Airport lounges are supposed to offer a safe haven to travelers away from the hustle and bustle of airport traffic. Lounges vary greatly with some offering only light refreshments to high end lounges such as the United Polaris Club offering sit down dining. I definitely do think lounges are an ever improving part of the “flying experience”. Here’s 5 quick takes I have regarding airport lounges.
Lounge Access should be given to domestic travelers in the US who are traveling in a premium cabin.
While I understand that more upscale lounges like the United Polaris lounge should have more restrictions, I’m appalled that traveling on a 5 hour flight from the San Francisco to Hawaii does not come with access to a premium cabin. In contrast, a transcontinental flight, usually around 5 hours non-stop, comes with lounge access. The rules set by US airlines are appalling and I think lounges should be easily accessible to premium cabin travelers.
Lounge Access is Exclusive and Expensive
One archaic notion is that lounge access is for the wealthy and not for ordinary folks like you and I. In reality, you can obtain lounge access through a variety of credit cards such as the American Express Platinum Card, Chase Sapphire Reserve, United Club Card, and many more. In fact, lounge access has never been more attainable via credit cards. In addition to premium credit cards offering complimentary lounge memberships, a variety of cards also offer priority pass membership. Priority pass is a network that operates a variety of lounges across the world. Using priority pass, I have been able to hangout at lounges in Denspasar or Taipei. Priority pass abroad have a solid offering and are really well done.
Lounges are Operated by Airlines
Many lounges are operated by airlines, but there also vast networks, groups, credit card companies that also operate airport lounges. Most notably American Express has an expansive collection of Centurion lounges worldwide. Capital One also recently opened a lounge in Dallas. As credit card companies continue to expand and become conglomerates I think this is a trend that should continue to develop. I personally really enjoy the network of lounges offer by American Express. While the food could be better, the offerings are relatively solid and a notch above ordinary airline “club” lounges.
My Thoughts and What I would like to See
I personally enjoy airport lounges and try to take advantage of them whenever I can. For long haul international flights with Star Alliance in the US, I would definitely recommend checking out the exclusive United Polaris Lounge Network. For travel abroad, there are a host of wonderful options ranging from Lufthansa’s renown first class lounge to Air France’s first class lounge. I think the United States lags far behind when it comes to premium lounges. I would like more “premium lounges” available and am curious if Credit Card issuers will continue to roll out an aggressive lounge development tactic.