Thursday, August 30, 2007

Airline lounges shouldn't quit their day jobs

Airline lounge service and amenities are hit or miss, according to a Journal article. Nothing I read in the article would want to make me pay for a day pass for an airport lounge. A sampling of the negative examples:

... In San Francisco, the lounge had very few seats and the lack of windows gave the space a claustrophobic feel. At La Guardia, the men's bathroom was dingy -- the tiles on the floor were cracked and the walls were scuffed.

...Besides Atlanta, all of the Admirals Clubs we visited had serious cleanliness issues. At La Guardia, crumbs and other unidentifiable detritus were scattered on the carpet, on tables and on chairs. In the ladies' room, there was a large puddle on the floor and toilet paper was strewn around. At LAX, several seat cushions had huge gashes, and the bar area was sullied by crumbs and orange peels.
Even the praise of some lounges given is pretty faint.
In Atlanta, the spread was pretty lavish for the low price tag: Complimentary drinks flowed freely from a well-run bar. There was also plentiful snack food (also free) including trays of olives, celery and carrots, as well as cookies, pretzels and nuts.
Wow, free olives. Prices for a day pass range from $25 to $50. I've included links to the Big 6's airline lounge programs below.

American Airlines






Foreign airline lounges rule

A final note, the lounges of non-U.S. airlines sound far superior:
Indeed, U.S. lounges are often no match for those of foreign carriers in overseas airports. Lufthansa's first-class lounge in Frankfurt has a cigar room and passengers are driven to their planes in a Mercedes or Porsche. Virgin Atlantic's "Clubhouse" at London's Heathrow Airport has a Jacuzzi and its own movie theater. There's also usually plenty of free food and drink. But many foreign carriers restrict access to first-class passengers and don't offer day passes.