Lounges

Centurion Studio lounge opens at SEA

Photo: Harriet Baskas

Photo: Harriet Baskas

American Express opens its newest Centurion lounge today at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.

Seatac_Lounge

Photos courtesy American Express

Called The Centurion Studio because its smaller (“cozier” in real-estate parlance) than Centurion lounges already operating in LAS, SFO, DFW, LGA, and MIA, this lounge is on Concourse B (by Gate B3) and includes a great view of the airfield and beyond as well as comfortable seating, charging stations, free high-speed Wi-Fi, and a menu of locally-sourced food and beverage items from places such as Macrina Bakery, Theo chocolate, Jones Soda,the Georgetown Brewing Company and Caffe Vita.

centurion wall (2)

Photo: Harriet Baskas 

SEA’s Centurion Studio will be open daily from 5a.m – 10 p.m. and, because of its size, will not be accessible on a one day pass. Instead, access is complimentary and limited only to Platinum Card and Centurion Members, and their immediate family (spouse or domestic partner and children under 18 years of age) or one travel companion. (More details here.)

Photo - Harriet Baskas View out the window at the Centurion Studio

Photo – Harriet Baskas
View out the window at the Centurion Studio

 

“We are delighted to have American Express bring this new airport lounge concept to Sea-Tac”, said Mark Reis, Managing Director of Sea-Tac Airport. “With this opening, there are now seven lounges across the airport to serve and accommodate our airport’s growing passenger levels.”

Those other lounges include The Club – two all-access spaces on Concourse A and in the South Satellite – that you can get into on a day pass for $35.

Delta’s private check-in lounge at LAX

Delta Air Lines opened a private check-in lounge at Los Angeles International Airport Terminal 5 this week, capping off a 3-year, $229 million terminal wide refurbishment project.

Here are some snaps of the lounge that I took while covering the event for USA TODAY.

01_Delta ONE premium lounge customers have a searate entrance at LAX Terminal 5

Priority is good, Delta One offers services above that.

02_Delta's first private check-in lounge is part of a 3-year, $229 million termional-wide upgrade at LAX

This is the first of a series of private check-in lounges Delta Air Lines plans to open at major hubs.

03_Entry to the Delta One premium lounge at LAX will be highly monitored

Paparazzi be-gone. Private check-in door means celebs don’t mingle with others in the public lobby.

The lounge area of Delta One at LAX. -

The lounge area of Delta One at LAX. This photo is courtesy of Delta – and is nicer than mine because there are no empty dishes scattered about…

05_A walnut wall offers privacy, but lets light in, at the Delta ONE lounge at LAX.

The walnut wall that surrounds the seating area offers privacy, yet lets in natural light. A nice touch.

07_The check-in desk at the Delta ONE lounge is made from the tail  of a DC9 (by MotoArt)

A bit hard to tell from this photo, but that check-in desk is made from the tail of a DC-9 airplane.. By MotoArt.

Walking & touring LAX Airport

05_A walnut wall offers privacy, but lets light in, at the Delta ONE lounge at LAX.

I had the pleasure of being on site Wednesday when Delta Air Lines celebrated the completion of its $229 million refurbishment of Terminal 5 at Los Angeles International Airport with the opening of its first private check-in lounge, Delta ONE at LAX.

The lounge area of Delta One at LAX. -  courtesy Delta

The lounge area of Delta One at LAX. – courtesy Delta

Look for more of these lounges to open in New York in early to mid-2016 and, after that, in Atlanta, Salt Lake City, Seattle, Minneapolis and international airports after that.

While at LAX, I also took the opportunity to test out my new distance wheel, which I’m using to figure out the longest distance a passenger might need to – or be able to – walk when making a connection at various airports.

Kudos to Nancy Castles, the public relations director at LAX, who was kind enough to lead me through the airport for this project. We figured out that it is a 1.2 mile trek from the southern-most gate at the Tom Bradley International Terminal (TBIT) to United Airline’s Gate 88 in Terminal 8.

With Nancy Castles at LAX

New menu, look (and scent) in United Clubs

United Clubs menu

New complimentary menu items in the United Clubs. Photo Harriet Baskas

Good news for travelers who spend time in the United Clubs: United Airlines is upgrading the complimentary menu items in all the clubs, renovating many club rooms and tweaking some of its customer service procedures.

The menu items are a big step up from the packaged cheese, crackers, yik-yak snacks and impossible-to-open hummus packages you may be used to and include an oatmeal station, bagel sticks, Greek yogurt with fruit toppings, hard-boiled eggs, scones, cereal, fresh fruit and Spicy Bloody Mary Trail mix in the morning.

United_Club Menu _ eggs with condiments

photo -Harriet Baskas

The afternoon offerings will include hummus with pretzel crisps and sliced red peppers, Mediterranean salad, vegetable soup, salami and cheddar cheese, Trail Mix, brownie brittle (danger: VERY good!), and breads.

United_new menu items cheese-salami

The new menu items will be available starting this week in Chicago O’Hare, in Houston, Denver, Newark, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington Dulles by the end of summer and everywhere else by the end of the year.

United - chairs in club

During this year, United is also renovating lounges in Chicago O’Hare, Washington Reagan, Hong Kong and Tokyo Narita, building new clubs in Atlanta and San Francisco and starting on changes in Los Angeles. Changes will include improved seating and amenities, design schemes that highlight United aviation history in the various cities, a special signature scent and a classy design for the restrooms where, for example, the mirrors in the women’s room evoke the windows on an airplane.

United - club bathroom

The staff in the United Clubs seems to already be made up of courteous and truly helpful people, but United says it is also re-training United Club agents with a new program that draws on the know-how of the hotel and hospitality industry.

Not all the upgrades are reserved for those with access to the United Clubs: in O’Hare (and hopefully elsewhere) the airline is also updating the seating, power plug availability, boarding lane design and counters in many gate areas.

United - new boarding areas group signs

(All photos by Harriet Baskas)

Fresh parking amenities at DEN & CVG airports

DEN Airport parking

New LED signs in the Pikes Peak shuttle lot at Denver International Airport let passengers know when the next bus will arrive.

Anyone who has parked their car in an airport parking lot on a dark, cold, snowy morning and stood there wondering when – and if – the shuttle bus to the airport was coming by will appreciate the new amenity being introduced at Denver International Airport this week.

The airport has added LED display screens to the 18 parking shelters in its Pikes Peak shuttle lot (where the rates are currently $8/day) that use GPS to let passengers know when the next parking lot shuttle bus will arrive.

LED signs should be added to the Mt. Elbert shuttle lot ($8 per day) and the east and west economy lots ($13 per day) next spring, but for now travelers can find out when the shuttle bus is coming by the shelters in those parking lots via phone, text or QR codes using a smartphone.

CVG Cart

Meanwhile, Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG), has added courtesy golf carts that will operate daily to shuttle passengers from their car to the elevators and escalators in the terminal garage and back to their car. (The airport is also offering a discount coupon for holiday parking).

Inside CVG, there’s also a new all-access lounge – The Club at CVG – offering complimentary snacks, bar service, Wi-Fi and comfortable seating for $35 a day – no matter which airline you’re flying on- and at cost below what the airline lounges usually charge for a day pass.

The club is on Concourse A, between Gates A8 and A10 and you can get $5 off the $35 fee by using the coupon on this page. The same company also operates club rooms at airports in San Jose (SJC), Atlanta (ATL), Phoenix (PHX), Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) and two at McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas. You can purchase day passes for those clubs here.