on a delta flight, am I still able to access a star alliance lounge if a united club is not available? (Like at Detroit airport). I know I’m able to use United clubs even if I have a Delta boarding pass.
    Thanks in advance

    1. Andrew

      To access a Star Alliance (not United Club) lounge, even with UC membership, you need to have a boarding pass for a Star Alliance flight that day (it could be arriving or departing). If you’re flying only DL, no access to Star Alliance clubs with a UC membership.

  5. Ray

    I have a united club membership. I will be travelling through Munich with my wife and two kids. I know I only get one guest in free but can I pay for my children to come in with us? How much do they charge for child day passes?

  6. Kai

    Does having club membership allow access to business class lounges when traveling domestically? I fly out of SFO.

      1. Andrew

        To clarify, you can access regular United Clubs, but you cannot access Polaris Lounges with a United Club membership. Only those flying in United business or First class are allowed access to Polaris lounges.

  7. Cecilia Skuza

    We have a united mileage plus membership, not gold, plus a couple of passes. We are flying from Santiago Chile to California in January. We are economy plus passengers and our flight leaves around 11 PM. I was not able to find a lounge for star alliance. Avianca has a lounge but it only shows for Avianca passengers. The following shows in Star Alliance:” All Star Alliance Gold Status holders are welcome to visit any lounge with a Star Alliance Gold sign at the entrance before your Star Alliance member airline flight. Even if you are not a Gold customer, you can still gain access to our lounges if you are travelling on a member airline in international First Class or Business Class” So Clearly there are no lounges that will accept our day passes, unless you might know of another way to obtain a pass without having to pay $100 for an annual lounge membership. By the by we don’t have an alliance car only the passes and our credit card


      @Cecilia Skuza: Your understanding is correct: your United Club℠ passes will not be accepted at the Avianca Lounge. However, you could purchase a day pass to access the Avianca VIP Lounge. To learn more, visit the Avianca website.

  8. samuel

    From Star Alliance website

    “As an eligible holder of Paid Lounge Membership, you have access to any Star Alliance member airline Business Class Lounge. Eligible paid memberships include United Club and Air Canada Maple Leaf Club – Worldwide. You will need to show your boarding pass for a Star Alliance flight departing from the local airport together with your valid eligible paid lounge membership card, displaying the Star Alliance Lounge Logo. You are entitled to a maximum of one guest. Except in Singapore where the Singapore Airlines Krisflyer Gold Lounge is available.”

  9. Tom Schneider

    I am travelling business class to Taipei from Houston on EVA this Christmas. On the return flight I will be in their premium economy product and thus will not have lounge access based on the boarding pass. However, I was just approved for the United Club credit card and so from what I have read in the comment section, I should receive a completely separate card from United that is the actual club card I will use to gain access to the EVA Air lounges in Taipei on my return trip,correct? This would be extremely beneficial since I have meetings all day before my flight back to Houston which departs at night and so I would love to take a shower prior to that flight. Thanks for the help!

  10. 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.

    1. Andrew

      The issue is that you were at a Star Alliance lounge. At United Clubs, you should actually just be able to scan your boarding pass and the membership status should show up. Alternatively, you should be able to view your club membership virtual “card” in the United app.

      However, at Star Alliance lounges, they do not have access to the United systems and cannot see your membership status. Therefore, they rely on things like a boarding pass with Star Alliance Gold status, physical status cards, and physical lounge membership cards. Some are more strict than others. Lufthansa is particularly strict, although I’ve had some similar experiences with AC in Toronto.

      1. Audiendi


        If you get United Club membership but haven’t got Star Alliance Gold Status will it still work at partner Star Alliance Lounges such as Lufthansa and Singapore Airlines? Is there anything one can actually do to make it easier to convince the lounge staff?

        One additionally unhelpful thing for me is that some flights are with a Star Alliance carrier. But the first leg is a non-Star Alliance codeshare airline. And that airline issues the boarding pass.

  11. 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?


      @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).

      1. Erin Dietzel

        Thank you so much for making this clear. I have a one time united club pass and I’ve been looking everywhere to see if it grants access to other lounges!


          @Erin – Sorry for the confusion – but only full membership gets access to other lounges, the one time pass does not get access to other lounges.

  12. 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.

  13. Toni

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




          @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.

          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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