United limits access to some international partner lounges

Jan 16, 2020

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Some United elite members are now going to have fewer lounge options when traveling internationally.

For years, these fliers could access certain partner lounges on account of their Star Alliance Gold status or a United Club membership. Now United is cutting off access to 33 of these partner lounges, only granting access to passengers who have a seat in the Polaris business class cabin. There are still some partner lounges that still allow elite or club members in.

While the official United page states that the change went into effect on Jan. 1, Dan’s Deals notes that the website appears to have been updated more recently. The airline also does not appear to have proactively notified customers about this change.

Which partner lounges have been impacted?

The following partner lounges will now be off-limits for all United-ticketed travelers who aren’t flying Polaris, even if they hold Star Alliance Gold status or are United Club members:

  • Amsterdam, Netherlands (AMS)
    • Aspire Lounge
  • Athens, Greece (ATH)
    • SkyServ Aristotle Onassis Lounge
  • Barcelona, Spain (BCN)
    • Sala Miro
  • Cape Town, South Africa (CPT)
    • British Airways Lounge
  • Chengdu, China (CTU)
    • Chengdu Airport Lounge
  • Delhi, India (DEL)
    • Plaza Premium Lounge
  • Dublin, Ireland (DUB)
    • DAA Executive Lounge
  • Edinburgh, Scotland (EDI)
    • Aspire Lounge
  • Glasgow, Scotland (GLA)
    • Upperdeck Lounge
  • Lima, Peru (LIM)
    • Sumaq VIP Lounge
  • Madrid, Spain (MAD)
    • Sala Cibeles Lounge
  • Manchester, England (MAN)
    • Escape Lounge
  • Milan, Italy (MXP)
    • Club SEA Pergolesi VIP Business Lounge
  • Mumbai, India (BOM)
    • Mumbai Airport Lounge
  • Naples, Italy (NAP)
    • VIP Lounge
  • Osaka, Japan (KIX)
    • Asuka Lounge
  • Pape’ete, French Polynesia (PPT)
    • Aeroport de Tahiti
  • Porto, Portugal (OPO)
    • ANA Lounge
  • Prague, Czech Republic (PRG)
    • Menzies Lounge
  • Reykjavik, Iceland (KEF)
    • Saga Lounge
  • Rome, Italy (FCO)
    • Casa Alitalia Roma
  • Santiago, Chile (SCL)
    • Primeclass Pacifico Lounge
  • Shannon, Ireland (SNN)
    • Rineanna Executive Lounge
  • Stockholm, Sweden (ARN)
    • Menzies Aurora Lounge, Terminal 2
  • Tel Aviv, Israel (TLV)
    • Dan Lounge – Concourse E
  • Venice, Italy (VCE)
    • Dan Lounge – Concourse E
  • Zurich, Switzerland (ZRH)
    • Aspire Lounge

The remaining partner lounges will still accept certain non-Polaris travelers, as indicated:

  • Boston (BOS)
    •  ClubAcela
      • United Polaris business class and United Business customers (Access granted to customers traveling on international segment of itinerary)
      • United First customers (Access granted to customers traveling on international segment of itinerary)
      • United Club members, plus two guests
  • New York (Penn Station)
    •  ClubAcela
      • United Polaris business class and United Business customers (Access granted to customers traveling on international segment of itinerary)
      • United First customers (Access granted to customers traveling on international segment of itinerary)
      • United Club members, plus two guests
  • Philadelphia (PHL)
    •  ClubAcela
      • United Polaris business class and United Business customers (Access granted to customers traveling on international segment of itinerary)
      • United First customers (Access granted to customers traveling on international segment of itinerary)
      • United Club members, plus two guests
  • Quito, Ecuador (UIO) 
    • United business class customers
  • Singapore, Singapore (SIN)
    • SATS Premier Club Lounge
      • United Polaris business class customers
      • Eligible Star Alliance Gold members, plus one guest
  • Tel Aviv, Israel (TLV)
    • Dan Lounge – Concourses B and C
      • Eligible Star Alliance Gold members, plus one guest
  • Washington, D.C. (Union Station)
    •  ClubAcela
      • United Polaris business class and United Business customers (Access granted to customers traveling on international segment of itinerary)
      • United First customers (Access granted to customers traveling on international segment of itinerary)
      • United Club members, plus two guests

What are my alternatives?

This change is a big blow for United customers, especially anyone who pays for a United Club membership out of pocket. (Membership is included for United Club Infinite Card cardholders.) If you’re sticking with United but still want lounge access, look into Priority Pass membership if you don’t already have one.

Related: The best credit cards for free lounge access through Priority Pass

For instance, the Plaza Premium Lounge in Delhi is now off-limits for United passengers who aren’t booked in Polaris business class, but is still accessible via Priority Pass. In fact, the impacted lounge is just one of 10 lounges available to Priority Pass members flying through Delhi.

The same holds true for Milan’s Club SEA Sala Pergolesi VIP Business Lounge, which has been limited under United’s network but is open to Priority Pass travelers, along with two sister lounges.

Featured photo by Zach Honig for The Points Guy.

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