Many airlines continue to go above and beyond when it comes down to their lounges, whether it’s their flagship lounge or not, some are just out of this world, are award-winning and loved by the travelers who get to spend time in them. Some of our favorites are Emirate’s Champagne Lounge in Dubai, Oman Air’s First and Business Class Lounges in Muscat, and Finnair Schengen Lounge at Helsinki, to name a few. But do you know which airline opened up the first lounge and where?
We can thank American Airlines, which rolled out the first airline lounge in December of 1939 at La Guardia International Airport. American Airlines paved the way for other carriers to develop their own airport lounges dedicated to premium passengers, those who have a frequent flyer status or are part of a club. But until the 1970s when the Concorde took off, lounges were not a major part of the overall travel experience due to a few factors. The first being space—back then, airports were minimal and small with barely any room to build lounges for travelers. And the second being security and check-in—the time it took to get from the front of the airport to the airplane was short and quick, so there was no need to wait hours before the airplane took off.
When American Airlines opened up its “Admirals Club” lounge, it was designed for VIPs and those who supported the carrier to relax in before and after a flight and served drinks at the bar and hot and cold meals. At first, the American Airlines lounge was only accessible via invite-only but became a paid access lounge in 1967. The airline opened up its second lounge a few years later in 1939 at Washington’s National Airport, but couldn’t serve alcohol due to the State’s policies, although it did hold alcohol for its VIP members in a safe area for a high price until 1970 when the laws regarding liquor were altered.
Once the Concorde began to fly, British Airways opened up their own lounge called “The Concorde Room®” in the mid-1970s, offering customers a private entryway to the airplane from a door inside the lounge in addition to free food and drinks. British Airways was also the first to offer spa services to its premium customers. Fast forward 30 years and we see the first-ever First Class Terminal Lounge opened up by Lufthansa in 2004—no longer were passengers limited to a small area but a dedicated terminal with tonnes of space, fantastic service, delicious cuisine and other amenities like shower rooms.
Today, we see an array of airport lounges all over the world, some owned by airlines, others owned by alliances, and lounges that are independent of either available for specific credit card holders or VIP members. Out of all the lounges in the world, which one do you favor most?