All the hubbub about the recent changes with Delta Sky Club have me thinking -what do I really value in an airline lounge? Let’s face it, your basic U.S. domestic airline lounges just aren’t the same as their foreign airline counterparts. The business models simply aren’t the same. Domestic lounge products are seen as something of a stand alone business, that must stand on their own. They charge an annual membership fee, and in certain cases, you can access the lounge based on your class of service and destination….and of course, there are credit card and alternative access (Priority Pass, etc.) methods.

Outside of the USA, things are different. Typically, you can’t join the lounge, you are afforded access via your elite status or class of service, though Priority Pass has many lounge partners around the world. The lounge product is generally perceived as better, and in many cases, it is better. Lufthansa First Class lounges come to mind, but that’s just one example. Frankly, I found the regular BA lounge in LHR to be just fine, and the Concorde Room even better, but I definitely preferred the Lufthansa First Class Lounge. Cigars, sit down restaurants, spa services….sweet!

As a primarily domestic flyer, all of that is nice, but does it really matter to me? The one or two times a year I wander through an international lounge are fun and experiences to be savored, but I’ll spend the majority of my time in a domestic U.S. lounge. What really matters? From my perspective an unoccupied chair/barstool, good wi-fi, power outlets, clean restrooms, and assistance from competent and empowered agents when needed are the key reasons to have lounge access. Respectable snacks and decent beverages are also important to me.

Let’s look at Delta’s test of improved offerings which include:

  • Pancakes and upgraded bagels for breakfast, sandwiches and hot soups mid–day, and hors d’oeuvres, antipasti and dessert choices in the evening
  • Nourishing snack choices, including energy bars, fresh fruit, popcorn, nuts and smoothies
  • Select complimentary services, including shoe shines, manicures and relaxing chair massages — perfect for a busy day of travel

The food options are worth trying, and as a guy who admittedly plans his travel footwear choices around what needs to be shined, I can deal with shoe shines too. Manicures – yes, I’ve had one….and a few pedicures too. Not so sure about chair massages, but that’s just me. Frankly, I think the current snacks are just fine as long as the options being tested are in addition to those. I don’t mind paying a reasonable price for truly premium “Luxury Bar” items. I’m not sure the BV Cab qualifies, but it is better than the house swill. Too bad the Luxury Bar tab doesn’t count towards MQDs. 🙂 What do you value in a domestic airline lounge? Participate in my reader poll. If there’s an option you like that isn’t listed, comment to the post.

Sorry, there are no polls available at the moment.

MJ, February 5, 2014