My Experience Getting Free United Club Passes at the Chase VIP Lounge in Houston

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Today I headed to the Houston Galleria with my parents and Little C to do some shopping/browsing, ice skate, and get some United Club passes that were being given away at the Chase VIP Lounge at the Galleria. I have written about this temporary lounge here, but had yet to visit myself. To access the lounge you need to have any of the Chase United credit cards.

The Chase VIP Lounge is open from November 23–December 24, 2012 for Chase Continental and United cardholders and their guests. It is kind of similar to an airline lounge and includes amenities like snacks, complimentary gift wrapping, flat screen TVs, WIFI, and a quiet(er) place to sit for a few minutes and escape the insanity of the mall during peak shopping days!

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We were there on a Tuesday so that we could bring some toys for donation to Toys for Tots that would not only benefit kids, but we would also each pick-up two United Club passes that are valid through the end of 2013. Between the three adults (darn Little C for not having a United card!) we got six Club passes, so that is a pretty good haul for just donating some new toys that we would have probably done anyway.20121218-220311.jpg

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After we got our club passes, we grabbed a table and got a few snacks. Some of the cookies were a little hard, but some of them were hot, fresh, and dangerously delicious. There was also fruit, pretzels, chips, juice, coffee, water, and sodas available.

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The lounge itself is was functional, had very large TVs, but was not necessarily somewhere that I would want to hang out for hours just for fun.  However, it is a nice place to be able to sit for a few minutes, grab a snack, and watch a little TV.

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They also offer complimentary wrapping for your holiday shopping treasures.  While we were there it was a two hour wait to get your presents wrapped, so plan accordingly.  I think there was also a limit on the number of presents you could have wrapped.  We did not use this service, but it did seem they did a pretty good job on the presents that we saw wrapped.

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Overall we were thrilled to get some United Club passes, and loved the idea of a place for United cardholders to hang out in the middle of crazy holiday shopping.  Sadly the free club passes were only available on Tuesdays, so it is too late to get those this season, but the lounges themselves are still open until Christmas at the following locations:

The Mall at Short Hills: 1200 Morris Tpke, Short Hills, NJ 07078
The Houston Galleria: 5085 Westheimer Rd, Houston, TX 77056
Westfield San Francisco Centre: 865 Market St, San Francisco, CA 94103

I’d love to hear your thoughts on having lounges like this as a credit card perk, and your experience if you have visited one!

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  1. Great experience visiting Chase UA Lounge @ Short Hills, NJ. Very clean, not too crowded. Donated a toy and received 2 UA Club passes no problem. For those who are wondering, any authorized users on your account also can get passes. We had to provide the UA Card along with a Driver’s License and the friendly rep did a quick check and handed us two passes each! We also did not have to provide receipt for the toy, just a verbal on how much you spent. They request you spent ~$15. Also had ton’s of different coffees, snacks, and other drinks. Great Experience!

  2. Jim, thanks for sharing your experience in NJ! Ours was very similar….though we weren’t asked how much the toys were or for drivers license, just to see the cards. Thanks again and glad you had a great experience!

  3. I can understand United having the lounges in their hub locations, which allows them to give back to the supportive community. However, many of the people who fly are basically hub captives, for the most part. A Majority of the fliers are likely customers of United, anyway.

    To that end, I think they should open up some lounges in non-hub cities. This would boost awareness of the airline and likely get a lot more card sign-ups from people who wouldn’t normally think about it. In turn, this would bring more in-frequent fliers to United.

    Did they have any good sign-up bonuses there, like the United Plus card with the annual fee waived for the first year?

    • Chris, true a majority at hubs are probably United focused…though maybe not United Club focused. I can see why you would want the attention of those most likely to be interested in Club access. I saw some of the regular card brochures there, but did not notice any special offers that jumped out at me. That said, I would love to see them expand the VIP lounge footprint next year as it was a nice “perk”.

  4. “Sadly the free club passes were only available on Tuesdays,”

    So is that only on Tuesday… or have they complete out from that day you visit to Dec 24th?

    • Tommy, they weren’t out when I visited yesterday, but the next Tuesday is Christmas, and they won’t be open that day. If the 24th was a Tuesday that would work.

  5. My wife happened to be going yesterday in SF. Had her get some just because even though she has Turkish Gold already. You never know when someone might need them.

    • Goosh, well done and I totally agree. I already have a United Club card, but these will always come in handy some how for someone!

  6. Just an FYI on Toys for Tots. They don’t vet recipients.

    That means anyone can get toys for free. If anyone plans on donating toys this holiday season, donate to a local shelter or church. It’s important to get toys into the hands of the children that really need them.

    • dhammer, agree and I donate toys locally as well, but do you really think that a bunch of middle or upper income folks are signing up for Toys for Tots donations that they don’t need? I bet the overwhelming majority of the toys get into the hands of families who don’t have large incomes, but I could always be wrong…..

  7. Seems like a really good idea to me. I’m just sad we have no such opportunity here in STL. Thanks for the review and for donating to toys for tots.

  8. Hey MP

    I went to the lounge in SF and was glad I did. The lounge itself was just OK — it looked a lot like the one in Houston — but I was very happy to get the two passes in exchange for toys I had purchased to donate anyway. My family of four is going to Hawaii in June and now we have enough passes to treat ourselves to a lounge visit. It’s a small thing, but worth the effort to trek over to the lounge. Plus they wrapped a gift for me as well. My colleagues thought I was nuts but it was fun for me.

    A nice treat.

    DD

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