Donald W. Reynolds National Center For Business Journalism

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A new spin on airport lounges

April 2, 2015

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A look inside an American Express Centurion Lounge.

With airlines flying packed planes and airports handling more travelers, it can be hard to find a quiet corner in a terminal where you can get work done.

One option are lounges operated by airlines, airports and the latest twist: independent clubs. But are lounge memberships a justifiable expense?

The good news is that if you have high mileage status on an airline, or if you buy a first or business class ticket, you get free access to an airport lounge.

For the rest of us, you can get into a lounge — if you’re willing to pay. Prices for yearly memberships start at $400, and most airlines offer day passes for $50.

Most lounges offer amenities including personal flight assistance, Wi-Fi, alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, light snacks, food for purchase, cybercafes, work areas, printers and fax machines, power outlets and personal travel assistance.

U.S. carriers with lounges include: American Airlines’ Admirals Clubs; Delta Air Lines’ Sky Clubs; United Airlines’ United Clubs;  Alaska Airlines’ Board Room; and Hawaiian Airlines’ Premier Club.

But there are airlines and airports that don’t have carrier lounges, especially after sweeping service cuts the past few years. Now, two players have stepped in to fill the void: American Express’s Centurion Lounges and Airport Lounge Development’s (ALD) The Club.

American Express’s Centurion Lounge is free for those holding a Platinum and above card, while other Amex members can pay $50 to enter. Once inside, members have access to a variety of features, including food and premium wines, beer and spirits; connected work spaces with high speed Wi-Fi and outlets near every seat; a sound-proof family room for children, and relaxation areas.

Shower suites provide an optimal place to refresh, and member services professionals offer travel services. Centurion Lounges are located at Dallas/Fort Worth, Las Vegas’s McCarran, San Francisco and LaGuardia airports. A Centurion Lounge is slated to open at Miami International Airport in 2015.

ALD’s The Club, a leading U.S. independent shared-use lounge developer, has outlets at nine U.S. airports: Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International; Dallas/Fort Worth International; Las Vegas’ McCarran International; Mineta San José International; Hartsfield-Jackson International; Seattle-Tacoma International; and Phoenix Sky Harbor International.

For $35, travelers gain access to a variety of seating areas for socializing, dining or cocktails and quiet zones to relax or conduct business. Amenities include free snacks and beverages, high-speed Wi-Fi, bar service and workstations with printers.

For story ideas, get in touch with your local airport, your airlines and the lounge providers. Lounges are fun to tour, and readers enjoy getting an inside look at features they might be willing to buy.

 STORY IDEAS

American Airlines Admirals Club

Delta Air Lines Sky Club

United Airlines United Clubs

Alaska Airlines Board Room

Hawaiian Airlines Premier Club

Airport Lounge Development The Club

American Express Centurion

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