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.
More on COVID-19 and the airlines affected
- Alaska Airlines offers elite bonus earning in face of COVID-19 booking weakness
- Massive cuts, uncertain recovery timelines for aviation in the face of COVID-19
- Qantas cuts international 25% through September facing coronavirus-induced demand drop
- Spirit Airlines plans 5% growth reduction for April as COVID-19 hurts demand
- American Airlines slashes schedule, increases flexibility for customer rebookings
- US to block some European visitors
- Two key takeaways from American’s latest schedule cuts
- Regulators suspend slot rules, opening door to deeper airline cuts
- Beyond route cuts, airlines initiate extended suspension of operations
- Gogo looks to ride out coronavirus-related dip in demand
- Trans States Airlines: The first US airline victim of COVID-19
- JetBlue removes 40% of capacity, delays new deliveries as demand drops
- Airlines get a break on coronavirus EC261 comp, looking for more
- Airport lounges shutter as airlines slash capacity
- Will COVID-19 delay the opening of Berlin Brandenburg Airport?
- Qatar Airways plans 75% capacity cut in response to COVID-19
- Emirates, Turkish Airlines slash route networks, ground aircraft
- JetBlue plans additional draw down in service
- Is it time for US airports to start closing terminals??
- Converting to cargo: Putting passenger planes to use in the COVID-19 era
- IATA anticipates recession, slower recovery, as COVID-19 impact drag on
- US carriers cut frequencies, not destinations as they seek federal funding
- JetBlue plans 70%+ cut in April operations
- Cancelled flights, vouchers and the airline cash flow crunch
- Spirit Airlines reportedly cutting 90% of flights
- US airlines cut deep, but not deep enough
- An eerie quiet over New York City: The flights are gone
- Who wants what? How the US airlines are responding with CARES Act funding on the line
- Delta, United extend elite status by a year, adjust other benefits
- DOT adjusts, finalizes airline route requirements for CARES Act funding.
- Lufthansa announces major, permanent fleet restructuring
- Air Canada, Alaska Airlines extend elite status
- Deeper cuts, reprotect options coming for JetBlue
- Air Canada replaces seats with cargo in 777-300ER cabin
- American Airlines extends status, eases qualification
- A new take on amenity kits in the COVID-19 era
- COVID crushing inflight connectivity: Part 1
- Stuck in the past, DOT botches its CARES Act implementation
- DOT grants exemptions to Delta, Alaska Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines under CARES Act obligations
- Introducing yin-yang seating for economy class
- Inflight social distancing will kill short-haul LCC travel: IATA
- Gogo furloughs 60% of workforce, applies for CARES Act support
- COVID crushing inflight connectivity: Part 2
- De Havilland, Air Canada Cargo partner on Dash 8-400 cargo conversion
- JetBlue plans new route network for CARES Act compliance
- Spirit Airlines running triangle routes to meet CARES Act requirements
- Sun Country wins big as United, Frontier lose in latest CARES Act ruling
- Frontier Airlines pushes new route plan for CARES Act compliance
- Argentina plans to restart flights in September 2020
- Spirit Airlines asks DOT again to drop destinations
- Delta Flight Products, TechOps develop isolation pod for COVID-19 military transport
- JetBlue aims to drop 16 "major hub" destinations from its network
- Allegiant scores leniency from DOT in CARES Act obligations
- Panasonic Avionics implements furloughs to address slowing business
- American, Delta confirm accelerated fleet retirements
- Airbus aims to ease "COVID Combi" temporary freighter conversions
- The Weekly Wrap: FlightPlan, personal screening and more!
- United’s long-haul operations focus on a new "workhorse"
- United plans touchless bag tag kiosks
- Temperature scans in, 767s out for Air Canada, Rouge
- JetBlue, Spirit score exemptions to drop service at major US airports
- IATA recommends against blocked middle seats, favors "layered" protections
- United plans to resume (cargo for now) Hong Kong-Singapore service
- JetBlue suspends six cities through June
- Project Wingman USA Opens Lounges for Frontline Healthcare Heroes at Two Major New York City Hospitals
- Cape Air’s ugly April stats (and some possible good news for May)
- Fighting for the middle: A pandemic seating shift
- Avianca declares bankruptcy, seeks protection in restructuring
- United raises ire in cutting hours for salaried employees
- DOT further relaxes airline CARES Act obligations
- Allegiant sees quick recovery on the horizon
- Delta drops 777 fleet as coronavirus cuts continue
- JetBlue offers free TrueBlue Mosaic status, plus a year extension
- United faces lawsuit over M&A employees pay cut
- Optimism on the horizon: The Weekly Wrap 15 May 2020
- Beached Whale: A380’s future turns more bleak
- TSA implementing lower-touch screening protocols
- Volotea plans for growth into a COVID-affected Summer
- Health passports in our future: The Weekly Wrap
- LATAM seeks US bankruptcy protection, plans to continue operations
- JetBlue plans return of international markets in June
- Frontier, Mobile bicker over flights to Orlando
- US retaliates against China, blocking all flights
- China blinks, US to back down on flight ban
- ATPCO moves to ease ticketing changes for airlines worldwide
- Inflight magazines are not dead yet: The Weekly Wrap–5 June 2020
- From pre-flight massages to COVID-19 testing: XpresSpa pivots to XpresCheck at JFK
- GermFalcon to take flight as Honeywell UV Cabin System
- Allegiant driving passenger traffic recovery
- Air travel is bouncing back: Can the trend hold??
- Masks Matter: US carriers plan more enforcement for on-board behavior
- JetBlue plans to outsource airport operations at (more) smaller destinations
- Norwegian set to restart European services from 1 July
- Jilted travelers get aggressive in seeking airline refund enforcement from the DOT
- LATAM Argentina, LEVEL Europe face bankruptcy
- Air Canada launches half-priced Aeroplan rewards in North America
- AirShield proposes curtains of air to separate passengers in flight
- Curing Catering Concerns: The Weekly Wrap–19 June 2020
- A big hint that British Airways will retire its 747s soon
- JetBlue’s crazy summer of new routes
- Air Canada fights back on refund demands, disputes DOT authority
- JetBlue pilots secure no furlough deal through April 2021
- Peek inside the largest converted cargo aircraft flying today
- ZIM Flugsitz seeks insolvency protection
- JetBlue launches trial for Honeywell’s UV Cabin System (f/k/a GermFalcon)
- ExpressJet to wind down operations on 30 September
- Spirit Airlines avoids pilot furloughs in October
- A stalled recovery: Airline traffic retreating
- United Airlines introduces at-airport COVID testing for SFO-Hawaii flights
- AirAsia Japan halts operations
- Cathay Dragon shuttered, 8,500 jobs eliminated
- Researchers link 59 Irish COVID cases to inbound long-haul flight
- A fleet of salvage-priced planes
- Global Eagle charts a new course out of Chapter 11
- United launches pre-flight COVID testing to London
- Allegiant ditches advertising, improves conversions
- Interjet lacks fuel, cancels flights for two days
- Canada plans aviation bailout, so long as passengers get refunds
- JetBlue to stop blocking seats in January
- JetBlue plans additional spending cuts, debt raises into 2021
- Norwegian abandons long-haul operations, refocuses on 737 routes in Europe
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