Three delayed airport lounges worth the wait

When it comes to airport construction projects, nothing can be said to be certain, except high costs and delays.

We take a look at three highly anticipated lounges which were due to open around mid-2017 or earlier, for which we’ll need to wait a little longer—or much longer.

The Qantas Lounge at London Heathrow

Construction of the Qantas’ flagship premium lounge at London Heathrow started just about a year ago, in September 2016.

It was supposed to be complete early 2017.

Facing rolling delays, Qantas has remained coy about a new completion date, though a September to October timeframe appears to be in the cards.

Located at Terminal 3, The Qantas London Lounge will spread across two floors, with a capacity of over 200 passengers. Guests will be treated to views of the tarmac, elegant shower suites, a children’s zone, and Qantas’ signature “Rockpool menu and dining experience” with a full buffet and an expansive wine and cocktail menu.

The Qantas London Lounge - London Heathrow (LHR) | © Qantas

The Qantas London Lounge – London Heathrow (LHR) | © Qantas

The Qantas London Lounge will feature a unique design with British touches.

Unlike at Sydney and Los Angeles airports, First Class passengers and oneworld Emerald customers will not benefit from a separate private lounge, but they will receive special perks such as priority access to showers, clothes pressing, and an expanded beverage selection.

The Qantas London Lounge - London Heathrow (LHR) | © Qantas

The Qantas London Lounge – London Heathrow (LHR) | © Qantas

Until the elusive lounge opens, Qantas premium and elite passengers can indulge in the luxury of the new Cathay Pacific Lounge, which boasts a serene décor with high-end furniture, and Cathay Pacific’s famed noodle bar. The separate Cathay Pacific First Class Lounge offers additional privacy in an exquisite setting.

Other options include the British Airways Galleries Club and British Airways Galleries First Class Lounge, which are functional but past their prime, as well as the American Airlines Admirals Club and American Airlines International First Class Lounge. Both British Airways and American are planning renovations; American will bring the new Flagship experience recently rolled out at New York JFK to the aging first class lounge.

The Centurion Lounge by American Express at Philadelphia airport

Announced with great fanfare in February 2017, the American Express Centurion Lounge at Philadelphia airport was scheduled to become the eight Centurion Lounge location in the US this month.

The schedule was ambitious. As it turns out, the lounge won’t open until later this year. American Express is currently targeting the fall though no official date has been set.

The new Centurion Lounge at Philadelphia airport is bound to shake up a dormant lounge scene. Located in Concourse A West, it will be most convenient for international passengers, but also accessible from the domestic terminals.

The 6,300 square foot club will feature floor-to-ceiling windows with views on the tarmac, as well as the full line-up of amenities that we have come to expect from American Express, including full hot meals with local favorites, a full bar with a high-end selection of cocktails, superb shower suites, cube chairs, day beds, and attentive service.

American Express Centurion Lounge - Philadelphia, PA (PHL) | © American Express

American Express Centurion Lounge – Philadelphia, PA (PHL) | © American Express

As an alternative, American Express Platinum card holders can currently use their Priority Pass, which comes bundled with the card, for a complimentary one-hour stay in a private room at Minute Suites in Terminal B. While there are no food, drinks, or showers, the privacy is unrivaled.

United Polaris Lounge at San Francisco airport

United is in the midst of a complete transformation of their premium product.

In the air, new highly private cocoons with aisle access and premium bedding welcome passengers on the airline’s new flagship Boeing 777-300ER aircraft. On the ground, United is rolling out new Polaris Lounges at most hubs. The re-imagined lounges are a complete departure from the United Club, with high-end amenities such as a complimentary full-service restaurant, individual work pods, gorgeous shower suites, and private day rooms.

United unveiled the new product in June 2016. The first Polaris Lounge, at Chicago O’Hare, opened in December 2016.

United Polaris Lounge Chicago O'Hare (ORD)

United Polaris Lounge Chicago O’Hare (ORD)

Eight months later, the other lounges at eight global hubs from Los Angeles to Tokyo still haven’t materialized.

Amongst the most anticipated locations is the Polaris Lounge at San Francisco airport. Slated to become the largest United Polaris Lounge worldwide, the club will replace the United Club in International Terminal G, an expansive but tired space with grand views over the tarmac, and incorporate the current Singapore Airlines SilverKris Lounge and EVA Air Evergreen Lounge, which will close accordingly.

The current United Global First lounge will be converted into a United Club, while a second United Club will open by gate 93 in 2018.

As of today, the only evidence of construction is the reduced footprint of the United Club in International Terminal G, which compounds crowding.

United has quietly updated their web site with a new schedule. The San Francisco, Newark, and London Polaris lounges will not open until early 2018, while the Washington Dulles, Houston, Los Angeles, Tokyo Narita, and Hong Kong locations are now targeted for late 2018.

Los Angeles has a brand new United Club with an outdoor deck. The London lounges are United’s best system wide, possibly followed by Hong Kong and Tokyo. Houston and Newark airports both have new clubs (albeit far from the international gates.) At Washington Dulles airport, United’s passengers can escape to the Lufthansa and Turkish Airlines lounges. At San Francisco airport, the situation remains dire, with no tangible alternative to the United Club, except perhaps the small Singapore Airlines lounge.

It will be worth the wait.

Featured photo: United Polaris Lounge Chicago O’Hare (ORD)

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