Once upon a time, travel lounges were reserved for an elite group: frequent business travelers, big-spending first-class fliers, and the occasionally upgraded everyman. Now, with credit cards and loyalty plans all vying for our attention (and annual fees), lounge access has become commonplace, upsetting a lot of frequent flyers and big spenders – womp womp.
Many lounges are seeing overcrowding, and different carriers have taken steps to reduce the congestion and, in turn, make them a little more peaceful. Here are some of the recent changes you can expect to see on your next lounge visit.
Amex drops its free guest for Centurion lounges
Amex Platinum cardholders can currently bring two guests, free of charge, to any Centurion Lounge. The range is one of the most expansive selections and one of my favorite places to relax before a flight.
Unfortunately, in the New Year, cardholders will have to pay for any guests to enter the lounge with them unless they spend more than $75,000 a year on the card. Paying for lounge access isn’t always worth it, especially if you’re already on a budget.
Delta brings in VIP lines to skip the wait at Sky Clubs
Sky Clubs are another excellent range that is now seeing restrictions. The airline spent the summer testing ways to appease frustrated high-spending customers who found themselves waiting as long as half an hour to enter the lounge.
To counter the problem, Delta has created designated VIP lines for Delta Diamond Medallion members, Delta 360 members, and any Delta One or First-Class ticket holders. The groups mentioned will now be able to skip any lines while everyone else waits for space.
United unveils new lounge format
United has already unveiled its new grab-and-go lounge format, dubbed United Club Fly. The micro-lounges only have enough seats for around 16 people, but they’re not designed to keep people there. Those eligible for entry can simply pass through, grab a bite, and head back to the departure area.
It’s hoped the quick option with food availability will draw some travelers away from the larger lounges, but time will tell. United’s Club Fly at Denver Airport is the only one open so far but, if successful, could pave the way for more.