United Premier Access: is it worth it?

If you want to fly anywhere in the world, chances are good that United Airlines will take you there. United, along with American Airlines and Delta Air Lines, is known as one of the “big three” commercial carriers in the US and beyond. Through strong partnerships with Star Alliance network airlines, United Airlines and its global partners can take you to thousands of destinations.

When purchasing tickets for an upcoming flight with United, you may be interested in this airline’s Premier Access travel services. The program offers a package of perks that can make your next trip a little more luxurious, albeit at a cost.

What are the benefits of United Premier Access?

United’s Premier Access package is ideal for clients who want premium travel experiences. Premier Access privileges include the following:

  • Access to dedicated check-in lanes at the airport
  • Access to exclusive security lanes
  • Priority Boarding Privileges
  • Priority baggage handling

Here’s what each of these perks offer and where you can take full advantage of them.

Access to dedicated check-in lanes at the airport

If you are in a hurry to get through the airport, Premier Access will be of great value to you. Instead of queuing to check in your luggage with everyone else, you can go to a special check-in lane instead. Premier Access priority check-in is available at all airports United flies to.

Exclusive safety lanes

Expedited Service does not end with a check-in strip. Skip the long security lines and race through the exclusive lanes reserved for United Premier Access travelers.

However, priority security lines are only offered at certain airports. You can view a list of participating locations on the United website.

Priority Boarding Privileges

The last pre-flight Premier Access benefit is during boarding. With this travel package, you will be able to board the plane in one of the very first boarding groups and get your seat in the luggage compartment before anyone else can take it.

You can use these privileges when you land at any airport where United Airlines flies.

Priority baggage handling

Your ultimate benefit will come after you get off the plane. Upon check-in, the gate agent will tag your baggage with a special tag for priority baggage handling. Thus, your checked baggage will be among the first bags when you exit the aircraft on the baggage carousel.

How to get free access to United Premier Access

Free United Premier Access is available to the following customers:

  • Members of the MilagePlus Premier airline loyalty program with Silver status and above.
  • Customers traveling in premium cabins including United Polaris Business Class, United First and United Business
  • Star Alliance Gold Members
  • MilagePlus Club and Presidential Plus credit card holders

If you do not fit into any of the above categories, you can still purchase Premier Access for your upcoming flight. For customers who purchase Premier Access, benefits include priority check-in, security lane access (if available), and priority boarding benefits; however, it will not include priority baggage handling.

As a bonus, any customer eligible for Premier Access benefits will automatically share the same benefits with any fellow travelers traveling on the same booking, up to a maximum of eight additional travelers. This is ideal for families and groups who travel together.

If you like the benefits listed above but don’t want to pay for them, here are a few ways you can get free Premier Access:

Elite status United MilagePlus Premier

One of the easiest ways to get the benefits of United Premier Access is to join 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 a free program that tracks how often you buy flights or earn qualifying miles on future award flights with that airline. The United MileagePlus Rewards program also offers four levels of elite Premier status:

  • Premier Silver
  • Premier Gold
  • Premier Platinum
  • Premier 1K

Reaching any of these Elite status levels will unlock the free benefits of Premier Access.

United MilagePlus cardholder

You can also access United Premier Access with a United Airlines MileagePlus credit card. The airline has partnered with Chase to offer a range of credit cards for personal use. Three of them are listed below:

Of these three, only the United Club Infinite credit card provides Premier Access travel benefits. In fact, this card also includes a United Club membership that gives you access to many United Club locations (including five United Polaris lounges) around the world, as well as access to Star Alliance’s global lounge network in general.

Should I buy United Premier Access?

When you evaluate the value of United Premier Access, it really depends on what perks you’ll be using and how much you need to spend to get it.

For example, if you sign up for United Club Infinite but don’t fly United too often, you won’t benefit much from the program because United Premier Access benefits are only available on United flights. In this situation, you might be better off considering a regular travel credit card, such as Chase Sapphire Reserve.

Similarly, you won’t find much value in Premier Access if you already have accelerated security privileges like TSA Precheck, Clear, or Global Entry. In many cases, the expedited screening queues provided by one of these three programs move much faster than the special check-in queues.

And if you choose to check in online or through the United Airlines app—and usually travel light enough to not check in—you won’t be able to take advantage of special check-in lines or priority baggage handling services.

Finally, purchasing the Premier Access package is redundant if you already have an Elite status with United Airlines because all the benefits are included in the Elite status.

So whether you’re a United Club Infinite cardholder, a United Elite traveler, or already using expedited security, save your money. The United Premier Access package is not worth buying.

Editorial disclaimer

The editorial content on this page is based solely on the objective judgment of our contributors and is not based on advertising. It was not provided or ordered by credit card issuers. However, we may receive compensation when you click on links to our partners’ products.

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