When deciding on whether to get United Premier Access, read up on the perks it provides and know how much you must spend to get it. For some United travelers already deeply integrated into the United MileagePlus Rewards program, Premier Access might not be worth it.
If you want to fly anywhere in the world, chances are high that United Airlines can get you there. United, along with American Airlines and Delta Air Lines, is known as one of the “big three” commercial carriers in the U.S. and beyond. Thanks to its robust partnerships with airlines within the Star Alliance network, United Airlines and its global partners can get you to thousands of destinations.
When shopping for your upcoming flight with United, you might find the airline’s Premier Access travel services interesting. The program offers a package of benefits that can make your next trip a bit more luxurious — though it comes at a cost.
What are the benefits of United Premier Access?
United’s Premier Access is perfect for customers who want to experience premium service while traveling. Perks of Premier Access include the following:
- Access to designated airport check-in lanes
- Access to exclusive security lanes
- Priority boarding privileges
- Priority baggage handling
Here’s what each of those perks offers, and where you can take full advantage of them.
Access to designated airport check-in lanes
If you’re in a hurry to get through the airport, Premier Access will make a big difference for you. Instead of waiting in line to check your bags with everyone else, you can step into a dedicated check-in lane instead. Premier Access priority check-in are available at all airports where United flies.
Exclusive security lanes
The expedited service doesn’t end with the check-in lane. Skip the long line for security and whiz through the exclusive lanes designated for United Premier Access travelers.
However, priority security lines are only offered at select airports. You can view a list of participating locations on the United website.
Priority boarding privileges
The last preflight benefit of Premier Access comes at boarding time. With this travel package, you’ll be able to board the plane in one of the earliest boarding groups and claim your overhead bin space before anyone else can take it.
You can exercise these boarding privileges at any airport that United Airlines flies.
Priority baggage handling
Your final benefit will come after you deplane. At check-in, a gate agent will label your bags with a special tag for priority baggage handling. As such, your checked luggage will be among the first bags off the plane at the baggage carousel.
How to qualify for complimentary United Premier Access
Complimentary United Premier Access is available to the following customers:
- Members of the airline’s MileagePlus Premier loyalty program who hold Silver status or above
- Customers traveling in premium cabins including United Polaris business class, United First and United Business
- Star Alliance Gold members
- MileagePlus Club and Presidential Plus credit card holders
If you do not fall under any of the categories above, you still may purchase Premier Access for an upcoming flight. For customers who purchase Premier Access, the perks include priority check-in, security lane access (where available) as well as priority boarding privileges; however, it will not include priority baggage handling.
As a bonus, any customer who is eligible for Premier Access benefits will automatically share the same privileges with any companions traveling on the same reservation, up to a maximum of eight additional travelers. This is perfect for families and groups who are traveling together.
If the benefits listed above appeal to you, but you don’t want to pay for them, here are a number of ways you can earn complimentary Premier Access:
United MileagePlus Premier elite status
One of the easiest ways to get United Premier Access benefits is by joining the airline’s loyalty program. United Airlines offers a free membership tracking program called MileagePlus Rewards, which allows travelers to earn rewards on every United flight.
Anyone can sign up for the free program, which tracks how often you purchase flights or earn qualifying miles toward future award flights through the airline. The United MileagePlus Rewards program also offers four tiers of Premier elite status:
- Premier Silver
- Premier Gold
- Premier Platinum
- Premier 1K
Reaching any of these levels of elite status will grant you complimentary Premier Access benefits.
United MileagePlus cardholder
You can also get United Premier Access by signing up for a United Airlines MileagePlus credit card. The airline partners with Chase to offer a number of credit cards for personal use. Three of them are listed below:
|United Gateway Card||$0|
|United Explorer Card||$95 (waived first year)|
|United Club℠ Infinite Card||$525|
Of these three, only the United Club Infinite credit card comes with Premier Access travel benefits. In fact, this card also includes United Club membership, which grants access to the many United Club locations (including the five United Polaris lounges) around the world, as well as access to the global Star Alliance lounge network as a whole.
Is United Premier Access worth it?
When you are assessing the value of United Premier Access, it really depends on which perks you’ll utilize and how much you have to spend in order to get it.
For instance, if you sign up for the United Club Infinite but don’t fly with United all that often, you won’t get much value out of the program because the United Premier Access benefits only apply to United flights. In that situation, you would do better to consider a generic travel credit card instead, such as the Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Similarly, you won’t find a lot of value in Premier Access if you already have expedited security privileges such as TSA Precheck, Clear or Global Entry. Many times, the security lines for expedited screening, provided by one of those three programs, move much faster than the lines for designated check-in.
And if you prefer to check in online or via the United Airlines app — and usually travel light enough to skip checking a bag — you won’t benefit from designated check-in lines or priority baggage handling services.
Finally, purchasing the Premier Access package is redundant if you’re already an elite status with United Airlines because all of the benefits are baked into the elite statuses.
So, if you are a United Club Infinite cardholder, a United elite traveler or already have expedited security, hang on to your money. The United Premier Access package won’t be worth purchasing.