American is renovating and rebranding first class lounges and first and business class lounges separate from their Admirals Clubs. You cannot pay to get in. Frequent customers buying memberships don’t have access.
Rendering of New Flagship Lounge Seating, credit: American Airlines
United debuted their new Polaris lounge at Chicago O’Hare in the old club and first class lounge space at gate C18 today. This is a business (and first) class lounge. It is not a Star Alliance Gold lounge and not a United Club.
Again, business class customers of United and their partners have access. They aren’t building single larger lounges. Frequent flyers, even those paying for lounge access, don’t get in.
United Polaris Lounge Chicago, Credit: United
United, Delta, and American are improving their general club lounges. My sense is that American is slow-walking their upgrades, though they’ve improved their food offerings roughly on par with United’s investment and marginally behind Delta’s.
It’s not as fancy as the Star Alliance lounge’s deck in the Tom Bradley terminal at LAX – no water feature or fire pits – but it has a nice view of airport operations.
Star Alliance Lounge, Los Angeles
The cost of lounge memberships is going up, most recently Delta’s. Although airlines have made it advantageous in most cases to buy lounge membership via premium credit cards rather than direct purchase.
Delta Sky Club Seattle, credit: Delta Air Lines
There’s a trend towards modestly improving membership-based lounges and substantially improving business class only lounges at least at United and American. As with changes to frequent flyer programs the best service and benefits go to those spending the most on a given trip, not over the course of a year or a lifetime.