It’s been a busy couple week at the airport for lounges, that’s for sure. In the last week or so, we’ve seen 3 new lounges spring open their doors. Keep reading for the deets.
In February of this year, they announced a refresh was coming to their Flagship lounges, and well, I guess we’re seeing the start of this makeover. Promising full-service pre-flight meals and updated spaces, we saw the first of these new lounges to open at JFK very recently. With the refresh came a new name – the International First Class lounge. While the new lounge is open, tableside service won’t be available until Spring 2017.
The airline announced the expansion to their Raleigh-Durham (RDU) lounge on December 6. Not a surprise since Delta seems to be growing their business at RDU – earlier this year they launched a new nonstop route to Austin, plus in 2015 they launched nonstop flights to Paris Charles de Gaulle (CDG). The lounge features an expanded business center, power outlets at every seat, updated furnishings, plus locally brewed craft beer. Though not a major hub by any means, it’s always great to see an investment in growing markets. Up next, Delta intends to redesign the lounge bar, plus offer spa services in 2017.
Star Alliance announced the opening of its newest lounge on December 9 at Rio de Janeiro’s Galeão – Tom Jobim International Airport (GIG). The lounge is located airside at Terminal 2 and is open 24 hours a day, 365 a year. Star Alliance airlines servicing GIG include United, TAP, Copa, Avianca, and Lufthansa. I might not be a Star Alliance elite, but I definitely appreciate a new lounge at GIG – the existing lounges were(/are) underwhelming, so this lounge is surely welcomed to the airport with open arms.
While the American Airlines International First Class Lounge comes as no surprise (it is, after all, a premium market) and based out of JFK no less! AA just as DL has shown with their RDU renovation, seem to be focusing on upgrading the ground experience for passengers given how cheap oil has been this year (though that seems to be quickly changing). United isn’t too far behind as well with their plan to roll out new Polaris lounges through 2017 and 2018.
Now I’ll admit that I’m surprised that Star Alliance decided to open up a lounge in Rio de Janeiro (especially considering the proximity to the nearby Star Alliance lounge in Sao Paolo (GRU), which, no doubt, sees more foot traffic – indeed the Brazilian market in general isn’t Star Alliance’s strong point by any means. It’s a good thing in that the airport is tiny and the current lounges that currently operate there could certainly use some healthy competition which this brings in. Perhaps what also motivated the move to construct the lounge was the extra revenue (and invaluably loyalty) that Star can earn by contracting out the lounge to some other premium operators out of Rio such as British Airways, Air France or Emirates – especially pertinent given how poor the lounge options are at the airport. That should generate some hefty margins if they can pull it off.
Regardless of why or how, infrastructural upgrades are costly to carry out and infamously setback ridden especially at outstations like Rio or non-hub locations such as Raleigh and the scale of the AA JFK lounge was surely a design and logistical challenge for American to carry out. The scale of the introduction of Polaris lounges will also test United. So hey, all we can say is kudos to all three to making the effort and actually pushing through – any refresh to the passenger experience put the big 3 from America (and more recently Canada as well) that much on par with their international competitors, something as a US SkyTeam elite I can really get on board with.
Have you noticed any upgrades, small or big at American, Delta or United lounges?