The lounges are closing. Not every airline and not every location, but for the trickle of passengers still flying opportunities to duck into a private space in the terminal for a bit are starting to disappear.
Cathay Pacific was an early mover on this front. With traffic already suffering around the new year and then dropping further as the coronavirus outbreak isolated mainland China the carrier closed a number of its lounges in Hong Kong. Today the airline operates only 10% of its route network and the Pier, Deck and Bridge lounges at its hub remain closed.
Qantas followed that news with dramatic cuts to its long-haul route network, including the removal of its Sydney-Singapore-London service. With that route no longer operating the carrier will not fly any first class seats via Singapore. As a result the carrier announced plans to close the First Class lounge at that airport. But that was just the beginning.
Since that initial cut Qantas dramatically expanded its service draw-down and, along with the capacity cuts, increased the lounge closures. This affects all international lounges as well as a number of Chairman’s Lounges and Qantas Club locations domestically.
The US carriers operate relatively large lounge networks and many of those are slated to close as well as those carriers slash flight capacity.
For United Airlines the cuts are, at least initially, focused on services that can be relatively easily replaced. The Polaris Lounges, exclusive to premium cabin passengers, are now closed indefinitely. This affects the facilities in five of the carrier’s hub airports: EWR, IAH, LAX, ORD, SFO. The airline is also closing at least one of its United Club lounges at hubs where it offers multiple facilities.
For now, however, the smaller clubs in non-hub airports are still open.
United is also starting to close some lounges in non-hub airports. Raleigh-Durham, Guam, Mexico City and Tokyo-Narita are all closing, as is the Heathrow arrivals lounge.
Delta Air Lines will “close the majority of our Delta Sky Clubs until demand recovers.” The carrier plans to consolidate operations at its main hub in Atlanta which will leave some terminals unused. In those cases the lounge closings make sense. But, unlike United, Delta is also planning to close many lounges outside its hub airports.
American Airlines will also alter service at many lounges. Admirals Club lounges in Paris (CDG), Rio de Janeiro (GIG), Buenos Aires (EZE) and São Paulo (GRU) are temporarily closed and will reopen when flying resumes to these destinations. Chicago, Dallas-Ft Worth, Los Angeles, Miami, New York-JFK, and Phoenix will all see at least one location close, though other Admirals Club options remain in place.
American also highlighted service changes that are now in place in many of the lounges. As cities and states restrict restaurant and bar services the lounges must comply with similar rules. As a result many are limiting alcohol service and repackaging all food as “grab and go” options that cannot be consumed in the lounge. Other airlines and lounge operators will also comply with these rules, but American was more clear about them in its release.
American Express currently operates ten Centurion Lounge locations in airports across the globe. All ten are closing on Friday, March 20 for an indefinite period of time. The company does not yet have a schedule for reopening the facilities and will likely tie such actions to a return in demand from travelers.
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