We bring you up to speed on the latest developments in the lounge universe: United is preparing to open new United Club locations at Atlanta (ATL) and San Francisco (SFO) airports; Alaska Airlines is putting the final touches on the new Seattle-Tacoma (SEA) Board Room; Emirates has reopened their London Heathrow (LHR) lounge, and American Express is building a Centurion Lounge at Los Angeles airport (LAX.)
New United Club locations to open at Atlanta and San Francisco airports this month; Chicago O’Hare B18 lounge closed for renovations
Back in January we reported on the closure of the United Club at Atlanta airport: the small, modest United Club in Concourse D was shuttered after United consolidated its operations in Concourse T. The space formerly occupied by the United Club has since become a Delta Sky Club. United promised a new United Club in Concourse T for early November — after a few delays, the airline appears ready to open the new lounge on November 16th. The new club will feature the new design premiered in Chicago.
San Francisco (SFO)
The new United Club in San Francisco airport Terminal 3E has been long in the making — construction of the renovated and expanded wing started over two years ago. The new location, which will be adjacent to the gorgeous new concourse, will overlook the tarmac and replace the temporary club on the mezzanine floor that has been operating for a year and a half. It should help relieve crowding at the main Terminal 3 location by the rotunda, and provide a fresh, modern alternative to the older club.
United has promised that the new SFO club, scheduled to open on November 18th, will be worth the wait, though there is no word yet on enhanced amenities such as showers. In the mean time, Delta has opened a stunning new Sky Club in Terminal 1 with complimentary hot food and spa-inspired shower suites, raising the stakes. We hope that the new club will live up to the hype.
Chicago O’Hare (ORD)
The United Club at Chicago O’Hare by gate B18 closed today for renovations. During construction, eligible passengers may visit the B6 location nearby. Alternative locations also include the clubs at Concourse C where showers are available, and Concourse F. It is worth noting that the B18 location was one of the nicer ones in Chicago — the club is relatively recent and is visually much more appealing than its counterparts at B6 and C16 — so it is interesting that United would prioritize renovating this location.
The Centurion Lounge is headed to LAX
Via Brian Sumers, an American Express Centurion Lounge is likely to be planned at Los Angeles airport between Terminals 6 and 7. While American Express has not made an official announcement or confirmed the rumor, we do know that the financial institution is aggressively looking into expanding their footprint at major US airports, so plans for a lounge at LAX would hardly be a surprise. At this time, though, the only officially announced future location is at Houston Intercontinental airport (IAH).
We’ve written extensively about American Express’ foray into the domestic airport lounge market. The financial institution already operates Centurion Lounges at Dallas/Ft. Worth (DFW), Las Vegas (LAS), New York LaGuardia (LGA), San Francisco (SFO) and Miami (MIA) as well as a smaller Centurion Studio lounge at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA). Centurion Lounges are visually striking spaces, with a signature living wall, hardwood floors, designer furniture, recessed lighting, and high end finishes. The service is personal and attentive, with personable front desk staff, and servers roaming the room offering drinks and bussing tables. But the amenities steal the show: each lounge offers full hot meals cooked by celebrity chefs, a full bar with a high-end selection of cocktails, superb shower suites, semi-private spaces such as napping pods and cube chairs, and a family room. At the Dallas and Miami locations, patrons may enjoy complimentary massages, while in San Francisco, travelers may indulge in wine tastings. Access is complimentary for American Express Platinum and Centurion card holders.
One common complaint about the Centurion Lounges is that they’re victims of their own success – and therefore often crowded. Some clubs have been known to turn away patrons, sometimes offering gift cards as compensation for the inconvenience. At some airports, crowding is somewhat mitigated by the location of the lounge itself and difficulties in accessing the club from other terminals. The location considered at LAX — between Terminals 6 and 7 — would however put the lounge a stone throw’s away from the gates used by United, Delta and Alaska Airlines. And as the airport continues to connect terminals airside, even more passengers will be able to access the club without having to re-clear security.
While the location would be convenient for most American Express card holders, it also begs the question of whether American Express can realistically operate a lounge that is large enough to absorb the crowds and still offer high end services. That’s especially challenging in the Los Angeles market where American Express is likely to have a significant number of customers. As a consolation if American Express fails to deliver, the anticipated opening of a connector hallway to the Tom Bradley International Terminal (TBIT) will make several high-end lounges accessible to domestic travelers.
For more information about Los Angeles lounges, check out our Definitive Guide to the LAX Lounge Scene!
Alaska Airlines is putting the final touches on the new Seattle-Tacoma Board Room
As we reported a few weeks ago, Alaska Airlines is building a new Board Room at Seattle-Tacoma airport in Satellite N by gate N1, in order to reduce crowding at their lounge in the main terminal, and provide a more convenient option to travelers departing from Satellite N.
The new lounge will be temporary, as the long term plan calls for a roof-top club (similar to the British Airways Terrace Lounge and Delta Sky Club in Satellite S) although it’s expected to remain open for a couple years while the satellite is being renovated. The facility will feature a fresh new design that is a departure from Alaska’s legacy décor.
After multiple delays, the new lounge is scheduled to open in November, but the official opening date is still unknown. Frequent traveler seacarl has taken a peek at the construction site and shared the following picture which shows that the space is definitely taking shape, but not quite ready to open yet.
For more details on the new lounge, read our previous post.
The Emirates Lounge at London Heathrow has reopened
The Emirates Lounge at London Heathrow Terminal 3 has reopened at the conclusion of remodeling work. The upgraded lounge features Emirates‘ latest design, which is as posh but somewhat more subtle than the original, legacy design.
The food and beverage offer is the same as prior to the renovation: passengers can expect a wide range of appetizers, entrees and desserts, and a generous selection of alcoholic beverages. The buffet is certainly an upgrade over the offering at the British Airways Galleries Club which was the alternative lounge during construction.
Featured image: American Express The Centurion Lounge – San Francisco, CA (SFO)