Even though I’m an admitted Delta fanboy, I give credit where it’s due. And the United Club lounge at LAX certainly deserves it.
I recently visited UA’s lounge in Terminal 7 and didn’t expect to like it. (Because I’ve never had a great United experience)
But I did.
I liked it a lot.
It’s not perfect — but, wow, I was impressed.
In fact, if Delta models its new LAX Sky Club (slated to open in 2021) after this United Club, we’ll all be pretty happy.
United Club at LAX — Gaining Entry
A client booked me on a Friday evening United flight from LAX to Austin. Friday traffic — especially around LAX — can be very unforgiving. I couldn’t risk missing my flight (more on that later) and decided to arrive a few hours early.
None of my travel credit cards provide access to United Clubs. Day passes can be purchased onsite for $59 — but who wants to pay retail? So a couple of weeks prior to my trip, I hopped onto eBay to see what I could find.
Sure enough, dozens of United Club passes were available. Several Chase MileagePlus United Club one-time passes were available. I found one that expired in June (my flight was early May) and cost $29 on a Buy It Now auction.
Buying the pass — like many items on eBay — was a gamble. I didn’t think I’d need an accompanying Chase United Airlines credit card but wasn’t 100% sure. The pass also states that admittance is subject to capacity.
The seller both emailed and snail mailed me the pass. I brought the original hard copy with me as I didn’t know if the club reps would accept a scanned/facsimile version.
I figured if my plans didn’t work, I’d walk over to T6 with my Priority Pass (compliments of my Platinum Card from American Express) in hopes the Alaska Airlines Boardroom lounge might have room where I could relax for a bit.
None of those concerns became problems, though. My same-day boarding pass and single-pass visit got me admitted in a snap.
In fact, I ended up visiting the lounge twice that day.
United Club at LAX — First Impressions
As the US President might say, this lounge is yuuuge. Tremendous. Bigly. (Not as big as, say, the new American Express Centurion Lounge in Dallas — but still impressive.)
The United Club offers near 360-degree views of the airport. Large windows look out upon runways 25, terminals 6, 7, and 8, and the LAX Theme Building.
I’m a big fan of natural light — and an abundance of Southern California sunshine filled the lounge when I visited.
Plenty of seating options are available — including high tables with several power options.
United Club at LAX — Food and Beverage
A large, circular bar serves as the dining area’s centerpiece. A few dozen tables, chairs, and booths surround it.
To the south side is a buffet.
Baja enchilada and miso soups were available. (And, seriously, what is it with lounges and miso soup?)
I found the cheese selection more impressive — and better tasting — than the boring cubes offered in Delta Sky Clubs.
A variety of carbonated beverages can be created at one of these machines.
Fellow bourbon lovers: Evan Williams is their complimentary offering. I’m a Woodford Reserve and Buffalo Trace guy — but Evan certainly was fine.
Fellow red wine lovers: Camelot Pinot Noir is what’s poured free. I’d never tasted it before but found it tasty.
Other alcoholic beverages are available for purchase.
illy coffee is available throughout the lounge.
As you may note in some of the above pictures, the United Club offers actual silverware, glassware, and china. I found this a nice upgrade over Delta Sky Club paper goods.
United Club at LAX — Deck
I’m a sucker for a plane spotting deck. Even on grossly hot or briskly chilly days, I hang out on the ATL and JFK Sky Decks (provided they’re unlocked 🙂 ). The United Club at LAX has a small-ish deck with couches, tables, and chairs.
The deck provides a clear view of gates 80-85. If your flight departs from one of those gates, the deck is a great place to sit and see when your inbound aircraft arrives (FWIW, terminal 8 is a 5-10 minute walk from the United Club).
Approaches to all four runways, as well as takeoffs and touchdowns on runway 25 can be enjoyed from the deck.
This area is so close to the action that conversations are easily drowned out by engine noise. The air becomes heavy with jet exhaust. For #AvGeeks like me, this is downright dirty talk. But if those sensory delights aren’t your thing, you may want to stay inside.
United Club at LAX — WiFi
WiFi is not password protected at the United Club.
And it’s blisteringly fast.
This is a Speedtest before I turned on my Tunnel Bear VPN.
And here’s one with my VPN activated.
United Club at LAX – Second Visit in a Day
My flight — a United Connection hop from LAX to AUS aboard an Embraer 175 — was canceled due to weather. The gate agent told us “The Austin airport is closed.”
I know this because my colleagues who were booked on Delta arrived safe and sound in Austin that night on their LAX-AUS flight, which left about the same time as my scheduled United departure.
Back to the United Club I went. I told the receptionist I was already there that day but United canceled my flight and I had to figure out a plan. She waved me in and I settled in at one of the high tables.
I was due to work in Austin on Saturday afternoon — and United rebooked me LAX-DEN-AUS at 6:30 AM, arriving at 2:10 PM. Meanwhile, I discovered Delta had a nonstop at 9:10 AM, arriving the same time. Naturally, the Delta option seemed safer.
The United Club was now serving dinner. Korean barbecue beef was the entree.
At this point, it was 6:15 PM on a Friday — pretty much the worst time to be on the Los Angeles roads — so I settled in for dinner and some wine. I had space to spread out, make several phone calls to my client and their travel agent, and get my new Delta itinerary squared away.
United Club at LAX – Staff
United could take a cue from Delta when it comes to staffing their LAX lounge.
The United Club at LAX feature plenty of staff — but hardly any were remotely friendly. They weren’t mean or discourteous — perhaps “aloof” might be a fair description. In fact, I waited in front of a bartender for a full minute before he got off his cell phone and acknowledged me.
While the bar and table staff were young-ish, the reception and service desk folks were, shall we say in flight attendant slang, “senior mamas (and papas).” And they personify the title well.
Maybe I visited during an off-day. Perhaps the A-team wasn’t on duty. Whatever the case, the staff was pretty much the only disappointment. But a marked one, at that.
United Club at LAX – Final Thoughts
Color me impressed.
Barring the staff, the United Club at LAX is great. The food quality and meal-style offerings at American Express Centurion Lounges are superior to anything offered at Delta, United, or Alaska clubs (I haven’t had the opportunity to try an American Airlines Admirals Club).
That being said, I didn’t leave hungry or thirsty.
Next time I’m booked on a United flight, I won’t hesitate to purchase a reasonably priced day pass. – Chris