United accelerates lounge reopenings, aims for end of summer

Jul 2, 2021

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United is elevating the airport experience with an accelerated lounge reopening timeline.

On Friday, a carrier spokesperson shared the news that the airline would quickly ramp up operations across its domestic United Club network throughout the summer.

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In a statement shared by the airline below, the carrier cites the stronger than expected demand as the reason for reopening much faster than originally anticipated. Domestic travel among leisure flyers has largely recovered to 2019 levels, with some routes even outperforming historical precedent.

Given the remarkable volumes projected for summer, approaching and exceeding 2019 volumes, we are expediting our domestic reopening plan to be completed by the end of September. With nearly all hub United Club locations reopened, focus now turns to bringing our line station locations back online.

The accelerated domestic United Club reopening plan is as follows:

  • Now open
    • Austin (AUS)
    • Honolulu (HNL)
    • Orlando (MCO)
  • Opening in July
    • Cleveland (CLE)
    • Fort Lauderdale (FLL)
    • Las Vegas (LAS)
    • New York/LaGuardia (LGA)
    • San Diego (SAN)
  • Opening in August
    • Atlanta (ATL)
    • Boston (BOS)
    • Washington Reagan National (DCA)
    • Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW)
    • Raleigh-Durham (RDU)
    • San Antonio (SAT)
    • Orange County (SNA)
  • Opening in September
    • Minneapolis/St. Paul (MSP)
    • New Orleans (MSY)
    • Philadelphia (PHL)
    • Portland (PDX)
    • Seattle (SEA)

In May, Alex Dorow, United’s managing director of lounges and premium services, detailed the reopening timeline for the United Club and Polaris Lounge network. At the time, Dorow shared a sixty-day strategy for bringing ten more outposts online, many of which are secondary locations in hub airports.

As for the outstation locations, United was hand-picking ones with the strongest demand. “We’re starting with the locations where we have some of the greatest need, and we’re supporting the network growth that is projected here as we enter the summer months,” he said at the time.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

That’s why the carrier picked Fort Lauderdale, Orlando and Las Vegas for the first round of reopenings; the carrier saw increased demand for flights to these cities.

However, now that the travel recovery is well underway — in July, United’s slated to be cash positive for the first time since January 2020 — the carrier is seemingly seeing enough demand to warrant reopening much of its domestic lounge network.

Along with the reopenings, the carrier is improving its food offerings. Dorow is excited about the new menu, as he told TPG that “you’re going to see a much more robust, healthy variety of food options that we didn’t have before.”

This includes sandwiches, wraps, salads, fresh fruit, yogurt and overnight oats. Some locations will also feature regionally inspired offerings, like mini hot dogs in Chicago and a churros bar in Houston.

Though United’s focus is on club locations, the carrier is also working behind the scenes on preparing to reopen its top-notch business-class-only Polaris Lounges.

Though United doesn’t yet have a firm reopening timeline for its business-class-only Polaris Lounges — Dorow’s “babies,” in his words — one of the major considerations that the team is talking through is demand for international travel.

According to an internal memo viewed by TPG, “plans are in motion to begin reopening our Polaris Lounges and international United Club locations later this year.”

United’s lounge reopening timeline is a bit behind that of its Big 3 competitors. With the opening of the brand-new Delta Sky Club in Fort Lauderdale in late June, all of the Atlanta-based carrier’s lounges have now reopened. 

American is continuing to reopen its entire domestic Admirals Club network by August 2021, except for the Honolulu (HNL) outpost which will reopen at a later date. Additionally, the carrier will reopen its premium Flagship Lounges starting in September.

Featured photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy

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