7 homely lounges worth bothering for

More than ever, I skipped the airport lounge and went straight to the gate.

With many travelers taking to the skies, many lounges are once again suffering from overcrowding, leading to standby waitlists for entry, dirty tables inside and understaffed buffets.

When I arrive at the airport early, I usually stop by the lounge to see how busy it is. If it’s not too crowded and I can find a quiet spot, I enter. If not, I just find a quiet place to sit and do the work in the terminal myself.

In many cases, I don’t even plan to arrive at the airport early. Instead, I will simply allow enough time to clear security and arrive at my gate once boarding begins.

However, there are a few lounges that are always worth a visit regardless of the crowd situation. Provided I have access, I can get to the airport even earlier to enjoy one of these seven lounges.

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Delta Sky Club—LAX

Delta Air Lines unveiled its brand new Sky Way terminal at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) earlier this year. While every Delta flyer will now use the upgraded Departures and Arrivals lounge, those with Sky Club access are in for a real treat.

That’s because the new terminal is home to a stunning 30,000-square-foot Sky Club that offers some of the slickest amenities you can find in an airport lounge.

My personal favorite is the huge, year-round, alfresco Sky Deck, which features a retractable roof, full-length bar, and endless views of the apron, runways, and distant Hollywood hills.

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In fact, this Sky Deck has become one of the best spots for watching planes in all of LAX.

Inside, the lounge offers two huge buffets, a stylish coffee grotto with Italian mosaic tiles, plenty of private phone booths, spacious shower suites, and more.

Also see: First look at Delta’s new Sky Club in Los Angeles

American and British Airways Chelsea Lounge – JFK

British Airways has just moved into Terminal 8 at John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK). As part of the colocation with American Airlines, the two airlines introduced three new lounges (two brand new lounges and one rebranded, expanded lounge).

The chicest and most exclusive of the three is called the Chelsea Lounge. It’s essentially a premier lounge, replacing American’s flagship First Dining and BA’s Concorde Room.

Although I only visited the lounge during a media tour, I was very impressed – so much so that I would make every effort to use it before my next eligible flight.

The champagne bar is particularly eye-catching, and the food and drinks on offer are some of the best the two porters offer on-site.

The menu is curated by Chef Ayesha Nurdjaja of New York City’s Shuka and Shukette.

Also Read: American Airlines and British Airways Unveil 3 Gorgeous Lounges in JFK’s Terminal 8

United Polaris Lounge—IAD

United’s Polaris lounges are dedicated to those flying long-haul in premium cabins (with even stricter access rules than the flagship lounge).

They feature sit-down bistro restaurants, quality seating areas, stylish bars and more.

Opened late last year in the greater Washington, DC area at United’s Dulles International Airport (IAD) hub, the newest Polaris lounge builds on a strong foundation laid by the airline’s existing six Polaris lounges.

Thanks to its luxe design, locally inspired artwork, and eye-catching bar, the Dulles location is my personal favorite of the entire network.

See Also: First Look Inside the New United Polaris Lounge in Washington Dulles

Qantas First Lounge-LAX

Some savvy travelers believe the Qantas First lounge at LAX is the best in the US

While I wouldn’t necessarily go that far, it offers spectacular food and drink options in a spacious dining room. There is also a long bar with premium spirits.

The downside to this lounge is that the seating and relaxation areas can often get quite crowded. Also, the terminal’s interior views lack natural light (or plane-watching opportunities).

High-ranking Oneworld Emerald elite may use this lounge, subject to a few notable exceptions for American Airlines travelers.

See also: Qantas International First Lounge review in Los Angeles

American Express Centurion Lounge—JFK

American Express has built a network of lounges that cardholders want to visit. This often leads to overcrowding, which can be particularly frustrating when you need to eat or refresh yourself during a connection.

While the issuer’s 15 outposts are a cut above the airline member lounges at the same airport, there’s one I always try to visit.

This is the location in JFK. The JFK Centurion Lounge is on two levels and is my favorite. With plenty of seating, amazing views of the jets in Terminal 4, six private payphones, and an Equinox Body Lab, you’re sure to enjoy your time in this space.

Be sure to visit the hidden speakeasy on the lower level for a drink at one of the trendiest bars in all of Queens.

Also See: First, Check Out the All-New Amex Centurion Lounge at JFK

Capital One Lounge — DFW

For years, American Express was the only credit card issuer with airport lounges. But that changed last year when Capital One unveiled its first club at America’s mega-hub Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW).

While Capital One currently only has one outpost in its network, the lounge itself is one of the finest in the country.

It covers the basics and has some standout features, including a fridge with on-the-go food and drinks, a peloton cycling and yoga studio, two private relaxation rooms, and a shower suite.

Driving through DFW these days, this is the only lounge worth catching the Skylink train for.

The good news is that Capital One is expanding its lounge network, opening outposts at IAD and Denver International Airport (DEN) over the next year.

See also: What to Expect in Capital One’s Airport Lounges

Bonus: Amtrak Metropolitan Lounge – Moynihan Train Hall

While not actually an airport lounge, Amtrak’s new Metropolitan Lounge at Moynihan Station in New York deserves a special mention.

When compiling this guide, this was the first lounge I identified as a lounge worth getting there early for.

The club’s locally-inspired design surpasses most domestic airport lounges, and the food and beverage offerings are actually pretty impressive for Amtrak.

There’s even an open-air deck overlooking the train station, as well as a wide variety of indoor seating areas.

It’s just a shame that United scrapped its partnership with Amtrak — part of which included reciprocal lounge access. Otherwise this could actually be considered an airline lounge.

Related: New York’s Hottest New Bar? Amtrak’s Metropolitan Lounge

bottom line

Nowadays, most airport lounges are not necessarily worth visiting due to overcrowding. With record travel demand, there are many more eligible travelers than lounge seats on the busiest travel days.

In many cases, I don’t think it’s worth spending extra time at the airport just to visit a lounge. Within the US, however, there are seven exceptions

Whether it’s the unique amenities or the above-average culinary offerings, I find myself adding time to the trip to stop at any of the seven lounges listed above.

If I’ve missed domestic lounges, please let me know!

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