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Best Lounge Network: Admirals Club or United Club?

Best Lounge Network: Admirals Club or United Club?

Old Feb 6, 2024, 12:18 pm
  #1  
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Cool Best Lounge Network: Admirals Club or United Club?

Hello! I hope this is the right spot for this question. As Delta & Amex are tightening access to Delta Sky Clubs via the Amex Platinum card, I am strongly considering adding either the United Airlines credit card or the American Airlines credit card which include access to their respective lounge network, Admirals Club or United Club. I haven't used airline lounges beyond the Delta Sky Clubs, so I am really stumped about which airline/network/card I should get. I fly mostly from LAX, and to ORD, MKE, BOS, and Europe. I have always considered UA and AA to be more or less equivalent, and have flown whichever gives me the best schedule/fare for any given trip. If I am going to add either UA or AA to my rotation alongside Delta, does anyone have opinions about which lounge network, or which airline, or which airline alliance, would be the best choice? Thanks so much!!
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Old Feb 6, 2024, 5:46 pm
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Welcome!

Are you looking to choose an alternate airline solely on the breadth of what a lounge membership offers?

The only thing that would jump out to me between an Admirals Club membership (via CC) and a United Club membership (via CC) is that the Star Alliance has alliance-wide recognition of paid lounge members. In other words with a United Club membership you and a guest can visit nearly any Star Alliance carrier business class lounge while flying Star Alliance. If you aren't going to get any status or flying in First/Business in Europe this could be helpful as you can visit lounges at many airports.

American will provide lounge access at select Intercontinental outstations to partner/contract lounges, but only if you are departing that airport on American. So if you're flying within Europe, there would be no lounge access. Of course if you keep the Amex Platinum you would still have Priority Pass which is pretty good outside the US.
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Old Feb 6, 2024, 6:34 pm
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Originally Posted by Earl B.
Hello! I hope this is the right spot for this question. As Delta & Amex are tightening access to Delta Sky Clubs via the Amex Platinum card, I am strongly considering adding either the United Airlines credit card or the American Airlines credit card which include access to their respective lounge network, Admirals Club or United Club. I haven't used airline lounges beyond the Delta Sky Clubs, so I am really stumped about which airline/network/card I should get. I fly mostly from LAX, and to ORD, MKE, BOS, and Europe. I have always considered UA and AA to be more or less equivalent, and have flown whichever gives me the best schedule/fare for any given trip. If I am going to add either UA or AA to my rotation alongside Delta, does anyone have opinions about which lounge network, or which airline, or which airline alliance, would be the best choice? Thanks so much!!
(my emphasis)

Welcome to FlyerTalk, Earl B.! You probably know from experience that Delta has really good lounges in both LAX and BOS. Delta has the only lounge in MKE, so that leaves only ORD. I don't know which lounges are better at ORD between AA and UA, but I doubt there is a big difference.
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Old Feb 6, 2024, 10:51 pm
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Thanks Dhuey! For sure the Delta lounges in LAX and BOS are excellent! I'm just looking ahead to the time when I use up my 10 SkyClub visits for the year in 2025 and have more trips I need to take. If SkyClub is off the table, I would like to have another lounge option available. Hard to find good information comparing UA and AA lounge networks head-to head, but I'm sure someone on here will have good advice.
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Old Feb 6, 2024, 10:59 pm
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Originally Posted by SCChris
Welcome!

Are you looking to choose an alternate airline solely on the breadth of what a lounge membership offers?

The only thing that would jump out to me between an Admirals Club membership (via CC) and a United Club membership (via CC) is that the Star Alliance has alliance-wide recognition of paid lounge members. In other words with a United Club membership you and a guest can visit nearly any Star Alliance carrier business class lounge while flying Star Alliance. If you aren't going to get any status or flying in First/Business in Europe this could be helpful as you can visit lounges at many airports.

American will provide lounge access at select Intercontinental outstations to partner/contract lounges, but only if you are departing that airport on American. So if you're flying within Europe, there would be no lounge access. Of course if you keep the Amex Platinum you would still have Priority Pass which is pretty good outside the US.
Thanks SCChris! That Star-Alliance angle is a good one. I am very interested to hear folks' thoughts on AA versus UA, or especially the differences and pros/cons of their alliances. As I said, I have flown both in the USA quite a bit and find them quite comparable. At least back in coach where I sit.

Priority Pass through Amex is pretty good overseas, but it would be very nice to have additional options through UA or AA (or their alliances). I'm also looking at the nuances of differences between the credit cards, with other benefits, authorized user access, status at hotels (IHG), etc... Another factor is that my preferred Amex cards (I love Amex Green for dining & hotels, taxis, trains, etc...) are not 100% accepted as I travel in Europe. I need to have another card (Visa or M/C) to use in those situations that provides good benefits. I have other Visa cards that work fine, but don't return a lot of points or other benefits. I need a better backup card.

Last edited by Earl B.; Feb 6, 2024 at 11:03 pm Reason: Thought of additional point to make.
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Old Feb 7, 2024, 4:40 am
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Whats the frequency of your trips to BOS? Chase Sapphire Lounge recently opened allowing one visit using your Amex Priority Pass before making a decision if the Chase Sapphire is worth the price.
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Old Feb 7, 2024, 12:37 pm
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Originally Posted by TGarza
Whats the frequency of your trips to BOS? Chase Sapphire Lounge recently opened allowing one visit using your Amex Priority Pass before making a decision if the Chase Sapphire is worth the price.
TGarza - Thanks for your reply! I probably go twice a year to Boston to see our grandkids, my wife a couple times more than that. Delta is choice #1 because of the SkyClub lounges in both LAX and BOS - but our last trip was on JetBlue, which has excellent LAX-BOS service. We went to the Chase Sapphire lounge at BOS the night of our return flight, and we were VERY impressed by it. I would say on par with Centurion and SkyClubs for sure. (We did not realize until later that it was a one-shot deal as a Priority Pass option for us). It would be interesting to know how crowded they get - we were flying late on New Year's Eve and the whole airport was very quiet. (Which means it counted for 2023 and we still get a visit for 2024 if we need it!). I probably wouldn't get the Chase Sapphire credit card just for their lounge in BOS, but I probably would want my next card to include Priority Pass, if possible, as that would get me a second visit to the Chase Sapphire lounge at BOS each year as well if I need it.
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Old Feb 7, 2024, 1:14 pm
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FWIW, my wild guess is that the one-time/year visit to the Chase lounges via Priority Pass will disappear in a year or two. Lounges are way too good for whatever they get from PP. This looks like a temporary promotion.
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Old Feb 7, 2024, 1:21 pm
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What do you use the lounges for? UCs and ACs tend to be pretty similar, but many ACs have showers, which UCs don't have, if that is something you use.
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Old Feb 7, 2024, 2:15 pm
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Originally Posted by wrp96
What do you use the lounges for? UCs and ACs tend to be pretty similar, but many ACs have showers, which UCs don't have, if that is something you use.
Thanks wrp96! I can't imagine we would ever want to shower in the lounge. We like the lounges as a quieter, more comfortable, and (seemingly) safer space to relax before our flight, and we enjoy the free food & drink on offer which saves real money over the cost of buying food & snacks in the terminal. And in the better lounges, the food is better than what we would likely purchase in the terminal as well.

I appreciate the insight that you perceive the Admiral and United Clubs as being pretty similar. That's my sense, but I haven't experienced them.
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Old Feb 7, 2024, 2:37 pm
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Originally Posted by Earl B.
I appreciate the insight that you perceive the Admiral and United Clubs as being pretty similar. That's my sense, but I haven't experienced them.
I just remembered that I have been in the both the UA and AA lounges at SFO in the past year. The AA lounge here is substantially better, both in the space and the food/beverages, than the United Clubs (not talking about Polaris, which is excellent). That might be anomalous, though, since the AA lounge is pretty new in Terminal 1 and the United Clubs are several years older.
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Old Feb 7, 2024, 3:25 pm
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I'm a lifetime member of the Admirals Club, Sky Club and United Club. The physical product of the ACs tends to be better, but the number of locations and soft product at the UCs tends to be better. I much prefer the LAX UC to the AC for your home airport. AC membership provides access to Alaska lounges which are just lovely. (Best for us beer drinkers.) Overall the DL lounges are similar to AS, and nicer than AA or UA.

The network that works best for you is really individual. If I could only have one way of accessing lounges it would either be with a Ritz-Carlton Visa Priority Pass or an Alaska Lounge+ membership. An Amex Plat would be a distant third. (And I essentially have all three.)
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Old Feb 7, 2024, 3:51 pm
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Originally Posted by dhuey
.... guess is that the one-time/year visit to the Chase lounges via Priority Pass will disappear in a year or two.....
Chase chose The Club to build and operate their lounges. The Club is owned by Collinson, the same company that owns Priority Pass. There are conflicting interests in this arrangement, and the only way I see Priority Pass access disappearing is if Chase gets another lounge operator to buy out Collinson.
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Old Feb 7, 2024, 4:10 pm
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Originally Posted by worldwidedreamer
I'm a lifetime member of the Admirals Club, Sky Club and United Club. The physical product of the ACs tends to be better, but the number of locations and soft product at the UCs tends to be better. I much prefer the LAX UC to the AC for your home airport. AC membership provides access to Alaska lounges which are just lovely. (Best for us beer drinkers.) Overall the DL lounges are similar to AS, and nicer than AA or UA.

The network that works best for you is really individual. If I could only have one way of accessing lounges it would either be with a Ritz-Carlton Visa Priority Pass or an Alaska Lounge+ membership. An Amex Plat would be a distant third. (And I essentially have all three.)
Thank you Worldwidedreamer for the thoughtful reply. While newer and nicer facilities (hard product?) are always appreciated, your comment that UC has more locations and better soft product (food and service?) is significant. I am surprised by your ranking of the Amex Plat. Centurion Lounges, SkyClub Access, Priority Pass, and others made it my top choice when I was looking for a premium travel card. As you say, a lot boils down to individual situations.
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Old Feb 7, 2024, 7:40 pm
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Originally Posted by mia
Chase chose The Club to build and operate their lounges. The Club is owned by Collinson, the same company that owns Priority Pass. There are conflicting interests in this arrangement, and the only way I see Priority Pass access disappearing is if Chase gets another lounge operator to buy out Collinson.
Interesting arrangement, and it does seem like conflicting interests involved. What's your take on the anomalous once-per-year deal with PP cardholders for the Chase lounges? Why didn't they just accept PP cardholders all the time, or never accept PP cardholders?
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