Airport Lounge Crowding: What’s Going On?

Airport Lounge Crowding: What’s Going On?

145

Airport lounge crowding has become an increasingly big issue in the United States in recent years. I wanted to talk about that a bit, including some behavior that I find to be confusing…

Many airport lounges have a crowding issue

Yesterday afternoon I was flying Copa Airlines business class from Miami to Panama City, and the airline uses the Turkish Airlines Lounge at the airport. Not only is this lounge used by all Star Alliance airlines leaving from the terminal, but it’s also open to Priority Pass members.

Turkish Airlines is clearly looking to squeeze every cent of revenue out of airlines and Priority Pass, so rarely are capacity controls put in place. The agents will let in people as fast as they can scan them in.

Turkish Airlines Lounge Miami entrance

I was admitted to the lounge, and couldn’t find a single open seat. The lounge was simply uncomfortably crowded, so I left.

Turkish Airlines Lounge Miami seating

Out of curiosity, I returned 30 minutes later, and this time found a line of a couple of dozen people outside the door.

Turkish Airlines Lounge Miami line to enter

This isn’t an isolated incident. While not all lounges have the same crowding issues, in general finding airport lounges in the United States filled to the brim, or even with a line out the door, is no longer a rarity. Many Delta Sky Clubs look like a New York City nightclub on a Friday night, based on the line at the door.

Why are airport lounges so crowded?

What’s causing these crowding issues, especially given that business travel is nowhere close to making a full recovery (and historically it’s business travelers who largely use lounges)? I think there are a few things at play.

There’s no denying that the most significant factor is premium credit cards that offer lounge access, especially Priority Pass memberships. A decade ago it was mostly baby boomers who had premium credit cards. However, these cards have become much more mainstream in recent years. Not only are younger users maximizing the perks more, but they’re probably also more frequent travelers on balance.

For that matter, the value proposition of premium credit cards has improved significantly over the years. Going back a decade, the Amex Platinum Card was basically the only premium card on the market. Now we have the Chase Sapphire Reserve and Capital One Venture X, both of which offer Priority Pass memberships, with a great overall value proposition.

While I absolutely think that’s the primary issue, there are a couple of other factors at play here too:

  • While airline capacity in the United States has expanded significantly over the years, most airports haven’t really proportionally increased space allocated to lounges
  • A lot of airport lounges are increasingly monetizing access, with less regard for the passenger experience, and more regard for the bottom line (which, I guess, fair enough…)

Now, I’m sure some will say “well bloggers are to blame, y’all are promoting credit cards that offer Priority Pass access, and that causes this crowding issue.” I hear you, but:

  • I still think there’s big value to be had with Priority Pass, just not with your average lounge in the United States; for example, I get huge value at Priority Pass restaurants, and also at lounges outside the United States
  • I think it’s important to set reasonable expectations; some sites make it sound like a Priority Pass membership will get you access to these incredibly exclusive lounges in the United States, when that’s not really the case
  • I’m not here to point fingers, but I’ve been doing the same thing on this blog for nearly 15 years, and as much as I wish I could take credit for this, I don’t think I’m the one making premium credit cards mainstream

Personally I still get huge value from Priority Pass. That includes at Priority Pass restaurants, at other Priority Pass experiences, at lounges outside the United States, etc. I use Priority Pass lounges all the time and have a great experience… just not every time.

Crowding often isn’t an issue outside the United States

Why do people bother with full airport lounges?

I’ve written in the past about what makes a good airport lounge. As I’ve always said, for a standard contract or Priority Pass lounge, the number one thing I hope for is a quiet place to sit. So many airport lounges are failing to deliver that nowadays.

The beautiful thing is that there’s an easy solution — the gate area. For example, below is what one of the closest gate areas to the Turkish Lounge Miami looked like.

Often gate seating is better than a lounge

To me this was infinitely better than being in a lounge — it was quiet, there was lots of natural light, the apron views were awesome, and Wi-Fi was free. For me this is a pretty easy solution. If a lounge is too crowded, I can always find a gate nearby to sit at instead.

Yet for reasons I can’t understand, I seem to be one of the few people who does that. Can anyone help me understand why? I would speculate that it comes down to a couple of factors:

  • Some people want to eat and drink; I get it if you’re really hungry, but I also feel like the food and drinks in contract lounges are generally underwhelming, and if you can afford a high annual fee credit card, you can also afford to buy something actually decent in the terminal
  • Alternatively, you can eat and drink something in the lounge, and then head out into the terminal
  • I suppose on some level people feel that they’ve already “paid” for lounge access in one way or another, so they want to use it and get value from it, even if the experience isn’t great

Bottom line

Airport lounge crowding has become an increasingly big issue in the United States in recent years. This is no doubt because of the huge popularity of premium credit cards that offer lounge access, though there’s more to it than just that.

While there are still lots of amazing lounges, personally I just skip your typical, run-of-the-mill Priority Pass lounge in the United States. I’d rather sit in a quiet gate area with Wi-Fi, lots of natural light, and with no one nearby.

Where do you stand on the lounge crowding issue in the United States? Is there a solution? And am I the only one who often prefers just sitting in the gate area?

Conversations (145)
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.
Type your response here.

If you'd like to participate in the discussion, please adhere to our commenting guidelines. Anyone can comment, and your email address will not be published. Register to save your unique username and earn special OMAAT reputation perks!

  1. MR ALAN S HARRIS Guest

    The same thing is happening in the UK and Europe. I have PP through AMEX Platinum and have been denied access to Lounges 4 times in recent months: twice at the Aspire Lounge at London Luton, at AMS Schipol (where the situation has been exacerbated by the closure of the BA Lounge and at GLA.

    What is happening here is that the lounges have partnered with package holiday companies and others who can pre book...

    The same thing is happening in the UK and Europe. I have PP through AMEX Platinum and have been denied access to Lounges 4 times in recent months: twice at the Aspire Lounge at London Luton, at AMS Schipol (where the situation has been exacerbated by the closure of the BA Lounge and at GLA.

    What is happening here is that the lounges have partnered with package holiday companies and others who can pre book a reservation, so if you don't have a reservation you are faced with a sign saying that they are not accepting cards such as PP and similar others.

    AMEX are "aware of the issue" but can offer no solution other than paying an additional £6 per person for a reservation but why should I do that when I'm already paying £595/year.

  2. Cary Goepfert Guest

    There’s a simple way to decrease lounge crowding..only admit those in first or business class. Problem solved. But since many airlines are in bed with the banks offering credit card perks the true business class flyer (those who actually paid a business class or first class fare) is now subject to the economy buffoon who stuff their face and get drunk prior to boarding.

  3. John do Guest

    Get a life it's just food dont be a spoiled brat deal it with or stay home

  4. Wendy Guest

    I love a quiet lounge. Time of day matters. I've been in crap lounges, JFK centurion early in the day, MIA at all times of day (people are just savages), Turkish Lounge in MIA while busy and crushed, Admiral clubs, Delta clubs, and the worst is my home airport in PIT. The smallest in CUN. So many. All different. IF you are using a bag for a seat, I am asking you to move it....

    I love a quiet lounge. Time of day matters. I've been in crap lounges, JFK centurion early in the day, MIA at all times of day (people are just savages), Turkish Lounge in MIA while busy and crushed, Admiral clubs, Delta clubs, and the worst is my home airport in PIT. The smallest in CUN. So many. All different. IF you are using a bag for a seat, I am asking you to move it. I have google translate and can ask in 5 languages without it. I tip well, I treat staff well, I am not a disgusting turd like alot of people in lounges. That being said, overcrowding wouldn't be so bad if everyone behaved like they deserved to be in a lounge. Be civilizated.

  5. Neil Guest

    Speaking as a Brit, having seen a similar problem emerge here over the last few years, there are a few underlying common themes which have contributed to the lounge access problem.
    When I first started flying with work more than twenty years ago, you could rock up to any Priority Pass lounge and you'd be treated like a King. They would practically roll the red carpet out. This was in an era when lounge...

    Speaking as a Brit, having seen a similar problem emerge here over the last few years, there are a few underlying common themes which have contributed to the lounge access problem.
    When I first started flying with work more than twenty years ago, you could rock up to any Priority Pass lounge and you'd be treated like a King. They would practically roll the red carpet out. This was in an era when lounge access was simple: you either had airline status, flying in a premium cabin or indeed had the coveted PP card.
    Then the low cost airlines arrived and at the same time, airports certainly here in the UK recognised they could maximise revenue by selling access to their lounges directly to the public. Priority Pass went from hero to zero in less than five years as a result.
    Here in the UK, Priority Pass is now largely seen as an 'off peak' top up - the lounges will allow the revenue if they're not full with their own directly billed customers (paying a lot more than Priority Pass does).
    You have two choices for guaranteed access these days: airline status or Amex Platinum's access to their one UK lounge at Heathrow T3; the latter won't last either. Once it starts to fill up there will be large queues as we so often see now with Amex lounges in the US.

  6. Albert C Guest

    Just used the Air Canada lounges ,one at LAX.and 2 in Montreal. The LAX lounge was small, espresso machine broken,and very few food options. The international lounge at Montreal is nice,lots of hot food options a bar and nice bathrooms. On the other hand,the one for flights to the US is a joke. The restroom,1 urinal,1 toilet, not a great food selection, definitely would pass on that one. But a big shout to the people...

    Just used the Air Canada lounges ,one at LAX.and 2 in Montreal. The LAX lounge was small, espresso machine broken,and very few food options. The international lounge at Montreal is nice,lots of hot food options a bar and nice bathrooms. On the other hand,the one for flights to the US is a joke. The restroom,1 urinal,1 toilet, not a great food selection, definitely would pass on that one. But a big shout to the people working all these lounges. They work there ass’s off and many times people don’t even give them a thank you.

  7. Patricia Guest

    We live lounges. Hubbie is a nervous traveler and kites to get to the airport early. Being in a lounge with access to food, drinks, outlets for phone chargers and nice restrooms is a big perk for us. It makes our 2-3 hour bearable. We waited 2 hours to get into Priority Pass club last week in ATL. The wait was fine bc it was on the upper level. There was a nice bar, tables...

    We live lounges. Hubbie is a nervous traveler and kites to get to the airport early. Being in a lounge with access to food, drinks, outlets for phone chargers and nice restrooms is a big perk for us. It makes our 2-3 hour bearable. We waited 2 hours to get into Priority Pass club last week in ATL. The wait was fine bc it was on the upper level. There was a nice bar, tables and chairs and several fast food restaurants up there. Anyway, the lounges are great for us. Delta lounges are very nice. Centurion are fav. We fly about once per month. Southwest gates are always very crowded!!

  8. George Economides Guest

    I recently stopped by the United Pass Lounge at Gate 25 in Newark Airport prior to my ✈️ flight to Athens, Greece. Plenty of room and an overall experience of 10 out of 10!!!!

  9. James Tidmarsh Guest

    What’s happening with lounges, is what happened with airplanes. Used to be an exclusive experience to fly. Now certainly isn’t. Used to be exclusive to have lounge access. Now definitely isn’t. The new lounge access is to fly private ;-)

  10. Jay F Guest

    I have a Chase Explorer card which includes 2 free United lounge access passes. I have tried on 2 different occasions, months apart, to use them at EWR. Both times the lounges, and there are 3 of them in terminal C, were closed to new arrivals since they were at capacity. These passes expire year end and I have no travel plans until January. When I spoke with Chase asking for an extension they told...

    I have a Chase Explorer card which includes 2 free United lounge access passes. I have tried on 2 different occasions, months apart, to use them at EWR. Both times the lounges, and there are 3 of them in terminal C, were closed to new arrivals since they were at capacity. These passes expire year end and I have no travel plans until January. When I spoke with Chase asking for an extension they told me I'm out of luck, there is no extension, you'll get new passes next year. When I explained that your offering a benefit to the card that your partner can't deliver and that you should offer something else in this case the supervisor ended the call as politely as possible repeating that is too bad but I'm out of luck. Chase really needs fix their advertising and drop this perk or explain its often impossible to use it.

  11. Paul J Guest

    I think the changing demographic makes lounges feel even more crowded today. Whereas before, we had self- important business folk blabbing on their phones, now we have families of six or more sprawled out, baby strollers, etc. I agree about Turkish. I flew Turkish twice out of IAD recently in C and found that I couldn't use the lounge because it was full. Fortunately Lufthansa was not. But why do you have to "shop" for an available and comfortable lounge?

  12. David T Guest

    Delta's lounge now requires that only members with same day departures "on Delta" and within 3 hours of that departure can enter.

  13. Ian Guest

    I am a Gold card holder with Thai Airways for over 20 years and have noticed the same trend which started around 5 years ago.
    Very difficult to find a seat in the BKK lounges (there are 5 TG in the airport. On occasions, those flying business have been re-directed to the First Class Lounge.
    A service provided to business class passengers is the Spa where you can get a 20 min leg...

    I am a Gold card holder with Thai Airways for over 20 years and have noticed the same trend which started around 5 years ago.
    Very difficult to find a seat in the BKK lounges (there are 5 TG in the airport. On occasions, those flying business have been re-directed to the First Class Lounge.
    A service provided to business class passengers is the Spa where you can get a 20 min leg massage or head and neck massage prior to your flight. I have given up trying as the waiting list in usually around 2 hrs and I have better things to do with my time than to go to the airport 4 hrs before my flight so as to get a massage.
    In March this year I flew Singapore Airlines to BKK as TG were not flying from Melbourne at the time. This necessitated a 9 hr stopover in Changi. I had access to the SG lounge from my Gold card and the SG lounge at Changi is one of the best I have encountered worldwide. Arriving at 6 am in the morning, there was a queue of 30 people to get inside. SG staff were most apologetic and made sure I got an appropriate seat once I got in.
    I have experienced difficulty in finding seats in Star Alliance lounges this year in Munich, Milan, Copenhagen, Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Singapore.
    It seems to me that Star Alliance are setting things up so that the airline of the host country provides the lounge facilities. SG has a lounge in Melbourne but %G use the Air NZ lounge presumably because it is cheaper. I would think if an airline has daily flights to a destination then it should provide the same service as it does at their home destination whether that be provided by another airline Orr the airline in question.
    Airlines will argue that they in recovery at the moment and that it is temporary. My experience with TG is that in the last 3 months every international flight on a on my TG ticket (a total of 9 so far) has been totally full - 0 empty seats at all and prices have been at a 60% premium to what I normally pay). Major carriers need to consider the service they provide as they risk losing long term clients.

  14. Jeff Guest

    I agree that the credit card companies have flooded lounges with free access, and airlines are pushing elite status as a revenue generator (and practically gave it away in 2020 and 2021). The situation is completely untenable and things are going to boil over soon.

    But as a plebe who is finally able to access lounges, I'm taking advantage of it while I can! No sympathy for the pampered business travelers who are used...

    I agree that the credit card companies have flooded lounges with free access, and airlines are pushing elite status as a revenue generator (and practically gave it away in 2020 and 2021). The situation is completely untenable and things are going to boil over soon.

    But as a plebe who is finally able to access lounges, I'm taking advantage of it while I can! No sympathy for the pampered business travelers who are used to having lounges for themselves, mostly on the company's dime.

  15. Pond Jumper Guest

    Went to the plaza premium lounge in terminal 5 at London Heathrow and let me just tell you, there was nothing premium about that lounge. We had several hours to kill before our flight so I figured let's grab some food a drink and maybe relax. Given that there was a waiting list to get in I figured wow it must be something in there. When I got in, there were 4 food warmers with...

    Went to the plaza premium lounge in terminal 5 at London Heathrow and let me just tell you, there was nothing premium about that lounge. We had several hours to kill before our flight so I figured let's grab some food a drink and maybe relax. Given that there was a waiting list to get in I figured wow it must be something in there. When I got in, there were 4 food warmers with some of the most disgusting looking food that I have ever seen or tasted. One that particularly stood out was the I'm guessing chicken stir fry that look like it was coughed up from a previous patron. Next to it was this mac and cheese that was just cheese with some overdone macaroni in it. How can you mess up macaroni and cheese right? That seemed to be enough for me to abandon my food ambitions, so I figured I would just stick to grabbing a soda. So I approached the bartender and he basically gives me two melted cubes with a quarter of it already melted in the glass. When he poured the soda there was no evidence of any ice. I immediately abandoned that idea of a refreshment. So I figured I would just grab a coffee and get out of there. Luckily the espresso maker is a machine, so I was able to get my cup of coffee, sit down at my little table just to try and relax a little bit before my 8 hour flight and sure enough I'm being asked to move out of the way so they can rearrange the tables next to me. What an absolute joke these so-called lounges are. You would have thought looking around it these people that they were in some five-star luxury hotel being pampered. It was almost comical. Anyway You can take your "mirage" and I will gladly sit in the regular (just as comfortable seats) outside of this lounge prison and have access to some pretty cool shops in terminal 5 at Heathrow instead.

  16. Anthony Diamond

    Readers of this blog can't complain about lounges (and flying in general) not being "exclusive," "premium" or "high end" anymore when 95% of the readers of the blog access lounges via credit card, book premium flights and hotels via points, even fly premium cabins using your employers' money. Unless you are paying cash out of your own pocket for first class, lounge access, whatever, you don't have any right to complain.

    I agree that...

    Readers of this blog can't complain about lounges (and flying in general) not being "exclusive," "premium" or "high end" anymore when 95% of the readers of the blog access lounges via credit card, book premium flights and hotels via points, even fly premium cabins using your employers' money. Unless you are paying cash out of your own pocket for first class, lounge access, whatever, you don't have any right to complain.

    I agree that airlines and credit card companies may have "oversold" capacity in a way - the obvious solution is new, larger, better clubs.

  17. Lucas Guest

    Interesting that you included a photo of the Copenhagen lounge, as this was by far the best lounge experience we had on our recent trip. Uncrowded, free open access to drinks without having some "bartender" try to upsell you to premium drinks and asking for tips, nice seating.
    The flipside was the Delta Sky Club at JFK. That airport in general just sucks, so I'm not surprised that the lounge sucks too.
    I...

    Interesting that you included a photo of the Copenhagen lounge, as this was by far the best lounge experience we had on our recent trip. Uncrowded, free open access to drinks without having some "bartender" try to upsell you to premium drinks and asking for tips, nice seating.
    The flipside was the Delta Sky Club at JFK. That airport in general just sucks, so I'm not surprised that the lounge sucks too.
    I will say that I think the crowd issue does come from "getting what you paid for" mentality. At least that's why I went. And literally every nearby gate had huge crowds. When we first tried to go, there was a line stretching 2 gates back!
    The Sky club at the international terminal at Hartsfield has some of the same issues, but didn't seem as bad.
    Overall, I think that in their haste to make a few bucks by selling lounge access only, the airlines ha e ruined the experience. Maybe the math works and they are going to make a profit? But it seems that eventually they will reach a tipping point where people will just buy the cheaper option and the larger revenue from full business/first class sales will dry up. Classic case of dropping a dollar to pick up a dime.

  18. George Romey Guest

    Lounges for many years were designed to attract high end flyers. Either road warriors (business) or those flying premium (albeit in the US some airlines don't include domestic premium). Then came along the idea to make lounges a profit making center. At the same time credit card companies and other providers decided to get in on the act. Now they're not much more than an airport version of a nightclub.

  19. Northern Lights Guest

    Best lounge used to be YTZ, where the entire terminal was essentially a lounge with free snacks and drinks. After a decade that got too expensive so the freebies were taken away and regular retail dining and sales added, but the seating is still pretty great. They even have private work pods.

  20. LS Guest

    Nothing's exclusive anymore. I see this everyday at the airport I work at, and passengers are continuously upset at the obvious. Then you have the social influencers, with their "is it worth it in -insert year-" blogs ... "Ugh!"

  21. Northern Lights Guest

    I don't think you understand what people will do for "free" food and drink. Especially given airport retail pricing. (Remember the $28 beer story in NY?)

  22. Stephen Bot Guest

    Lounge crowding is a huge problem in Canada as well.... Free drinks though add up quick... :-)

  23. Andy Diamond

    As others said, I haven't seen any empty gate areas for about a year. Most airports have replaced public seating (no revenue) with shops (revenue). And lounges, as you say, are overcrowded by all kinds of access other than premium customors. If you really want an quiet area, you have to go to some luxury food outlet (e.g. Caviarhouse & Prunier, Sprüngli), where you pay 8$ for coffee or 18$ for a glass of wine plus 20$ for a sandwich.

  24. Goetz Guest

    I think this misses a key point. More cards and access is given / sold while capacity has been reduced or at least not been expanded. Many airlines shut lounges and transitioned to use alliance partner or independent lounges; then those lounges access policy is out of the airlines control. If I pay for a service, I feel I should be allowed the expectation to receive the benefits. Unfortunately the economy class squeeze expanded to...

    I think this misses a key point. More cards and access is given / sold while capacity has been reduced or at least not been expanded. Many airlines shut lounges and transitioned to use alliance partner or independent lounges; then those lounges access policy is out of the airlines control. If I pay for a service, I feel I should be allowed the expectation to receive the benefits. Unfortunately the economy class squeeze expanded to business class ground experience. While the seats often improved ground services from fast track, lounge, priority boarding, baggage and check-in became a joke.

  25. Vancouver - Char Gold

    Good point - the ANA lounge in Haneda International terminal was packed on Sept 10 unlike the more tranquil general seating areas of Haneda

  26. Chris Guest

    It's really simple. I'm at the airport and I have three choices... 1. Get garbage fast food, 2. Pay way too much for decent food and a beer, or 3. Go to the lounge and get free decent food and any mid tier alcohol I want before the flight.

  27. That makes sense Guest

    Lounge access should only be for business class and first class passengers who actually fly these classes. Some airlines do this and have another lounge for frequent flyer "status" passengers.

  28. KC Guest

    They’re no longer an exclusive perk for frequent or business flyers. I have BAEC gold in the US, and Admirals Clubs no longer reflect anything to do with how much someone spends or flies with an airline/codeshare. It’s just a load of people with Citi cards and day passes. Except the Flagship Lounges, but I’m at the wonderful hub that is CLT so rarely see them. Ps waiting areas at boarding don’t look anything like that here.

  29. Paul R Guest

    I have a lifetime membership to United Club. I feel that United has devalued my membership by diluting the many ways to get access to the Club. In addition they created a higher level entirely bypassing access to my lifetime membership in creating the Polaris Club. This is another form of dilution of my lifetime membership of the United Club. I believe that lifetime membership should mean lifetime access to all clubs created by United.

    I have a lifetime membership to United Club. I feel that United has devalued my membership by diluting the many ways to get access to the Club. In addition they created a higher level entirely bypassing access to my lifetime membership in creating the Polaris Club. This is another form of dilution of my lifetime membership of the United Club. I believe that lifetime membership should mean lifetime access to all clubs created by United.
    This past weekend I found myself traveling through Denver and the first thing I noticed was a 5 person deep line to check in. There was a hand scribbled note that said "One day passes not accepted today" Priority Pass, Premium Credit Card, and membership was accepted. Single day passes not accepted. When I went upstairs to the Club I could not find a single seat. The place was unpleasantly crowded. I stood in a corner and drank cup of coffee standing. This is what my lifetime membership has been reduced to.
    Pure greed by United Airlines to create a new income stream from Priority Pass, Premium credit cards, and singlle day pass weather bought or an annual credit card perk with
    Two passes has diluted the worth of membership dues. What's to stop United from creating a new lounge to exclude different classes of access? If I knew then what I know now, I would turn the page of the membership costs in the United Club and buy something more durable.

  30. Nik Guest

    I agree with everything in this article. A couple of additional points.... The airport delays seen in many markets over the past few months contributes to people staying longer in lounges than normal. Also, some airlines extended the period of top-tier status to account for inability to travel during the pandemic, and they also sweetened the pot with additional benefits for those signing up for premium credit cards in order to entice more members. For...

    I agree with everything in this article. A couple of additional points.... The airport delays seen in many markets over the past few months contributes to people staying longer in lounges than normal. Also, some airlines extended the period of top-tier status to account for inability to travel during the pandemic, and they also sweetened the pot with additional benefits for those signing up for premium credit cards in order to entice more members. For example, last year some of the premium Aeroplan cards gave a one-level status bump to those who signed up, which likely significantly increased the number eligible for lounge access. All of these factors contribute to the overcrowding.

    It's not only the overcrowding. I have also noticed the quality of what is offered in the lounges has deteriorated. The food is not what it used to be. In June I waited 90 minutes before giving up for a shower in the ANA lounge in Narita since I had to get to my gate. In August at the Virgin lounge in EWR, I waited 12 minutes in line just to use a restroom.

    This issue is even more aggravating when traveling via purchased business class tickets. Considering the ticket price it is very disappointing to not find a seat in a lounge or to be able to use a shower.

    Let's hope it gets better but not holding my breath.

  31. Joy St. Amant Guest

    So I used to travel with a co-worker who always had access to a really good lounge in the Atlanta-Hartsfield airport. The reason we really liked going there was partially the fact that we could get food a me d drinks but more than that was the fact that we could put our stuff down and/or set up to get some work done and we could leave our stuff un-attended to go to the bathroom...

    So I used to travel with a co-worker who always had access to a really good lounge in the Atlanta-Hartsfield airport. The reason we really liked going there was partially the fact that we could get food a me d drinks but more than that was the fact that we could put our stuff down and/or set up to get some work done and we could leave our stuff un-attended to go to the bathroom or whatever. Now that I work on a different project and don't travel with him the ability to leave my stuff un-attended is what I miss most. I would put up with a crowded lounge for that ability.

  32. Robert D Guest

    I was just in the Turkish Lounge at MIA this afternoon (Terminal E). What a terrible lounge. Looks like you were at the other one…which looks somewhat better based on your pic. But why does Turkish have 2 lounges at MIA? Moved over to Centurian once my 3-hour window opened up, which was a MUCH better lounge, but crowded.

  33. Guest Guest

    First time at PHL end of June, I went into Admirals Club. (I understand PHL is a big hub for AA since USAir merger.) Huge disappointment. Completely full, no seats and messy, with food dropped on the floor here and there. Difficult to clean with so many people in the club. I sat in the lobby, where I had entered. It was quiet and clean.

  34. Justin Guest

    I had a similar experience outside the US as well at the ANA lounge in Narita, Japan this week. I expected based on a visit a couple weeks ago, that the lounge would be very busy. This was beyond even that. After waiting in line to get in, I visited the three water stations across the huge space, all three were empty of water. People everywhere and could barely make my way through. People were...

    I had a similar experience outside the US as well at the ANA lounge in Narita, Japan this week. I expected based on a visit a couple weeks ago, that the lounge would be very busy. This was beyond even that. After waiting in line to get in, I visited the three water stations across the huge space, all three were empty of water. People everywhere and could barely make my way through. People were eating standing up. It was absolutely wild. I gave some feedback to the staff and immediately left.

    1. IAHGuy New Member

      The United Club in NRT has not reopen yet after pandemic, so ANA First lounge over gate 50 is the only lounge available for all Star Alliance airlines in NRT Terminal 1. That means it will be over capacity by at least 100% at peak times.
      Need to get the United Club to open again, and/or reopen the ANA Business lounge at the other end of T1 to alleviate the congestion at current ANA lounge.

  35. Russ Member

    To me at DFW, the food at Centurion is better than any food I’ve had at DFW outside the lounge. The same mostly goes for the Capital one lounge which used to not be as crowded but I had a line to get in there before Labor Day.

    1. Ellen Guest

      We were in DFW capital lounge before Labor Day. Waited 15 minutes (3 hour layover) and when we got in it was clear that they were holding capacity to a comfortable level. We were assigned a table for four for our family which was a nice touch rather than scavenging. Food and drink were plenty and high quality.

  36. Karl Guest

    Vastly reducing the ability to bring guests for free would go a long way in combating lounge overcrowding

  37. Chuck Guest

    My wife and I flew from ATL to JNB last night. There was line but both being Diamond we were allowed to skip the line. They evidently were controlling capacity because once inside it was very comfortable

  38. Nunya Guest

    Asian lounges rock. More to the world than just Europe, white boys and Karens.

  39. Dr Movie Guest

    If your "Elite or a First Class "passenger, why fly a very downgraded product these days, especially domestic.I fly private (with others),and your usually in and out with no need for "lounges",and very few delays.

  40. Robert Guest

    The upcoming recession will fix this problem.

  41. Nico Guest

    Now the 'new lounge' is private airports...

  42. Brian karnofsky Guest

    Some airport lounges used to have a luggage storage area right near checkin. When used, that helps prevent people from putting their bag/backpack on the chair next to them, and unclogs the aisles from larger rolling bags.

    One way to limit overcrowding is to enforce the extra guest rules, or to create rules if there are none. Perhaps just one guest or even no free guests when its crowded.

    Unfortunately, Amex stopped allowing...

    Some airport lounges used to have a luggage storage area right near checkin. When used, that helps prevent people from putting their bag/backpack on the chair next to them, and unclogs the aisles from larger rolling bags.

    One way to limit overcrowding is to enforce the extra guest rules, or to create rules if there are none. Perhaps just one guest or even no free guests when its crowded.

    Unfortunately, Amex stopped allowing Priority Pass access to restaurants. If they reinstated the benefit, it might help unclog clubs a bit for those that use the restaurant rather than the club.

    For now, the best way to gain uncrowned access is to fly early in the morning, or international first class and use the J lounges, such as American’s flagship. At least for now, they are rarely overcrowded, but I could imagine the day when a super-premium credit card might get you in there as well.

    Finally, we love international clubs because its a great way to sample local foods, especially when you are just connecting. Recently, I had a reindeer burger in Helsinki (tasted similar to beef), and constantly find delicacies to sample & enjoy.

    1. Lbk Guest

      The Flagship lounge ar DFW was packed this evening sadly. First time I'd seen it so packed. Though it was 5pm, so I imagine many were on their way to Europe.

  43. Barbara Neil Guest

    I recently flew from Birmingham to Larnaca Cyprus. On arrival at the two airport lounges in Birmingham, I was told on both occasions that they were only letting people in who had previously booked. As a Priority Pass holder, I mentioned I shouldn't have to book and the websites didn't indicate anything about having to book but still they wouldn't let me in. Makes a mockery of the Priority Pass as its not really a priority at all

    1. BP Guest

      Priority Pass membership makes it clear that a space in the lounge isnt reserved for you- the membership allows you to gain access for free IF there is spare capacity. If you haven't even read what your own membership covers then dont blame the lounge.

  44. JV Guest

    Decent overall take about lounge crowding but what airport has “a quiet gate area with (good) Wi-Fi, lots of natural light, and with no one nearby.”!? None that I frequent.

    1. Dave Guest

      So true. Between the crowds, incessant announcements and blaring piped music there’s never a quiet place to sit in a US airport.

  45. Joel Guest

    I am glad as hell that 80% of my travel is done within Asia, particularly SE Asia. Between hotel lounges and airport lounges (especially Priority Pass ones here being solid and not over-crowded), it is enjoyable to travel for me still and I get a ton of value out of Hilton Diamond and Priority Pass. I can't say anything close to the same back home in the US. The main thing there I value is Global Entry and PreCheck - just get in and get out as quickly as I can.

  46. Marko Guest

    Interesting article, same issue we have in Europe. As we know these days everything is Instagram, if you didn't post it didn't happened, and more we post of our 'luxury' life we will get more appreciated by the others, or?
    Biggest problem about lounges is, that business is really not business lounge, but anyone can jump aboard, frequent flyers or economy ones, if economy just pay around 35€.
    They need to separate those categories, as they did with first class.

  47. Ben Guest

    I don't think things are so great outside the US either. While lounges in Europe don't tend to be overcrowded, if they are busy they will refuse entry to anyone unless they have a business/first class ticket with a participating airline or have pre-booked their slot. This now seems to be the norm in the London area airports.

  48. Lh Guest

    Is outside the USA also. I was at LHR yesterday and couldn't find a single seat in either of the T5 Galleries lounge. Worse yet, after eating not one but two curries, I boarded my flight to BOS and was served..... curry.

  49. Henry Young Guest

    20 years ago lounge access was essential for WiFi access. These days, with general airport WiFi at decent speed and with creative use of unused gate seating areas, there is often more comfort to be found outside of crowded lounges IMHO.

  50. Spiderman Guest

    I would put it down to plain overpopulation and that airfares, even business class did not rise as much. If you want a premium experience without the riffraff, even business class is not enough. Either first class or go private.

  51. Fenspinbi Guest

    I flew DL from MIA to AUA via ATL on a red-eye this past Sunday, and tried getting into that Turkish lounge right when it was *supposed* to open, along with a stranger who had the same intention. The door was locked out, even though it was advertised as opening at 4:00am. Long story short, it must have opened way late (after 5am), and by then the Delta SkyClub across the hall had opened for...

    I flew DL from MIA to AUA via ATL on a red-eye this past Sunday, and tried getting into that Turkish lounge right when it was *supposed* to open, along with a stranger who had the same intention. The door was locked out, even though it was advertised as opening at 4:00am. Long story short, it must have opened way late (after 5am), and by then the Delta SkyClub across the hall had opened for breakfast, and there was nary a wait (< 1 min). It filled up rather quickly afterward, but it wasn't a ruckus. The Delta SkyClub in Concourse E during my connection had a short line (< 3 minutes) at 8am, and although it was quite crowded in most areas, it was blissfully calm in the sub-room, behind the main bar. Most of the seats remained open, especially after a group of military travelers left for their flight. Guess the best time to get into Delta lounges without fuss is early Sunday morning, when everyone is still asleep. LOL

    I don't care about lounges being like a mausoleum/funeral home...it's a public space, and the noise is usually bearable. That's just par for the course. My profession is not conducive to being performed on unsecured airport Wi-Fi in view of others (sensitive government work), so I can't personally relate to the need for work productivity. Not to downplay the importance, but there's a non-zero number of people for whom that's irrelevant. As long as I have a comfortable seat with a clean table and a moderate amount of personal space, I'm content. The un-ergonomic Flintstone-style seats in the main terminal and the total discomfort they portend far outweigh anything a crowded lounge can offer, as Bob said below.

  52. I love your Mother Guest

    Do away guests, none, only the member. No kids allowed. Increase card spending limits to at least 6K per year. This will thin out the crowds by 40%

  53. dwondermeant Guest

    When everyone has access no one has access
    When everyone is elite no one is elite
    I cut my Admirals Club membership up and while it felt strange I can't say I miss it at all
    I disliked almost everything about it and found being out closer to the gate i got more updates with flight delays and gate changes.Happy to pay for the water and have more room at a gate...

    When everyone has access no one has access
    When everyone is elite no one is elite
    I cut my Admirals Club membership up and while it felt strange I can't say I miss it at all
    I disliked almost everything about it and found being out closer to the gate i got more updates with flight delays and gate changes.Happy to pay for the water and have more room at a gate that isn't be used
    Sometimes there is no escaping the crowds when an airport is near capacity so u have to just suck it up

  54. Rahul Iyer Guest

    I don't patronize them.

    1. Toobis Guest

      What a valuable addition to this comment section!

  55. iamhere Guest

    You seem to not travel to hub cities with various airlines often. This is a huge problem in a place like Detroit for Delta, for example. Because there are so many ways one can access the lounge it fills up too quickly and there is not enough space. The reason it is not just baby boomers that have the cards is the younger travelers have grown up!

    Who pays for the space of the lounge?...

    You seem to not travel to hub cities with various airlines often. This is a huge problem in a place like Detroit for Delta, for example. Because there are so many ways one can access the lounge it fills up too quickly and there is not enough space. The reason it is not just baby boomers that have the cards is the younger travelers have grown up!

    Who pays for the space of the lounge? Is the airline paying rent to the airport? etc.

    Agree with snic's comment. Your experience of sitting next to the gate or in the gate area is rare. Announcements make it annoying for many.

    Airports are usually over crowded and about the food, it is not that if you can afford something it is more about the quality for the money.

    And then there is the lack of quality of the seats near the gate....Also, many airports do not have free wifi near the gate.

  56. Cat Guest

    Why do you need a lounge?? You're on an airport only to fly from A to B. Do you need a lounge for that? Your complaints seem very..well, stupid. Even taking this kind of thing to discussion as "a problem" is unbelievable. Good for you, good if this is the worst of your worries

    1. Disgusted Guest

      In a lounge at JFK, there was a make-your-own special drink cart with ingredients and instructions. One male walked up to the spirit bottle, picked his nose, then twisted off the bottle cap with the same hand. I decided I didn't need the extra ingredient in my beverage.

    2. George Guest

      In his defense, I think Americans generally overreact when it comes to nose picking (and I'm talking about simply touching your nose from the outside here, for instance because it's itching). As I was reading your comment I was expecting to get something in line with him dropping whatever he pulled out of his nose inside the bottle . And that probably wouldn't have been the most disgusting story ever either, regarding lounge/airport/in-flight "incidents" .

  57. Omar Guest

    I think you missed a few key factors. There are a lot more leisure travelers who have access and leisure travelers show up to the airport earlier. Additionally, airline disruptions are way up and people seek refuge in the lounge during long delays/cancellations.

  58. Matt Guest

    Pony up for the Centurion (Black) card. Even with a line at the Centurion lounge, you get a priority access, reserved seating, and table service if you request it--no need to go stand in the additional line at the bar.

    Air travel in general has become very democratized. It is often cheaper to fly, especially long distances, than it is to drive, take the train, etc.

    This has resulted in what one comedian has...

    Pony up for the Centurion (Black) card. Even with a line at the Centurion lounge, you get a priority access, reserved seating, and table service if you request it--no need to go stand in the additional line at the bar.

    Air travel in general has become very democratized. It is often cheaper to fly, especially long distances, than it is to drive, take the train, etc.

    This has resulted in what one comedian has described derisively as "bus people on planes."

    Well, now, there are bus people in lounges. The value proposition is just too compelling. The Capital One Venture X card has a $395 annual fee, and comes with a $300 travel credit, Priority Pass lounge access, 10,000 point anniversary bonus each year, Global Entry/Pre-Check credit, and a slew of other benefits. Even someone who takes only one or two flights per year can very easily get more value out of the card than the price of the annual fee, even without visiting a single lounge.

    And that's great.

    But it's also the root of the problem. Access to lounges has become too "affordable". It is basically free for most users.

    Lounge purists want less crowding (read: exclusivity). Well, be prepared to pay for exclusivity.

    It will not be long before there are regular lounges and then ultra-premium lounges--probably first at select airports with wealthier clientele like JFK, LAX, etc.

    Back to the top of the post. AmEx already has this in a way, through the priority access and reserved seating at Centurion lounges for Centurion card holders. But that card has a $5,000/year annual fee and $10,000 initiation cost. They also will have a lesser version of it soon when they eliminate the free guesting policy, effectively significantly raising the cost per person to access the lounge.

    In the end, you get what you pay for. And most of us are no longer paying a premium over the average traveler to get the premium experience. The person who can capitalize on this with a higher-end, truly exclusive experience at a significantly higher cost could very well succeed.

  59. Mary Guest

    Many airports still don’t have free Wi-Fi and available outlets which are the main reason I use lounges even if I prefer the F&B options outside of the lounge.

  60. Jaded platinum Guest

    I have purchased a DL lounge membership for the last 8 years, and honestly feel like those with paid memberships should have priority over those with the enabled card of the month... I use the lounge to get away from the infrequent traveller. If I wanted to simply have a sandwich and knock back several drinks, I could just belly up to one of the airport bars, jockey for space between the 4 women heading...

    I have purchased a DL lounge membership for the last 8 years, and honestly feel like those with paid memberships should have priority over those with the enabled card of the month... I use the lounge to get away from the infrequent traveller. If I wanted to simply have a sandwich and knock back several drinks, I could just belly up to one of the airport bars, jockey for space between the 4 women heading to a bachelorette party and guzzling appletinis, and the frat boys doing shots on their way to PCB for Spring Break.... The Skyclub used to allow me to avoid such things.... not so much anymore....

  61. dander Guest

    Haven't flown lately. I use to find spring break and summer vacation time the worse with too many kids running around the lounges. As for people sprawling out and using 3-4 chairs, the lounges need to do what sky clubs use to do which is the attendant telling you that you can put your bag in a certain area. Barring that they need some enforcers telling people that "its one chair per person, and no...

    Haven't flown lately. I use to find spring break and summer vacation time the worse with too many kids running around the lounges. As for people sprawling out and using 3-4 chairs, the lounges need to do what sky clubs use to do which is the attendant telling you that you can put your bag in a certain area. Barring that they need some enforcers telling people that "its one chair per person, and no saving chairs for people not there yet" The lack of common courtesy is appaling.

  62. Bill Guest

    NRT ANA lounge suffers this same fate, as they have not yet reopened the United lounge. I have been through NRT via United a few times this year, and each time I have tried to use the ANA lounge, but due to the crowds and no where to sit I head back out.

    Unfortunately NRT does not have a good selection of terminal restaurants so basically stuck trying to find a quiet terminal area.

  63. Bob Guest

    Most US airports have the most good awful seats. Many of the older classic style rows of seats with metal arm rest prevents people from napping or stretch out. The seats themselves is unfortunately not adequate for more than half of the fat Americans out there. If our airports resembled a fraction of Changi Airport people won't even bother with a lounge because there would be plenty to do outside of lounges.

  64. Nola Guest

    Priority pass access wouldn’t apply to AA/DL/UA. The reason for crowding at domestic airlines is likely a result of hubs having fewer “banks” of flights, meaning people are spending more time on layovers and therefore are in clubs longer. Whether more of those people have co-branded cards with access or not may be a factor, but I’d bet longer layovers are a big driver of crowding.

    1. Ellen Guest

      Also there is a perception that connections are less reliable with more cancellations and less recourse. Recently I had a choice between a 45 minute domestic layover in DFW or 3 hours. You can bet we sat in the lounge for 2 1/2 hours.

  65. Andrew (SJC) Guest

    I visited 2 AMEX lounges last week.

    IAH - Entered at 6am, by 8am was packed to the gils and has a line up of 20+ people. The lounge is weirdly located and far too small for the IAH size.

    DEN - Entered at 6:15pm, no wait; maybe 30% full, great experience.

    SFO - Prior to renovations I visited the SFO lounge. It was closed at 3:30pm on a Tuesday (Terrible user experience)

    SJC -...

    I visited 2 AMEX lounges last week.

    IAH - Entered at 6am, by 8am was packed to the gils and has a line up of 20+ people. The lounge is weirdly located and far too small for the IAH size.

    DEN - Entered at 6:15pm, no wait; maybe 30% full, great experience.

    SFO - Prior to renovations I visited the SFO lounge. It was closed at 3:30pm on a Tuesday (Terrible user experience)

    SJC - PrioPass, closed by 8pm, odd, but no BA flights = no need to stay open I suppose.

    IAH had me questioning my membership, DEN restored my faith.

    I did however notice... The clientele demographic was very millennial "Instagram/TikTok" savvy, something I had not seen prior to Covid. AMEX has fully embraced the Insta lifestyle experience. I do see when guesting disappears this falling off, because most visitors were bringing their friends and coworkers along.

  66. Shari Harris Guest

    I waited 2 hours to be let into lounge at Orlando airport traveling to Europe two weeks ago. I was notified 10 min before boarding I could enter. Very disappointed.

  67. Randy Guest

    Clearly, the number of "guest" allowed in with a primary card holder of any card allowing access should be limited to ONE!
    And AMEX, planning on cutting all guest (Jan 2023) with the Platinum member, needs to change that to ONE also. Spouses and partners often travel together.

    1. Billy Idol Guest

      Cut it to zero guests. A spouse would more than likely have a AMEX if their significant other has one. No need for guests

    2. Karl Guest

      Spouse and partners should either have their own card or the card holder should pay for them. Zero guests.

  68. 305 Guest

    Thank god for the ITA/Royal Air Maroc status matches earlier this year; Flagship is never full. Really makes one consider crediting AA flights to another OW airline for access

  69. Leslie Guest

    Recently the Delta terminal 4 lounge at JFK must have had 100 people in line to enter. I enjoy lounges but that was crazy! I got a slice and a soda, found a relatively empty area, and enjoyed a great runway view. IYKYK.

    1. Annie Guest

      Yes! We were in one of the JFK terminals July 21 (don't remember which one) and visited the Delta Lounge and when we left the line was so long! Honestly it's not worth even a 10 minute wait! But, to add, there were very few sit down restaurants in our terminal.

  70. George Guest

    I can just praise the Polaris lounge.
    It is never full to the brim.

    1. FF Guest

      The Polaris Loung in O'Hare's C Terminal is great, but, they stole the space for it from the adjacent United Club. The old First Class Lounge was much smaller than Polaris. C Club (next to Polaris is crowded most of the time. The bar is quite small, and the food selections are mediocre at best. That Club shows a great deal of wear and tear, is far too small and is not worth the annual cost of Club membership.

    2. Klick 123 Guest

      United Polaris Lounge a couple weeks back was standing room only at 3 pm which was crazy. Are people getting there four or five hours early? In the morning there are only 10-15 guests but afternoon was a hot mess.

  71. David North Guest

    I have a Priority Pass membership as a perk from one credit card I use. We were admitted to the Club at DFW (myself, three guests). I had completely oversold a full lounge experience to my guests, based on previous, pre-pandemic use of other airline lounges and clubs. Major mistake. No open seats - not even if we split up to couples. The restrooms were not clean at all. A child walking out of the...

    I have a Priority Pass membership as a perk from one credit card I use. We were admitted to the Club at DFW (myself, three guests). I had completely oversold a full lounge experience to my guests, based on previous, pre-pandemic use of other airline lounges and clubs. Major mistake. No open seats - not even if we split up to couples. The restrooms were not clean at all. A child walking out of the ladies restroom said "gross" as she came out. The airport restrooms near our gate were much cleaner. The food was horrible. Singles sitting in areas meant for four - with bags sprawled out.

    We left after five minutes. We asked for a refund for the third guest - from The Club at DFW and from Priority Pass. Neither are willing to acknowledge our concerns or offer a refund.

    I'm glad I'm not paying (well, kind of) for Priority Pass... If I was, I'd be seeking a refund for the yearly subscription.

    1. Mark G Guest

      Takes 3 guests into a lounge and complains about crowding. Sounds disappointing though.

    2. glenn t Diamond

      3 guests and you complain about overcrowding?? And asking for a 'refund' for the third guest? Who does that! Did you miss the 'Park Your Privilege' sign at the entry?
      Seems like others are doing the same thing, causing the overcrowding.
      The solution is obvious.

  72. GKC Guest

    Admirals Club in Charlotte airport is ridiculously over crowded and poor food options…!!! It took 10 minutes just to get a seat together with my wife and then it still felt like I had strangers sitting in my lap it was so crowded…!!!

  73. MildMidwesterner Member

    @Lucky Another cause of crowding that you didn't mention is the increasing tendency of airlines to "bank" departures, especially at hub airports. Short layovers are a benefit, but it also means a lot of travelers swarming the lounges at the same time.

  74. Mck Guest

    I was just at Schiphol yesterday at the Aspire Lounge and they stopped allowing in priority pass holders and only allowing in paid and reservation holders. The guy in front of me was in line 35 minutes when he got to the counter, they turned him away so I left also. Meanwhile, when I turned around to leave the line was to the elevator with nobody from the Aspire bothering to tell folks in line that they aren't accepting Priority Pass holders.

    1. TravelCat2 Member

      My wife and I used AMS's Schengen area Aspire lounge last week. No wait to enter. A bit crowded but not a problem. Almost no wait at AMS security either. Maybe it was because we arrived at AMS around 06:00 on a Wednesday?

  75. 100k Guest

    2 weeks ago, Centurion DFW super busy w/1 coffee machine working! Today, CLT Centurion-45 min wait to get in. Went to AA lounge and very crowded. Food not great at AA. I avoid PP lounges in US. Makes me focus using my miles for intl flights in First and in First lounges. Even Business intl is decent w/lounges.

  76. anon Guest

    that got me to thinking, what percent of people waiting in the airport terminal or airport lounge are people transiting that airport vs people starting their travels at that airport?

    If there's large proportion of people in the latter , that might mean that the security lines are too long or unpredictable and people have to arrive much too early. I don't think anyone wants to arrive at their originating airport earlier than they have...

    that got me to thinking, what percent of people waiting in the airport terminal or airport lounge are people transiting that airport vs people starting their travels at that airport?

    If there's large proportion of people in the latter , that might mean that the security lines are too long or unpredictable and people have to arrive much too early. I don't think anyone wants to arrive at their originating airport earlier than they have to , just to wait in the terminal. So that problem can be solved with more security line staffing.

  77. Richard Guest

    And when airline try to limit entry, bloggers scream out "Unfair!'

  78. Nate Guest

    Credit card companies need to build more lounges asap and get PP to expand restaurant credit access or cc themselves do that.

    Cause one of the key benefits for the annual high fee cards is not providing value. When calcing annual fees and credits, I have been mentally valuing lounge access at nominal as it's highly uncertain it is usable.

  79. Jan Guest

    I understand you. Have been in transit at Amsterdam Airport last Monday. It was horror. The KLM Schengen lounge was massiv overcrowded and a line before. I took my shower in the non Schengen lounge before (showers are not very nice there, every Lufthansa SEN lounge is better). And as I saw the crowded lounge I walked to an empty gate area and everything was fine. I hope they will restrict entrance more in the...

    I understand you. Have been in transit at Amsterdam Airport last Monday. It was horror. The KLM Schengen lounge was massiv overcrowded and a line before. I took my shower in the non Schengen lounge before (showers are not very nice there, every Lufthansa SEN lounge is better). And as I saw the crowded lounge I walked to an empty gate area and everything was fine. I hope they will restrict entrance more in the future. For example special lounges only for business customers with status and for eco guest only the less good lounges. like united does it with it's Polaris lounges.

  80. Bao Member

    Amex Centurion lounge is just as bad. There was at least an hour wait each of the last 5 times I was at DFW in the lasr 3 months. Thank goodness we have the Capital One lounge a few gates down. But even that lounge is getting more traffic.

  81. Dan Guest

    I also don't understand the attraction of crowded lounges. Just yesterday flying ORD-MSP, the Delta Sky club had a queue of about 50 people waiting to get in, considering it's a smaller lounge, I'd guess those at the back of that line would be there for 30-45 mins, makes absolutely no sense. I'd have had access but chose to take a quiet seat at the gate area.

    As someone who visits lounges mostly outside the...

    I also don't understand the attraction of crowded lounges. Just yesterday flying ORD-MSP, the Delta Sky club had a queue of about 50 people waiting to get in, considering it's a smaller lounge, I'd guess those at the back of that line would be there for 30-45 mins, makes absolutely no sense. I'd have had access but chose to take a quiet seat at the gate area.

    As someone who visits lounges mostly outside the US, the lounge situation within the US is frustrating. I feel it's easy to accept airlines and lounge operators are looking to maximize profits and potential revenue streams but i personally feel it's a continuation of a lack of respect in a certain sense to airlines very loyal customers where services are become less and less exclusive and comfortable for those who spend a lot of time and money with airlines.

    1. DCAWABN Guest

      I'd counter with the fact that airlines like DL have SO MANY ways of gaining access to the lounge via CC's, status, etc. IS spitting in the face of loyal customers. Especially cards like the AmEx Platinum - even more so that military members get it for free. They have too few lounges and have watered down the experience by trying to maximize revenue. So your two statement go hand-in-hand.

  82. Sam Guest

    Factors: US airlines don't feed pax on many/all longer domestic flights. Airport food is expensive. Many people don't know you can bring food through security. Thus, demand, even in a full lounge increases. Poliferation of PP cards is a big factor & so are referral links & posts from blogs but hey... If I'm paying $700 for a card, why should I spend more on food? That decreases the value proposition of the card for...

    Factors: US airlines don't feed pax on many/all longer domestic flights. Airport food is expensive. Many people don't know you can bring food through security. Thus, demand, even in a full lounge increases. Poliferation of PP cards is a big factor & so are referral links & posts from blogs but hey... If I'm paying $700 for a card, why should I spend more on food? That decreases the value proposition of the card for many. "I purchased a product, now deliver so I don't have to pay $50+ for a meal for two before my 5 hour flight with an hour connection ".

    1. Bao Member

      We tried to bring food through security and had to stop for extra screening more than half of the times. Last week, took TSA an extra 30 minutes to “test” the food. The line for the additional “swab and test” was longggggg. And we have Precheck. I’m getting tired of being stopped. That was probably our last time to do so.

    2. Eskimo Guest

      You can bring food. After all the security, you had your food cleared.
      Some

      How incompetent TSA is a whole issue worthy of another blog post.
      The 30 extra minutes isn't about food, just level of competency.

    3. Bao Member

      Oops, this was meant as reply for a different comment. Not sure how it gets posted under yours

  83. Natedogg Guest

    The crowding is mostly at Priority Pass lounges. PP offers fewer and fewer lounge options in the US, so everyone rushes the few times they can actually enter a lounge. They should get rid of all guest privileges to alleviate this issue and also offer more lounges.

  84. Sco Guest

    Yep, these days I always check out the lounge to see how crowded it is, and then 90% of the time I just find an empty gate and sit there.

  85. snic Diamond

    Empty gate areas like in the picture are a rarity. Most American airports are very crowded. On top of that, airports, especially in the US, love to constantly make terminal-wide announcements about stupid nonsense like "don't leave your baggage unattended." These announcements can't be heard in lounges. Lounges are more pleasant for those two reasons alone. Then add in the free food and drink, and the generally cleaner/quieter/more upscale bathrooms, and of course lounges are...

    Empty gate areas like in the picture are a rarity. Most American airports are very crowded. On top of that, airports, especially in the US, love to constantly make terminal-wide announcements about stupid nonsense like "don't leave your baggage unattended." These announcements can't be heard in lounges. Lounges are more pleasant for those two reasons alone. Then add in the free food and drink, and the generally cleaner/quieter/more upscale bathrooms, and of course lounges are popular. At some point people will realize that standing in line to get into a lounge is foolish, although maybe if you have a very long layover it's ultimately worth it. I do the same thing as Ben does if lounge is full: leave. Generally they are not worth the effort if you have to wait around for a seat.

  86. Dempseyzdad Gold

    Ben, no disrespect...but every other day you have an article on how people can get into airport lounges through whatever credit card, even without paying for membership or (gasp) EARNING it through paid full fare tickets. I mean...teaching folks how to get premium but paying little to nothing, of course leads to crowded lounges and FC cabins.

    1. Steve Diamond

      Exactly, everyone knows the tricks and everyone and their mother now has a PP card through one of their credit cards. It is no surprise every lounge is crowded these days.

  87. BenjaminGuttery Diamond

    Some Admirals Clubs in the US have become post apocalyptic scenes. People sprawled out "holding" multiple chairs, ravenously taking quarter sheets of barely cut rice crispy treats, and mounds of dry "fried rice", not a single espresso machine working (out of 3), and wild children howling and having free range of the place. My last 3 experiences were awful.

    1. IAHGuy New Member

      You addressed one of my pet peeves of inconsiderate people hogging seats around them to park their belongings when the lounge is obviously busy.

  88. Tom Guest

    I think a lot of people go to lounges because of free alcohol on leisure trips or at the end of business trips. That's not available in the terminal no matter how crowded the lounge is.

    But I agree that in the last 10-15 years, airport terminals have gotten way way better to the point that they are often as nice or nicer than the lounges.

  89. Donna Diamond

    Lounges were once exclusive, no longer. The food marginal and overcrowding defeats the underlying purpose. I recall needing the lounge in the old days for laptop and phone power access but now mobile devices have better batteries and between that and power onboard planes the problem no longer exists. For the money that people are paying for (overcrowded) lounge access, you can buy decent food in most terminals and have a better experience. I don’t...

    Lounges were once exclusive, no longer. The food marginal and overcrowding defeats the underlying purpose. I recall needing the lounge in the old days for laptop and phone power access but now mobile devices have better batteries and between that and power onboard planes the problem no longer exists. For the money that people are paying for (overcrowded) lounge access, you can buy decent food in most terminals and have a better experience. I don’t see the value in these paid memberships unless you travel very frequently. I do around 10 international trips yearly and I wouldn’t pay for access in the current climate.
    The lounges overseas are much better in my experience and I use them but I avoid US lounges at hub airports other than to use the restrooms.

  90. Never In Doubt Guest

    Just waiting for February, 2023 after the AMEX Platinum annual fee increase and the new guest policy kicks in for all that room in the Centurion lounges!

  91. Mark Guest

    Pointing fingers at the bloggers is a little disingenuous in my opinion. We are in the internet age…information is readily available. It’s the credit card companies that are offering this perk and it’s the lounge owners that are overselling their amenities.

    1. Never In Doubt Guest

      Exactly. Blogs are only one of many marketing venues for cards.

    2. IAHGuy New Member

      Agree, and lounges that provide access to premium cards may not have control over how many card subscribers (potential lounge guests) the banks are adding, so there’s a high risk of overcapacity since those extra guests will exceed the lounge’s calculated capacity. The banks and lounges need to revise their model to recalculate expected number of guests at any time.

  92. SubwayNut Guest

    You're picture of the gate area probably wouldn't work for my partner since every single seat has a non-movable armrest. She has extremely wide hips and will get bruises if she tries to sit in chairs with those types of armrests. Lounges to us (regardless of how crowded they are) are a place where we can reliably find seating that doesn't have armrests or is wide enough to not bruise her hips.

    1. CHRIS Guest

      What dies she do on the airplane? How about completely full flights?

  93. Anthony Diamond

    A few things

    1) You and your peers definitely had a lot to do with this. Remember cards like Chase Sapphire Preferred, Venture X, etc didn't exist 15 years ago. Centurion Lounges didn't exist. All this stuff was built recently, and with help and promotion from blogs. It's not bad or good, it is what it is

    2) Lounge access shifted towards an amenity aimed at business travelers to a mass luxury amenity aimed towards...

    A few things

    1) You and your peers definitely had a lot to do with this. Remember cards like Chase Sapphire Preferred, Venture X, etc didn't exist 15 years ago. Centurion Lounges didn't exist. All this stuff was built recently, and with help and promotion from blogs. It's not bad or good, it is what it is

    2) Lounge access shifted towards an amenity aimed at business travelers to a mass luxury amenity aimed towards the general high end traveler. While there are a lot of business travelers, there are arguably many more mass luxury consumers. Tens of millions of Americans can easily afford a $550 to $800 annual fee for a credit card.

    3) While the gate area may be quiet, it doesn't provide what is the main draw of these clubs - free food, and more importantly, free alcohol. People want to get their money's worth. And the quality and accessibility of airport food has actually declined recently, IMO, due to staff shortages.

    In terms of lounge quality, Lucky, you should do a review of the new LGA SkyClub. It can get crowded but it is probably the best domestic oriented club in the US right now. Ultimately what needs to happen is that all airlines/card companies need to build more clubs like that...

  94. Jordan Guest

    Wait until you attempt to access ANY lounge in London (LGW, STN, LHR; LTN is the only exception). People queuing with literally 1.5hr wait times predicted by staff. The issue seems to be that as pent-up demand for travel released this summer, spending 25-30GBP for lounge access (with timed entry) isn’t unreasonable, and fills all capacity, so anyone without timed entry - PP and not paid entry - is screwed. Although recently some lounges also...

    Wait until you attempt to access ANY lounge in London (LGW, STN, LHR; LTN is the only exception). People queuing with literally 1.5hr wait times predicted by staff. The issue seems to be that as pent-up demand for travel released this summer, spending 25-30GBP for lounge access (with timed entry) isn’t unreasonable, and fills all capacity, so anyone without timed entry - PP and not paid entry - is screwed. Although recently some lounges also enabled a timed entry slot for PP members (in the range of 10$)… essentially paying a premium for any hope to actually enter the lounge.

    1. Never In Doubt Guest

      Eh, your mileage may vary.

      Had a 5pm flight out of LHR terminal 3 on 8/16, and had to be out of my hotel by 11. Centurion lounge had plenty of room, the usual good food but no windows. After eating I went to the No 1 lounge just for drinks and the big windows, also not crowded. Just before flight time I decided to check out the Club Aspire, it was crowded, but I saw open seats.

    2. schrap Guest

      I've done two flights out of LGW fairly recently (LGW to Nice) using the BA lounge --- 1st flight was a Saturday afternoon and it was madness in the lounge. Barely a bag of crisps was laid out before the ravenous herds descended. Barely a seat open and they had the upstairs roped off.
      Then I had a Tuesday late afternoon flight a couple weeks later --- pure bliss. Space aplenty, staff with the time to actually get food out and clean --- it was night and day.

    3. Roadbob Guest

      Does this also apply to business class/upper class travelers at Virgin Clubhouse? Thanks

  95. Matt Guest

    I just find the restroom at the lounges cleaner.

  96. Clem Diamond

    Like pstm91, I think that it's because most people rarely travel, rarely use a lounge, and they just want to use it because it's part of a "luxury" or perk they can rarely indulge in but are entitled to get. So it doesn't matter if it's uncomfortable and crowded, the mindset is more about getting what they paid for, even if it's sad cheese cubes and migraine inducing wines. And I understand that, I think?...

    Like pstm91, I think that it's because most people rarely travel, rarely use a lounge, and they just want to use it because it's part of a "luxury" or perk they can rarely indulge in but are entitled to get. So it doesn't matter if it's uncomfortable and crowded, the mindset is more about getting what they paid for, even if it's sad cheese cubes and migraine inducing wines. And I understand that, I think? Even though like you, I usually leave if it's too crowded and I can't find a reasonably comfortable spot.

    1. Joseph Story Guest

      I agree. Thee more you travel the more you appreciate high quality, healthy food and a quiet area. That's why the Polaris and Flagship AA lounges will always be the gold standard. They offer a quiet oasis before one's international journey. I wouldn't want to wait in loan for some cheap hummus and celery sticks. Rather spend my money at the Chili's in the terminal hall.

    2. IAHGuy New Member

      I agree with Clem and it doesn’t even have to be a perk they are entitled for. Many travel blogs nowadays suggested to buy lounge access if people have over 1 hour waiting time, and post Covid people get to the airport earlier since they may need extra time to show vaccination documents.

  97. Joe Guest

    I also believe that over covid airlines automatically renewed status. This means that over 3 years almost there has been no one losing the status and getting lounge access.

    1. BenjaminGuttery Diamond

      VERY true. Almost no company has "culled" it's ranks just yet.

    2. tipsyinmadras Diamond

      With the exception of the highest tiers, status alone doesn't get you lounge access with US carriers. Credit card-based access is much more significant factor

  98. ldn Guest

    in London, almost all lounges by priority pass are restricted because of huge travelling crowds, yeah almost always we have to wait on line to get in but less so in many european airports because priority pass offered by credit cards is still not the mainstream in EU. I hope they can sort out these things because it was not like this before. I think lounges are trying to get more revenue and many lounged...

    in London, almost all lounges by priority pass are restricted because of huge travelling crowds, yeah almost always we have to wait on line to get in but less so in many european airports because priority pass offered by credit cards is still not the mainstream in EU. I hope they can sort out these things because it was not like this before. I think lounges are trying to get more revenue and many lounged are still closed from the pandemic, plus this lounge key membership offered for free by premium credit cards outside of US also overlaps with the priority pass.

  99. James Guest

    John nails it. Hilarious that bloggers writing about overcrowding in one breath then pimping cards that grant access in the other. You are SHAMELESS!

  100. Aaron Guest

    Considering most airports have insane price gouging going on at their restaurants and stores (with few bright exceptions like PDX), even if the food is garbage in a lounge, at least it's free, and you can also quickly throw down a few drinks.

    1. Northern Lights Guest

      Yup. Canada even more so than the US.

  101. John Guest

    Bloggers complaining about lounge crowding? Pot meet kettle.

    What do you think happens after dozens of sites have been pimping cards with lounge access over the last 10 years?

    1. JS Guest

      100% agree!! Bloggers have a bigger role in this than they want to think they do. I am currently a holder of 2 different premium credit cards - both of which give me access to the respective airline's lounges. I learned of 1 of the credit cards from Lucky's blog and I learned of the other from Gary's (View From the Wing) blog. Otherwise, I most likely would not have known about the lounge benefit...

      100% agree!! Bloggers have a bigger role in this than they want to think they do. I am currently a holder of 2 different premium credit cards - both of which give me access to the respective airline's lounges. I learned of 1 of the credit cards from Lucky's blog and I learned of the other from Gary's (View From the Wing) blog. Otherwise, I most likely would not have known about the lounge benefit of either of these 2 cards. So - I'm one of those guys who are adding to the overcrowding of the lounges as a result of a credit card I learned about via a travel blog. I'm not saying it's good or bad - just stating fact in my situation.

  102. pstm91 Diamond

    Totally agree with your points about why you would not want to stay, but for the vast majority of people, they want to take advantage of the lounge because it is a once-in-a-blue-moon occasion. They either rarely travel, or when they do they usually do not have lounge access, so they are staying there and getting "their money's worth," no matter what.

  103. George Romey Guest

    It's simple. Now that the airlines have a butt in every airplane seat they've moved onto a butt in every seat in the lounge. Same thing for non airline lounges. The lounges were once an oasis from crowded, loud and dirty gate areas and airport bathrooms. Now they're just loud bars with finger food and dirty bathrooms.

  104. Alonzo Diamond

    I usually just chill at an empty gate. Like others have said, few lounges in the US are worth entering. Unless they have champagne and real food, I ain't entering.

  105. uldguy Diamond

    There is no lounge in the U.S., and few lounges outside the U.S. worth standing in line for. And let’s say you do stand in line and are finally admitted. What experience in the lounge are you expecting to receive? It will be loud and crowded with few if any seats available. And the lines for food and drinks will be long too

    It’s just not worth it.

    1. BillyH Guest

      United Polaris lounges are VERY worthy as well as the new United Club lounge at EWR.

    2. shza Member

      The new EWR lounge is just OK. It’s nice that it’s big, but it’s a large step below what Centurion was before it got so massively overcrowded. The carnitas were a good call for buffet food though, credit that (the guac-from-a-mix, not so much).

  106. DG Guest

    "We're all trying to find the guy who did this" - Hot Dog Man

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.

Clem Diamond

Like pstm91, I think that it's because most people rarely travel, rarely use a lounge, and they just want to use it because it's part of a "luxury" or perk they can rarely indulge in but are entitled to get. So it doesn't matter if it's uncomfortable and crowded, the mindset is more about getting what they paid for, even if it's sad cheese cubes and migraine inducing wines. And I understand that, I think? Even though like you, I usually leave if it's too crowded and I can't find a reasonably comfortable spot.

5
snic Diamond

Empty gate areas like in the picture are a rarity. Most American airports are very crowded. On top of that, airports, especially in the US, love to constantly make terminal-wide announcements about stupid nonsense like "don't leave your baggage unattended." These announcements can't be heard in lounges. Lounges are more pleasant for those two reasons alone. Then add in the free food and drink, and the generally cleaner/quieter/more upscale bathrooms, and of course lounges are popular. At some point people will realize that standing in line to get into a lounge is foolish, although maybe if you have a very long layover it's ultimately worth it. I do the same thing as Ben does if lounge is full: leave. Generally they are not worth the effort if you have to wait around for a seat.

4
BenjaminGuttery Diamond

Some Admirals Clubs in the US have become post apocalyptic scenes. People sprawled out "holding" multiple chairs, ravenously taking quarter sheets of barely cut rice crispy treats, and mounds of dry "fried rice", not a single espresso machine working (out of 3), and wild children howling and having free range of the place. My last 3 experiences were awful.

4
Meet Ben Schlappig, OMAAT Founder
4,788,713 Miles Traveled

27,627,500 Words Written

32,315 Posts Published

Keep Exploring OMAAT
  • December 27, 2017
  • Ben Schlappig
9
Review: Santiago Airport Domestic Lounge
  • December 14, 2017
  • Ben Schlappig
30
Review: Aspire Lounge London Heathrow Terminal 5
  • July 26, 2017
  • Ben Schlappig
15
Review: Milan Malpensa Airport Lounge