Update on United’s “Free Hotel Room” Perk for International Flights

Two days ago we reported on a little known benefit for those traveling to Europe in United’s BusinessFirst and GlobalFirst cabins, whereby United provides a place for arriving passengers to freshen up with a shower. Since United does not have many arrival lounges in Europe, many times, this translates into access to a hotel room upon arrival.

The post garnered a lot of interest and many questions…understandably so as it’s not really a benefit that United publicizes. While United does not make the official policy available and there is some variation among destinations, we’ve done our best to put together an “FAQ” of sorts. A disclaimer though: Unless explicitly noted, none of the following information is deemed “official” by United.

What exactly is an “arrival facility?”

At some airports, like London-Heathrow, Zurich, and Frankfurt, the arrival facility is an arrival lounge located within the airport. At other airports, like Barcelona, the facility takes the form of a business center. However, for the vast majority of airports the arrival facility is part of a hotel. In this case, the facility can range from a shower inside a conference room, to a hotel gym’s locker room, to a full room including hotel breakfast, according to members of Flyertalk.

Who is eligible for the arrival facility?

United’s Twitter team confirmed that as long as you are a passenger booked in BusinessFirst or GlobalFirst, you will have access to the facility. This includes award tickets and upgraded tickets.

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How long can I spend at the arrival facility? Can I stay overnight?

If your arrival facility is an airport lounge, there is most likely no time limit as to how long you can spend there. With hotels, there have been reports of stay limits from 45 minutes to over 4 hours. Some hotels apparently do not impose a time limit, but let’s not abuse that privilege! The benefit is intended for passengers to freshen up…

Can I use an arrival facility if I’m transiting?

There’s no official word from United, but their chart suggests that the benefit may be applicable to transit passengers, since they pointed out different options—one for all passengers and one for terminating passengers in Rome. However, reader askmrlee points out that Rome might be an exception where transiting passengers are given access to an arrival facility.

What other restrictions are there?

Again, United is not overly clear on the benefit and they don’t mention any specific restrictions. However, reader Brian comments that in order to access this benefit, your flight would likely need to arrive before noon and the hotel then offers an  effectively “extended/late checkout” room for your convenience. I would add that since hotels are mostly landslide, I would leave ample time to transit if you are thinking about taking advantage of this benefit.

How do I go about requesting access?

United’s official policy states that you must request access to an arrival facility before your international flight departs. According to Flyertalk reports, it’s best practice to also check-in at the ticket counter at your destination with one of United’s staff members to confirm your reservation. Some hotels appear to allow walk-ins, but for the most part, hotel staff are cross-checking based on a list of passengers provided by United…so be sure to communicate your request to United’s personnel before departing the US!

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  1. > Some hotels apparently do not impose a time limit, but
    > let’s not abuse that privilege!

    Ha! from this crowd? You’re going to see people demanding elite stay credits!

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