Tim Foolery

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Free Access to the United Club

Do you enjoy visiting the United Club before a flight, but hate paying for the annual membership?  A couple years ago I cashed in some United miles for an annual membership and really loved it.  The lounges themselves aren’t really anything to write home about, but they sure beat sitting out with the unwashed masses in the gate area.

Really the reason I decided to pull the trigger on lounge membership was when United decided to start serving free booze again. Totally worth the cost in my mind.  There are a few options for gaining access to the lounge without buying a membership.

You can either get a United Credit Card (some either have a couple passes included each year, or an annual membership). These cards aren’t free — and the lounge membership card has a huge annual fee of $395 each year. Basically you just buy a membership tied to your credit card.

There is an even easier way to get access to the lounge — if you have Star Alliance Gold Status (not on United, but on another member airline like ANA, Lufthansa, Air Canada or South African, for example) and are traveling in the US you get access to the United Club(and all other foreign carrier lounges when outside the US).  Sounds easy, right? Well the most common way to get Gold Status on a carrier is to fly a ton of miles with them — most carriers give Gold Status with 50,000 miles a year flown.  Not all that likely to happen, eh?

Well, Turkish Airlines has a great alternative. They are granting Status Matches from other carriers to their program. That isn’t all that uncommon, but what is uncommon is that they are granting it for members of other airlines in their own Alliance.  So, you can request a match of status on Turkish.  When traveling in the US on United (or God forbid, US Airways) you can flash your Turkish Gold Card and gain access to the United Club.  You don’t have to be traveling on a Turkish ticket either. You can book your ticket with United, fly United and earn United miles but just show your Turkish Card and you are golden.

What’s even better? Turkish status lasts for two years!  Yes, that means if you are a Premier Gold member, you’ll be saving $800 (each year for a Premier Gold Member is $400).

How do you get this amazing deal and great access you ask? Easy, just send an email (tocustomermiles@thy.com) with a copy of your current Mileage Plus Card (showing Gold Status -or higher- and your current expiration date) and a copy of your most recent mileage statement.  I had to email three times because I think the Turkish Customer Service folks didn’t like that I embedded my pictures in the email and not attached them.

I was afraid I would have to fly once with Turkish to actually get my Gold card – like the Accor Hotel Chain does (I’ve had Platinum status with Accor for a while, but never got my card until I stayed in Toulouse.  My Turkish Card arrived last week. Score.

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