Live and Let’s Fly asks whether the ‘middle class ruined airport lounges’ and concludes that, in fact, credit card companies providing lounge access has ruined it. Neither is exactly correct.
Lounges that are exclusive are a respite from the terminal. There are a lot of exclusive lounges, from the First Class Terminal to the Emirates A concourse first class lounge in the middle of the airport. We tend to talk about crowded lounges when we talk about other things.
Crowding at each has a different reason. There are too many people in the space.
Credit card access to airline lounges isn't the same at all airlines All Amex Platinum card members can access the Delta lounges. At Delta, it's most important. American's card from Citi has been the cheapest and offers access to both the primary and secondary cardholders.
[The Civil Aeronautics Board] decreed that the carriers had the choice of opening the clubs to all people, or of opening them to all passengers or all passengers traveling in a particular class, such as first class, or of opening them to members of a club, provided that anyone who requested membership in the club and paid the membership fee, if any, could join.
There is a complicated multi-factor story that leads to lounge overcrowding. It has been worse at Delta because they do not have a separate lounge for business class passengers, and because they have a product that people are willing to wait in line for.
The lounges set a new standard in the U.S. and people flocked to them. Five years ago, I wrote about how crowded Amex lounges had become.
At Milan Malpensa airport 15 years ago, I stood in a line for 20 people to get a drink. The issue wasn't credit cards. Business class passengers and Sky Team airline elites were present. The lounge didn't draw in passengers as well as it could. The shower drain was blocked and they ran out of shower kits. I ate a lifetime's worth of packaged Tillamook cheese in a United Airlines Red Carpet Club 20 years ago. The good old days of exclusive-feeling club lounges weren't always so good for everyone.
The Live and Let's Fly think that it's too simplistic to blame the credit card companies for everything.
Delta used to say nobody is if everyone is elite. Everyone has lounge access. In order to mitigate overcrowding, Delta and American Express worked on getting Delta premium card customers access to their lounges. That didn't solve crowding.
The passengers are at the airport. More travelers have access to lounges. Longer passengers stay in the lounge. They try to visit and take advantage of the food and drinks. Even...
As it prepares to introduce brand new business and first class Flagship Lounges in the coming months, American is temporarily re- branding their existing Flagship lounges as International First Class lounges. New Flagship Lounges will be rolled out as renovations to existing lounges.