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Should UA have open / self-service bars in its United Clubs / Polaris Lounges?

Should UA have open / self-service bars in its United Clubs / Polaris Lounges?

Old Apr 27, 21, 12:35 am
  #1  
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Should UA have open / self-service bars in its United Clubs / Polaris Lounges?

Originally Posted by cesco.g View Post
IME the bar is open my mid-morning but is not staffed; so one has to ask an attendant for drink service from the bar, which the staff is happy to provide.
We already pay for the UC so we shouldn't have to pay extra or ask for drinks. There should be at least some drinks that we can get ourselves for "free".
​​​​​​
As the UC website states, there exist:
  • Self-service bar(s)
at NRT, HKG, and MEX.

Those are my favorite non-Polaris UC lounges, in part because of the self-serve drinks, both non-alcoholic and alcoholic.
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Old Apr 27, 21, 12:41 am
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Originally Posted by Guate87 View Post
We already pay for the UC so we shouldn't have to pay extra or ask for drinks. There should be at least some drinks that we can get ourselves for "free".
​​​​​​
As the UC website states, there exist:
  • Self-service bar(s)
at NRT, HKG, and MEX.

Those are my favorite non-Polaris UC lounges, in part because of the self-serve drinks, both non-alcoholic and alcoholic.
fyi, my reply refers to the TK lounge, where all drinks are free of charge, but not self service.
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Old Apr 27, 21, 6:53 am
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Originally Posted by Guate87 View Post
We already pay for the UC so we shouldn't have to pay extra or ask for drinks. There should be at least some drinks that we can get ourselves for "free".
​​​​​​
As the UC website states, there exist:
  • Self-service bar(s)
at NRT, HKG, and MEX.

Those are my favorite non-Polaris UC lounges, in part because of the self-serve drinks, both non-alcoholic and alcoholic.
ATL is also self-serve.
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Last edited by WineCountryUA; Apr 27, 21 at 7:17 pm Reason: split post
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Old Apr 27, 21, 8:32 am
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Regarding staffing, UC should dump all the bartenders and move to a self-serve model, the way most lounges with most airlines around the world are run.

​​​​​​Aegean, Ethiopian, Singapore, SAS, etc. airlines lounges can operate with fewer employees than UC because everything is self-serve.
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Old Apr 27, 21, 8:44 am
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Originally Posted by Guate87 View Post
Regarding staffing, UC should dump all the bartenders and move to a self-serve model, the way most lounges with most airlines around the world are run.

​​​​​​Aegean, Ethiopian, Singapore, SAS, etc. airlines lounges can operate with fewer employees than UC because everything is self-serve.
Don't disagree -- and the Coke Freestyle machines are the single biggest improvement the clubs have had in 10 years, IMO -- I hated having to bug (and tip) a bartender for a simple coke in a glass with way too much ice -- but I think US liquor licensing/host liability requirements may have more to do with UA clubs still having bartenders than anything else.

The US (generally) has a very prudish view of alcohol compared to, for example, much of Europe and some places are even more prudish [see for example "Sunday sales" restrictions]
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Old Apr 27, 21, 9:24 am
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Originally Posted by lincolnjkc View Post
Don't disagree -- and the Coke Freestyle machines are the single biggest improvement the clubs have had in 10 years, IMO -- I hated having to bug (and tip) a bartender for a simple coke in a glass with way too much ice -- but I think US liquor licensing/host liability requirements may have more to do with UA clubs still having bartenders than anything else.

The US (generally) has a very prudish view of alcohol compared to, for example, much of Europe and some places are even more prudish [see for example "Sunday sales" restrictions]
Seems doubtful that this is the reason why they would need to have bartenders, since those other international airline lounges get by fine without them in the US. Even the centurion lounges have(/had?) self-serve alcohol, like the wine dispensers at SFO. My bet is United (/United's contractor) is too afraid of people coming in and swooping twenty beers into their bag before they get on the plane or something...

Last edited by A Little Cow; Apr 28, 21 at 9:52 am
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Old Apr 27, 21, 9:41 am
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Originally Posted by A Little Cow View Post
Seems doubtful that this is the reason why they would need to have bartenders, since those other international airline lounges get by fine without them in the US. Even the centurion lounges have(/had?) self-serve alcohol, like the wine dispensers at SFO. My bet is United (/United's contractor) is too afraid of people coming in and swooping twenty beers into their bag before they get on the plane or something...
Most of the NW clubs were self-service before their merger with DL. I think that there were some states where that was prohibited by law or regulation, but they were the exception.

Perhaps innkeeper liability has become more of an issue since then
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Old Apr 27, 21, 11:02 am
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Originally Posted by A Little Cow View Post
Seems doubtful that this is the reason why they would need to have bartenders, since those other international airline lounges get by fine without them in the US. Even the centurion lounges have(/had?) self-serve alcohol, like the wine dispensers at SFO. My bet is United (/United's contractor) is too afraid of people coming in and swooping twenty beers into their bag before they get on the plane or something...

Scrolling up through this thread, I don't see any speculation about Polaris lounges reopening anytime soon? I was thinking with the increased flights to Europe during the summer there would be enough international business travel it might justify reopening some of them.
Or worse - having a bartender is having a built-in monitor to make sure passengers do not over-imbibe before boarding the flight, which can cause them to be denied boarding, and then blame United for overconsumption.
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Old Apr 27, 21, 12:49 pm
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Originally Posted by Guate87 View Post
Regarding staffing, UC should dump all the bartenders and move to a self-serve model, the way most lounges with most airlines around the world are run.

​​​​​​.
As I recall, there was some self serve alcohol at the ORD Polaris lounge. I remember a small alcove near the bar that had self serve bottles of higher end whiskey.
Personally, I don't mind having my drink poured for me by a bartender and tipping for the service as long as it's friendly and efficient.
A self serve bar would ok as long as it was well stocked and refilled and it didn't degenerate into a bacchanalic frenzy by the club guests who go nuts at the sight of free booze!
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Old Apr 27, 21, 2:20 pm
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Originally Posted by PTahCha View Post
Or worse - having a bartender is having a built-in monitor to make sure passengers do not over-imbibe before boarding the flight, which can cause them to be denied boarding, and then blame United for overconsumption.
I've had lounge bartenders try to cut me off after 1, and I've had others push refills on me when I really didn't need any more.

If that's why they have bartenders, they're doing a really bad job.
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Old Apr 27, 21, 3:05 pm
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For those who have been to the SQ lounges in Singapore, the LH lounges in Germany, the ET lounge in Addis, etc. you know self-serve alcohol is the norm and there are zero problems, just as with the UC in HKG, NRT and MEX.

I do not pay for lounge access to additionally provide tips for contracted bartenders who are not UA employees.
​​​
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Old Apr 27, 21, 3:50 pm
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Originally Posted by canadiancow View Post
I've had lounge bartenders try to cut me off after 1, and I've had others push refills on me when I really didn't need any more.

If that's why they have bartenders, they're doing a really bad job.
The first bartender probably was told to save cost by management. The latter probably works at Delta Sky Club since I had the same happened to me.
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Old Apr 27, 21, 5:12 pm
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This sort of thing is a corporate insurance/risk management decision, even in a location where liquor laws would otherwise permit it. The risk calculus for foreign airlines on foreign soil is usually a little different.
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Old Apr 27, 21, 5:27 pm
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For Polaris lounges I think a consistent product is important. Local laws are just (unfortunately) too different and too strict. I mean booze rules are different in the EWR clubs in A and C Terminals ... enough said.
For UCs this is already a wild mix of things and would certainly be interesting if UA would experiment with this somewhere stateside.
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Old Apr 27, 21, 5:36 pm
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Originally Posted by cfischer View Post
For Polaris lounges I think a consistent product is important. Local laws are just (unfortunately) too different and too strict. I mean booze rules are different in the EWR clubs in A and C Terminals ... enough said.
For UCs this is already a wild mix of things and would certainly be interesting if UA would experiment with this somewhere stateside.
id give it a week before there’s an in flight incident and the guilty individual tries to blame United for the self service alcohol!
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