I am traveling. Are lounges crowded?
As states lifted indoor capacity restrictions, lounges followed suit and customers are streaming back in. Passenger volumes at Alaska, Delta and United clubs are close or equal to pre-Covid numbers, according to those airlines.
This is leading in some cases to the return of a prepandemic lounge problem: overcrowding. Jenn Taylor, 58, an executive with the Nexus software company, traveled once a week before the pandemic and found lounges to be “an absolute oasis.” Leaving for a recent business trip from her hometown, Atlanta, she stopped by the Delta Sky Club before her flight. After one look inside, she decided to grab a cookie and wait in the boarding area. “When every seat is full there is no such thing as social distance,” she said of the lounge.
What should I know about the long-term?
Lounge popularity has been spurring construction. American Express recently opened clubs at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport and at Denver’s International Airport. Delta opened one at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport in June, and will open others at Los Angeles International and New York’s LaGuardia in 2022. Alaska is opening a lounge at San Francisco International Airport.
New companies are entering the market. Capital One, whose cardholders have not previously received lounge access as a benefit, is creating its own lounges equipped with nursing rooms, shower facilities and Peloton bikes. By the end of 2022, its clubs will be open at Dallas-Fort Worth, Denver and D.C.’s Dulles airports. Chase is building its first-ever “Sapphire Lounges by The Club,” at Boston’s Logan, LaGuardia and Hong Kong International but has not released any details on what will be inside.
I’m flying soon. Anything else I need to know?
Travelers should look online before leaving for the airport to see if their local lounge is open, and bring along extra snacks just in case, because the company websites don’t list what they are serving.
Many fliers are just excited to be back, no matter what’s on the menu. Nathan Love, 38, a Seattle-based business development manager at T-Mobile who has already racked up 60,000 air miles since he was vaccinated five months ago, has spent time in Alaska, Delta and Centurion lounges recently. He said his favorite aspect has been reconnecting with bartenders, check-in staff and other crew members he recognizes from before the shutdown, and chatting with fellow travelers. “It’s great to take a breath and relax and share stories,” he said.