Review: United Club Lounge – HNL Honolulu, USA

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Flights departing from Hawaii to the mainland United States typically leave in the late evening, making having access to some form of a lounge a necessity. Our United Airlines flight from Honolulu, USA to Vancouver, Canada would afford us access into United Clubs along the way. We would get the opportunity to visit their United Club Honolulu prior to the departure on our flight to San Francisco.


This post is one chapter on our trip during the pandemic to Honolulu Oahu, Hawaii, United States. This trip was redeemed through Marriott Bonvoy and further enhanced through Marriott Bonvoy Elite Status. For more information on how this trip was booked, please see our trip introduction here. For other parts of the trip, please see this index.

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Review: United Club Lounge – HNL, Honolulu Daniel K. Inouye International Airport, Hawaii, United States of America


All trips eventually come to an end. We departed The Royal Hawaiian, a Luxury Collection Resort – Waikiki and took an Uber XL to the airport. We had leftover car accident traffic along the way, and the trip took almost 55 minutes at $70 USD.

Checking into United First Class:

We headed over to Terminal 2 at the Daniel Inouye Honolulu International Airport. It was pretty much the only check in area that had activity, with a 9:40 PM flight leaving for Los Angeles and our 10:25 PM flight leaving for San Francisco.

United Airlines – Premier Access Check In – Honolulu
United Airlines – Premier Access Check In – Honolulu

We tried to check in at the kiosk but with our two oddly sized Tommy Bahama Fold Up Beach Chairs, we had to get them check in by an agent in order to complete check in. United initially wanted to charge us $150 USD for the extra bag (on a chair worth $39.90 USD at Costco). However, we somehow managed to convince them to locate a little scrap cardboard so that the chairs could be wrapped and taped into one large package bag with a little packing tape. Thanks United for bearing with us, and for not charging us an extra fee on a first class fare!

We headed through a very long TSA Pre-Check Line. There was only one security checkpoint open tonight, which resulted in some very long lines. There were several evictions out of the TSA – Pre Check Line by Pre- Check eligible travellers partnered with spouses who were non TSA – Pre Check eligible.

TSA Pre-Check Screening Line at Honolulu International Airport
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Locating the United Club Honolulu:

United Airlines departs its mainland flights from G Gates. The “G” Gates are tucked away in another part of the airport concourse well off to the side.

United Club Lounge – Honolulu “G” Gates
Map Courtesy of Honolulu Airpory Authority

Once we were through onto the secure side, we had a walk down a deserted and locked up concourse. The busy days of HNL airport were temporarily shuttered as many restaurants and retail outlets did not bother to stay open. Even the DFS duty free inventory shelves were removed bare and permanently locked up. I passed by the Burger King where I had breakfast prior to setting out on The United Island Hopper a few months ago just before the start of the pandemic.

Passing Burger King Where I had Breakfast Prior to Flying the United Island Hopper

After we had passed through the outdoor walkway to get into the “G” Concourse, we arrived to an even more deserted concourse with closed facilities as a result of the pandemic.

Passing Through Closed and Deserted Airport Facilities

We found the escalators that would take us up to the lounge level, which was located one level above the concourse. The United Club is located at the top of the escalators and immediately behind the escalators.

The United Club Honolulu is located at the Top of the Escalators
United Club Lounge Honolulu Entrance
United Club Lounge Honolulu Entrance
United Club Lounge Honolulu Entrance
United Club Lounge Honolulu Entrance – Press the Door Bell for Greatness
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Accessing the United Club:

Thanks to complex lounge access rules in the United States where memberships are offered, it’s a little more challenging than most to access the United Club. Access to the United Club is permitted under the following circumstances:

  • A boarding pass for travel in United Polaris or United Business Class (international) business class at departure, connecting and arrival airports along their eligible same-day routing.
  • Customers traveling to and from Canada in United First are eligible for United Business access.
  • Customers on premium transcontinental flights may only access United Club locations at the origin and destination of their premium transcontinental flight (only between New York/Newark and Los Angeles and New York/Newark and San Francisco).
  • A boarding pass for travel in first class on a Star Alliance member airline, only at the departure airport for their international first class flight
  • A boarding pass for travel in business class on a Star Alliance member airline, only at the departure airport for their international business class flight
  • A valid Star Alliance Gold membership card and a same-day boarding pass for travel on an international flight operated by a Star Alliance member airline are needed to access United Club locations at departure, during connections and upon arrival, along the eligible same-day itinerary 
  • A same-day boarding pass showing Star Alliance Gold status, for travel on an international flight operated by a Star Alliance member airline is needed to access United Club locations at departure, during connections and upon arrival, along the eligible same-day itinerary
  • A valid Star Alliance Gold membership card and a same-day boarding pass for travel on a flight operated by a Star Alliance member airline and departing from the same airport
  • A same-day boarding pass showing Star Alliance Gold status, for travel on a flight operated by a Star Alliance member airline and departing from the same airport
  • A boarding pass for same-day travel with a valid United Club membership number listed 
  • A valid United Club membership card and boarding pass for same-day travel 
  • A valid United Club membership number and boarding pass for same-day travel
  • A valid mobile or paper United Club one-time pass and boarding pass for same-day travel 
  • A valid 15-digit one-time pass number and boarding pass for same-day travel
  • Active duty military members with a valid military ID, boarding pass for travel within 24 hours on a United- or United Express-operated flight and one of the following: Dressed in uniform, Leave orders, Rest and recuperation papers
  • A valid Air Canada Maple Leaf Club membership card and a boarding pass for a flight operated by a Star Alliance member airline and departing from the same airport 
  • Maple Leaf Club North America members can access United Club locations in the U.S. only. 
  • Maple Leaf Club Worldwide members can access all United Club locations.

Our lounge access today was courtesy of the International Business Class ticket status of our United Ticket from Honolulu, USA to Vancouver, Canada.

At the time of our visit, there was an additional requirement as a result of Safe Travels Oahu to show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test taken within the last 48 hours. This was similar to restaurants operating within the Honolulu area. Our Canadian Vaccine Cards were accepted and verified without any issue. This has since been repealed at the time of writing.

United Club Lounge Honolulu Reception
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Inside the United Club Honolulu:

The lounge is a large space that occupies a grand area above the “G” Concourse. Immediately after reception, the lounge flows to the left into a long rectangular shape. The lounge has large floor to ceiling windows along the right hand side of the lounge, although admittedly on our nighttime visit, there wasn’t much to see outside of these large windows.

United Club Lounge Honolulu – Lounge Seating
United Club Lounge Honolulu – Lounge Seating
United Club Lounge Honolulu – Lounge Seating

After accessing the lounge, we located a place to seat. We were able to get one of the only remaining window seats thanks to a traveller that was headed to the gate early.

United Club Lounge Honolulu – Lounge Seating

The décor is strictly United Club. It has been previously described it as a lounge decorated as if the “Golden Girls” had decorated a lounge. I would say that I’d have to agree that it’s got an old school feel to it, with a few recent upgrades.

While it may have been a little while since they’ve had rattan chairs in here, they have upgraded the space to include the grey United Chair Loungers and have added a pod of 4 of the yellow funky seventies chairs that are found in many other lounge spaces.

United Club Lounge Honolulu – Lounge Seating
United Club Lounge Honolulu – Lounge Seating
United Club Lounge Honolulu – Lounge Seating
United Club Lounge Honolulu – Lounge Seating
United Club Lounge Honolulu – Hallway Leading to Entry and Food Area
United Club Lounge Honolulu – Lounge Seating

Most interesting, there is a collection of sea shells and coral remnants in two glass cases at the end of the lounge. It wins the prize for the most interesting artifact I’ve ever had the opportunity to see within an airline lounge; grand piano’s in the Asiana First Class Lounge Incheon not withstanding.

United Club Lounge Honolulu – Coral and Sea Shell Display
United Club Lounge Honolulu – Coral and Sea Shell Display
United Club Lounge Honolulu – Coral and Sea Shell Display

The lounge did offer views outside to the airfield operations. A window is always a great feature in a lounge and it would make this space a great deal brighter in the day time.

United Club Lounge Honolulu – Views from the Lounge

The wifi was fast and free and it was a better and more reliable connection that I had at The Royal Hawaiian Hotel.

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Food and Beverage:

The United Club’s typically offer a variety of snacks. While there was some sandwiches and other snacks there, there wasn’t enough within the lounge itself to replace a meal.

United Club Lounge Honolulu – Food and Beverage Station
United Club Lounge Honolulu – Food and Beverage Station
United Club Lounge Honolulu – Food and Beverage Station

It was during the pandemic when we visited. As a result, all the food on offer was prepared in individually wrapped containers. While the food in a United Club never typically wins the award for the most innovative, the items on offer actually looked quite interesting and tasty.

United Club Lounge Honolulu – Food and Beverage – Fresh Pineapple Mango Lomi
United Club Lounge Honolulu – Food and Beverage – Island Mango Noodle Salad
United Club Lounge Honolulu – Food and Beverage – Loaf Cake

The United Club coffee and drink dispensers were also nearby. Unfortunately, much of it was closed as a result of the pandemic.

United Club Lounge Honolulu – Food and Beverage – Coffee Station

The lounge offered a bar with a view house selections available for free. Other wines were at cost.

United Club Lounge Honolulu – Food and Beverage – Full Service Bar

I ended up sticking with water during our visit. It was served in a plastic cup, which was a bit of a low rent touch.

United Club Lounge Honolulu – Food and Beverage – Crystal Geyser Natural Spring Water

Sadly, with the state of the airport during our visit, there didn’t appear to be a lot of other outside food and beverage locations open as an alternative to the United Club. As a result, I recommend eating before arriving to the Honolulu International Airport.

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We stayed in the lounge until T-60 or about ten minutes before boarding our United Airlines First Class Honolulu – San Francisco flight.

The Bottom Line: United Club Honolulu

The lounge is probably one of the larger lounges at Honolulu International Airport. With United having a large presence in Honolulu, with service to Guam and the mainland, they need to have a lounge at this location. Aside from a large footprint, the lounge is pretty standard United Club fare.


If you depart from Honolulu International Airport, is lounge access a key consideration when flying to the mainland ?

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