Monday, August 25, 2014

United PS lounge access

I've been a big fan of United PS and its competitors for nearly a decade. Considering the flight from New York to London is only about an hour longer than the flight from New York to San Francisco/LA, it makes sense that someone would offer international-style amenities to people flying this route.

Originally, United PS had a traditional 3-class configuration and ONLY the people flying in First were entitled to use the United lounge at JFK (Business Class customers were out of luck...) Well, when they reconfigured their cabins a couple of years ago to only have Economy and lie-flat BusinessFirst classes, they also granted lounge access to everyone in the BusinessFirst cabin!

Somehow we missed that fact and we've been sitting in the often-very crowded JFK Terminal when we were entitled to be in the lounge (ahem... drinking for free). We'd just assumed since First Class was gone so was all lounge access. Given the airlines' tendency these days to always choose the most customer-hostile option when presented with a choice, it wasn't a completely crazy assumption. So some good news for once!

United's official lounge policy for PS BusinessFirst

While I'm on the topic of lounges, a couple of other random facts:
  • Lucky wrote an awesome guide for determining whether or not you have lounge access. It's sometimes quite difficult to figure out all of the rules. Especially since they all have Lounge Dragons (the usually-hostile person at the counter who decides if you're eligible to enter) who I swear get a commission every time they deny someone who tries to come in :)
  • ALWAYS carry your official airline elite status card with you when you travel internationally. In Munich, for example, we could have used the lounge for a domestic connection but the Lufthansa Lounge Dragon told us that she couldn't "look us up in the computer" that we had to have our actual United Gold status cards in order to enter.
  • American Airlines' competitor to PS (called Flagship) retained their 3-class service after a recent plane retrofit. If you're actually in First, make sure you use their very cool (and very posh) Flagship Checkin and and First Class lounge. 
  • If you're flying out of JFK, lots of airlines contract with British Airways to use their "Galleries" lounge but only people actually flying on a British Airways plane get to eat in the preflight dining room. Everyone else just gets snacks and liquor. (ProTip: they have champagne in the Galleries lounge but you have to ask for it!)




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