United Airlines showed a further commitment to the UK market today by unveiling two new airport lounges as part of Heathrow Airport’s new Terminal 2.
The airline revealed the Global First and Club lounges will open on 4 June when the first flights take off from The Queen’s Terminal.
The two lounges will serve passengers on United’s 17 daily return flights from Heathrow, which will all be operated under one terminal along with its fellow Star Alliance members.
Along with British Airways United will be one of only two carriers at the airport with in-house teams servicing customers.
“Currently our flights are split between Terminal 1 and Terminal 4 and we’ve been pushing to have our flights under one roof for years so we can’t wait for Terminal 2 to open in June,” said Arvind Garcha, director airport operations at United.
John Yong, United’s director of product marketing told Travel Daily the airline hopes Heathrow will become its European hub particularly with the number of flights available and connection opportunities with Star Alliance members.
“Heathrow is a primary focus for United and we would hope to continue building frequencies here,” he said. “There is the competition with other carriers but we would hope to develop London into a hub with our alliance partners. These lounges are showing our commitment to London and are experiential as we want the passengers to have a feel of the place they are in and look forward to where they are heading.”
The lounge openings are crucial even with Terminal 2 out of the picture, with business travel picking up and competition heating up on trans-atlantic traffic. Delta has commenced its joint venture with Virgin Atlantic while American Airlines continues its partnership with British Airways, with further threat when US Airways completes its merger with American.
“Competition is fierce so it is good to invest in services like these to distinguish ourselves,” Jake Cefolia, vice president of Atlantic and Pacific sales at United said at the launch today. “The market is strong but the competition is strong too and this is one of the tools we have to attract and retain high-value customers.”
The design of the lounges, which cover 2, 043 square metres (22,000 square feet) combined, are a step forward for the airline as it fully settles into its merged status with Continental. The London lounges are the first to have the new distinctive look, with facilities including shower suites, private phone booths and a wine room.
Both lounges are said to reflect a new branding expectation for the airline with a focus on natural tones and regional influences; the stand-out in the London lounges being an over-sized Big Ben-inspired clock.