Seeking Opinions on the value of a RCC membership

Discussion in 'United Airlines | MileagePlus' started by yaychemistry, May 13, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. yaychemistry

    yaychemistry Silver Member

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    Hi,
    I'm a UA GM faced with a significant amount (for me) of flying over the next 6 months. At least 4 different trips, to be exact, and some of them involve long layovers (2-6 hours). Only one international. I'm considering purchasing some kind of airline lounge membership, but I'm on the fence if its "worth it" to me.

    I estimate that if I had a lounge membership that I would make ~10 visits in the next 6 months. If I assume I'll spend $20 in snacks/drinks if I weren't to visit a club then the $224 Priority Pass Plus membership (10 free visits) doesn't sound like a bad deal.

    I consider other options to buy a RCC membership with miles at the GM rate (62,500 + 7,000 initiation), or get the Chase CO credit card that comes with a PC Club membership ($359 annual fee), or just not to get any lounge membership.

    What I want to know, is how everyone else "values" their lounge memberships... e.g. how many visits does it take for a membership to be worth it? Is it ever worth it to purchase a membership at the GM levels for cash or miles?
     
  2. MSPeconomist
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    MSPeconomist Gold Member

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    Your estimate of spending on drinks and snacks is the first part, but you need to also consider the possibility of something going wrong on your travels. If a flight is cancelled or you miss a connection, lounge access can be invaluable in helping you to rebook, almost without long lines. Also, most lounges have decent restrooms and wifi, which some airports charge for. Check whether there will be a fee for wifi use with Priority Pass in the lounges you plan to visit.

    I personally like Priority Pass because it's so flexible and gives you access to more than just one carrier's lounges. Even if you don't use it much, it's a good insurance policy to have when you travel.
     
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  3. gleff
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    gleff Co-founder

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    What a great question! It depends on the lounge, and what benefits it comes with, for a United Red Carpet Club I don't think I'd pay $20 per visit. You're not really saving on food in a meaningful way, sure there are pretty good Pepperidge farm cookies in the LAX club for instance.

    Where you'll be having your longish layovers, first is there actually a lounge you can use? second, does the airport have free wifi? If it did I might just find myself a place with decent food (that you can't bring with you into the club) and sit down with my computer.

    It also depends on the airport conditions more generally, how bad are they in the main terminal?

    I get my lounge access domestically from one of several sources, my Amex Platinum that I get from work gets me into US Airways lounges any time and Delta and American lounges when flying either of those carriers same day, plus Continental lounges through September 30 when flying Continental same day. Plus is comes with a Priority Pass Select membership that includes visits for 1 person but excludes Continental and United cliubs. Plus I have my Star Alliance GOld status on a non-US carrier which gets me United and Continental (and US Airways) lounge access in the US when flying Star Allinace flights same day.

    I guess I'm not really confronted with the question that you are since my credit card from work gets me into most lounges and my elite status gets me pretty much the rest.

    But as I say, maybe I'm jaded, but the lounges don't get me very much other than a bit of quiet and depending on the lounge, internet. At least for the meantime I don't even get internet in AA lounges via my Amex Plat card. That's reserved for members and day passes though I was told by agents last weekend that that would be changing soon.

    I think I'd have to get the cost down below $10 per visit to make it worthwhile to me, or at least down below $10 per hour. But that's a rough number out of the air. YMMV.
     
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  4. yaychemistry

    yaychemistry Silver Member

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    Thanks for the input guys.

    I thought about that point about IRROPs, but that only really helps if you happen to be flying the same airline that you have club access to. Am I correct?

    So if I end up flying DL or AA (which happens about 50% of the time with work) I'll be out of luck.

    I'm based out of southern CT, which means half of my flying originates out of EWR. I can take Amtrak to the airport, but their schedule sucks so I often end up with 4-6 hours between the train and my flight (my other option is Metro North to Grand Central, then subway to Penn Station, then NJ transit to EWR finally). EWR is probably the biggest reason I'm considering lounge access. 6 hours at EWR doesn't sound like a good way to start a trip (and another 6 at the end, too!).

    I'm leaning towards the Priority Pass if I were to join a club... Any comments on using miles for RCC? I feel like its a poor use for miles, but I haven't found another decent way to spend them yet, except for the occasional mileage upgrade.
     
  5. FrequentlyFlying
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    FrequentlyFlying Silver Member

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    In the grand scheme of things, yes... using miles isn't a good redemption value. That said, I used miles last December to renew as at that time I was mileage uber rich and cash not-so-much. If your flying takes off for the next year, it might not be a bad investment.

    I look at a RCC membership like a 1-night stay at a hotel. While not as nice as a $$$ hotel, especially since there aren't showers and beds, I still reap an incredible benefit in relative comfort, space, customer service and snacks based on the amount I fly.
     
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  6. Misplaced Texan
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    Misplaced Texan Gold Member

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    I make a lot of domestic connections, so my RCC membership is definitely worth it to me just in terms of wifi costs, free soft drinks and coffee, and improvement in comfort.

    If I were in a situation like yours with fewer than two visits a month, I would probably skip it.

    Another consideration is that EWR is actually a pretty reasonable airport for finding an area that is fairly quiet to go sit. Unless you're right in the middle of a major international departure bank, there are often large numbers of gates without activity.

    If you do decide to do lounge access, keep in mind that soon the only way to access the merged United Club as a domestic FF with a domestic itinerary will be with a membership. So you'll either need to buy one or take the credit card from Chase that comes with lounge access. As a GM I would say that the credit card would be the better deal for you.
     
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  7. sunseeker
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    sunseeker Silver Member

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    I have been a member for 5 years. I tried to give it up when my membership expired in 2010. I managed OK for a few months. Then one day I had a 2 hour layover in LAX. I couldn't find a place to plug in my phone or my laptop, and I went crawling back. This year I joined the US club when it went on sale for $250 and have used it exclusively for the RCC. I have heard they have those sales often at US, so you could check periodically.
     
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  8. yaychemistry

    yaychemistry Silver Member

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    Thanks for the input guys.

    Because I'm a GM and don't get to use priority lines and I use public transport from CT to NYC to fly I usually give myself a lot of extra time to get to the airport, so when things go smoothly I often end up with 2 extra hours at my departure terminal. (or the subway decides not to run that day and I end up barely making the 45 minute checkin window.) From that I think I can safely decide that my $20/visit number works for me as a decent valuation for my particular travel patterns, or about $200/year.

    Unfortunately, that still puts all forms of club access above my threshold... although just barely for the Priority Pass... and still leaves me on the fence about my decision. Maybe I'll just get a couple of prepaid daypasses. If only I had gotten those AAdmirals Club passes from mycokerewards when they were available...

    Again, thanks again! Any more insight would be very much appreciated.
     
  9. Scottrick
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    Scottrick Gold Member

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    Yes, I can see how it would be useful at LAX. But as gleff mentioned, airport conditions matter. I'm quite happy at SEA without RCC access, which is the main reason I haven't signed up yet (maybe next year...)
     
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  10. JetsettingEric
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    JetsettingEric Silver Member

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    I work in a relatively high stress environment - where the minute I land i need to get on a call with the office or client. Club membership (or an Amex Plat / Prioirty Pass) is invaluable for that. I also generally fly on aircrafts without power and I like to give all my electronics a little more juice before flight. I also book tight connects and fly out of airports where massive delays on a clear day are common, so having someone to deal with IRROPs and figuring out the status of my inbound aircraft is invaluable.

    If you travel infrequently and can keep track of receipts a great program is Skyguide (from Amex). If you don't follow the instructions carefully - it may seem like a scam. For $29 for the first year - you get to reimburse up to 12 one day lounge passes (up to $50) and 12 one-day gym passes ($25 fee). I've had no problem with this program (valuable for RCC access).
     
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  11. yaychemistry

    yaychemistry Silver Member

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    The skyguide thing sounds intriguing. However, I can only find a membership for $199/year. Some digging on FT
    indicated that the $29 membership was targeted to certain AMEX cardholders (which I am not).

    Thanks for the input, though. Its certainly helpful!
     
  12. Jslo
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    Jslo Gold Member

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    I would echo what gleff and others posted. I probably stop in an RCC 75x a year in various airports. I like to keep cost down, so when I can use the club I don't spend money in the terminal as I can: usually get some veggies and dip, pepperidge farm cookies, cheese cubes, chips, crackers, free house wine/beer(beer is American swill like Bud or something), free wifi, a TON of help during IRROPS, a little peace and quite and comfortable chair, charge my ipad if needed, etc. For 75X a year I'd like to think I am ahead even if I paid $400 for the annual. Comes out to around $5 a visit for me. Cheaper than I can shlep around a terminal, not even including the incidental stuff (comfort/IRROPS).

    I would never use miles for it, unless it really made sense. For that many miles you could fly roundtrip to Asia...in coach...(hey wait- they should be giving miles to us as compensation for sitting crammed in Y that long!:D)

    On your travel schedule, my gut is that you would be ok without a lounge membership, considering the cost. If you can work some kind of deal to get it really cheap maybe? YMMV. Also, keep in mind you could buy a couple 1-day passes for I think $39 bucks to the RCC? That way if you get in a pinch...you have a club backup.

    Tell you what, in the interest of all good things MP, conversation/message me your address and I will mail you one RCC day pass, gratis. I think I have one laying around. A Tin Roof as they say, it's on the house ;)
     
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