Cathay Pacific Upping Its Lounge Game in North America

Airlines that offer a strong ground experience usually do so in their home markets, and sometimes to a lesser extent in a few key other markets, but rarely in outstations. And rarely in the United States.

There are a handful of good lounges operated by airlines in the US such as the Qantas first class lounge at LAX and Lufthansa’s at JFK. But even lounges offered by airlines with good international reputations usually underwhelm in the U.S. — such as the Singapore Airlines lounge in San Francisco.

Joe Brancatelli’s subscription newsletter reports that Cathay Pacific plans to substantially improve its lounge offerings in North America. Cathay Pacific’s new Senior Vice President for North America Philippe Lacamp has a charge to bring the experience here up to the standards of Asia (though I doubt that will happen, any improvement is welcome).

Making sure Cathay is as good here as it is in its hometown of Hong Kong. “We pride ourselves on the delivery of service. We’ve set a benchmark in Hong Kong and we don’t want to be sub-optimal in North America,” he told me. Besides, he said, “we’re not a low-cost operation. We’ll lose if we are viewed as a commodity airline.”

Here’s what we can expect:

  • The overcrowded San Francisco club — which does feature a noodle bar — goes from 5500 square feet to 9000 square feet this month.

    New features will include a self-service deli counter, an espresso bar manned by a dedicated barista and three more shower suites.

  • There will be a new lounge in Vancouver.

  • He acknowledges the British Airways lounges at New York JFK are awful (According to Joe, Lecamp says he’s “looking for opportunities.”)

    British Airways First Class Lounge, New York JFK… Isn’t Actually Used By BA First Class Passengers Since There’s a Concorde Room

Cathay Pacific has quality lounges in Hong Kong but isn’t known as a top carrier for ground service generally. But any improvements are welcome, and could spur competitive pressure although lounge work — as anything involving airports — takes longer than it should.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. With five daily flights from JFK to HKG, CX should have built and run its own lounge, instead of using bloody BA first class lounge which don’t provide shower.

  2. Cathay can take over the United Clubs and Global First lounge at JFK and will have a decent space to create their own lounge. Still not quite big enough to rival anything in HKG, but would be a nice improvement over BA.

  3. The challenge with JFK is that if Cathay builds a lounge that’s nicer than BA’s, it’ll just fill up with BA/Iberia/Qantas) passengers, because that’s the way Oneworld rules work.

  4. maybe CX should combine United Club, Global first and BA first to create a CX First Class lounge that won’t allow BA F passengers to use…

  5. The CX lounges in Hong Kong were outstanding and I spent time visiting all of them. The pier was my favorite (I had the entire lounge to myself since everyone else was down on the other end of the airport) and the meal was excellent! On the flight out of JFK I used the BA first lounge. The lounge was very crowded and food was somewhat blah. Some of the staff though was very friendly and top notch and being in the lounge was light years better than being out in the terminal waiting area.

  6. I took my first CX first class flight JFK-HKG. I was looking forward to the first class lounge. What a disappointment. The JFK BA business class lounge is actually preferable to the first class lounge across the hall. It is a much nicer space to spend some time. The showers, though, need improvements. Even the JFK Flagship lounge was more enjoyable. I guess CX has gotten the message.

  7. Great news, but I wonder how much of an improvement they will make. I for one would love to see a shower in the Vancouver lounge, but realize that is probably out of the question.

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