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Amenities & Food at the United Red Carpet Club

Updated on December 20, 2011

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
  • Fruit
  • Tea
  • Coffee

Most United lounges also have a full bar at which you can order alcoholic drinks.

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Not bad, when it comes to cheese brands!Much better than airplane crackers.WHAT? A REAL VEGETABLE IN AN AIRPORT?
Not bad, when it comes to cheese brands!
Not bad, when it comes to cheese brands!
Much better than airplane crackers.
Much better than airplane crackers.
WHAT? A REAL VEGETABLE IN AN AIRPORT?
WHAT? A REAL VEGETABLE IN AN AIRPORT?

Additional Snacks

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???).

Gotta hit the bar!
Gotta hit the bar!
Oh, you can be PRODUCTIVE here?
Oh, you can be PRODUCTIVE here?

Other Amenities

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
  • Bars
  • Cleaner bathrooms
  • Magazines
  • Plenty of plugs for your electronics
  • Television screens

... and sometimes even include:

  • Showers
  • 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!

Share Your Experience!

Have you been in a members-only Airline lounge before?

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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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    • profile image

      Crislaine 4 years ago

      As for the free WiFi, wouldn't anonye with a computer or ipad be able to get free WiFi if they just stand outside of the lounge? As long as you know the name of the WiFi service you can usually just connect without a password. I did this in Tokyo and was able to get free WiFi next to the lounge. Now many airports are offering free WiFi.

    • profile image

      Keven 4 years ago

      We have United Presidential Plus and my husband is the main preson on the card, but I'm a cardholder as well. Can I use the lounge with my card if I'm flying United without him?

    • Simone Smith profile image
      Author

      Simone Haruko Smith 5 years ago from San Francisco

      Dude 50! This special voucher... I wonder if corporations still do stuff like that! Technology sure has changed though.

      And c'mon- we're already TO that point at which gamers are awarded and folks get special treatment after spilling hot coffee on themselves. We're just not there in the way one might expect ^_^

    • 50 Caliber profile image

      50 Caliber 5 years ago from Arizona

      Simone, I looked back at flight vouchers [why yes I am a pack rat that still has his first pay stub] the ID portion of these lounges was verification to a list that the corporation that footed the bill was indeed being used by a member of Iveco's personnel list, my receipts were stamped "verified" as to a name on a registered Corporation. It appears the Iveco was registered and my name was run on a computer I'm assuming, surely they had computer systems then for such things, I just didn't have a laptop and my computer systems in house at my business were DOS and I was well versed in the Dos language as well as spread sheet programs like "Lotus 123".

      I doubt at the time I would have ever envisioned the miniaturization of computers with 1000s more bytes of storage than the huge central processors that I had for a 10 keyboard/monitor system that was hard wired between accounting, parts sales, truck sales, service center that had to be backed up on tape daily and hard copies kept to back the tapes up. It was those times of transition that kept the accounting service triplicating the work load. I've stumbled off topic, but I have a rack of experience with work based computing vs what I see that would have been a blessing to have had back when the mid-range diesel trucks were introduced into the USA and I jumped in that timeline with three companies that were searching for fish to take the bait and commit to marketing and repairing the surge of Italian and Japanese imported trucks.

      So I'll shut up now and just remember just how much time has changed technologically that a computer gamer can set in Huston, Texas and fly a drone in Afghanistan and fire rockets at targets there, it's unbelievable to this guy and totally wrong in that application. I just wait to see a Computer Gamer to be awarded with the highest number of confirmed kills at 7877.54 miles between the trigger and target, as well collects a "Purple Heart" from spilling hot coffee on his junk LMAO.

      I apologize for going sa d far off topic, too much coffee?,

      50 Cal.

    • Simone Smith profile image
      Author

      Simone Haruko Smith 5 years ago from San Francisco

      Very interesting, 50! It does seem like some things have changed. The free wireless is what makes these lounges so great, in my opinion! This place that requires photo IDs sounds really intriguing...

    • 50 Caliber profile image

      50 Caliber 5 years ago from Arizona

      Simone, a great interesting read that was easy to follow and fun with great information.

      It has been since the late 90s and first year of 2000 and from your photos much has changed. I got VIP status when flying monthly to Italy and Frankfurt depending on my business requirements. Italy was for the Iveco Mid range trucks and my west Coast affiliations that got me an instant in. Back then no WI-FI seems no laptops either, we were on the cusp of having all this technology, maybe Al Gore was still inventing the internet. JFK as well as La Guardia Airports are both good stop overs as you wait to catch a flight across the ocean. La Guardia had/has some great places inside to catch some good food, a place that had 5 to 15 dollar burgers that were pretty darn good, steaks as well I'm not sure if they were private but they required photo ID and corporate ID and the ticket was signed and I got a copy with no cash out of pocket, had I known that I would have had at least another custom burger. I don't know how much it has changed but made a 2 hour stop over pretty short, posh seating and a desk to do work and eat in semi private sound board cubicles, voted up,

      50

    • Simone Smith profile image
      Author

      Simone Haruko Smith 5 years ago from San Francisco

      The reality is nice, Melissa McClain, but gosh... how AWESOME would butlers be????

      Thanks psychicdog.net! And a happy New Year to you!

    • psychicdog.net profile image

      psychicdog.net 5 years ago

      Wow you sure know your airport lounges! Fun read. Congratulations to your father for getting Fancy Pants status and have a Merry Old time at Christmas Simone!

    • Melissa McClain profile image

      Melissa McClain 5 years ago from Atlanta, GA

      I always thought those places had butlers to watch your luggage for you and waiters to bring you wine spritzers on silver platters. The reality is only slightly less enviable.