USO Airport Lounges for Military Guide

Interesting in learning about USO Airport Lounges for Military and Service members?

After World War 2, the US Government set aside policies to give several advantages to members of the military – both active and non-enlisted members of military families.

Few airports started to recognize them and this gained popularity during the Vietnam War in the late 60s. Delta and other airlines led the way in designing these airport facilities for those that serve in the US Army.

What is USO Lounge?

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The USO is a free service provided to members of the United States Military and their families. This non-profit organization offers various services like Lounges in airports that have comfortable seating, reading material, TV access, snacks, and Wi-Fi for active members of the military.

USO Stands for United Service Organizations. It is a non-profit, charitable corporation that was founded in 1941. The USO’s mission is to “support the troops” by providing morale and recreational services to members of the United States Armed Forces and their families.

The USO has over 250 locations worldwide and offers a variety of services, including:

– Airport lounges

– Game rooms

– Internet cafes

– Respite care centers

– TV rooms

Things have changed since World War Two. Now, some of the most popular airport lounges are operated by the USO and are only open to currently serving military members and their immediate families with unexpired ID cards. These lucky few get to enjoy features such as internet access, sleeping areas, small libraries, mini-theaters, snacks, and other services that depend on location.

An airport lounge for military is a special type of airport lounge that is only available for use by military personnel and their families. These lounges are usually operated by the USO and offer a variety of amenities such as internet access, sleeping areas, small libraries, mini-theaters, snacks, and other services that depend on location.

Airport Lounges for Military: The History

The first airport lounge for military was created in 1945 at LaGuardia Airport in New York. The lounge was created by the United Service Organizations (USO) and was designed to provide a place for military personnel to relax and enjoy some amenities while waiting for their flights.

Since then, the USO has opened lounges in many airports across the United States and around the world. These lounges offer a variety of amenities such as comfortable seating, reading material, TV access, snacks, and Wi-Fi for active members of the military.

Who runs USO Lounges?

The USO is proudly run by staff and volunteers who are passionate about giving back to the military community. According to USO’s website, there are over 30,000 dedicated volunteers spread across 250 locations worldwide that perform various services such as serving food, organizing spouse events, taking midnight shifts at 24-hour locations, and greeting guests at the front desk. Despite 2020 being a difficult year due to COVID-19 restrictions, 18,000 volunteers still gave their time totaling 750,000 hours served.

Who started Miltary Lounges and why?

President Franklin D. Roosevelt was instrumental in the foundation of the United Service Organizations (USO) on Feb. 4, 1941, when six civilian service groups came together to support and uplift the morale of our 23 million members of the Armed Forces at home and abroad during World War II.

The service organizations merged were: Salvation Army, Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA), Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA), National Catholic Community Services, National Travelers Aid Association and the National Jewish Welfare Board.

The image below shows the leaders of the six USO founding agencies at a meeting on April 21, 1941 led by Mary Shotwell Ingraham of the Young Women’s Christian Associations (YWCA)

Snapshot showing founders of USO
Snapshot showing founders of USO

The USO is now an autonomous nonprofit, without ties to its six founding organizations. These groups still exist today as separate charities.

How to Get Access to Airport Lounges for Military

Active/Guard/Reserve military members and their dependents can enter with a current military I.D. Individuals 16 years or older who have proper I.D. and an itinerary or boarding pass may also use the center unaccompanied by an adult if they wish to do so.

Up to three guests are allowed per authorized user, but this number is subject to change at the Volunteer’s discretion for special occasions. Gold Star Survivors follow the same rules as other Authorized Users when it comes to signing in guests.

Online sources I found indicate that the following can benefit from USO military lounges;

  •  Retirees and Dependents
  • Veterans with VA Card denoting “Service Connected Disability” or “Purple Heart”
  • Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) Cadets
  • Military Academy Cadets
  • Officer Candidate School Candidates
  • Recruits (with I.D. and orders)
  • JROTC/Civil Air Patrol/ Sea Cadets
  • Foreign Military
  • Department of Defense Civilians on travel orders
  • Those designated “Friends” of the USO by the Manager or Executive Director (First Responders, or those possessing business cards with notes or emails stating such)

USO Lounge Benefits/Amenities:

– A place to relax and unwind

– Complimentary light snacks and beverages

– Complimentary Wi-Fi

– Newspapers and magazines

– Comfortable seating

– TV access

– Small libraries

– Mini-theaters

USO Lounges eligibility:

To be eligible for access to a USO Lounge, you must be:

– An active-duty military member

– A reservist

– A National Guardsman

– A military retiree, disabled or not

– The dependent of any of the above

You will need to show your military ID card (or dependent ID card) to enter. If you are a retiree, you will also need to show your retired ID card.

You may also be asked for additional identification, such as your boarding pass or travel itinerary, so it is always best to have these items with you when you visit a USO Lounge.

Can disabled veterans use the USO?

U.S. military veterans who are service-connected disabled or recipients of the Purple Heart are allowed to use USO facilities but USO does not guarantee space. USO, however, guarantees space for active military members

Only active duty service members and their dependents are guaranteed access, as per USO policy; however, representatives from the disabled veteran’s community, retirees, and DoD employees may also be welcomed at some locations.

According to the USO’s “Access for Military Retirees and Their Families” page:

“Military retirees and their families (U.S. military retiree-dependent family members (can use USO facilities on a space-available basis) and may not access the lounge if the dependent ID card does not have the “Retired” designation. Also, service-connected disabled veterans and Purple Heart recipients are allowed access to USO facilities.”

On its website, the USO (United Service Organizations) states that it strives to open its doors to all who have honorably served, including retirees and disabled veterans. However, as a nonprofit organization with limited space and resources, the USO must focus its efforts on serving those who need us most: active duty service members of the U.S. Armed Forces Reserve and Guard units, as well their families.

USO Locations in Europe:

The United States has many military bases and installations in Europe, and most of them have a USO Lounge that is open to eligible individuals.

USO Rhein-Main

This lounge is located at Frankfurt Airport and is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It is available to military members, their families, and other eligible individuals.

USO Ramstein

The USO Ramstein lounge is located at Ramstein Air Base in Germany and is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It is available to military members, their families, and other eligible individuals.

USO Aviano

This lounge is located at Aviano Air Base in Italy and is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It is available to military members, their families, and other eligible individuals.

USO Vicenza

The USO Vicenza lounge is located at Vicenza Military Community Center in Italy and is open Monday through Friday from 9:00am to 9:00pm, and Saturday and Sunday from 1:00pm to 9:00pm. It is available to military members, their families, and other eligible individuals.

USO Lakenheath

The USO Lakenheath lounge is located at RAF Lakenheath in the United Kingdom and is open Monday through Friday from 9:00am to 9:00pm, and Saturday and Sunday from 1:00pm to 9:00pm. It is available to military members, their families, and other eligible individuals.

USO Spangdahlem

This lounge is located at Spangdahlem Air Base in Germany and is open Monday through Friday from 9:00am to 9:00pm, and Saturday and Sunday from 1:00pm to 9:00pm. It is available to military members, their families, and other eligible individuals.

USO Naples

The USO Naples lounge is located at Naval Support Activity Naples in Italy and is open Monday through Friday from 9:00am to 9:00pm, and Saturday and Sunday from 1:00pm to 9:00pm. It is available to military members, their families, and other eligible individuals.

USO Schweinfurt

The USO Schweinfurt lounge is located at U.S. Army Garrison Schweinfurt in Germany and is open Monday through Friday from 9:00am to 9:00pm, and Saturday and Sunday from 1:00pm to 9:00pm. It is available to military members, their families, and other eligible individuals.

Read about all USO airport lounge locations in Middle East and in Europe on USO’s website here.

What if I am not military personnel or a dependent?

If you are not military personnel or a dependent, you may still be able to access a USO Lounge if you are 16 years of age or older and have proper identification, such as a driver’s license or passport, and an itinerary or boarding pass.

You may also be able to enter if you are accompanying a military member or dependent who is authorized to use the lounge.

And finally, you may be able to access a USO Lounge if you are a Gold Star Survivor.

What is a Gold Star Survivor in regards to USO use by retired military:

A Gold Star Survivor is the surviving spouse, child, parent, or next of kin of a service member who died while serving in the military.

Like other authorized users, Gold Star Survivors must show their military ID card and boarding pass or travel itinerary to enter a USO Lounge.

How to access USO Lounges:

Ask for USO Lounge at the airport you’re in:

Although USO lounges are typically plotted on airport directory maps and official sites, signage and visibility for these facilities is often limited. As a result, if you’re unsure of the lounge’s exact location, it is best to inquire at an airport information desk. Also similar to gaining access onto a military installation, all visitors must present an unexpired military ID upon entry into the lounge.

Find a USO Lounge on its website:

The best way to find a USO lounge is by searching the official site. The USO operates in approximately 250 locations, so it’s likely you’ll find one at an airport if you’re traveling to or from common destinations for business or leisure trips.

Here is a link to USO website where you can search locations

Are uso lounges open?

USO lounges are typically open during normal airport hours, but their specific hours may vary by location. It’s best to check the USO website for more information on a particular lounge’s schedule before you travel. The USO Lounges are available to active military personnel and their families without charge, though donations are appreciated. Due to Covid-19, lounges may have reduced capacity at this time.

When we checked in late 2022, most USO lounges are currently operational – including those that had closed during the COVID-19 Pandemic that led to closures of some lounges.

Can veterans access uso lounges?

Yes, veterans with a VA card denoting “Service Connected Disability” or “Purple Heart” can access USO lounges. Retirees and dependents may also use the facilities. Up to three guests are allowed per authorized user, but this number is subject to change at the Volunteer’s discretion for special occasions.

On USO’s website, please note that it indicates that Military retiree-dependent family members (on a space-available basis) and may not access the lounge if the dependent ID card does not have the “Retired” designation. Also, service-connected disabled veterans and Purple Heart recipients are allowed access to USO facilities.

USO lounge Atlanta airport:

The USO Atlanta Airport Lounge is located in the Domestic Terminal, near Gate T8. The lounge is open daily from 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. and offers complimentary light snacks and beverages, Wi-Fi, newspapers and magazines, comfortable seating, TV access, small libraries, and mini-theaters. To access the lounge, please present a valid military ID at the entrance. For more information, please call 404-766-1483.

  • Monday – Friday 8:00 am – 9:00 pm
  • Saturday 9:00 am – 5:00 pm
  • Sunday & Holidays 10:00 am – 6:00 pm
  • *Special hours for Deployments & Training Units, Operation Holiday Block Leave
  • A valid Military, DOD ID card is necessary for admission.
  • All USO centers serve Active and Reserve service members and their dependents from all branches of the Armed Forces.

Read more on USO’s website here.

USO lounge Austin airport:

The USO Austin Airport Lounge is located in the DFW’s Terminal B near Gate B15.

Below are some amenities you can access in this lounge;

  • Light snacks and drinks
  • Comfortable seating
  • Newspapers and magazines
  • TVs
  • Mini-theaters

To access the lounge, please present a valid military ID at the entrance. For more information, please call 817-545-6508.

Monday – Friday: 6:00 am – 10:00 pm

Saturday: 8:00 am – 10:00 pm

Sunday: 8:00 am – 10:00 pm

*Special hours may apply on US holidays. Please call for more information.

A valid Military, DOD ID card is necessary for admission.

USO lounge charlotte

The USO of North Carolina, Charlotte Douglas International Airport Center is located on the upper level of the Atrium and annually provides a lounge for over 90,000 military personnel, retirees, and their families.

The center, which opened in September 2006, is a place where all active duty, reserve, National Guard and retired military personnel can relax while traveling through CLT. The center has chairs for resting, books and magazines to read, television for entertainment and refreshments available. Additionally phone calls and internet browsing are completely free of charge so that service members can stay connected with their loved ones at home.

USO lounge at JFK airport:

At JFK Airport in New York City, you can find the military’s USO lounge on Terminal 5, Landside, Baggage Claim Area, opposite Carousel #2. It is open daily from 6 am to 10 pm and to access it

  • Wear your military uniform or have a valid military ID
  • Be accompanied by a spouse, dependent child, or other relatives with a Department of Defense (DoD) ID card
  • If you are a retiree, you must present a DoD ID card with the “Retired” designation

The JFK USO lounge offers the following services and amenities:

  • Wifi
  • Private workstations with computers
  • Internet-connected TVs
  • Video gaming (PS4)
  • Complimentary light snacks and drinks
  • Showers
  • Comfortable seating areas
  • Books, magazines, games, and more

To learn more about the JFK USO lounge, please call 718-656-4287.

Read about all the lounges at JFK here.

54 Airports with USO Lounges in the US for Military Persons:

  1. Atlanta – Jean R Amos USO Center at Atlanta International Airport, Domestic Terminal Atrium, Landside/Public Area, 3rd Floor, above the arrivals lobby, Suite #320.
  2. Baltimore – Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport, Lower Level, International Pier, Beside Baggage Claim 14.
  3. Boston Logan – Terminal C, Landside, lower level past the American Airlines Credit Union and toward the hallway to Terminal E.
  4. Charlotte – Charlotte Douglas International Airport, Airside, near the Atrium, Level
  5. Chicago Midway –  Airside, Concourse C
  6. Chicago O’Hare – USO is in two locations at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport – Terminal 2 and 3. In Terminal 2, it is in Mezzanine Level, Landside and operates from 9:00AM – 5:00 PM (Mon – Fri). On Terminal 3, it is located on the Mezzanine Level of the Rotunda, Airside, Concourse G and operates from 9:00AM to 5:00PM (Mon – Fri)
  7. Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky – Airside, Concourse A, near Gates A9 and A11 and Airside, Concourse B, near Gates B21 and B23
  8. Cleveland -Cleveland Hopkins Airport. Main Terminal, Landside, Baggage Claim, across from Carousel 1.
  9. Columbia -Columbia Metropolitan Airport. Main Terminal, Landside, Atrium.
  10. Columbus
  11. Dallas-Fort Worth – At DFW, the USO lounge is located at Terminal B, Airside, near B47.
  12. Dallas – Love Field
  13. Dayton
  14. Denver
  15. Destin-Fort Walton Beach
  16. El Paso
  17. Fayetteville
  18. Gulfport/Biloxi
  19. Honolulu – In Honolulu, the USO lounge for US military members is located in the ground level, between Baggage Claims 19 and 20.
  20. Houston Hobby
  21. Houston Intercontinental
  22. Indianapolis
  23. Jacksonville
  24. La Crosse
  25. Las Vegas – USO lounge at LAX is in two locations – Terminal 1, Landside, Suite 150 near the A and B Security Checkpoints, Mezzanine Level, pre-security Shopping/Dining Esplanade.Terminal 3, 0 Level, Room 317, adjacent to baggage claim carousel 21. 
  26. Los Angeles
  27. Louisville 
  28. Milwaukee
  29. Nashville
  30. Newark – USO Lounge at Newark is located at Terminal B, Landside, 2nd Floor, North end.
  31. New York City JFK
  32. Newport News
  33. Norfolk USO lounge is at Arrivals Terminal, Landside, 2nd Level, above baggage carousels.
  34. Ontario
  35. Orange County
  36. Orlando
  37. Palm Springs
  38. Pensacola
  39. Philadelphia
  40. Phoenix
  41. Pittsburgh 
  42. Portland
  43. Raleigh-Durham
  44. Richlands
  45. Richmond
  46. San Antonio
  47. San Diego
  48. San Francisco
  49. Savannah
  50. Seattle-Tacoma
  51. St. Louis-Lambert
  52. Tampa
  53. Washington Dulles
  54. Washington Reagan

Who Can access USO Lounges and Use them?

  • 1) Active duty members of the Armed Forces
  • 2) Reserve members of the Armed Forces, including National Guard members
  • 3) Military-dependent family members
  • 4) Military retirees (on a space available basis)*
  • 5) Military retiree dependent family members (on a space available basis)*
  • 6) All Bob Hope USO centers also welcome active duty members of the Armed Forces of Allied Nations.

How to get into uso lounge:

As previously mentioned, you’ll need an active military ID to enter a USO lounge. If you’re a dependent or family member of someone in the military, you may also be able to use their ID to gain access. Once you have your ID, simply show it to the staff at the entrance of the lounge and they should let you in.

What are the benefits of using a USO lounge?

USO lounges offer a variety of amenities and services that can make your travel experience more enjoyable. These perks may include complimentary snacks and drinks, comfortable seating, Wi-Fi, newspapers and magazines, TV access, and small libraries. Some lounges also have mini-theaters where you can catch up on the latest movies.

In addition to the physical amenities, USO lounges also provide a sense of community for military personnel and their families. These lounges offer a safe and welcoming space for travelers to relax and unwind before or after a flight. They also provide an opportunity to connect with other military members and their families who may be traveling to the same destination.

What should I do if I can’t find a USO lounge at my airport?

If you’re unable to find a USO lounge at your airport, you may be able to find other lounges that offer similar amenities and services. Many airlines offer first-class and business-class lounges that are available to passengers flying on certain ticket types. These lounges typically offer complimentary snacks, drinks, Wi-Fi, and other amenities.

You may also be able to access airport lounges through an airline credit card or lounge membership program. These programs typically require an annual fee, but they offer access to a wide network of lounges around the world.

who can use uso lounges?

1) Active duty members of the Armed Forces

2) Reserve members of the Armed Forces, including National Guard members

3) Military-dependent family members

4) Military retirees (on a space available basis)*

5) Military retiree dependent family members (on a space available basis)*

6) All Bob Hope USO centers also welcome active duty members of the Armed Forces of Allied Nations.

Conditions to access USO Lounges:

You’ll need to travel with uniformed military personnel or have a valid military identification card to use USO facilities. Also, some locations may require you to be in uniform if you’re not traveling with uniformed military personnel. Up to three guests are allowed per authorized user, but this number is subject to change at the Volunteer’s discretion for special occasions.

Below are some requirements some airports may have on active military members;

  • Must be in uniform
  • Must be on orders (no leisure travel)
  • Must be on orders and traveling on an international leg
  • Must be returning from an overseas deployment
  • No guests allowed
  • The lounge agent would try and direct me to the USO

Lounges you can access as Active Military members:

American Admirals Club

If you are a US military personnel traveling in uniform, you and your immediate family or two guests can receive American Admirals Club lounge access on the same day of travel. All you need is your boarding pass and military ID to enter American-operated domestic or international lounges.

As stated on its website, aa.com, Admirals Club lounges is open to U.S. military personnel traveling in uniform traveling on a same-day flight operated by American.

The American Airlines policy for accessing their AA Club lounges doesn’t require you to be on official travel/assignment with the military but does require you to be in uniform. If you’re already on leave, it most likely isn’t worth going out of your way just to wear a uniform and get Admirals Club access. From my experience, I never had to dress in uniform and the agents always let me in without any issues, even though they did mention that technically wearing a uniform is required. This policy also doesn’t state that you have active duty personnel only, so reservists should try asking nicely at the desk if they’ll let you enter anyways.

Read more on AA Website here.

Delta Sky Club

Although there is no specific policy for military personnel to gain entry into Delta Sky Clubs, The Platinum Card from American Express provides free access to the Sky Club when flying Delta on the same day. In addition, annual fees are waived for active-duty cardholders. Priority Pass membership and lounge access is also included with this card, providing you lounge accessibility at airports all around the world.

Anecdotally, it seems like if you show your military ID to the front desk agent, they’ll usually let you and a guest in for free.

United Club

You and your family are welcome to visit United Clubs if you hold a same-day boarding pass for United if you are on active duty. All you need is military ID plus either orders or leave chit. If an agent initially denies access, calmly explain that the policy is very clear online at United.com.

You can read more here.

YMCA Military Lounge: YMCA’s even better than airport lounges?

Free ones that are open to the public and don’t require any type of membership! The YMCA has a military lounge at the Denver International Airport and at airports such as Fairbank Airport in Alaska which are available for all military members with a valid ID. This particular lounge is very small, but it offers complimentary coffee, water, soft drinks, snacks to Expect from an Airport Lounge:

First, it’s important to understand that not all airport lounges are created equal. Some are much nicer than others and some have more amenities.

FAQs

What’s the best way to get into an airport lounge?

There are a few ways to get access to an airport lounge. The most common is by having a specific credit card that gives you lounge access. For example, the Chase Sapphire Reserve card gives you free access to over 1,000 airport lounges around the world through their partnership with Priority Pass.

Another way to get into a lounge is by flying first or business class on certain airlines. For example, if you fly United Airlines in first or business class, you’ll have access to their United Club lounges.

Finally, some lounges will sell day passes for around $50-$60. This is usually not worth it in my opinion unless the lounge is really nice and you plan on spending a significant amount of time there.

What should you do in an airport lounge?

If you’ve never been in an airport lounge before, you might be wondering what the point is. After all, most airports have free wifi and some even have complimentary snacks. So what’s the big deal?

The biggest benefit of an airport lounge is the peace and quiet. When you’re in a lounge, you’re away from the hustle and bustle of the main terminal. This can be a huge relief if you’re trying to get some work done or just want to relax before your flight.

Another benefit of airport lounges is that they usually have much better food than what you’ll find in the main terminal. This is especially true if you’re flying domestic economy on a US airline. The food in airport lounges is usually high quality and there’s a good selection to choose from.

Finally, some airport lounges have additional amenities like showers, nap rooms, and business centers. This can be a lifesaver if you have a long layover and need to freshen up or get some work done.

What is an airport lounge?

An airport lounge is a special area within an airport that offers travelers a place to relax, work, or sleep away from the hustle and bustle of the main terminal. Lounges typically offer comfortable seating, free Wi-Fi, complimentary snacks and drinks, TV’s, and other

Do I need to be a member of the military to access a USO Lounge?

No, you do not need to be a member of the military to access a USO Lounge. However, you will need to present a valid military ID card or travel with someone who is in uniform in order to use the facilities.

How much does it cost to use USO Lounges?

The use of all USO facilities is free of charge to members of the U.S. Armed Forces and their families.

What are the hours of operation for USO Lounges?

Hours of operation vary by location, but most USO Centers are open seven days a week from early morning until late evening. Many USO Centers also offer 24-hour operations.

Can I bring food and drinks into the USO Lounge?

You are welcome to bring your own food and beverages into the USO, but please be considerate of other patrons and refrain from bringing in outside food if the USO location has a café or snack bar. All garbage must be disposed of properly.

What is the dress code for USO Lounges?

There is no specific dress code for using the USO, but we ask that patrons refrain from wearing tank tops, swimwear, or other revealing clothing. Shirts and shoes must be worn at all times.

I have a question that isn’t answered here. Who can I contact?

For more information, please visit the USO website or call 1-800-876-7469. Representatives are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to answer any of your questions.