Airport Lounges Upgrade to Better Food, Renovated Digs

Delta, American, U.S. Airways are among airlines looking to enhance the flying experience

It's not just the in-flight meals that are getting a reboot; airlines are now renovating their airport lounges — and adding better meal options — to entice more businss travelers. 

USA Today reports that the changes include more power outlets, more comfortable seating, and better food. Delta Air Lines remodeled its Sky Club digs in Atlanta, Philadelphia, Minneapolis-St. Paul, and New York's La Guardia Airport, adding full-service bars with free food and drinks, a workspace with techie upgrades, and renovated bathrooms. The airline also added a Luxury Bar with upgraded drink offerings for sale. Also upgrading at La Guardia and Atlanta airports is American Airlines and its Admiral Club lounges, while U.S. Airways is reopening its clubs in Raleigh-Durham and Washington D.C.'s Reagan airports after closing several in 2008. And the list of international airlines enhancing their lounges, such as Korean Air, is far and wide. 

The reason for the sudden adjustment to lounges — yet another way for airlines to make money. After the 9/11 attacks, lounges hit the height of their popularity because they were an option for travelers spending hours at airports before flights. As the economy tanked, so did the appeal of first-class flying; so airlines tightened their belts and cut costs in lounges.

Now, lounges bring in lucrative business: the business travelers. Even a day-only pass to a lounge is only $50, while most use yearly memberships or credit card miles to enter the exclusive clubs. Chris Rossi, head of Virgin Atlantic North America, said the newest airline club at New York's JFK Airport brings in lots of new business. He said to USA Today, "When we build a new clubhouse, we see a boost in terms of upper-class ticket sales... They're clearly game-changers for us." Now, if we can just get TSA to change their ways, flying might just become an enjoyable experience again.