Tue. Jun 6th, 2023

The scenario: Your boarding time is fast approaching, so you duck into the airport lounge and grab a bag of chips and an apple to stash away in your carry-on before heading to your gate. While you may have thought this was a covert snack operation, the airlines have been taking notice—so much so that United this month launched a new “grab-and-go” club at Denver International Airport that’s tailored to those who don’t have time for the full lounge experience.

According to United, the club is a “guilt-free” option for the 54% of surveyed airline club and lounge visitors who like to take food or drinks to-go.

With the feel of an upscale convenience store, coolers are packed with sandwiches, salads, wraps, yogurt, vegetables, fruits and other snacks. Plus, there’s other lounge staples like muffins, chips, cereals and cookies. Coffee and non-alcoholic beverages are also available, though this smaller format lounge doesn’t serve any booze, and, with just 16 seats and limited standing room at the bar, it’s not designed for lounging.

The 1,600 square-foot “Club Fly” lounge is located in DIA’s newly expanded B Concourse on a highly visible corner near Gate B60. As the third busiest airport in the world and with nearly 59 million travelers passing through in a single year, DIA recently finished a gate expansion program to build 39 new gates, increasing gate capacity by 30 percent.

Several of the new gates are leased by United Airlines, bringing the airline up to a total of 90 gates at DIA, the airline’s largest hub.

Beyond the gate expansion, DIA is the ideal location for United to introduce the market-style lounge: More than two thirds of the airline’s customers in Denver are connecting to other places, says Luc Bondar, marketing and loyalty vice president and MileagePlus president.

“United Club Fly is all about elevated convenience. We know there are times when our members are in a hurry and use our clubs to sneak a quick drink or snack, so we’ve created this new format to make it easy for them to do that without sacrificing an upscale club environment,” Bondar said in a press release.

As a nod to Colorado, the boutique club is a ski lodge-inspired space with artwork and furnishings from local artists and companies. The air carrier says it plans to collaborate with additional local businesses to feature unique and seasonal items throughout the year.

To enter the United Club Fly, travelers self-scan a boarding pass at the automated entry gates. From there, they can pick a snack or two, hit up the full-service coffee bar (beverages are brewed with an Illy coffee blend) or grab a soda or juice from the self-service beverage station. The club also has a barista serving made-to-order coffee drinks. A reusable water bottle filling station is also available. Then, exit through the turnstile.

Premium cabin travelers, Star Alliance Gold status members flying internationally and United Club membership have access to United Club Fly.

As part of the A-West expansion at DIA, United will open a new 530,000-square foot club in the summer.

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