Review: New United Club LAX

While most readers know me as the lone (consistently) pro-Delta voice on the blog, I recently flew United Airlines out of Los Angeles. (In truth, I’ve long since requalified for Diamond Medallion, Delta doesn’t offer a nonstop from Los Angeles to Washington just yet, and during the holiday season United flies internationally-configured 777s between Washington Dulles and Los Angeles/San Francisco, so using miles I was able to score a “Polaris First” seat for the four-hour flight.)

Given the new United Club lounge that just opened at LAX’s Terminal 7 (which is in the midst of a remodel, if a rather generic one), I took this as an opportunity to review the new space. Tiffany generously offered one of her United Club passes that come as part of her perks as a Hyatt Diamond.

United Club LAX entrance

United Club LAX entrance

The entrance to the United Club is directly after clearing security at Terminal 7, making it equally convenient for travelers flying out of Terminal 7 or Terminal 8, since United’s flights out of Terminal 8 are easily reachable from that point. It’s simply an enormous entrance, quite unmissable from the rest of the terminal and very brightly lit.

Check-in on the ground level is easy, and you’re directed up a long escalator to get to the main floor (you also can, of course, take an elevator, which I did since I was traveling with my canine companion).

Escalators to main level of United Club LAX

Escalators to main level of United Club LAX

It’s hard to overstate just how huge the new United Club is, and it’s almost quite overwhelming. Physically, the space is very attractive. It certainly helped that I was there just at sunrise, and that the lounge has ample windows offering a drop-dead gorgeous view.

United Club LAX

United Club LAX

As I was snapping this photo, it’s worth noting that one of the main-level agents came rushing over to me to admonish me for not paying attention to my (extremely well-behaved) dog. “If you aren’t looking, your dog could be peeing on this brand-new carpet, and that would be very expensive to clean.” Um, okay, lady. It’s hard to not be put off by what can only be categorized as aggressive unfriendliness. Some things about United Airlines don’t change, I guess!

I headed straight for the outdoor terrace, which was stunning, and I would imagine would be lovely on a warm day. Even in Los Angeles, 6:30 on a December morning is too chilly to linger outside.

Outdoor terrace at United Club LAX

Outdoor terrace at United Club LAX

Outdoor terrace at United Club LAX

Outdoor terrace at United Club LAX

Back inside, there was a long counter to display the food and coffee options. Despite the gorgeous new space, the offerings were underwhelming, to say the least — fresh fruit and miniature pastries. Coffee was unbranded (and not very good). If United wants to compete with Delta on the club front, it needs to up its food and beverage game very quickly.

United Club LAX food display

United Club LAX food display

United Club LAX food display

United Club LAX food display

United Club LAX food display

United Club LAX food display

What’s more, as you can see, the presentation was simply dreary.

The bar area of the lounge is also enormous, and visually impressive. The bartender on duty was hugely friendly, and poured me a glass of water (it’s worth noting there is no self-serve water station that I saw).

Bar area at United Club LAX

Bar area at United Club LAX

I sat at a table by the bar for a few minutes before I headed back down toward the gate.

United Club LAX

United Club LAX bar seating area

United Club LAX Bottom Line

The true bottom line is that the new United Club at LAX is visually stunning, incredibly spacious, and offers an outdoor terrace that at LAX is a unique amenity.

However, on the “soft product” side, it seems not much has changed: the food displays were unappealing and offered little variety, and I had a mixed experience on the customer service front to say the least.

This is certainly an improvement over the United Club that was at Terminal 7 previously (which was dark, and a little cramped) but United needs to put in more work to offer food and beverage offerings and other “soft” amenities to compete with a new crop of domestic airline lounges by the likes of Delta and American.

Enjoy this review? Check out hundreds of other reports on airlines, hotels, and airport lounges worldwide!

About Nick

Nick brings the perspective of the infrequent but savvy traveler who finds that getting there is actually less than half the fun, but you might as well fly business class on the way and get a good night's sleep. Despite a relatively sparse portfolio of flown miles and hotel stays per year that would never otherwise qualify for status, Nick manages to leverage credit cards, promotions and points to secure elite status and increase his chances for that sought-after upgrade.

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Comments

  1. Great review Nick. This looks WAY better than the remodeled AA Admirals Clubs. The new AA AC’s look like a sterile office.

  2. A terrible review. The food offerings were unimpressive only because the reviewer arrived before the main breakfast spread was put out. It generally includes not only pastries, bread, fresh fruit, and yogurt, but also oatmeal and hard-boiled eggs. There is self-service water and juice available. The coffee is not “unbranded,” but rather is Illy, as has been amply documented. http://thepointsguy.com/2015/11/united-illy-coffee/

  3. Gotta side with the United agent in regard to the dog. It doesn’t belong in a lounge in the first place and you know very well that you weren’t watching it. I assume that you did not provide evidence of his training prior to entering, so the agent would not know that you have a well behaved dog. If I take my kids in a lounge, I watch them like a hawk, and having kids in a lounge makes way more sense than having a dog in one.

  4. A club lounge is not an appropriate place for a dog. Some people are allergic or genuinely afraid and their legitimate needs should be prioritized over your belief that you are entitled to bring your dog wherever you go. I love my dog but I would never DREAM of bringing her somewhere where she is likely to make others very uncomfortable and threaten basic sanitary concerns.

  5. “an outdoor terrace that at LAX is a unique amenity.”

    I’m not sure it’s fair to say that an outdoor terrace is unique at LAX considering that the Star Alliance lounge in the TBIT has an outdoor terrace (with fire pits).

  6. @Josie: “A club lounge is not an appropriate place for a dog”

    Fortunately, the folks who actually own these lounges disagree. Feel free to start your own dog-free lounge and see if that business takes off, though. Seems from this comment section like you may already have at least 1-2 customers, though they’re likely the kind that get in with their credit card and don’t actually pay (yet think they have the right to dictate how the place is run), so not sure if you’re going to be terribly profitable.

  7. @Gary Leff — fair point, but I guess I meant vis-a-vis domestic SkyClubs and Admirals Clubs.

    @Carl @Josie @farnorthtrader — you have no idea that my dog isn’t a service animal (he is), but you are entitled to your opinion. However, you’ve really not given any real arguments as to *why* dogs don’t belong in lounges, merely opinionated assertions to that effect. In the meantime, I’m flying with my pup, and he’s a great travel companion — and I got a lot of delighted looks, happy kids and smiling faces in the lounge re: my dog, and no glares other than from the agent.

    @Eric W. — 6:30am is breakfast time. Delta puts out their full spread at that hour; if United doesn’t that’s on them, and it seems strange for you to call it a “terrible review” because the United Club offered limited services at the (reasonable) hour I flew? Also, it may have been Illy, but there was no signage or identification to that effect — so for the club’s sake, it was unbranded.

    May everyone feel a little of that holiday spirit, please!

  8. Don’t bring your dog on your travels – it’s an annoyance for anyone that has allergies or has to deal with pet owners self-entitlement

  9. I’m gonna peace out on the comments section so that I can have a Merry Christmas. Hope you all do, as well. Even commenters who hate puppies.

  10. What service does your dog provide????? Where was your dog trained? What breed is this dog?

    99.999999% chance that this is another fake service animal.

  11. Dogs do belong anywhere near a food buffet.

    I like puppies. I dislike people who mistakenly believe that a pet is a traveling companion.

  12. Very fortunate to live in Australia where nobody pulls that service animal shit and just brings in whatever they want using that lame excuse. What’s wrong with people thinking they can bring in their pet because they feel lonely (or whatsoever) if traveling without the pet? Totally inconsiderate to other people having allergies, being afraid or generously just think it’s unhygienic. If you’ve got a guide dog I can understand, but please don’t use the excuse to bring your pet. I hate having to travel domestically in the US just because of this.

  13. Gotta say this lounge looks like a letdown. Sterile white and gray decor, subpar food (even if they didn’t have the full spread out), and attitude from staff who should be serving as the face of the company and the brand. Like the rest of the supremely underwhelming Terminal 7 “renovation”, which has all the warmth and customer-friendliness of a medical clinic, this is lipstick on a pig from United. As usual.

  14. Nick — it’s a bit rich to accuse commenters of being puppy haters. I love dogs. Dogs are awesome in parks and houses and yards and beaches and lakes and even apartments. However, in most of the world outside of mollycoddled, special-needs California (where I live and where we need psychiatrists to prescribe us cuddly wuddly boo boos to get through the day without having an anxiety meltdown), dogs aren’t seen as being appropriate in restaurants, bars, restrooms, hair salons, dental surgeries, or wherever. It isn’t anti-dog for commenters to find it weird that you’ve got an animal roaming around an airport lounge. A majority of non-local travelers regard that as no less intrusive than if you brought a rabbit or a ferret to the lounge. Don’t be precious.

  15. gosh the privilege in these reviews, ‘branded coffee,’ fresh fruit, breakfast at a decent hour. I’m just glad to wake up and get out of bed. Course correct folks

  16. I don’t believe for a minute that the dog is a service animal. What service does it provide? Detect seizures? Because clearly you are not blind. Sorry but “emotional comfort” does not qualify as a service under CA law, which strictly prohibits live animals in establishments that serve food

    You should consider yourself very fortunate that you and pooch were not booted by UA lounge dragons.

  17. Man, I really enjoy this blog, until the posts which suggest that the writer thinks he deserves something — in this case, approval from others about his fucking *dog* — just because he wants it. It’s insufferable.

  18. While I fully agree with the comment that the main level LAX UA Club dragon ladies still provide the same old US “soup nazi” style of customer service, I side with the other commenters on “no dogs in a club”.

    Unless you are blind (which I doubt you are, as you are taking photos) and the dog is a seeing eye dog, any club should be off limits to any animal. Even then, most local health codes in California prohibit animals where there is “open food” displays (o.k. no comments about UA’s club offerings actually being real food).

    I have 3 rescue dogs which I love dearly, I would never be so inconsiderate to bring them into a club (even in one of thier travel kennels) where some people pay real $$$ to join. Oh thats right, you were in the club on a free pass from a friend.

    Show some class and consideration to others. Happy Holidays.

  19. I don’t have a dog or children and so don’t travel with either. But I’d much prefer a well-behaved dog in a lounge and plane than some of the “millycoddled” children (and adults) I’ve observed–who put their grubby hands all over the “food,” cough without covering their mouths, and put their stinky feet on the seats/bulkhead.

    Enjoyed reading your report, as always, Nick. May you and your loved ones have a happy and healthy holidays.

  20. Agreed – the dog is not likely a service animal which means it should not have been out and about per United’s lounge policy:

    “Pets
    Service animals are accepted into most United Club and United-operated lounge locations; all other pets must remain in a kennel while in the Club.”

    Increasingly it’s a world where personal desire and sense of entitlement supersede the rules or consideration for others.

  21. I have to agree 100% with most of the comments so far, dogs should not be allowed in clubs (with the exception of true service dogs)! You were comped a pass, so you weren’t even deserving to be in the club to begin with, let alone your companion dog.

  22. I was at the same club a few nights ago and a young lady brought in a huge Afghan. The dog was almost the same size as she was. All I could think was how is this dog going to fit on the floor without blocking other passengers? Recently I was upgraded on a transcontinental flight. The gentleman next to me brought a very well behaved dog. I had no problem with that except the dogs head protruded slightly into my floor space, and every time I moved my leg I was afraid I was going to kick the dog. I can’t imagine it being comfortable for the dog to be laying there for five hours either.

  23. Nick, thanks for the review and Merry Christmas.
    I’m a huge a canine lover but ONLY take my dog when specifically allowed and keep him away from other patrons. I wouldn’t think of bringing him into a lounge, service animal or not (he is not). It was not unreasonable for UA staff to monitor how your dog (and you) behave in a BRAND NEW space. Seems your review was tainted by an indifference to a sensible policy. And yes there are valid reasons *why*…like allergies, anxiety towards animals (maybe they need comfort humans) and extra wear and tear. Heck, I feel bad when my dog sheds on the carpet…

  24. Don’t know why Nick is still published here… He writes something rude and unjustified and then acts like he’s all righteous in the comments section. Actually, I take that back. He doesn’t even reply anymore because he knows he’s wrong.

  25. nar·cis·sism – noun – extreme selfishness, with a grandiose view of one’s own talents and a craving for admiration, as characterizing a personality type.
    synonyms: vanity, self-love, self-admiration, self-absorption, self-obsession, conceit, self-centeredness, self-regard, egotism, egoism
    Example: The passenger suffering from narcissism brought his dog into an airline lounge.

  26. I’m glad I’m not the only who thinks that bringing one’s dogs on airplanes and now airport lounges has completely gotten out of control. And this is coming from someone who treats their dog akin to a human baby. People seriously need to cut it out with their sense of entitlement.

  27. A dog in the aircraft cabin?? Surely not?? Could become a projectile in an accident??
    If I was in a lounge and I saw a non guide dog (plus ones the severely disabled use for assistance ), I would ask for it and the owner to be removed or I would leave.
    What the heck is it with Americans? I laughed like a drain when I was reading this below par review.

  28. I am a doctor who is a trained and practising psychiatrist in Australia.

    I can assure you that there is no such thing as a service dog that could deliver therapy or clinical support on a plane.

    It’s just a bogus pretext for people to take their pets with them.

    I have one patient who enrolled her dog in therapeutic support animal training. And then withdrew it when she learned that it costs $10,000 and requires the dog to live away for over a year.

    Travelling with pets is just selfish and inconsiderate to others, when 10% of adults get asthmatic symptoms in proximity to pets with fur.

  29. Dog lover here, but Nick– you’ve just shown us yet another example of how air travel is on a long slide downward these days. The number of people traveling with dogs has skyrocketed in the last 10 years, as service has declined, seat pitch has crept downward and misery has hit an all time high.

    I love dogs, but hate people you invent some pretext to bring them into a pressurized aluminum tube with me.

    Likes Delta and travels with a pseudo-service-dog… Nick, you are a bit part of the problem with air travel today.

  30. I was just at this lounge Thursday. There’s self serve water in this lounge- it’s part of the two Coke freestyle machines under Dasani water. There’s also 2 water dispensers next to the trail mix dispensers. How did you miss all these??

  31. I’m kind of on the fence about the dog issue. I love dogs, service or otherwise, so I’m sure I’m biased. So I’ll leave that for everyone else to debate and be either giant pricks about or level-headed adults with rational explanations.

    I will, however, go on record as saying that I don’t think children (say, under 16) should be allowed in lounges. Full stop. Even if they’re flying in a premium cabin. Like Andrew says above, I’d take a well-behaved animal of any sort of a child EVERY DAY OF THE WEEK. In my personal experience, anecdotal as it may be, children in clubs tend to be disruptive, loud, and ill-mannered. No doubt a product of poor parenting, evidenced by their also-poorly-mannered parents who are usually quite obvious. Every time I’m at a lounge, I mention this in the comments section of a comment card, or nicely inform the lounge attendants in the hopes they’ll pass it to their leadership.

    I feel the lounge is intended to be a relaxing place pre-flight or during connections. Since most children seem to lack the parenting oversight or inborn ability to comport themselves as adult, all children should lose the privilege.

    I’m sure there’ll be a lot of responses from parents who have “the most angelic, well-behaved children ever”. No. You don’t.

  32. The first thing I noticed was the floor. Obviously taken from some other abandoned place. Went in one week after open, and the scuffs and grime from wherever it was before was apparent. They spent all the money and couldn’t even clean up old tile before placing it down. Disappointing. I never expect good food in lounges except from Swiss air in Zurich or ANA in Tokyo. At least now United has salads.

  33. Love to see the reasonable commenters (not sarcasm). Reviewer admittedly stated where is slight leans. I’ve been in this lounge a half dozen times this month, if he didnt notice the Illy coffee branding, he may actually require a service animal for vision impairment. Additionally, I’ve also witnessed food go out immediately at the opening of the lounge or shortly after (10-20 minutes), so I question the validity of the food setup photos. I have plenty of hate for many of the United lounges, but this is just an unreasonably biased review, plain and simple.

  34. “As you can see”. I couldn’t see.

    Please take more photos of the actual food rather than side on. You mentioned pastries but clearly there was other stuff there too.

    I’m 99.99% unlikely to want to eat but the food offerings ate a large pay off my own interest in the blog.

  35. I LOVE dogs. They don’t belong in airplanes and definitely not in lounges. I’ve yet to see one in a lounge, but I will report it as a hazard should I ever see one in a lounge. Again, I LOVE LOVE LOVE dogs, but I hate this trend toward bringing them where they don’t belong.

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