Browsing Tag: Lounge

Entrance to the Airport Lounge at Hamburg Airport.

Entrance to the Airport Lounge at Hamburg Airport

I’ve been through many lounges, and a big “red flag” for me is whether I’m about to step foot into a contracted lounge instead of one run by an airline itself. Being a oneworld alliance guy at a non-hub outstation like Hamburg, it could have been like being stranded in a desert, parched and wanting of nourishment. On top of that, I was flying Air Berlin, which isn’t usually among the first three or four airlines one thinks of in terms of quality oneworld lounging. Was I going to have to kill some time [like a savage – too much snark?] or [perusing duty-free items] in the main terminal area, or would I be pleasantly surprised…

Cround crews at LAX prep an American 777-300ER for its flight to SYD.

Ground crews at LAX prep an American 777-300ER for its flight to SYD

Previously, I discussed the process and reasoning for using miles for an economy ticket on an American Airlines Boeing 777-300ER from Los Angeles to Sydney. In this story, I am going to share the actual flight experience, and discuss if this was the right call… or a huge mistake.

FLYING AMERICAN DOWN UNDER: Before the Flight

American Airlines Flight 73
Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) to Sydney Airport (SYD)
Equipment: Boeing 777-323ER
Scheduled Departure Time: 9:50pm (actual 10:21pm)
Scheduled Arrival Time: 7:55am+2 (actual 7:31am+2)
Scheduled Flight Time: 15 hours, 5 minutes (actual 14 hours, 9 minutes)

The day came, and we headed out to dinner before going to LAX to catch our evening flight. While taking our dinner at a leisurely pace, I checked on our flight status and realized that I had confused the departure time as being 10:50pm instead of 9:50pm; fortunately I caught my mistake with enough time to rush through our meal and still make it to the airport comfortably.

Somehow understated, but an amazing and easy to find mark in any airport. Etihad Airways at JFK - Photo: Bernie Leighton | AirlineReporter

Somehow understated, but an amazing and easy to find mark in any airport – Photo: Bernie Leighton | AirlineReporter

I seem to live in airport lounges these days. I’ve noticed a theme, especially within the United States. The concept of luxury, decadence, and modernity have been eschewed by small packs of American cheese, rubbery cookies, and buy-your-own ill-textured food provided by Sysco. On top of that, the lounges are usually dirty. The showers feel more “grandmother’s  basement” than luxury. In the case of one overseas lounge, it cannot pass a health inspection to save its life!

Etihad Airways has had great lounges in the past, but now again succeeds with the introduction of Facets of Abu Dhabi brand. Etihad knew they had to not just lead, but cement that lead, as best in all classes. To be fair though, the older-style Etihad lounges are starting to merely be the best, not years beyond the competition.

That said, according to Calum Laming, Etihad’s Vice President of Guest Experience, what they came up with is really not a mere lounge.

The bar is the central fixture of the new Etihad JFK lounge. It's truly beautiful - Photo: Bernie Leighton | AirlineReporter

The bar is the central fixture of the new Etihad JFK lounge. It’s truly beautiful. – Photo: Bernie Leighton | AirlineReporter

He is right.

Imagine if you could, with the help of an airport facility design firm called Gensler (they do shopping malls as well), create something inside an airport that felt nothing like it, save for the spectacular ramp view?

Well, they did it. I knew, previously, that Etihad takes its design cues from Fairmont hotels. Except when you step into the lobby of this lounge, it feels as if you have left JFK; teleported to Vancouver, and walked into the Fairmont Pacific Rim hotel.

One of the seating areas for the new Alaska Airlines Board Room at SEA's N Satellite. Photo: Neil Enns | Dane Creek Photography

One of the seating areas for the new Alaska Airlines Board Room at SEA’s N Satellite – Photo: Neil Enns | Dane Creek Photography

As of November 10, customers visiting Seattle-Tacoma International Airport’s North Satellite terminal will have an enhanced passenger experience. After several months of delays and postponements, the new and highly-anticipated Alaska Airlines Board Room opened for business between Gates N1 and N2.

The N Board Room supplements the main location in the D Concourse of the main terminal, allowing passengers to have lounge access closer to Alaska’s departure gates in the remote terminal. This lounge is meant as a stopgap until a permanent lounge opens in 2018 as part of an overhaul and expansion of the North Satellite building.

When the project was first announced in December of 2014, the original target opening date was mid-2015, but postponements kept rolling in and pushing the date further out. Coupled with little information about lounge design and amenities, the anticipation grew, especially within the frequent flyer community on Flyertalk.

Afternoon offerings include hot soup, artisinal bread along with Hummus, crackers and other more refined snack options - Photo: Mal Muir | AirlineReporter.com

Afternoon offerings include hot soup, artisinal bread along with Hummus, crackers and other more refined snack options – Photo: Mal Muir | AirlineReporter

Domestic airline lounges in the USA do not have the best reputation. A place to get a drink and sit out your flight delay in a dark, cigar lounge atmosphere? United does not like that thought, and they have decided to do something about it.

At first they started renovating their clubs, bringing them up to a new standard. Now they have come into the second phase, and are going to be updating the food and snacks on offer. For many frequent fliers, this should be a welcomed change.

The entry way to United Club in Terminal 2 at O'Hare - Photo: United

The entry way to United Club in Terminal 2 at O’Hare – Photo: United

I have been through my fair share of United Clubs. I have been a Star Alliance Gold member for years, and like many of you, I am inherently familiar with Goldfish crackers, Tillamook cheese, and yogurt (or chocolate) covered pretzels/raisins. I have had my binge sessions while waiting out a delayed flight snacking on those things while powering my devices.

Considering that an annual club membership could run you as much as $500 a year, the meager snack offerings don’t seem all that great.  Those days are now going to be history.  United has decided to follow the feedback of their guests, and also a similar trend among their competitors, to offer something a little bit more substantial, even palatable.