Doug Parker - "We're the Southwest of Int'l Travel!"

Old Nov 28, 2005, 8:53 am
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Here's What Other Int'l Carriers Are Offering For Lounges

Some airlines hope to perk up profits by opening, upgrading airport lounges
By Jane Engle, LOS ANGELES TIMES Article Last Updated: 11/26/2005 08:22:15 AM

SLASHING staffs, coach-class perks and other expenses may be just the ticket for financially strapped airlines these days. But in at least one area, some carriers are pouring on the cash: airport lounges for members and premium passengers.

Several airlines are opening larger, more luxurious facilities with sybaritic touches such as showers, spa treatments and crystal chandeliers.

The goal, industry experts say, is to cater to big spenders in an era when low-cost competition has sent the price of a coach seat spiraling downward. First- and business-class passengers are "the airlines' bread and butter, revenue-wise," said Matthew Bennett, editor and publisher of FirstClassFlyer.com, a consumer buying guide to premium travel.

The economics are compelling. "As tickets have become less and less profitable, lounge memberships have become relatively more profitable," said Tim Winship, editor and publisher of FrequentFlier.com, an online newsletter for frequent fliers.

Rules vary. American, for instance, sells Admirals Club memberships for $450, or 70,000 miles per year; renewals cost $400, or 60,000 miles. Elite frequent fliers pay as little as $300, or 45,000 miles, per year for new memberships.

You can even buy a lifetime Admirals Club membership in an offer good through the end of the year. But the price, starting at $5,300, may make it a questionable investment, experts said, unless you do a lot of flying and your company is paying.

Some recent lounge openings:

-American Airlines. An 11,300-square-foot Admirals Club opened at American's new $1.1-billion terminal in New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport. It can seat more than 180 people.

Besides a business center, the facility offers a spa-like shower area, flat-screen TVs showing DirecTV and a children's room with computers and TVs that show Nickelodeon and the Cartoon Network.

Adults can buy a day pass to the lounge for $50. By the end of the year, American will open two clubs at the Miami airport and a club at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport.

-Virgin Atlantic. This British carrier opened a Clubhouse at JFK last year. At 7,000 square feet and seating up to 150, it's smaller than American's lounge but big on glitz. It's equipped with a sleek bar, pearlescent illuminated screens and a waterfall flowing into a 90-foot-long reflecting pool. If you must do business, there are booths with iMac computers.

Virgin's newest lounge project is overhauling its Clubhouse at London's Heathrow airport. Last month, it opened a spa and salon there. When finished in December, the 8,000-square-foot space twice the current size also will have a 45-foot-long cocktail bar, a sushi bar, a ceiling-to-floor water wall and a chandelier adorned with Swarovski crystals.

Upper Class passengers will enter on a grand staircase sporting sculptured glass balustrades. In the spa, dubbed Cowshed at the Clubhouse, passengers can get facials, manicures, massages, hairstyling and even a tan.

Virgin's lounges are free to Upper Class passengers. There are no memberships or day passes.

-Air New Zealand. It's not just the biggest airlines that are reviving their lounges. Air New Zealand in August doubled the size of its lounge at Los Angeles International Airport, its main North American gateway for 40 years, and pumped up the luxe factor. The new 7,550-square-foot sanctuary is lined in Rimu wood veneer and carpeted in wool, both from New Zealand, and decorated with artwork from there.

The space, equipped with six shower suites, is divided into zones for families, executives and other niche travelers.

The lounge is free to Business Premium passengers and certain frequent fliers. There are no annual memberships or day passes.

Last edited by KevAZ; Nov 28, 2005 at 10:48 pm Reason: Thread Title Change
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Old Nov 28, 2005, 2:09 pm
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IMO, this thread title is very misleading...
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Old Nov 28, 2005, 2:58 pm
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Originally Posted by geo1005
IMO, this thread title is very misleading...
Agreed - off topic and very misleading

Mods please close
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Old Nov 28, 2005, 3:18 pm
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Does this thread have a point?

OK, so US Airways ain't the world's greatest international airline. There's a news flash.

A club *is* reopening at LAX. Earthshaking? No. A step in the right direction? Yes, I think so.
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Old Nov 28, 2005, 3:28 pm
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Originally Posted by geo1005
IMO, this thread title is very misleading...
OT as well...but welcome back GEO.
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Old Nov 28, 2005, 3:51 pm
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I think the moderator should change the title or lock this thread into oblivion, as the title would make it seem like Doug Parker himself said those very words. Not fair, and very sensational. The OP must work for a tabloid.
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Old Nov 28, 2005, 10:41 pm
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Originally Posted by PHL
I think the moderator should change the title or lock this thread into oblivion, as the title would make it seem like Doug Parker himself said those very words. Not fair, and very sensational. The OP must work for a tabloid.
Oh come on! A little timely humor here should be welcomed. I read this article this morning and was shaking my head the entire time. The point is cutting, cutting, cutting just doesn't "cut it" for being successful in the current N American Int'l air travel market.

No, I am not a tabloid employee. But I do have a sense of humor and irony which seems to be seriously missing in this forum.

Last edited by KevAZ; Nov 28, 2005 at 10:56 pm
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Old Nov 28, 2005, 11:29 pm
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But Kev, the airline isn't cutting, cutting, cutting. I haven't heard any announced in-flight or ground service cutbacks, have you? In fact, I've seen the pretzels come back, the food come back into domestic F, a club readied for reopening...

Have these moves made US into the greatest domestic airline ever? Of course not. But these are all *positive steps forward* out of the depths that US was in just a few months ago. We can all agree there's a long way to go and that not every move the new US management has made has been great (four tier FF system sucks, IMO). But as far as F and the clubs go... things are improving. Not improving as fast as anyone would like, probably... but they're improving nonetheless.

Let's give the merged airline a chance to actually merge before we play Taps.
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Old Nov 28, 2005, 11:30 pm
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duplicate; delete

Last edited by goingsomewhere; Nov 28, 2005 at 11:31 pm Reason: duplicate; delete
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Old Nov 28, 2005, 11:31 pm
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Yeah, sure...
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Old Nov 29, 2005, 9:31 am
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Originally Posted by FCYTravis
But Kev, the airline isn't cutting, cutting, cutting. I haven't heard any announced in-flight or ground service cutbacks, have you? In fact, I've seen the pretzels come back, the food come back into domestic F, a club readied for reopening...

Have these moves made US into the greatest domestic airline ever? Of course not. But these are all *positive steps forward* out of the depths that US was in just a few months ago. We can all agree there's a long way to go and that not every move the new US management has made has been great (four tier FF system sucks, IMO). But as far as F and the clubs go... things are improving. Not improving as fast as anyone would like, probably... but they're improving nonetheless.

Let's give the merged airline a chance to actually merge before we play Taps.
You've made good points. In no way am I playing taps on US, but let's do be honest about the recent club changes:
Pre-Merger HP clubs offered: free internet, free drinks (or at least both covered in the fee), upgrade F allowed in, Day pass $20/each
Post-Merger: Pay as you go internet, pay for drinks, no F upgrade allowed in, day pass $40/each

All dropped on us with little notice. So the $300 I paid immediately pre-merger gets me a very devalued product.

I would have preferred to see everything stay the same and raise the annual fee and day pass.

Again, the higher revenue customer is taking a fairly large hit in the merger. One would think they would take a deep breath before making these fairly low revenue gaining moves that can seriously affect their top fliers' opinion of their value. Their moves are in stark contrast to the airlines highlighted in the article.
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Old Nov 30, 2005, 12:49 pm
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Originally Posted by FCYTravis
a club readied for reopening...

After eight others were closed
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Old Nov 30, 2005, 2:58 pm
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As someone who dropped into RDU and dropped $300 on a U club membership post-merger, that pain is acute.

I don't even have a club at SFO.
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Old Nov 30, 2005, 4:06 pm
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Originally Posted by KevAZ
Pre-Merger HP clubs offered: free internet, free drinks
Doug is no fool on this issue. He know how much those US pax can drink.
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