GIVEAWAY: United Club Passes

a black and orange passport

Good morning!  I’ve got 4 United Club one-time passes to give away.  2 are mine and 2 are the generosity of reader David H.  I received these as part of the new benefits that Hyatt Gold Passport released recently.  I’m already a United Club member, so I’m happy to see these go to a good home.

United Club

I’ll give these away to 2 winners (2 passes each) who leave a comment below about a travel question they have or a travel tip they want to share with others.  Multiple entries per day are fine as long as they’re on topic.

I’ll draw winners on Thursday, March 26, 2015.  Good luck!


The post GIVEAWAY: United Club Passes was published first on Pizza In Motion.

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  1. I have a tip for those that live in Europe. When it comes to car hire…make sure you check various countries car hire websites because there can be quite a bit difference in price. For example…I tend to book with British car hire websites because I find them to be £100+ cheaper than my home countries (Norway) car hire websites. So it is worth checking around. 🙂

    1. David, depends on where you live and what your goals are, but my two favorites are the SPG AMEX and the Hyatt Gold Passport Visa for different reasons. Starpoints are very valuable and hard to come by, so this is one of the only methods to earn them aside from staying at Starwood hotels. Star points are valuable as transfers to airlines as well as for hotel stays. Hyatt’s card has no foreign transaction fee and comes with a free night every year and also earns bonus points for spending on restaurants and airline tickets, something the SPG Amex doesn’t.

      1. Hilton Surpass Amex. Not because it earns many points, but because 1) it gets you Hilton Gold status and 2) it has a bunch of Amex’s best insurance products, like Return Protection. The Starwood card also has those insurance products.

        I have no objections to the Hyatt card. I got it for the signup bonus. I keep it for the free night. But I don’t put any spending on it.

  2. When traveling by rail from Nice, France to Italy, be sure to stamp your ticket prior to boarding the rail. An attendant passes through and checks time stamps on the tickets. If you don’t stamp the ticket, there is a charge of 50 euros as the penalty.

  3. If your one time club pass as recently expired, United will still accept it by offering a discounted admission fee.

  4. I want to know more about tricks or runs on obtaining status through segments, rather than mileage. Now that Delta has parted its way with Alaska, getting sufficient mileage to reach Alaska’s status becomes increasingly difficult as Alaska doesn’t fly transpacific or transatlantic. I began to explore on flying short distance with multi-segments of flights. Anyone else is interested in this route? Any thoughts to share?

    1. Paul, no you don’t. You can enter the club with this one-time pass no matter who you’re flying.

  5. Take a small amount of duct tape (you can respool a strip or two onto something else to avoid the big footprint of the whole roll). In an emergency it can fix almost anything that breaks on a trip (shoes, luggage, hems of clothes, etc.)

    1. Maggie, each pass entitles one person to one visit to a United Club (single day). Free wifi, snacks and some drinks. Not the Taj Mahal, but beats a sharp stick in the eye.

  6. In Norway, if you take the train from Flåm to Myrdal (magnificent trip!), make sure you get early on the line/queue (at Flåm Station) to be able to seat by the window. Gently ask the station guy where the line/queue starts, because things get busy in the summer. The best views are on the left side… no matter, uphill or downhill.

    1. Andre, I’ve only had a brief stop in Oslo, but I’d love to explore the rest of Norway. Thanks for the tip!

  7. Tip: While most airlines open their schedule 330+ days out, often times more award seats become available closer to the departure date.

  8. Small tip/reminder – **Test your seats as soon as you board**… ESPECIALLY If you are flying in a premium cabin with a lie flat seat. While the plane is at the gate it is still possible to have a defective seat repaired, or be assigned to a new seat (possibly displacing a non-rev if need be)…once the plane takes off options are more limited!

  9. If you’re in the middle of travel and need to reschedule a flight because of delays or cancellations and have access (or one of these passes) do so at the counter of the airline lounge. The folks who work there are often selected for their exceptional friendliness and it usually doesn’t occur to other passengers to head there. Much easier to get a sympathetic ear and possibly a rule bent.

  10. Alligator clips hold hotel drapes closed if you are sensitive to light pollution. Always travel with a couple extra.

  11. Do you think we’ve reached the limit of what the major airlines have taken away regarding frequent flier programs, amenities, etc.?

  12. When looking for flights within China, be sure to compare prices against the Chinese travel websites like http://elong.net or http://ctrip.com. Sometimes the Chinese prices are lower. However, they typically discount closer to the date of travel. Also, they typically do not have premium prices for one-way flights.

  13. Always pack a couple extra alligator clips in your bag. They hold gappy hotel drapes together if you are sensitive to light pollution (as I am).

  14. Have you tried booking hotel rooms via the capital one reward redemption site (accessible only for those with a capital one credit card)?

  15. If a direct route is too expensive, book a flight with a stopover and save. Easy enough, right? But here’s the real trick: book that stopover routing on a flight that’s routinely cancelled or delayed and the carrier will rebook you on that original direct flight that was too expensive. It’s not foolproof but it’s worked for me several times in the northeast.

    Example: a recent PHL-ROC direct was 600+ (last minute, walk up fare) but PHL-BOS-ROC was half that. PHL-BOS was delayed and I was able to talk the agent into booking direct at no charge.

    Would generally work well in the northeast: PHL, EWR, LGA, JFK, BOS as these flights have poor on time records, particularly at peak hours.

    If it doesn’t work out, not the end of the world: you still get to your destination AND you get 2 legs worth of EQ Mileage!

  16. If it was your birthday and given a choice, what would be a better stay for 2 nights and why – PH SYD or Radisson Blu SYD? For argument sake, say you’re diamond and gold respectively and will be using p+c or the second night free option. (The only thing keeping me back is the $300 for the p+c.)

  17. Always put decorative duct tape around your luggage so you can find it more easily. Our luggage was lost twice in our last trip and we found it on different carousels because of the tape.

  18. United passes can be purchased from eBay and Craigslist for much less than purchasing directly from United. However, 2 free passes would be very nice to have 🙂

  19. Check hotel rates and rental car rates every few weeks as they can go down and you can rebook for no charge in most cases.

  20. When leaving home it’s always a good idea to put a card or slip of paper INSIDE your luggage with your phone number and destination address in case your luggage tag is lost or damaged. This way if your luggage is lost it can get delivered to your destination (where you are) instead of your home (where you are not).

  21. When preparing to leave for a trip/return home from a trip always put your passport in your shoe. This ensures you won’t forget it when you goto put your shoes on when leaving!

  22. When will the new food items be available in United lounges in the US? I am looking forward to additional choices.

  23. When you are finishing packing for a trip or getting ready to return, put your passport in your shoes. This ensure when you put your shoes on you’ll never forget your passport.

  24. Why would United impose a $200 cancellation fee for a flight that cost less than that? Why don’t they think that would send their customers fleeing to another airline the next time?

  25. Tip: United club passes only work at United club lounges – but will not work at Star Alliance affiliated lounges. Look up the services offered at various lounges before you vist on the United website.

  26. After I book my initial trip, I go back and check prices every week or two for the hotel and car rental. The prices seem to fluctuate from week to week and I have had great luck finding reduced prices that are easily changed with a phone call or online rebooking.

  27. For SFO-based United travelers (Terminal 3) who do not have pre-check or clear, if you fly early afternoon and security lines are too long, consider walking over to the international security lines in the international terminal (Gates 91-100+) close by. More often than not, they are empty at that point (as most international flights are gone by then), and you might get through security much faster! And yes, you can walk back to gates 60-90 from airside. The additional exercise might be a nice bonus.

  28. I have found that if you book a cruise and the price goes down, most companies will adjust your rate until the final payment is made. You will get the reduced price even if you book with travel agent. After the final payment has been made some companies will offer a room credit or complimentary upgrade.

  29. Do you think AAdvantage will be devaluated after the merger, despite them not telling us anything at this moment?

  30. When packing and checking luggage always pack a few extra clothing items in case of delays or lost luggage and put them in your carry on.

  31. TSA screening tip: Put objects in your pockets into your jacket pockets before you take it off instead of putting it into a bin – makes it super easy to pick up your jacket after the x-ray machine and walk away! Just make sure your jacket doesn’t have pockets that are super open and prone to falling out.

  32. Traveling to Europe? You can often get to your destination more cheaply this way: Find the best fare you can to a European gateway, then continue on via a low-cost airline (NOT Ryanair, if at all possible!) or via train – many have stations right in the major airports. Give yourself plenty of time to connect.

  33. You recently posted about the AA/US FF program merger. I have a late April trip on USAir booked with them several weeks ago. Will I have an opportunity to request an upgrade ahead of time per AA elite usual MO or must I wait until on-line check-in per US Air rules?

    Thanks for hosting this UA club pass giveaway! Could use one of these later this year.

    1. Vicki, did you buy the ticket from US Airways? And, are they US Airways-operated flights (not codeshares)? If so, you’ll be able to upgrade for free by checking in online 24 hours prior to departure (if there’s a seat available for upgrade). If there isn’t a seat then, you’ll be added to the waitlist.

  34. My travel tip is to consider getting the Citi Prestige card even though no bloggers (except for Rapid Travel Chai) seem to ever talk about it. It combines features of both the Chase Sapphire Preferred (in terms of spending categories) and the AMEX Platinum (in terms of airline credits and lounge access). I love that card.

    1. Daniel, the Citi Prestige card is a nice card, but I really prefer the transfer partners and flexibility of Ultimate Rewards points. I haven’t used the lounge access feature, so can’t comment on the benefits there.

  35. Travel tip- if you are lost, need directions, or need a recommendation for a place to visit, eat etc in a new city, just walk into the nearest hotel and speak to the concierge or the front desk staff. It doesn’t matter if you’re staying in that hotel or not, most staff will be happy to help point you in the right direction and will often give you a free map as well!

  36. My question: can you enter an airport lounge upon arrivals or do you need to have a boarding pass for an upcoming flight later that day? My guess is most of the airline lounges would probably not allow it but would the Am Ex Centurion Lounges be an exception since they’re not technically affiliated with a specific airline?

    1. Eddy, in the US you can access domestic lounges as long as you have a membership or day pass. To access arrivals lounges (or elite lounges like American’s Flagship lounge), you generally need to be traveling internationally or in a specific class of service. But, as long as you have an eligible ticket, you should be able to access any lounges upon arrival, assuming you’re on the same side of security as the lounge.

  37. Travel tip- if you are flying a budget airline that limits your carryon items to one item per person (EasyJet for example), you can often stretch the rule by wearing bulky items such as jackets or sweatshirts and putting a few extra items in a Duty-Free bag. Just buy one small item at the duty free shop in the airport like a bag of candy, and then put the rest of your personal items in your duty free shopping bag with the candy. Airlines usually don’t count these duty free bags as part of your carryon limit!

  38. If you’re a taller passenger, take out the magazines and brochures of the seat-back pocket and put them neatly in the overhead bin during the flight (and be nice and put them back, of course!). A half inch of additional leg room can sometimes make a huge difference!

    1. Andrew, good tip. No need to worry with UA’s new slimline seat. The seat-back pocket is entirely useless!

  39. On trans-Atlantic/Pacific flights check your in personal in flight entertainment system as soon as possible, and if it does not work let the attendant know. You may get upgraded to business class or in the worse case could get compensated (5000 miles is the going rate) later, if you let the airline know.

  40. What’s the best way to exchange foreign currency for a trip to Europe? I’m doing planning for my trip to Europe in April. Thanks!

    1. Emily, my go-to way is a bit of a niche. If you have an account with Citibank, they have a service called World Wallet which is free for some customers. They’ll send you the currency you need via overnight service. Chase has a similar, though more limited service. Short of those, I’d recommend getting currency at your bank or other financial center prior to leaving. You can look up the market value at xe.com so you know what a fair conversion is. Airport currency booths charge a huge premium. Foreign hotels can charge a premium at times as well. Also consider a credit card that has no foreign currency fee and charge your travel expenses to earn more miles!

  41. If you want to bring back a bottle of wine in your checked bag, wrap it securely in a plastic bag and several items of clothing. Using your own clothes to pack the wine is a lot cheaper than buying a special wine carrier and we’ve never had a bottle break yet!

    1. Jordan, we’ve done this plenty on our way back from Napa/Sonoma. It’s a great way to protect your wine and save on shipping it.

  42. If you are out sightseeing and can’t find a free public restroom anywhere (in Paris for example where paid toilets are customary), try going into a large chain hotel or museum. Usually the bathrooms are located right near the entrance and are clean and free!

    1. Linda, we leaned on the Westin Place Vendome for exactly this at one point when our 8-year old needed to go in Paris last year!

  43. Tip: Make sure you have a card with no foreign transaction fees when traveling abroad and even to places that uses the USD because you still may be charged a fee since it is international.

    1. EIG, good tip! And, always make sure that merchants charge you in local currency so you can take advantage of the beneficial conversion through the card.

  44. Get a Charles Schwab debit card for international ATMs! If you need cash in a foreign country, Schwab is the way to go. They reimburse all ATM fees so you can easily get cash whenever you need it.

    1. Mary, Bank of America and Citibank have programs that rebate ATM fees as well, depending on how much banking you do with them.

  45. What is the best card to get the biggest sign up bonus these days? I have finished the spending for the AA card and I would like a new card and a new goal!

    1. Candace, have you gotten the sign-up bonuses for all the AA cards? If you’re looking to focus on AA flying, you can consider the SPG Amex as a transfer partner. Also, the cards that earn Chase Ultimate Rewards points (Ink Plus, Sapphire) can be transferred to British Airways and used for American flights. If you can act quickly, you can also sign up for the US Airways card from Barclay before it goes away in about 2 weeks. It has a decent sign-up bonus (50K miles) but it will be closed to new sign-ups shortly.

  46. I like the Tripadvisor city guides. You don’t need wifi to get yourself around a strange city. Just upload your city info using wifi before you leave on your trip!

  47. Always bring ziplock bags along (sandwich, quart and gallon). They hardly take up any space and yet can help with toiletries, snacks, transporting wet clothes, etc. I have found two of each in the flap of the suitcase come in handy for me or as a solution for someone else.

  48. Even if you don’t have an international data plan on your phone, load offline google maps of key tourist sites, the hotel you’re staying at, restaurants you want to check out, and important landmarks on your phone. That way when you’re out and about you’ll still be able to access the maps on your phone!

    1. Mary J, you can also find free apps that have maps of public transport (subways) to use offline.

  49. Some airport security screening areas offer free clear 1 qt ziplock bags. These are intended for passengers who forgot a bag for their liquids, but I always grab one on my way through security, even though I always bring my own bag. An extra ziplock bag never hurts and always comes in handy for storing snacks for day trips or miscellaneous items.

    1. Jerry, absolutely right. Though I find the airline bags with the zipper on top hold slightly less than Ziploc brand bags.

  50. So many travel expenses are related to incidental things such as parking, or getting to the airports. We always look at options such as Parknfly or the other companies offering that option. We pay $40 or so for a hotel night, free breakfast in the morning, then transport to and from the airport.

  51. I always check LivingSocial, Groupon, and other deal sites for discounted airport parking before flying.

  52. Always pack ear plugs!! This might seem like a simple tip, but it makes a big difference if you end up at a noisy hotel or next to a noisy person on the flight. Not getting a great night of sleep can have a big impact on how much you enjoy the trip.

  53. Empty an amenity kit (like United’s) and use that bag to hold all your cables and chargers; easy to pack and carry.

  54. Keep the sock from the amenity kit (if you didn’t wear it/them); use it later for a washcloth in the tiny plane bathroom – better than paper towels and you just throw it away when you are done “sprucing up.”

  55. If your trip dates are not nailed down but you want to book hotels at good prices and/or before they sell out, book them in short (1-2 day) increments so that you can cancel nights as needed without having to cancel all of them. You can always talk to the front desk and ask them to keep you in the same room.

    1. Brian, that’s a good strategy for revenue reservations. I’ve found most hotels happy to accommodate merging reservations over a given time period.

  56. My husband and I have 2 United flight tickets worth $500.00 each and wondered where the readers would recommend flying to. We live in Denver and would love to get the most out of them. The passes would be the icing on the cake. Thank you.

    1. Cheri, so many great places, so little time. Where have you been? Some of my recent faves are Italy, Panama, Vancouver, Tokyo.

  57. What’s your take on how the change from Amex to Visa at Costco might alter your credit card strategy? What will/would you be putting your Costco spending on?

    1. Ted, I’m bummed about the AMEX change at Costco. I wouldn’t call it a complete downer since it wasn’t a bonus category for AMEX, but AMEX shareholders aren’t having a good day with the news! I’m guessing that the Costco/Visa relationship will have some sort of a wrinkle when all the dust settles, similar to the Costco AMEX card now. It must be a hell of deal, though, for Costco to open up to all Visa cards.

  58. if I was issued a travel voucher on united but can’t use it, is there anyway I can give it to a friend or family member, even though it has my name on it?

    1. The only way I know of is to buy an ultra-cheap ticket with the voucher, which should convert the remaining value of the voucher to an e-cert. The e-certs can be used by anyone.

  59. Keep a running list of things you tend to forget in your carryon or favorite suitcase. Better yet, keep duplicates in there permanently!

  60. I wear a black scarf on the plane to cover my face instead of a mask. I put some perfume on it (in the Duty Free shop!) and use it to cover my face instead of a mask for sleeping. I find it less restrictive and makes the air seem flower-fresh!

    1. Candace, my wife sometimes uses a scarf for a mask. I’m more of a traditional eye mask guy myself.

  61. When we travel with our kids, we buy Entertainment books for the city/area to which we are travelling. Great discounts on meals and activities! Yelp has some freebies too.

    1. Candace, is there a digital format for those that you can take with you? I’d hate to haul the whole book with me.

  62. I always put a printed copy of my itinerary in the inside pocket of my luggage with my name, mobile phone, record locator, and flights so if it is lost the airline can get it back to me. It worked once so that made it worth the small effort.

    1. Rich, really depends on who you’re flying. For award tickets, AA still doesn’t add huge fuel surcharges for their own metal and United is minimal on awards. For paid tickets, it really is a mixed bag, and unless you’re into fuel dumping it’s hard to avoid.

    1. Rich, there are a number of cities I do this in to drastically lower the rental price. Las Vegas is a great example.

  63. Always carry a few ibuprofen or other OTC pain relief with you since in some countries strictly regulate the sales of these medications and sometimes even require a prescription for something as simple as tylenol, and they can be very expensive. We learned this the hard way in Spain- I had a terrible headache and didn’t have any ibuprofen on me. The pharmacist didn’t speak English and we had to explain in broken Spanish that I had a headache. We ended up paying about $15 for a small 10-pack of ibuprofen. I could have bought a 1000-count bottle for that amount in the states. Lesson learned!

    1. Linda, I keep a small amount of a bunch of OTC meds with me when I travel (Benadryl, cold medicine, ibuprofen, etc), for just this reason.

  64. Always travel with ear plugs and an eye mask. These can help on long flights and are also really good for hotel rooms if the curtains don’t close 100% and let a little light through, or if there is noise from the street etc that is keeping you up. We keep a pair of eye masks and ear plugs permanently in our carryon so we always have them if we need them.

    1. Jerry, I do the same, though I rarely use the ear plugs now that I have the Bose noise canceling earbuds.

  65. I always bring a small bag of safety pins in my checked luggage. One time the zipper on our backpack broke, and we were able to salvage it until the end of the trip by keeping it closed with about 20 safety pins! Safety pins are also good for wardrobe malfunctions in a pinch.

  66. Don’t bother bringing laundry soap for hand washing clothes as you travel. Hotel shampoo samples work fine . And a little bit of the conditioner in your rinse water leaves the clothing smelling sweet and not stiff.

  67. Travel with tea tree oil — and couple of drops up the nose to combat inflight germs. Can be diluted in water if you have a sore throat and need to gargle. And great to put on a cut to prevent infection.

  68. Email yourself PDFs of your passport, driver’s license, insurance cards, and credit cards before leaving on a trip. This way, you’ll have that information easily on hand in the worst case scenario if your wallet is stolen.

  69. When packing for a trip, put your shoes in a shower cap. Hotels usually put complimentary shower caps in the room, and they work great for keeping your dirty shoes separate from the rest of your clothes.

  70. If you need to make last minute flight changes at the airport (for example if your connecting flight was late and you need to change your next flight) and are lucky enough to have lounge access, always go straight to the lounge to talk to the lounge attendants. They are usually really nice and have a lot fewer passengers to deal with so are more likely to go out of their way to help you make your connection. In a situation where flights are canceled due to bad weather, having lounge access is so helpful because the gate agents will be completely overwhelmed with long lines of passengers wanting to get on another flight, whereas the lounge agents only have to deal with a few passengers. Calling the elite customer service line in these situations also helps.

  71. I’m going through the Global Entry process right now and want to know (1) which major US based airlines don’t participate in TSA Precheck, (2) How long after your interview does it take to get Global Entry, and (3) is there ever a reason to get tsa precheck if you already have global entry. Thx!

  72. Why have some airports stopped offering TSA-Precheck? IAH (Houston) stopped and I would love to have it back here. Any thoughts about what happened and when it might return to IAH?

  73. Before you choose your seats for an upcoming flight, always check seatguru for seat advice and ratings for your airline and flight number- this website has tips on which seats have broken power jacks etc so you know which seats to avoid and which seats are good.

  74. let me say this if it’s not clear. Pre-Check is worth it’s weight in gold if it’s offered at your airport.

  75. When you’re flying Southwest, set a google calendar alert with a check-in reminder 24 hours before departure. This way if you check in close to the 24 hour mark, you’ll probably have an A or at least a B group boarding number. We made the mistake of checking in at the airport and were one of the last people to board the plane in the C group. Hello, middle seat!

  76. If you’re flying to a country that requires you to fill out an immigration landing card, make sure to have a pen on hand in your purse or pocket. A lot of times there aren’t many pens available in the border control area of the airport so it helps to have your own.

  77. Flying into OAK is very often more convenient to reach San Francisco and the East Bay region than flying into SFO. OAK is now linked directly by BART rail, making it only the second airport in California to have a direct rail link, after SFO.

  78. When packing, save space by rolling your clothes in your luggage instead of folding them. This also helps with wrinkles.

  79. I have a question that American tried to answer via Twitter, but the character limit hurt.

    I’m flying American ORD – OMA for Easter weekend. When I purchased my ticket, the flight was at 8:30. That seemed close, but reasonable, to drive from Milwaukee after class (which ends at 4:40, so I should be on the road by 5:00), park, and get through security. American changed the schedule, moving my flight up to 8:00. I’m now concerned that losing those 30 minutes will cause me to miss my flight. There’s a United flight leaving at 10:00 (why I didn’t book that from the start I do not know), so I’d honestly like to cancel the American flight and book the UA flight. I’m fairly certain I can’t do that, despite the schedule change causing my problem. If I do miss my flight, do I have any recourse with American because of the schedule change, or am I SOL?

  80. Use Priceline’s Name Your Own Price to get the best deals on hotel rooms. Use sites like biddingtraveler.com and betterbidding.com to figure out how much to bid, learn how to use free rebids to get the lowest possible price, and get an idea of what hotels you might get. And use a cash back portal like Fatwallet to get an extra 5+% rebate.

    But before bidding, make sure 1) you would be happy with any hotel that has turned up at that star level in that zone and 2) that you have a firm upper bound to your bidding. Remember that Priceline embeds a fee for themselves in their “taxes and fees”; between that and not earning points, you might prefer to stop bidding at least $30 below transparent prices. And if transparent prices are unusually high for part of a multi-night stay, consider splitting your bid so you can get a better price on the cheaper nights, though you might wind up having to move hotels.

  81. If I have a lounge pass with my US Airway card, do I need to be flying on a US airway itinerary or flight to enter?

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