New guest restrictions coming to United Club, all Star Alliance lounges

Feb 25, 2021

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Take note if you’re planning to bring a plus-one to any lounge operated by a Star Alliance carrier.

Starting on May 3, 2021, the Star Alliance is tightening the entry rules for select elite members looking to bring a guest into the lounge.

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Star Alliance Gold flyers can access any member lounge, like the United Club or Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge, when traveling on any member airline, regardless of class of service or destination. (United’s Premier Golds and higher can only use this perk when traveling internationally.)

Previously, the Star Alliance Gold member could also bring in one guest, as long as the plus-one was flying on a Star Alliance carrier from the same departure airport.

Going forward, that’s no longer the case.

Effective May 3, the Star Alliance will require guests to be traveling on the same flight as the elite member. A United spokesperson confirmed this change will apply at every lounge operated by all 26 Star Alliance member airlines, like United, Lufthansa, All Nippon Airways, Turkish and more.

Related: What are airline alliances, and who’s in them?

This tightened lounge-access policy is sure to be a big blow to colleagues or friends meeting up at the airport, but perhaps flying to different destinations. Of course, it could help reduce lounge overcrowding, but with travel demand down significantly due to the pandemic, most lounges are emptier than ever.

Some guests will soon be barred from using lounges operated by a Star Alliance member airline (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

Fortunately, there are still many ways to bring a guest into the lounge, even if they’re not flying with you.

The best way to get your squad into the United Club is by holding the United Club Infinite Card. This cobranded credit card includes a United Club membership, which allows the member to bring two adult guests or one adult and all dependent children under 21 into the lounge.

Flyers confirmed on long-haul first-class flights in cabins such as ANA’s The Suite are also entitled to bring one guest into the United Club.

United is the only U.S.-based Star Alliance carrier, but other alliance members also offer lounge memberships with flexible guesting privileges.

Of the three major airline alliances, the Star Alliance will soon have the strictest lounge-access policy. Both Skyteam and Oneworld continue to allow elite members to bring one guest into the lounge, so long as they’re flying on any flight operated by a member airline.

Featured photo by Ravi Ghelani/The Points Guy

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