Best (and Worst) Airline Lounges
The trend is clear. Airports are redefining themselves as enjoyable destination spots. Every day we see airports emerging with better shopping, eating and even activities. However, there is one place that still tends to be hit or miss -- the airport lounge. In some cases, the lounge is a haven of tranquility away from the hustle and bustle of the regular airport area. Unfortunately, in other cases the lounge is so old, depressing and crowded that we would be better off sitting by the gate, despite our membership.
At GateGuru, we know the power of a great airport lounge. We also know the frustration that can come from walking into a lounge that isn’t worth the price of admission (even when that price is $0). To give you the insider’s view, we’ve highlighted the best and the worst airline lounges in the United States. The rankings are based purely on GateGuru reviews, and encompass everything from furniture, location and staff to food/drink and other “lounge-y” factors.
The 5 Best Domestic Clubs
AA Admirals Club
Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), Terminal 4
The most popular GateGuru lounge in the US is commended for being large, comfortable and quiet (separate children’s play area). Top that off with good food and an attentive staff and you have the best domestic lounge in America. It is the best lounge in the American Airlines network, and its members come here to “enjoy a shower, views of planes or a hot meal.” The staff is consistently described as having a “smile and are happy to help out,” so we aren’t surprised that after many requests for more power outlets, they installed special “power” chairs.
George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH), Terminal E
This flagship United Club is modern, very clean, has private showers and a huge multilevel space (3 floors!) with a great staff. Just when you think it can’t get any better you learn that most cocktails are complimentary, including a Bloody Mary that “is awesome.” Traveler, beware, though: You might lose track of time in this paradise, so don’t forget to leave in time to catch your flight.
Delta Sky Club
Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL), Concourse C
One might think it impossible to find a quiet oasis in the busiest airport in the world, but alas there is the flagship Delta Sky Club. This club has plenty of room and “awesome window cubes” that allow you to be productive in a quiet environment. The best GateGuru tip is that the lockers have built-in outlets inside of them. You can charge your laptop from the safety of the locker while you sit back and relax. Genius, we say.
Alaska Airlines Board Room
Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA), Central Terminal
When you think of “best airline lounges,” you think of mainly the large airlines. But the Alaska Airlines Board Room at SEA proves that you should evolve that thinking. This lounge has it all. The best part of the lounge is the 2 floors overlooking Concourse C for prime people watching. There are also windows with a view of the ramp and planes. The staff here is extremely friendly and always greeting you with a smile. If you’re here in the morning, be sure to stop by for the fresh pancakes!
Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse
John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK), Terminal 4
Being one of the newest lounges on the scene, this location has generated a lot of high hopes -- and so far it has lived up to travelers’ expectations. This lounge is “an oasis for those in the know,” (with GateGuru this includes you!). The lounge has all the shine and style of a brand new lounge -- fitting for it being in New York City. The best part is certainly all the amenities to back it up, including a full bar, entertainment zone and a dining area with a la carte meals, desserts and fine wine. Given all of this, you will quickly forget that you are at JFK.
The 3 Worst
Delta Sky Club
ATL, Concourse B
While just a concourse away from their flagship lounge, this Delta Sky Club is a pretty stressful experience. GateGuru users note that it is always crowded, dirty and has a “totally ineffective layout.” This club shouldn’t even be called a club given how small and crowded it is, even though it was recently renovated. There are only a few outlets and only a subset of them actually works. As one GateGuru user warns, this club is “too miserable to spend a complete layover.” Clearly the savvy Delta Sky Club traveler who finds herself in Concourse B for any extended amount of time should immediately head over to Concourse C and the flagship lounge.
LAX, Terminal 7
This United Club is dated and subpar. There’s not much food available and the amenities are completely lacking, according to GateGuru users. The best thing travelers can say about this club is that it “beats sitting at the gate” -- but only barely (not exactly a ringing endorsement). The worst thing users say about this place is that it has “fruit flies at the bar.” (Yikes!) So if you are in Terminal 7, and find yourself with some time, check out our LAX Layover Guide (hello In-N-Out!) rather than forcing yourself to spend a few hours in this club.
Chicago O'Hare International Airport (ORD), Terminal 2
Travelers deserve more from United at one of their hub airports. The lounge is tiny, cramped and there is hardly ever a place to sit. On top of that, the lounge itself is not very tidy. The one plus of this place is that the staff here is extremely friendly. Our advice is that similar to the Delta Sky Club at ATL: If you have some time, you should make your way over to Concourse B in Terminal 1, where the United Club is a much better experience.