Will.i.am Kicked Out Of United Lounge

In terms of fun weekend controversy, it looks like will.i.am had a bit of a lounge issue with United this weekend, via The Daily Mail. Let me say upfront that my impression is that will.i.am is actually a really good guy… for what it’s worth.

Here are his Tweets from yesterday, in chronological order:

#unitedAIRLINES is the worse. Im a member & I have my card to prove it. but they tell me my card is fake & kick me out the lounge #ouch

And then this, which is confusing because the corresponding picture is of the United Global First Lounge (which you can’t buy a membership to) and not the United Club:

Ha ha ha I got kick out the club…#unitedCLUBsucks… http://twitpic.com/e3fbzr


And then he makes his own lounge:

I fly so much…a business should know who their customers are…its ok im making this my lounge http://twitpic.com/e3fcdc


And then the pilot asks him to “take a selfie:”

I get kicked out of the @united lounge because they say I’m not a member…oh well…& then the @united pilot asks me to take a selfie #WTF

But really that’s okay because he got them there safely:

@Ferg_peabody @united yes I did…he flew us to our destination safely…that’s what’s important…I’m over being kicked out the lounge…

So as an airline/lounge nerd I’m kind of curious about what happened here. He was traveling to DC, and the furniture in his “makeshift” lounge suggests to me that he was flying out of JFK Airport. Someone correct me if I’m wrong, please.

If that’s the case:

  • Was his United Club membership card actually expired, or was he just trying to use the United Global First Lounge when he only had access to the United Club?
  • If the latter, surely they could have communicated that to him more clearly.
  • If that is indeed the United Global First Lounge New York JFK, why on earth would he fly United on a CRJ between JFK and IAD when he could fly one of the Shuttle services with first class out of LGA and into DCA?

Yes, I’m perhaps more fascinated by this than I should be! It’s normal to see celebrities rant about their flying experiences, which can usually be chalked up to them being douchebags since they think they deserve special treatment. But this is a case that’s genuinely puzzling.

(Tip of the hat to Jim)

Filed Under: Media, United
  1. It seems likely that his rant was unwarranted and he simply wasn’t entitled to be in the Global First Lounge.

  2. Even GS cannot access Global 1st Lounge unless they travel in the BusinessFirst or p.s. business cabins.

  3. It’s not unreasonable to consider him to be a Global Services member – I was once turned away from the GFL even though I was GS member, their system, for some reason, did not reflect that though.

    I especially liked how he notes that SQ & LH are his favourite *A carriers. Paris Hilton or the alike would’ve said CX and EK were her favourite *A airlines šŸ˜‰

  4. He might have taken a picture of the first United Club lounge sign he saw or since he is a Celebrity there might be a special access for big name Celebrities to get into the GFL.

  5. In addition to whether it was the GFL or just a UC, there are other the semantics: Was he actually “kicked out” (i.e., had already entered and then told to leave) or was he “denied entrance” (i.e., simply didn’t get past the dragons)? Too many details missing to make a judgement.

  6. I do love the home made lounge. Seems like someone who does not take himself too seriously.

  7. Am thinking it was JFK.

    He was at the Liberty Science Center in Jersey City the day before.

    The background of the Dulles GFL sign is black granite, not the frosted window stripes.

    The JFK GFL shares an entrance with the United Club, so at minimum they should have let him into the United Club if he had membership.

    Very strange…

  8. Lucky, some clarification…what is the United Global First Lounge, and how does it differ from the United Club? How does one gain access? Would make understanding the story a bit easier…

  9. @ wwk5d — If this is in fact at JFK, then the Global First Lounge is inside the United Club, to the left. The Global First Lounge is available to passengers connecting to international first class.

  10. No doubt United is the worst airline ever existed. Similar thing happened to me in Hong Kong earlier this year. I was trying to get into Cathay Pacific’s first class lounge while traveling on a business class cabin. Obviously that won’t work, but Cathay Pacific staffs treated me with manners. The lady smiled, apologize for their instructions and led me to business class lounge. She was really polite. She kept apologizing for their signs, and promised they will make signs more clear in future.
    United sucks, I really wish DOT tears it apart, make it transforming into many smaller companies. Maybe their service can be improved then.

  11. @Lucky: Since there is no more p.s. first and limited connecting Global First traffic, that lounge has been designated a Global Services lounge open to all UGS members, so it is conceivable to me that he was entitled access and then denied.

  12. “No doubt United is the worst airline ever existed.”

    No doubt that is one of the worst comments about the airline industry ever made.

  13. Probably because he was black? Why else would they accuse him of producing a fake membership card? Don’t think they would accuse Ben of some of us of something like that.

  14. I think this is not an exception to the general rule that celebs that tweet about their customer service issues with airlines just make themselves look small. Really, none of us, fan or not, care about your customer services issues – deal with them privately like most of the rest of us do.

  15. Greetings from downnder – I heard on the radio this morning that this happened at Sydney airport. It was stressed that he was not rude at all!

  16. @wwk5d. No doubt United never made any progress.,because people like you are way too torelant. Does United ever understand what “service” mean?

  17. @Andrew – SYD does not have a UA lounge, instead UA uses the NZ lounge, so I doubt it was in SYD (he would have had access with his BP to the NZ lounge assuming he was in F or C).

  18. @Nisikd Oh I’m not doubting United has it’s share of problems. But ‘worst airline ever’, like, in the history of aviation? That’s just dumb dumb dumb.

  19. Very surprised that even the lowly United would make a mistake like that. I guess, it’s time for them to start issuing metal club cards to VIPs or something so that lounge bouncers wouldn’t accuse members of faking cards.

    P.S. Are fake GS & lounge passes/cards a real problem?

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