The 7 Best Airport Lounges In The United States

The 7 Best Airport Lounges In The United States

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There’s no denying that the general standard of airport lounges in the United States isn’t great. If you think of airport lounges, you might think of crowded rooms with outdated furniture, stale snack mix, and cheap chardonnay.

Fortunately not all lounges are created equal, so in this post I wanted to share some of my favorite airport lounges in the United States (I’ve separately ranked the world’s best first class lounges). Rather than just doing a numerical ranking, I’ll instead share my favorite lounge among a variety of categories. With that out of the way, here we go, in no particular order.

Capital One Lounge DFW (best credit card lounge)

The Capital One Lounge DFW recently opened, and is simply spectacular. It has beautiful design, innovative amenities, a great food & drink selection (including grab & go food, cold brew, and more), and exceptional service (especially from Rumana). There are several more Capital One Lounges on the way, and I can’t wait to see this network expand. Amex Centurion Lounges are great, but I do think Capital One has the edge as of now in terms of quality.

Capital One Lounge DFW bar area
Capital One Lounge DFW grab & go selection

American Flagship First Dining JFK (best first class lounge)

American Flagship First Dining JFK is probably the single most premium and nice thing about American Airlines. This restaurant is located inside the Flagship Lounge, and it’s exclusively for Airbus A321T and Boeing 777-300ER first class customers. The lounge has amazing views of the apron, friendly service, and a food & drink selection that’ll make you think you’re flying with a different airline.

American Flagship First Dining JFK seating
American Flagship First Dining JFK food

United Polaris Lounge SFO (best business class lounge)

United Polaris Lounges are the best business class lounges run by any US airline, and I’d argue among the best that you’ll find anywhere in the world. All Polaris Lounges are very similar, but I guess if I needed to pick one, I’d choose the United Polaris Lounge SFO. The lounge has beautiful design, nap rooms, shower suites, barista-made coffee, a la carte dining, and more.

United Polaris Lounge SFO lounge & bar
United Polaris Lounge SFO food

Delta Sky Club LAX (best airline membership lounge)

The new Delta Sky Club LAX recently opened. While I hate putting a lounge on the list I haven’t personally visited, I think this must be one of the nicest membership lounges in the United States. In general Delta Sky Clubs are better than American Admirals Clubs and United Clubs. On top of that, the lounge is massive, has creative decor, and has an outdoor terrace.

Delta Sky Club LAX bar
Delta Sky Club LAX terrace

Qantas First Lounge LAX (best lounge for elite members)

The Qantas First Lounge LAX is the best lounge that can be accessed on account of airline elite status. Specifically, oneworld Emerald members can access the Qantas First Lounge at Tom Bradley International Terminal, and it offers an excellent restaurant-style dining experience.

Qantas First Lounge LAX seating
Qantas First Lounge LAX seating

Star Alliance Lounge LAX (best alliance lounge)

There aren’t many lounges in the United States run by one of the “big three” alliances. One exception is the Star Alliance Lounge LAX, which is open to Star Alliance first & business class passengers, plus Star Alliance Gold members. The best features of the lounge are the indoor terrace (overlooking the terminal) and the outdoor terrace (overlooking the apron). There’s even a separate first class section to the lounge. This lounge is in a totally different league than the adjacent Korean Air Lounge that most SkyTeam passengers are sent to.

Star Alliance Lounge LAX indoor terrace
Star Alliance Lounge LAX outdoor terrace

Air France First Lounge JFK (best lounge within a lounge)

Air France first class is one of the best first class products in the world, and that experience starts on the ground. While Air France’s ground experience is the best in Paris, the airline also has a hidden lounge within a lounge for first class passengers at New York JFK. This intimate room just has a few couches and dining tables, plus an a la carte dining experience and a great wine selection.

Air France First Lounge JFK seating
Air France First Lounge JFK food

Bottom line

The above are some of my favorite lounges in the United States in a variety of categories, ranging from the best membership lounge to the best business class lounge.

Admittedly this is all highly subjective, so to OMAAT readers — what are your favorite lounges in the United States? Any others that really stick out, even if it’s “just” the best Priority Pass lounge?

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  1. Jonathan Guest

    I will rank them once Delta has opened its Delta One lounges at LAX and JFK, and the new AMEX Centurion lounge at ATL opens. Yes, I am already looking to the future lol.

  2. Hoosier in Paradise New Member

    I am new to using CVG (Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky) and its Delta Sky Club. It's a huge lounge for just a Delta focus city in a medium to small market. There is a frequently rotating hot meal buffet featuring Midwest regional favorites that I think is excellent. I have never found this lounge to be crowded and the customer service is very friendly and accommodating. Anyway, this is just one traveler's opinion on a major airline...

    I am new to using CVG (Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky) and its Delta Sky Club. It's a huge lounge for just a Delta focus city in a medium to small market. There is a frequently rotating hot meal buffet featuring Midwest regional favorites that I think is excellent. I have never found this lounge to be crowded and the customer service is very friendly and accommodating. Anyway, this is just one traveler's opinion on a major airline lounge currently flying under the radar (pun intended). Thanks, Ben, for your always enlightening analyses. David W. Saunders

  3. Dennis Guest

    Obviously, you never been to Korean Air Lounge in InCheon. This one should stand out way up in the front bypassing all your listings.

    1. RockD. Guest

      Perhaps you missed "U.S." in the headline

  4. David Cotton Guest

    Enjoy reading the reviews of lounges and such. While I might disagree with some points, you definitely whet the appetite for travel and perhaps routing through some of the airports to check things out. Good job.

  5. Mark r. Guest

    I would vote for the Delta Sky Club in Austin.

  6. iamhere Guest

    Truth is no US lounge compares to many lounges around the world in terms of the décor and the offerings. Also most US lounges are overcrowded with many ways to get in (Priority Pass, Credit Cards, status, etc.).

  7. Ganesh Prasad MD Guest

    I guess you haven’t been to the Maple lounge in Vancouver or the Emirates lounge ( anywhere) or the Etihad lounge in AbuDhabi…. this is such a waste of ink!

    1. Merry Chris Moss Guest

      Dear Dr.,

      Did you miss the part of the title where it indicates this is about US lounges? FYI - Neither Vancouver nor Abu Dhabi are in the US.

  8. CMorgan Guest

    MiamiorBust you are a real A-hole! No one is forcing you to read this blog. Take your attitude elsewhere.

  9. Chris Guest

    The *A lounge in LAX is fine but far from best in the US status imo. I’d rather be in pretty much any of the Centurion lounges, for example.

    The food is meh, bar is just okay, and the interior design is pretty drab. If not for the terrace I’d even go so far as to say it’s a disappointment, but given the dearth of lounges at LAX, I guess it sneaks by.

  10. Skyward Geek Member

    Lucky, you should try out and write a review the new United Club at EWR - looks amazing! I'm wondering if you think it's better than the Delta LAX Sky Club.

  11. Andrew W. Guest

    I agree that the DFW Capital One Lounge is new and so uncrowded that it is pleasant, but ranking it as a top lounge? I have to agree with the one impolite commentor who implied that you and other travel bloggers support credit card companies, which frankly seems evident, and Capital One's support likely influenced your decision to include a cc category. I know you are supported by CC companies, but you still provide a...

    I agree that the DFW Capital One Lounge is new and so uncrowded that it is pleasant, but ranking it as a top lounge? I have to agree with the one impolite commentor who implied that you and other travel bloggers support credit card companies, which frankly seems evident, and Capital One's support likely influenced your decision to include a cc category. I know you are supported by CC companies, but you still provide a great service so thank you Ben... And I got the Capital One Venture X largely because of you...

  12. Noah Guest

    I would argue the new polaris at IAD is better than SFO right now

    1. Catgrandma Guest

      I agree with that.... had the pleasure of visiting it 7 weeks ago and it was an absolute place of relaxation. The windows overlooking the taxiways were an added bonus.

  13. BenjaminNYC Guest

    If FFD JFK is the best “First Class Lounge” and, since it is a “lounge within a lounge” (FL), how is AF LP Lounge JFK the best “lounge within a lounge”?

  14. Josh Guest

    Would only include Cap One if their approval process is standard or with some sort of normality. Seems that a majority of people with a travel blog was approved; most likely when you tie your name to the blog compared to some. They must have a list of names to the 'must approve' and then everyone else is tossed into their random list. I would not add Cap One since it's too new and just...

    Would only include Cap One if their approval process is standard or with some sort of normality. Seems that a majority of people with a travel blog was approved; most likely when you tie your name to the blog compared to some. They must have a list of names to the 'must approve' and then everyone else is tossed into their random list. I would not add Cap One since it's too new and just watch a whole bunch of random low profit passengers storm, that will be the fair assessment.

  15. shoeguy Guest

    Delta's SkyClubs in LAX and SLC are a hopeful sign the airline will actually invest in its clubs going forward. SkyClubs have changed little since they were introduced in 2008. They are cafeteria grade at best, low on amenities, and often crowded.

  16. Miamiorbust Guest

    Amex didn’t pay enough? This blog has become little more than one long paid ad for credit card companies. Zero credibility. The best airport lounge would by definition provide services relevant to people, you know, actually flying. Have a problem with your flight? Capitol One Lounge is worthless. Kinda like this blog. Keep on shilling.

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ Miamiorbust -- First of all, please be polite. That's not a big ask. You're more than welcome to disagree with me (or anyone else), but please don't resort to name-calling. And if you don't see any value in my blog that's totally fine, no one is putting a gun to your head and forcing you to read.

      To respond to your actual point, I don't follow? I don't have a credit card link in...

      @ Miamiorbust -- First of all, please be polite. That's not a big ask. You're more than welcome to disagree with me (or anyone else), but please don't resort to name-calling. And if you don't see any value in my blog that's totally fine, no one is putting a gun to your head and forcing you to read.

      To respond to your actual point, I don't follow? I don't have a credit card link in this post, and for that matter wouldn't any credit card lounge have the issue of not providing airline customer service? So the "best credit card lounge" category would, by definition, not have airline-specific customer service.

      While Amex Centurion Lounges are great, I do prefer the Capital One Lounge DFW. I totally respect if you feel otherwise, and welcome that kind of commentary, but maybe you could let me have my preference without attacking me and suggesting there's some ulterior motive?

    2. Khatl Diamond

      Totally agree there was no cc promo, so way off base in the comment.
      And it was a list of airport lounges for people actually flying, whether a card provider lounge or not.
      That said @miamiorbust may have got the response they wanted

    3. Shar Guest

      @miami - f you man. Take your miserable shit somewhere else. T

    4. robbo Guest

      If you don't like OMAAT dude, stop reading it, stop subscribing, some would sat f uck off, we don't need your negativity

    5. Marty Guest

      Complete weirdo right here. Ignore.

  17. pollock New Member

    We would like to recognize the Amex Lounge Collection of DL in SEA and Virgin in IAD. if you want to more about - The Tejeda Equation

  18. Aaron Guest

    What about the Virgin Atlantic lounge at JFK?

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ Aaron -- It used to be one of my favorite lounges, though to be honest I haven't been in a long time. I've heard that the experience has been watered down quite a bit, including the hair salon area being eliminated, and food & drinks being scaled back. If anyone has been recently, I'd love to hear some data points.

    2. Kip Guest

      I went a few weeks ago. It has real Blair-era retro vibes now, and the decor is so tacky. Food offerings were acceptable - a proper kitchen but you can feel the cost cuts (chicken tikka masala, some bottom-feeder fish and steamed vegetables). You also have to order everything through an app, which lowers the tone. At JFK T4 I'd stick with Centurion for food and Delta for working.

    3. Merry Chris Moss Guest

      A few months ago, was at VS JFK lounge one morning, way too early. No champagne, or alcohol at all per airport rules, and the lounge shuts down for a bit after the morning VS flight, but the breakfast ordered from the menu was very good. It's showing its age, but was very quiet and cozy.

  19. Mike Guest

    The new Delta Sky Club in SLC is definitely better than the one in LAX. It's bigger and has great runway and mountain views. Two bars, lots of space, good food selection.

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ Mike -- Good to know. I'll have to check that one out as well.

  20. JBM Guest

    Also LAX’s Private Suite needs some sort of shout out here.

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ JBM -- That's a fair point too. It's certainly an untraditional airport lounge, but no doubt a special experience.

    2. John G Guest

      LAX PS is so elite! The costs are wild!

  21. Mick Guest

    I think the amex lounges are the best in the USA. Best food and drink.

    I really like the American lounge in ord too. I prefer it to Polaris.

    And in terms of biggest letdown I’d rise the Qantas lounge in lax. So hyped up and I found it very mediocre. Average at best shower rooms, plain and vanilla space to eat and drink at.

    I do love the sfo Polaris though.

    And honorable mention for worst lounges? All of them in t5 at ord.

    1. Eskimo Guest

      This I have to say is clickbait!!

      It's one thing to have a subjective rankings, which is fine.

      But really? Some of them seems rigged, objectively thinking of a lounge and finding a new category for it.
      Alliance? or lounge in lounge?
      Is it possible there is no overlapping winners?

      Why not best lounge with no windows, best lounge with at least 8 toilet stalls, best lounge that you access on 3rd floor,...

      This I have to say is clickbait!!

      It's one thing to have a subjective rankings, which is fine.

      But really? Some of them seems rigged, objectively thinking of a lounge and finding a new category for it.
      Alliance? or lounge in lounge?
      Is it possible there is no overlapping winners?

      Why not best lounge with no windows, best lounge with at least 8 toilet stalls, best lounge that you access on 3rd floor, or best lounge that have squared tables.

      Or OMAAT is preparing to become another TPG or Skytrax,

    2. Eskimo Guest

      Not intended to reply @Mick but mistakenly ended up here.

    3. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ Eskimo -- I hear you, though maybe you can see where I'm coming from? If I were to just do a top 15 ranking, odds are that five of them would be Polaris Lounges, three of them would be Flagship First Dining, etc.

      I tried to provide some variety, and admittedly some of the categories are more niche than others. Yes, "alliance lounge" is a pretty specific category, but I figured the Star...

      @ Eskimo -- I hear you, though maybe you can see where I'm coming from? If I were to just do a top 15 ranking, odds are that five of them would be Polaris Lounges, three of them would be Flagship First Dining, etc.

      I tried to provide some variety, and admittedly some of the categories are more niche than others. Yes, "alliance lounge" is a pretty specific category, but I figured the Star Alliance Lounge LAX deserved a shoutout compared to the alternatives, and that seemed like the best category for doing that.

      I didn't make up that category because Star Alliance paid me to rank the lounge, but rather just because it seemed like the most logical way to recognize the lounge for being above average.

    4. Eskimo Guest

      @Lucky

      Thanks for the response, I always appreciate your transparency here.
      Your explanation does make sense and I understand that. But you could have just group all Polaris or all Flagship Dining then list the best airport among them. But some of them isn't that case.

      Like wise, many of us know LAX Star Alliance lounge is great, but in relative terms if you don't make the cut, you don't. Or you can actually...

      @Lucky

      Thanks for the response, I always appreciate your transparency here.
      Your explanation does make sense and I understand that. But you could have just group all Polaris or all Flagship Dining then list the best airport among them. But some of them isn't that case.

      Like wise, many of us know LAX Star Alliance lounge is great, but in relative terms if you don't make the cut, you don't. Or you can actually swap AF vs Flagship Dining and the category still fits. Those two should be competing each other for the spot not getting one each. I'm fine with individual opinion but just don't fix the result.

    5. JasonB Member

      Used to love Centurion lounges, but they are all so incredibly crowded these days. I just got to visit the one at CLT. There was next to no open space to sit, and I had to stand in line for 15 minutes to get a beer from the bar. The food was delicious though. I left to go try out the new The Club on the other side of the airport and was told they were too full and had a wait, despite seeing open tables from the entry area.

  22. Sam Guest

    Quick shout out to DL in SEA & Virgin in IAD - Amex Lounge Collection, not PP.

  23. Kurt M Guest

    Cap One in Dallas!

    Can’t wait till they expand around the country.

  24. MoJoe Diamond

    "American Flagship First Dining JFK (best first class lounge)
    ...
    The lounge has amazing views of the apron, friendly service, and a food & drink selection that’ll make you think you’re flying with a different airline."

    I can imagine the cognitive dissonance one must feel to enjoy such a nice lounge and then realize it belongs to a near-peer competitor of Spirit Airlines, lol.

    1. Aaron Guest

      Is it even a lounge though? It's almost the same as the Air France lounge chosen here...a lounge within a lounge.

      Also, since all the seating is dining room based, it's more like a really nice restaurant than a lounge.

    2. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ Aaron -- Indeed it's more of a nice restaurant than a lounge. Though when I have access, my strategy is to just sit there for an extended period of time even while not actively eating, since it's a much quieter and more comfortable space than the main Flagship Lounge.

  25. Scott H Guest

    and a food & drink selection that’ll make you think you’re flying with a different airline.

    I busted out laughing after that statement

  26. Terence Guest

    You need to go back to SFO Polaris (or not). It is now the worst in the system; ORD/EWR, and even the smaller LAX, is better than SFO. After the grand opening, the food and services dropped significantly. It was surprising to the point that pasta was tasteless, and orange chicken or the mimic - an irony for the SF hub carrier - was barely chewable. The only item that still lived up to the Polaris lounge standard was the burger.

    1. Occasional flyer Guest

      Yes, I was there last week and have to say I was very underwhelmed by the food, which was ok but nothing special. I thought maybe I was being a little picky, but then during my layover in IST I had some great food in the Turkish Air B-class lounge... Polaris definitely paled in comparison food wise. That being said, my wife and I were very happy with their cocktails

    1. Taylor Guest

      That would be a helpful category to add. I'd vote for Turkish or Air France lounge in IAD.

    2. Stuart Guest

      Seriously? As a DC resident I will say that the Turkish and AF lounges are bloody awful at Dulles. Horrid food, no seating and cramped. Are you sure you meant IAD?

    3. Bobby J Guest

      I’m a DC resident too and the Turkish lounge, for me, is a dump with 80s era decor and torn up furniture. Always crowded and the food isn’t all that great. Honestly, I’ll take the Lufthansa lounge down the hall. Nothing special, but it doesn’t pretend to be, and it checks all the boxes.

    4. Taylor Guest

      I've lived in DC for 15 years, and yes I meant IAD. I think the food and drinks at the Air France and Turkish lounges are among the best I have found for domestic Priority Pass lounges (obviously, that's not a high bar). Which domestic Priority Pass lounges do you think are better? Lufthansa IAD joined PP only recently but I don't think their food selection post-COVID is nearly as good as Turkish or AF.

    5. JBM Guest

      I think the OP was speaking to the general dumpiness of PP lounges in the US. I’ve only found access to be helpful outside of the US, otherwise a table at a restaurant or a seat at an empty gate is better.

    6. MoJoe Diamond

      Haven't been to the Turkish lounge since Covid started, but it has had the best hot/fresh food offerings (hot entrees and soups, baklava desert, etc.) of the Priority Pass lounges (not including Chef Geoff's restaurant in Terminal C). Others seem to agree, which is why the lounge is (was?) always so full/crowded. My last trip out of Dulles a month ago was too early in the morning to hit any of the lounges, but intend...

      Haven't been to the Turkish lounge since Covid started, but it has had the best hot/fresh food offerings (hot entrees and soups, baklava desert, etc.) of the Priority Pass lounges (not including Chef Geoff's restaurant in Terminal C). Others seem to agree, which is why the lounge is (was?) always so full/crowded. My last trip out of Dulles a month ago was too early in the morning to hit any of the lounges, but intend to try Turkish and/or Chef Geoff's again in a few weeks.

    7. David Guest

      Yeah the Turkish lounge at IAD is showing it's age and can get very crowded. Food is ok. Staff is friendly. Certainly wouldn't rank it as a top lounge.

  27. Eric Guest

    I'm not even sure why you have best Alliance lounge as there are so few that are branded by an Alliance. And lounge within a lounge, how does Flagship First Dining lose this one?

    I would have thought the Boston BA Lounge would get a mention for a high quality lounge, good food and direct from lounge boarding which is really awesome.

    There are a lot of close calls. The new United Club at Newark should give the Delta LAX lounge a run for it's money.

  28. Andrew Diamond

    I've brought this up before, but calling the Qantas First Lounge LAX open to Emerald members is a little dishonest. AA and Alaska's Emerald are specifically carved out unless you're on an international segment.

    On that note, since I'm in the airport nearly every week, I tried posting all my FC segments to Qantas. 4 months later, 2/16 of my flights have shown up. I think Qantas is running a scam operation - every call...

    I've brought this up before, but calling the Qantas First Lounge LAX open to Emerald members is a little dishonest. AA and Alaska's Emerald are specifically carved out unless you're on an international segment.

    On that note, since I'm in the airport nearly every week, I tried posting all my FC segments to Qantas. 4 months later, 2/16 of my flights have shown up. I think Qantas is running a scam operation - every call to their center has resulted in no action, as is the 'missing mileage' requests that I've posted. Back to AA's crappy program it is.

  29. Willem Guest

    FF Dining JFK depends highly on menu, my first visit was Michelin Star worthy and my second was… fairly average tbh

    1. Steve Guest

      I had the same experience. The food last week wasn't very good. The staff however were all wonderful.

  30. Motion to Dismiss Gold

    Ben, have you been to the Lufthansa Wining & Dining Facility for F passengers at JFK? I can’t speak to its post-Covid state but I was there a few years ago and it was marvelous. Similar set-up to the La Premiere lounge at JFK from what I can tell (I have not been to the latter). The Lufthansa lounge had some amazing scotch, including Balvenie 25 (about $1200 a bottle).

  31. Reno Joe Guest

    The BA Concorde Room at JFK beats AA Flagship First Dining at JFK for the first class category. There's really no comparison.

    1. Willem Guest

      Agree 100%, after visiting AA FF dining and the Concorde Room JFK right afterwards

  32. JBM Guest

    I think the new United Club at Newark just knocked Delta’s SkyClub at LAX out of the water.

    1. Never In Doubt Guest

      The young Doubt was there on Friday, and raved about it.

    1. eponymous coward Guest

      And you left out The Club at SEA. ;)

    2. SingleFlyer Guest

      Club at SEA? Gross.

    3. Andrew Diamond

      Don't forget The Club at SJC! Those lucky SJC ANA and BA passengers pre-Covid were really in for a treat with that one.

Featured Comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

Ben Schlappig OMAAT

@ Miamiorbust -- First of all, please be polite. That's not a big ask. You're more than welcome to disagree with me (or anyone else), but please don't resort to name-calling. And if you don't see any value in my blog that's totally fine, no one is putting a gun to your head and forcing you to read. To respond to your actual point, I don't follow? I don't have a credit card link in this post, and for that matter wouldn't any credit card lounge have the issue of not providing airline customer service? So the "best credit card lounge" category would, by definition, not have airline-specific customer service. While Amex Centurion Lounges are great, I do prefer the Capital One Lounge DFW. I totally respect if you feel otherwise, and welcome that kind of commentary, but maybe you could let me have my preference without attacking me and suggesting there's some ulterior motive?

5
Merry Chris Moss Guest

Dear Dr., Did you miss the part of the title where it indicates this is about US lounges? FYI - Neither Vancouver nor Abu Dhabi are in the US.

2
Jkjkjk Guest

Where’s the class of best PP lounge?

2
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