Amenities & Food at the United Red Carpet Club
Is it just me, or does putting something behind closed doors and fogged glass make if FIVE TIMES more interesting? While passing time in the strange Purgatory that is the modern airport, I have often wondered what members-only airport lounges contain... if behind those doors were theme parks, chocolate fountains, and hypoallergenic kittens just waiting to be snuggled with.
Much to my good fortune, I have a father who does a decent amount of international travel. Over the months, he has accrued quite a few miles and been promoted up to Fancy Pants status with United (yes, Fancy Pants is a technical term). His special privileges have been leveraged, on occasion, to grant your Lowly Author access to the United Red Carpet Club lounges in several airports around the world.
I now take it upon myself to tell you EXACTLY what might be found in these lounges. We'll start with a look at food and then talk amenities. Whee!
United Red Carpet Club Snacks
Every United airport lounge I have visited offers some sort of snack buffet. The offerings typically include:
- Bagels and cream cheese
- Some sort of pretzel mix
- Some sort of sweets
- Cereal and milk
Most United lounges also have a full bar at which you can order alcoholic drinks.
Some lounges I have visited also offer:
- Fresh vegetables
- Cheese and crackers
- Fresh bread
An amazing lounge at Narita airport even offered things like freshly-steamed edamame in its buffet, but these miraculous bonuses are the exception, not the norm.
The gist is this: if you want to have a real, formal meal, go to an actual airport restaurant. If you just want to snack while playing on your laptop or reading a magazine, stick to the lounge. You will certainly not be wanting in the calorie department (and let's be honest, how many calories do you actually need when you're flying???).
I love exclusive airport lounges for two things in particular:
- Free wireless Internet access
- Actually comfortable places to sit
Though the other standard amenities that no doubt many others enjoy include:
- Snack buffets
- Cleaner bathrooms
- Plenty of plugs for your electronics
- Television screens
... and sometimes even include:
- Small office cubicles
- Free magazines that are acutally good
- Dedicated television and movie screening rooms
- Special sleeping pods
ADDED BONUS: People watching!
Wireless access and comfort aside, my favorite thing about exclusive airport lounges is the quality of their people watching pool. Obviously, people watching anywhere in an airport is going to be good, but in these lounges, real characters emerge!
I once saw a man decked out in head to toe Louis Vuitton fabric. With his matching baggage and accessories, he looked like a... like a... 1970s Louis Vuitton pimp. Incredible. I wanted his autograph.
I also once saw Daniel Craig. He was alone and looked just like he does in his Bond movies. I wanted him to punch me in the neck.
So while perhaps all the other special amenities might be lackluster, this under-the-radar and very variable perk is MAJOR!
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Now You Know
I hope my little overview has alleviated some of your curiosity about members-only airport lounges. I imagine that those belonging to other airlines differ slightly, but not much. After all, what beyond food, drinks, and places to work, sit, freshen up, and sleep, can a lounge offer?
United lounges vary from airport to airport, so you never really know what you'll be getting until you step inside. Some, like the lounge in the Hong Kong airport, are airy, elevated metal tree houses filled with natural light. Others, like the lounge in Frankfurt, are stuffy and a bit dark. Though they're not all perfect, they're still better than the waiting areas throughout the rest of the airport, so if you have the opportunity to take advantage of one, I heartily recommend you exercise it!
What United Red Carpet Club lounges have you visited? Are they good? And have you ever had any interesting experiences in one? Share your stories in the comments below!
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