- The new lounge targets customers who are connecting or want to grab food on the go.
- Two-thirds of United's customers in Denver are passing through in between connecting flights.
- Seating is limited: 16 seats and standing room for eight people at a bar.
United Airlines is opening a new kind of lounge at Denver International Airport, and it's not designed for travelers to linger.
The Chicago-based airline is launching the new club Saturday as travel demand recovers, and airlines return to profitability in part thanks to customers are willing to pay up for trips, like those with access to airport lounges.
The roughly 1,600-square-foot lounge, called United Club Fly, is a "grab-and-go" facility with complimentary food options like sandwiches, wraps and salads as well as smaller items like Noosa yogurt cups and treats like Milk Bar Birthday Cake Truffles.
A barista will offer made-to-order coffee drinks like cappuccinos, but there is also a self-serve coffee machine and a water bottle refilling station.
Seating is limited: 16 seats and standing room for eight people at a bar. Travelers scan their boarding pass to enter and can't bring guests, like they can at standard United Clubs.
Access to United Clubs comes with any international business class or transcontinental ticket, or with a membership, which costs $650 a year for most members of its frequent flyer program, according to the airline's website. It's $550 to $600 for members with higher-tier status. Some credit cards also offer access.
The new, smaller club in Denver is for "those who are time constrained or simply looking for good food and drink all the while preserving space in our facilities for those who have a little more time," said Alexander Dorow, United's head of lounges and premium services.
It's a new concept for a U.S. airline. "It's not a one-size-fits-all mentality by any means," Dorow said of the carrier's approach to its lounges.
Carriers are ramping up their fight for consumers willing to shell out more for travel, and trying to make their lucrative co-brand credit cards more appealing.
"It's a very smart move by United because airlines try to minimize the connecting time between flights for passengers," said Henry Harteveldt, founder of travel consulting firm Atmosphere Research Group. "I wouldn't be surprised once United launches this that we see other airlines looking do to something similar."