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United Club changes (drinks and Wifi) - Sept/Oct. 2013

Old Sep 10, 13, 9:54 pm
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United Club changes (drinks and Wifi) - Sept/Oct. 2013

Old Sep 15, 13, 9:48 am
  #931  
 
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Originally Posted by texas gold View Post
Why is it so difficult (or non-profitable) to offer a lounge experience more inline with LH's Senator Lounges?
While there's no way to confirm this, I suspect the answer is pretty simple. UA is making a lot of ancillary revenue with the "You're In" stuff, and collecting the fees for an enormous number of travelers to filter through the club. At the same time, they figure (and are probably correct) that most paying members are getting their membership through some means other than coughing up $400/year personally (company, credit card, etc...)

So by squeezing the clubs, they cut costs and (they believe) still get to collect the admission fees and partner affinity benefits of an endless parade of one-off flyers who aren't in the clubs enough to realize that a) this isn't typical of global airline lounges, and b) don't spend enough time there to be cheesed off by having to pay something for booze on top of their "free" admission.

Meanwhile, LH and other airlines still tightly control access to their clubs, and only high-revenue ticket passengers, or high-frequency loyalty travelers, can hope to get in. That crowd also tends to drink less, on the whole, and demand a higher-quality product when they do.

So when you're making several thousand dollars off of premium cabin customers, giving them top-shelf liquor for free is a low-cost proposition. When you're making pennies off of N-bucket flyers twice a year, who have a $95/year credit card, and are more likely to have 4 drinks prior to takeoff on their couples golf-outing to Hawaii, suddenly booze is a cost center.

I think this is a reaction to the underlying model UA has chosen to follow, and they probably couldn't care less if they lost a few thousand paying members, whose $400/year is no longer their primary revenue source!
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Old Sep 15, 13, 10:09 am
  #932  
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Originally Posted by iahphx View Post
It's very hard for me to understand why anyone flying domestically would buy a USA lounge card these days. If it's comped, you'll certainly use the facilities. But to pay? Why? I'd spend the money on regular food and drink at the airport, especially since those offerings have generally improved in the past decade as the lounges have deteriorated. And most airports these days seem to offer free wifi and, often, plugs and decent seating. It's rarely hard to find a quiet place to sit for a half hour. I just don't see how you could get your money's worth out of a lounge membership, unless (perhaps) you flew the same airline every week.
When I first joined the RCC, I was flying at least once a month, and the free wf-fi alone almost made it a cost-effective buy. When you topped it off with reasonably priced drinks, decent snacks, and IROPS help, it was worth it. Now, as the benefits are slowly reduced, I won't be renewing my membership when it expires. Most every airport I fly to has free Wi-Fi, my work IPad is cell equipped, and there is far better food outside the UC than in it, and now that they have downgraded the drinks, it's a waste of time and money to use it.
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Old Sep 15, 13, 10:20 am
  #933  
 
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Originally Posted by Darlox View Post

Meanwhile, LH and other airlines still tightly control access to their clubs, and only high-revenue ticket passengers, or high-frequency loyalty travelers, can hope to get in. That crowd also tends to drink less, on the whole, and demand a higher-quality product when they do.

So when you're making several thousand dollars off of premium cabin customers, giving them top-shelf liquor for free is a low-cost proposition. When you're making pennies off of N-bucket flyers twice a year, who have a $95/year credit card, and are more likely to have 4 drinks prior to takeoff on their couples golf-outing to Hawaii, suddenly booze is a cost center.
This is interesting as none of the major European carriers allow purchased memberships. One cannot simply pay for lounge access, except on single use entrances at some outsourced lounges (ServisAir in AMS being one of them). So the LH model only allows their top customers or top flyers entrance. LH also has three types of lounges: Business Class, Senator and First/Honour.

Would this make more sense for UA? Keep the membership model on UC's, but add a more exclusive lounge for 1K, GS and all BusinessFirst/First flying customers?
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Old Sep 15, 13, 10:38 am
  #934  
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the European model is different.. worse onboard 'domestic' (intra-EU) product but you get a decent lounge on the departure side for business class.

I prefer the American model for lounge/onboard balance. The overall experience has been nothing but a race to the bottom however, in everything but the flatness of the seats in J.

I can't help but think that a lot of the paid business traffic will be put off by the changes, from what is already a sub-par product.
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Old Sep 15, 13, 11:16 am
  #935  
 
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But back to the lounge. Is it really so difficult for UA to offer some improvements in the overall lounge experience? Most airports nowadays have interesting food/drink options, many offer free Wi-Fi or establishments that do and in general are far more comfortable than a UnitedClub. This latest "change we will like" is just another downgrade.

Last edited by iluv2fly; Sep 15, 13 at 5:26 pm Reason: response to deleted post
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Old Sep 15, 13, 5:21 pm
  #936  
 
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Let's try to keep this thread about the changes to the United Club wifi and drinks.

OB Club: Could someone provide a comparison of UA, DL, AA and US club drink policies and offerings? Has UA gone from first to worst?
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Old Sep 15, 13, 5:28 pm
  #937  
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Originally Posted by lensman View Post
Let's try to keep this thread about the changes to the United Club wifi and drinks.

OB Club: Could someone provide a comparison of UA, DL, AA and US club drink policies and offerings? Has UA gone from first to worst?
US - House red or white and domestic beer on tap. US is currently the worst of the pack when it comes to drinks, but their snacks are better.

I used to frequent DL SkyClubs, before the notion of buying a drink came along (several years ago), but have not been there since they downgraded their complimentary offerings, so can't comment much there.
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Old Sep 15, 13, 6:59 pm
  #938  
 
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Originally Posted by iahphx View Post

But that theory is limited to not allowing pro rata refunds on membership fees from unhappy Club members. I don't think anyone can contest UA's right to serve whatever swill they want in their Clubs. But if you paid for something better than this swill, and you're dissatisfied with the new selections, it seems like you should be able to cancel your membership and get back the unused portion. I mean, that's only fair. Right?
Actually, I'm very interested if anyone has successfully gotten a pro-rata refund. Normally I would say that this would be a highly likely remedy except J$ being the crafty lawyer that he is essentially got you to agree to pay him without him giving you a guarantee that you will get anything in return.

According to the TOS:

United reserves the right to modify pricing, benefits, services, hours, club locations and reciprocal lounge agreements at any time with or without written notice to its members and customers.

http://www.united.com/cms/en-us/prod...nitedclub.aspx
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Old Sep 15, 13, 7:16 pm
  #939  
 
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Originally Posted by DCEsquire View Post
Actually, I'm very interested if anyone has successfully gotten a pro-rata refund. Normally I would say that this would be a highly likely remedy except J$ being the crafty lawyer that he is essentially got you to agree to pay him without him giving you a guarantee that you will get anything in return.

According to the TOS:

United reserves the right to modify pricing, benefits, services, hours, club locations and reciprocal lounge agreements at any time with or without written notice to its members and customers.

http://www.united.com/cms/en-us/prod...nitedclub.aspx
Meh. At the risk of sounding like a 1L (which I'm not), that term tries to do to much, and I think it probably fails to accomplish much at all, for that reason.
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Old Sep 15, 13, 8:57 pm
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Originally Posted by texas gold View Post
This is interesting as none of the major European carriers allow purchased memberships. One cannot simply pay for lounge access, except on single use entrances at some outsourced lounges (ServisAir in AMS being one of them). So the LH model only allows their top customers or top flyers entrance. LH also has three types of lounges: Business Class, Senator and First/Honour.

Would this make more sense for UA? Keep the membership model on UC's, but add a more exclusive lounge for 1K, GS and all BusinessFirst/First flying customers?
Yes! Excellent idea!
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Old Sep 15, 13, 10:13 pm
  #941  
 
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Originally Posted by cranky1K View Post
Yes! Excellent idea!
Its called the GF lounge and it already exists

The one in SFO is pretty nice IMHO, not nearly as good as some of the other first lounges floating around but amazing by Merikan standards
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Old Sep 15, 13, 10:26 pm
  #942  
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Originally Posted by mgcsinc View Post
Meh. At the risk of sounding like a 1L (which I'm not), that term tries to do to much, and I think it probably fails to accomplish much at all, for that reason.
Yeah, isn't this a classic contract of adhesion -- it wouldn't seem to be enforceable. Like what if NOTHING was free at the bar anymore. Tough luck?

I would think that if the recent changes are considered "material" -- and they seem to pass that test to me -- UA would seem to be legally required to refund your membership fee pro rata.

Besides, is this really the kind of publicity UA would want? Maybe the lowest level customer service agents wouldn't understand it, but I would think as you moved up the food chain, any manager with half a brain would say, "Oh, I'm sorry you don't like our Club enhancements. I would be happy to refund the remaining months of your membership."
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Old Sep 15, 13, 11:03 pm
  #943  
 
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How would you all feel about drink tickets? As odd as it is, I find myself pining for the old days of 2 drink tickets/person. I do remember some really annoying rules being enforced at various times, namely whether you got tickets at the origin or the transoceanic gateway, etc. What about giving everyone 2 free drink tickets for any of the formerly "complimentary drinks." Then everyone will get some reasonable amount for free and maybe anyone who wants more than that should be willing to shell out a bit of cash.
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Old Sep 15, 13, 11:42 pm
  #944  
 
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Originally Posted by Itinerant one View Post
I think the Jordan was $12, maybe $9 with the Chase card. Still, at $1 more than Rutherford Merlot it's a 'relative' bargain. They'll be dumping a lot of corked Rutherford in that case. Don't see a sophisticated nitrogen setup anytime soon. And the Mark West is 'ok' and on sale for $7.97 a bottle at Total Wine this week...
Is there still a discount if you pay with the Explorer card? If so, how much?
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Old Sep 15, 13, 11:51 pm
  #945  
 
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Originally Posted by sierranevada View Post
Is there still a discount if you pay with the Explorer card? If so, how much?
See the wikipost above.
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