On the way home from Austin, we had about an hour to kill before flying home to Boston Logan International. I’ll echo what I’ve said in previous lounge reviews: I’m a pretty laid back guy, so I don’t worry if it’s a bit crowded or the food isn’t absolutely out of this world. If you’re expecting first class service at every lounge, just make sure that you take my review with a grain of salt!
First, how did I get in?
I’ve been sitting on some United Club Passes (handily obtained from holding onto Chase’s United MileagePlus Explorer Card) to use for the lounge in Austin. The credit card includes two United Club passes each year around your cardmember anniversary. In my experience, these come a few weeks prior to your anniversary, and are valid for about a year. All you need is the pass itself, and a same-day boarding pass (any airline) to get into the lounge. The boarding pass requirement prohibits you from using the lounge on the landing side of a trip, but I’m not sure why that’s an important factor for United.
Without the Club passes, there are still a number of other ways to get into the lounge. Paid entrance will run you $59 – not worth it, in my opinion. First class or business class tickets on United or their Star Alliance partners will get you into the lounge at your departing airport. Star Alliance Gold status will also get you in with a same day Star Alliance boarding pass for the same airport. US military personnel and folks with United Club memberships also get in, free of charge.
We got to the United Club right around 3PM on Sunday, and the lounge was pretty busy! Sunday’s typically a big travel day, so that makes sense. Coupled with the fact that Austin’s United Club is on the smaller side, at least compared to others I’ve been to, it felt overcrowded while we were there.
Finding the lounge is very easy. Austin-Bergstrom isn’t a large airport (though it is undergoing some expansion work at the moment), and once you get past security, there’s just a single terminal. Across from Gate 13, there’s a white staircase that leads you up to a small loft area. Once upstairs, you’ll find both the United Club and American Airlines’ Admirals Club. The Admirals Club is directly in front of the stairs, and the United Club is to your left.
The food was about standard for a domestic airline lounge. Some finger foods, fruit, and a hot item – southwestern style chili. Drinks were strong, though this could be good or bad, depending on your preference! With a subtle nod to Texas, I had a bowl of chili while waiting for our Southwest flight a few gates down.
The lounge itself had multiple ‘quiet’ work areas, though no individual work desks as I’ve seen in some other lounges. Add that to a few larger seating areas, as well as the bar section toward the back of the lounge. This United Club is oriented along a single axis, and is more like a hallway with separate rooms than an open floor plan. As I mentioned earlier, the lounge felt a bit cramped while we visited, and I think the tight layout probably had a lot to do with that. The floor plan does reduce the noise that can travel throughout the space though, so even when it’s busy, the United Club has the air of a library in every room but the bar.
I hope you don’t mind the lack of pictures – there were just too many people milling around the lounge while we were there, and I didn’t want to make anybody uncomfortable. In essence, the United Club is everything a domestic lounge should be. Quiet, comfortable, and stocked with a bit of free food and a decent bar. You won’t find showers, massages, or anything at the Centurion level, but it’s easy to stop in and have a snack while working on your next blog post!