When I booked the flights for our round-the-world trip, I knew that the travel would be intense with several red-eye flights and long layovers. Even better, they are all in economy. =P You can say we are crazy, but that's the benefit of being young, do it while we can right? Fortunately, we had access to United Club and Star Alliance lounges in various airports, thanks to the United Club Card (read on to find out how we got it for free). Having lounge access certainly made our travels much more enjoyable and comfortable.
So which lounges have we visited?
Having lounge access is a game changer with such 'intense' flight routes - 6 out of 13 flights are red-eye.
The Points Guy had a post recently on The 5 Best United Clubs in the World, and the top three on the list were dominated by the international locations, all of which we've had the opportunity to visit. =) Here's my ranking of all the lounges we visited during this trip (apart from the one in Hong Kong which we visited last year).
1. United Club @ London Heathrow Airport (LHR)
There are other Star Alliance lounges in Heathrow that we could visit, but we chose United Club, which is considered the best according to this review. The lounge wasn't crowded when we were there. We desperately needed a good hot shower after a full day of sightseeing, and the huge bathroom was perfect. We also had our dinner there before boarding the next flight and I must say the food and drinks selections were pretty good!
2. United Club @ Hong Kong International Airport (HKG)
,We used the United lounge pass to visit the United Club in Hong Kong during our transit en route to Malaysia last year. We were one of the first few people to get in as soon as the lounge opened at 6am. We've spent an entire evening/night walking around Hong Kong, so our first agenda was to get a good shower, followed by a tasty Asian and Western breakfast.
3. United Club @ Tokyo Narita Airport (NRT)
The United Club at Tokyo Narita was nice but it ranked #3 on my list because I didn't use the shower facility here. This lounge was busier than the previous two when I visited but the lounge was huge so it didn't feel packed at all. The wooden decor added some 'Japanese' feel. The food and drinks selection was pretty good too. I enjoyed the sushi and had fun using the automated beer machine. Wished I had time to visit the ANA lounge as well but my transit was too short.
4. Lufthansa Business Lounge Z @ Frankfurt Airport (FRA)
This was another lounge we visited after a red-eye flight followed by a few hours of sightseeing. This lounge was spacious with plenty of seating area. We found a quiet corner with lounge chairs and ended up taking a nap there. We used the shower facility, enjoyed some beer/champagne, ice-cream, and instant noodles. I wasn't impressed with the food selection, but the instant noodles made up for it.
5. Plaza Premium Lounge @ Kuala Lumpur Airport (KUL)
I was able to access this lounge with the Citibank Premier Miles credit card after the red-eye flight from Tokyo. The best part about this lounge is that it's open 24 hours. I took a shower and had breakfast here before heading into town to run some errands.
6. SilverKris Business Lounge @ Kuala Lumpur Airport (KUL)
I also made a quick visit to this lounge using my United Club membership. This lounge was small but the food selection was pretty good.
7. Domestic Premium Class Lounge @ Johannesburg Airport (JNB)
This lounge was quite basic. I was planning to take a shower here after our red-eye flight from London but decided not to after spending some time waiting for the attendant. I chose to spend my time using the internet while enjoying a muffin and a cup of cappuccino.
8. United Club @ Atlanta Airport (ATL)
Out of the 4 domestic United Clubs that I've visited, the one in Atlanta (terminal T) is my favorite. I visited this lounge at least 10 times during my layovers in Atlanta. Even though this lounge is small, I've always been able to find a seat. The food selection is typical 'domestic' standard, hot soup, salad, cookies, etc. The alcoholic drinks are self-service, good for anti-social people like me.
9. United Club - Gate F8 @ Chicago Airport (ORD)
10. United Club - Gate B18 @ Chicago Airport (ORD)
#9 and #10 are probably a tie. They are not as big as the one at Gate B6 but not too crowded either. Food selection is pretty much the same.
11. United Club - Gate B6 @ Chicago Airport (ORD)
This lounge is much larger than the other 2 lounges we visited in Chicago airport but it was packed and crowded when we were there. I'll probably avoid this lounge unless the boarding gate is close by.
Is the United Club Membership worth getting?
As you can see, it was certainly worth it for us as we fully utilized the lounge access during our trip. Best of all, I got this United Club membership for free, thanks to the intro fee waiver (normally cost $450) for the United MileagePlus Club credit card. I applied for this credit card mainly for this trip because almost all our flights were either on United or Star Alliance partners.
The best perk for this credit card is definitely the complimentary United Club membership that comes with it (costs $550 normally), which gave us access to United Clubs and also Star Alliance member lounges around the world. Note: You can access Star Alliance member lounges with your United Club membership only if you are traveling on a United or Star Alliance partner flight, and you are entitled to a maximum of one guest. Star Alliance's website has a search function where you can easily find which lounges you have access to in each airport.
The packaging was a bit over the top for a credit card.
The black card is the credit card. To enter the lounges, you'll need to present the navy blue United Club membership card. We've certainly enjoyed all the perks that come with these 2 cards. =)