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Lifetime Member Edition: UC access changes Nov 1, 2019 (same day BP on UA or partner)

Lifetime Member Edition: UC access changes Nov 1, 2019 (same day BP on UA or partner)

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Old Mar 2, 20, 9:19 am   -   Wikipost
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So, is anything happening with this? Just curious (Oct 3, 2019)



If you paid cash for a lifetime Club membership and would like to join a potential class action due to this material change, please post your username here:
ctownflyer
hog Heaven
AAdmiral
nsx + 1
RichardInSF
Sykes
soartoday
lax2jfk2lax
libuser + 1
Xyzzy + 1
Buster CT1K
1K Student
Elitefreak
flyer austin + 1 (wiki-restricted member, added by IAH-OIL-TRASH)
Radonc1 + 1 (not a FT member but has LT membership)
Halo117
mikey
Mnmag
Vulcan
lateacher
kmersh
MazdaMP
bajong
sandiego1k
thesilb
HnlJay
nachosdelux
wtigerFF
a1bengal
benolaa
LeslieandDiane
SPN Lifer +1
YRKInsider
texd


If you received a lifetime Club membership from the UA MM program and would like to join a potential class action, please post your username here:
deek
honmani2
lax2jfk2lax (recd 2nd lifetime for hitting 2MM which I gifted)

Related thread: Club member/one-time pass access changes Nov 1, 2019 (same day BP on UA or partner) Original thread -- focused on the basic access issue, most lifetime membership posts have been moved to this lifetime thread



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Old Mar 9, 19, 9:34 pm
  #151  
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: CLE
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Originally Posted by lincolnjkc View Post
I'm not a lawyer, but given previous holdings on the ADA and the broad preemption language "...may not enact or enforce a law, regulation, or other provision having the force and effect of law related to a [...] service of an air carrier that may provide air transportation under this subpart." (49 USC 41713(b)(1) and (b)(4)(A))

I think it's pretty tough, especially in light of previous holdings on the ADA to argue that the Clubs aren't a "service" of an air carrier -- its not inconceivable that the "service" at play here can be distinguished from the "service" in, e.g., American v. Wollens -- but it doesn't seem like it's that easy of a distinction to make -- both the FQTV program and Club are clearly ancillary services that aren't intrinsic to the basic air transportation. A further nail, from my perspective, is that Wollens cites Morales v. TWA as "...defin[ing] the 'relating to' language in the ADA preemption clause as 'having a connection with or reference to airline `rates, routes, or services'."

Clearly the primary purpose of the clubs is to attract/retain and make comfortable certain customers of the airline service and I think that would pull it in to the "relating to..." preemption language in that it has a connection with and reference to the airline services. (The fact that UA has been requiring a BP on any airline for the past couple years would seem to strengthen that relationship, IMO)

Not that I agree with the "lifetime isn't lifetime" posture (and I really don't like the move for the couple times a year I can't fly UA for whatever reason) but I don't think getting around the ADA is likely to be a successful endeavor.
Except that when we bought CO Lifetime memberships there was zero requirement for any boarding pass and if you were not flying, CO would issue a gate pass so that you could use the lounge at any time.

A frequent flyer program involves miles earned from travel. A Club that is accessible regardless of if you are flying is very different.

GG Check Point line 53 even lived on post merger for several years, making it clear that club members did not have to be flying:


Last edited by ctownflyer; Mar 9, 19 at 9:40 pm
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Old Mar 9, 19, 9:59 pm
  #152  
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Further to the point of the preceding pst, the stated reason for discontinuing gate passes for members who were not traveling was that the TSA was clamping down, not that UA had any problem in issuing them. In fact, one of the reasons I ended up buying my membership was to get gate passes to go airside and visit a club when I wished to do so.
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Old Mar 9, 19, 10:11 pm
  #153  
 
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Originally Posted by ctownflyer View Post
Except that when we bought CO Lifetime memberships there was zero requirement for any boarding pass and if you were not flying, CO would issue a gate pass so that you could use the lounge at any time.

A frequent flyer program involves miles earned from travel. A Club that is accessible regardless of if you are flying is very different.

GG Check Point line 53 even lived on post merger for several years, making it clear that club members did not have to be flying:

Actually, this just gets you a gate pass to get through security. But ability to get gate pass reflects the membership. And as we all know, UA has a hard time synching all their rules.
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Old Mar 9, 19, 10:17 pm
  #154  
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Originally Posted by IAH-OIL-TRASH View Post
Actually, this just gets you a gate pass to get through security. But ability to get gate pass reflects the membership. And as we all know, UA has a hard time synching all their rules.
In order to get the gate pass one had to show a club membership card. Often agents would call the club to verify access to the club. The two were absolutely cnnected.
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Old Mar 9, 19, 10:17 pm
  #155  
nsx
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It's sad when a company's management chooses to break its promise to customers, especially when keeping the promise would be so easy and inexpensive. If there's a lawsuit I predict that only the lawyers will win.

United had ranked high, right up near Southwest and Alaska, in my perception of how they treated customers. No longer. They are cheating me out of a benefit I paid serious money for, and I won't forget.
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Old Mar 9, 19, 10:24 pm
  #156  
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
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Originally Posted by ctownflyer View Post
Except that when we bought CO Lifetime memberships there was zero requirement for any boarding pass and if you were not flying, CO would issue a gate pass so that you could use the lounge at any time.

A frequent flyer program involves miles earned from travel. A Club that is accessible regardless of if you are flying is very different.

GG Check Point line 53 even lived on post merger for several years, making it clear that club members did not have to be flying:
My point, though, is that the club is a "service" of "of an air carrier that may provide air transportation under this subpart" and the preemption language is broad and doesn't restrict itself to cases where the service is exclusively related to air travel. The fact that it is/was possible to use the club without actually traveling doesn't change the fact that the Clubs act as an adjunct to the airline and the core service (transportation), not a distinct and unrelated offering.

After I posted the previous reply I thought of another case that highlights that the Club "service" is generally related to the airline's services: United doesn't operate any clubs at locations it doesn't serve. If United operated clubs at offline stations (for sake of over-the-top example, a UC at LGB or ULN) or non-transportation locations, such as the local mall, it would help to make the argument that the clubs are wholly unrelated to the airline's rates, routes, or services -- but there are no permanent UC locations in places not served by UA.

Reading Wolens further appears to confirm that breach of contract claims are not per se barred by the ADA (and rejects the notion that something "not essential" to aviation would fall outside of the ADA's preemption), but looking at the rules posted on CO's site as of February 2007 [random date] but has the typical escape clause:

Continental reserves the right to restrict, alter or modify the fees, benefits, services and clubroom locations at any time with or without written notice to its members.
Continental reserves the right to revoke membership privileges of those who fail to comply with the above guidelines and/or disrupt other members.
While I can't find any lifetime terms (the signup is behind a OnePass login which obviously doesn't go anywhere useful--and I went back to 1999 trying to find anything useful), I would find it hard to believe if that language was in the 'generic' rules and regs it wasn't also in the lifetime rules and regs.

Of course its possible that this specific application of the rule is in some way unconscionable, but that doesn't avoid the ADA's preemption which kicks the court costs up, and based on the outcome from the Silver Wings litigation that seems like a rather tenuous argument.

But again, I'm not a lawyer
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Old Mar 9, 19, 10:28 pm
  #157  
 
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Originally Posted by lincolnjkc View Post
Reading Wolens further appears to confirm that breach of contract claims are not per se barred by the ADA (and rejects the notion that something "not essential" to aviation would fall outside of the ADA's preemption), but looking at the rules posted on CO's site as of February 2007 [random date] but has the typical escape clause:

But again, I'm not a lawyer
How is that not an illusory contract?
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Old Mar 10, 19, 12:58 am
  #158  
 
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Originally Posted by ctownflyer View Post
How is that not an illusory contract?
Because you still have a membership and you can still use the club. If they make a reasonable effort that you can use the club, the barrier for you to succeed is more challenging. Just saying.

Reasonable can always be defined by a court - but UA has proved to have deep pockets in lifetime litigation. They'll say, buy a ticket on UA, fly that day, and you are more than welcome to enter.
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Old Mar 10, 19, 3:57 am
  #159  
 
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Originally Posted by lincolnjkc View Post
After I posted the previous reply I thought of another case that highlights that the Club "service" is generally related to the airline's services: United doesn't operate any clubs at locations it doesn't serve. If United operated clubs at offline stations (for sake of over-the-top example, a UC at LGB or ULN) or non-transportation locations, such as the local mall, it would help to make the argument that the clubs are wholly unrelated to the airline's rates, routes, or services -- but there are no permanent UC locations in places not served by UA.
What about the Amtrak lounges with heavy United branding?
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Old Mar 10, 19, 7:17 am
  #160  
 
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Originally Posted by soartoday View Post
What about the Amtrak lounges with heavy United branding?
I haven't seen one of these first hand but I would presume that, (a) these are operated by Amtrak and not United, and (b) these only exist at locations with UA codeshare service [e.g. the northeast corridor] so it would still be closely related to the provision of transportation.
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Old Mar 10, 19, 8:48 am
  #161  
 
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Originally Posted by HNLbasedFlyer View Post
Because you still have a membership and you can still use the club. If they make a reasonable effort that you can use the club, the barrier for you to succeed is more challenging. Just saying.

Reasonable can always be defined by a court - but UA has proved to have deep pockets in lifetime litigation. They'll say, buy a ticket on UA, fly that day, and you are more than welcome to enter.
Where does it end?

First they started requiring boarding passes, now they'll require *A boarding passes.
Will they next restrict lounge access on basic economy or low fare class tickets?

A contract term that says we can do whatever we want is not likely to be enforceable.
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Old Mar 10, 19, 8:55 am
  #162  
 
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Originally Posted by ctownflyer View Post
A contract term that says we can do whatever we want is not likely to be enforceable.
It's been tested in court and worked successfully for UA in no fewer than three Million-Miler and Silver Wings lawsuits.

I hope you lifetime club members can find a way to prevail.
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Old Mar 10, 19, 10:54 am
  #163  
 
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Originally Posted by Fredd View Post
It's been tested in court and worked successfully for UA in no fewer than three Million-Miler and Silver Wings lawsuits.

I hope you lifetime club members can find a way to prevail.
Weren't those defeated by the deregulation act? I guess it would come down to whether clubs that didn't require flying are protected by the ADA.
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Old Mar 10, 19, 11:37 am
  #164  
 
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Originally Posted by ctownflyer View Post
Weren't those defeated by the deregulation act? I guess it would come down to whether clubs that didn't require flying are protected by the ADA.
IIRC US prevailed in the Silver Wings lawsuits on its right to determine and change terms and conditions, and our inability (in the first lawsuit in which I was a named plaintiff) to produce a written contract (this for something we signed up for online!). I don't know that airline deregulation per se was an issue.

The somewhat sympathetic appeals court judges in the Million-Miler suit opined that any relief would have to come from the DOT, which states on its own website that "Airlines have wide discretion to change the terms of their frequent flyer programs, but are required to disclose their frequent flyer program rules in their customer service plan and must adhere to any promises made in their customer service plan."

I'm not a lawyer, and I'd be pleased if a distinction like the one you describe between a "club" and "flying" could be drawn. I'm pessimistic but I'll certainly be cheering you on from the sidelines.

Last edited by Fredd; Mar 10, 19 at 11:48 am Reason: details re lawsuit added
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Old Mar 10, 19, 11:46 am
  #165  
nsx
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