The first airport lounge opened in 1939 at New York’s LaGuardia Airport with American Airlines “Admirals Club Lounge”. Since that time, many large airlines have opened lounges at focus or hub airports to cater to their own premium passengers and allow them a place to relax away from crowded gates. Access to these lounges typically requires a paid membership with passenger ticketing in business or first class cabins. Now a new brand of lounges is ready to hit the US with future expansion plans.
AirSpace Lounge, a start-up in the airport facilities industry, is getting ready to open their first lounge at Baltimore’s BWI Airport. Their concept involves creating lounges that are open to anyone who wishes to pay the entrance fee. With passes starting at just $17.50 per visit, AirSpace intends to use yield-based pricing to make the venture a success. As the lounges fill up to capacity, the pass pricing continues to rise. Lounges are slated to have power outlets at each seat, wifi, complimentary meals, and alcoholic beverages available for sale.
I am confident this new brand will certainly make an impact on the marketplace, especially where some of the largest airlines — like JetBlue and Southwest Airlines — do not offer airport lounges. Also, over the last 10 years airlines have downsized or closed lounges making space easily available for AirSpace Lounge to lease. Targeting all passengers regardless of ticketed cabin further increases exposure and allows AirSpace to create a loyal following.
How will the airlines react? Space at each individual airport will dictate who can expand and how much. If AirSpace Lounge is a wild success, I predict airlines will either try to match the inclusivity and pricing concepts or buy interest in the venture.