United Airlines

United Airlines partners with that exclusive private lounge at LAX

You may remember stories about a private terminal at Los Angeles International Airport where passengers pay a premium fee to get special service before their flight, including private and personalized check-in and baggage handling, private security screening, a swank ride directly to the aircraft and a very upscale lounge to hang out in.

The cost? Fees are up there in the rarified “If you have to ask, you can’t afford it” categories:

Membership is $4500 a year, which gives a discount rate on individual visits of (only) $2700 when flying on a domestic flight and $3,000 when flying one-way internationally.

Not a member? Those one-time visits cost $3,500 for a domestic flight and $4,000 for someone traveling internationally.

Want a “cheaper” way in?

United Airlines and The Private Suite have partnered up to offer what it describes as “a highly preferential rate” that will be included in some business-class fares.

Exact pricing isn’t mentioned in the airlines’ release about the new partnership, but on the webpage for the United Private Suite, it says:

“With this service, you’ll save $4,500 on The Private Suite’s annual membership fee that’s normally required for travel with other airlines. In addition, you’ll enjoy favorable rates when compared to making separate bookings for travel and The Private Suite experience.”

Want to book it?

United says the The Private Suite experience is initially available only if you book through select corporate travel booking desks and travel agents, but that passengers will soon be able to purchase the perk  on united.com or through the United app as part of a premium-cabin ticket fare.

 

Travel Tidbits: from United and JetBlue

United Airlines will open its Polaris lounge at San Francisco International Airport (at Gate  G92) on April 30 to passengers traveling in the premium cabin travel.

The two-level, 28,000 square foot lounge has 440 seats, 492 power outlets and USB ports, 5 daybeds with Saks Fifth Avenue bedding, 8 shower suites, valets who will steam garments for you, a bistro-like buffet and a restaurant-style dining area.

At the bar, they’ll be serving cocktails inspired by the Bay Area including, says United, the Mai Tai, invented in Oakland in 1944, and the Pisco Punch, “featuring pisco which became all the rage during the California Gold Rush of 1849.”

Not flying through SFO? In addition to this new lounge and the existing one at Chicago O’Hare, United will open Polaris lounges at Newark Liberty International Airport in early June, George Bush Intercontinental in Houston this summer and at Los Angeles International Airport this fall.

United also introduced some food and beverage upgrades for passengers on board.

Starting May 1, pasengers can purchase egg and chicken chorizo tacos (breakfast/$8.99) and barbecue chicken sandwiches (lunch/dinner; $9.99) from the inflight menu and some interesting new beers and ales, including Lagunitas Sumpin’ Easy Ale, New Belgium’s Citradelic Tangerine IPA and, this summer,  Belgian pilsner Stella Artois ($7.99 each). 

For those flying on JetBlue’s Mint flights, be sure to open and take home the limited-edition amenity kit.

In addition to a keeper pair of SuperSoft socks from Basic Outfitters, the kit includes a toothbrush and toothpaste, eye mask, screen wipe, pen, earplugs and pillow pack, and a Hudson Made New York trio of lip salve, facial mist and hand cream – all tucked in a Hayward and Hopper collaboratively designed travel bag inspired by Dennis Hopper and Brooke Hayward’s Los Angeles home circa 1963.

 

Travel Tidbits for air travelers

 Brazilian restaurant for Miami International Airport

A popular chain restaurant from Brazil – Viena – has opened on the top (seventh) floor of the pre-security MIA Hotel at Miami International Airport.

The restaurant, which replaces the “Top of the Port” restaurant that was in that spot for many years, has a menu featuring Brazilian and European dishes, including salt cod fritters (Bolinho de Bacalau), Pão de Queijo (Brazilian cheese bread) and the Caipirinha, Brazil’s national cocktail.

In addition to great views, this new restaurant has free Wi-Fi, happy hour, large-screen TVS and electronic charging stations.

Foodie Week at Philadelphia International Airport

 March 12-18 is Foodie Week at Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) with seven restaurants in Concourse B offering special entrees at a discount – $12 – throughout the week

  • Baba Bar: Harissa Chicken Sandwich
  • Boule Café: French Onion Grilled Cheese
  • Cibo Bistro and Wine Bar: Shrimp Calabrese
  • Germantown Biergarten: Cheddar Brat Platter
  • Love Grille: Cheesesteak Hoagie
  • Mezzogiorno: Short Rib and Tomato Pizza
  • Noobar: Spicy Chicken Fried Rice

United Airlines passengers can buy a place in line

United Airlines now allows standard economy passengers to purchase Priority Boarding, allowing them to board in group 2.

The cost is $9 per segment and, according to United, the number of passes sold will be “closely controlled based on flight, date, time of day and day-of-week restrictions.”

For those who already have TSA Precheck and really want to move up in the boarding process, this is a less expensive add-on than Premier Access, which offers priority boarding benefits along with other benefit such as access to premier check-in lines and security lanes. Prices for this add-on start at $15 per segment.

Keep in mind: the new Priority Pass option, like Premier Access, is non-refundable and is not available to you if you’ve purchased a Basic Economy ticket.

SXSW bring extra music to Austin-Bergstrom International Airport  

The SXSW mash-up of conferences and festivals is underway in Austin and the airport in the Live Music Capital of the World is doing its part to make sure everyone gets their fill of music.

In addition to the usual 21 live music events it offers each week, Austin Bergstrom International Airport is adding six extra performances during peak SXSW travel days – March 12, 13 and 19.

Of the extra performances, bands will play at the airport’s Asleep at the Wheel State at Ray Benson’s Roadhouse near Gate 10, while extra solo acts will perform at Annie’s and Waterloo. See the full schedule here.

Post Office plus at Paris Charles de Gaulle and Orly airports

The Parisian postal service – La Poste – has opened enhanced post offices at both Paris-Orly and Paris-Charles de Gaulle airports, In addition to 24-hour postal machines, these post offices will have gift shops, terminals where customers can make photo postcards, rentable work spaces, and other services, including a key drop.

Your face is your boarding pass

Passengers flying with British Airways from Orlando International Airport (MCO) to London Gatwick can now opt to use their face as their boarding pass, thanks to SITA’s biometric boarding technology, which scans a person’s face and matches it up with the data U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has on that passenger in their files.

The process is already being used with certain JetBlue flights at Boston Logan International Airport and British Airways flights at Los Angeles International Airport.

Going biometric isn’t a requirement to board the flights testing the new technology, but last year’s SITA’s passenger IT survey showed that 57% of passengers would use biometrics instead of a boarding pass. SITA reports that real world rates are even higher than that: nearly 100% of passengers are opting to use the biometric boarding during the trials.

United Airlines serving up Olympic super heroes & snacks

United Airlines is super excited about the Winter Olympics and, as the official airline of Team USA, is going all out with stateside celebrations.

On Friday, Feb 9, the airline will be giving out super hero action figures of a half dozen Olympic athletes at seven hub airports: Houston (IAH), Dulles, DEN, LAX, SFO, Newark and O’Hare. Details here.

United will also be serving up Olympics-inspired food and beverage at more than 50 club locations through February 24.

On Friday, February 9,  they’ll be serving a Perfect 10 cocktail made with prosecco and cranberry juice, garnished with blueberries and cranberries and a Super Sundae, made with vanilla ice cream,  strawberries, blueberries and whipped cream.

Through February 24, foods served will include a fruit bar with blueberries, pineapple, blackberries, honeydew and strawberries and a mix-and-match candy bar.

And in addition to specialty cocktails ($5 each) such as the The Rings (Vodka, triple sec, white cranberry juice and simple syrup garnished with lifesavers), on February 24 the menu will include a red, white and blue parfait, made with vanilla yogurt, fresh strawberries, blueberries and a sprinkle of granola.

 

How to get one of United’s Olympic athlete superhero action figures

Olympic figure skater Nathan Chen as United Airlines superhero action figure King Quad. Courtesy United

United Airlines is so excited about being the official airline of the United States Olympic Committee that it has made superhero action figures of six athletes competing in the upcoming Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games and another half dozen action figures of United employees who do the magic on the planes and behind the scenes to fly the athletes to the games.

The athletes portrayed as action figures are:

Air Raider: freeskier Gus Kenworth

Artic Angel: snowboarder Jamie Anderson

Ice Lightning: short track speed track skater J.R. Celski

The Rocket: luger Erin Hamlin

King Quad: figure skater Nathan Chen

The Fury: sled hockey player, Nikko Landerson

(“Ice  Lightening” and “Winged Wonder” action figures)

There are also six superhero action figures portraying United employees, including one named Storm Tamer, representing an airline operations expert and my favorite, Departicus, who represents a customer service agent.

Want an action figure of your own?

In celebration of the Opening Ceremonies of the Winter Olympics, United is giving out athlete action figures to customers at its hubs on Friday.

Look for the life-sized mannequins of the sponsored Team USA athletes at these spots. At each airport, the airline will be giving out the 100 action figure corrosponding to the life-size mannequin on site.

Houston (IAH): North Terminal, past gate C3

Dulles (IAD):  IAD: Intersection in C Concourse, en route to the trains

Denver (DEN): Concourse B, central plaza

Los Angeles ( LAX): Second level, Terminal 7 just above security

San Francisco (SFO) Rotunda near the food court

Newark (EWR) C3 Concourse

Chicago (ORD): Gate B12

At each airport, the airline will be giving out the action figure corrosponding to the life-size mannequin on site.

The airline has also been giving out action to figures to travelers at Penn Station in New York City who take a photo by the Team USA wall and then share the photo on social media (#TeamUnited).