So, you’ve been trying to get to Seattle for a few days now, huh? I’m one of the lucky ones this year since I’m not going anywhere for the holidays, but if I were, I’m sure that the nasty weather would have me sitting on the floor at the airport for a long time. For those stuck at LAX, you might want to think about spending some time in the new public-access reLAX Lounge, which I recently had the chance to tour. Let’s hope that public lounges catch on and become more commonplace.
The reLAX Lounge is located in the Tom Bradley International Terminal at the end of the horseshoe that makes up the LAX terminal area. If you aren’t in LA, I know there’s a pay per use lounge in Terminal 4 at JFK, but I’m unaware of any other ones in the US. There must be more in smaller cities, but there definitely are not enough.
Sure, there are plenty of airlines that will sell you a one day pass into their lounge, but it usually costs around $50 or so. The lounge is obviously catering to that airlines’ passengers, so if you’re flying someone else, you might find you have trouble getting flight information or anything else catering to your airline.
The pay per use lounges, however, cater to just about every airline. For example, they have flight status for all airlines using that terminal, and they’ll be able to give you airport-wide information instead of just airline-specific stuff.
The one at LAX in particular is also very, very nice. It’s in the old interim First Class lounge at Bradley, and it has all new furniture, computers, printers, scanners, fax machines, etc. You’ll also find free wifi, sodas, coffee, tea, bottles of water, and snacks. They have a snack bar as well that currently sells salads, wraps, etc, and will soon sell alcohol. Oh, and I forgot to mention the absolutely stunning views to the north, west, and south with jumbo jets taxiing right by throughout the day. Take a look for yourself.
The best part of this whole thing? It’s usually $25 for three hours, but they’ve recently introduced a $10 rate for one hour or $35 for five hours as well. That’s a great deal, especially since it includes free wi-fi, something that still costs you in the rest of the airport.
The only problem for this particular lounge? It’s not behind security. So, if you’re catching a flight at Bradley, you’ll still have to cut out a little early to beat the lines. Johnny Jet and I were both touring together, and we both suggested to the lounge manager that he be constantly posting current security wait times. He seemed to like the idea, so hopefully that will make time management easier.
But the good news here is that if you have a long layover in any other terminal, you can come on by and use the lounge. With the great views and free wifi, it’s probably the best place to kill some time in the airport considering the price.
I hope you all have easy travels this year, but from the looks of the weather map, that’s not going to happen for a lot of you. Just hold on and remember that things will be great once you finally get there.
[See all my pictures of the lounge on Flickr]
How do they enforce the amount of time you purchase? Do they collect your ID at the door and check how long you stayed when you leave?
Oliver – Yep. They’re collecting either boarding passes or ID when you arrive, but if it’s not crowded they sometimes work on the honor system. It just depends on the situation, but they do keep track.
I like the $10/hour option for a short layover but if you’re snowed in for a long time the $50 for the airline lounge seems a better deal, and those are in secure areas.
In the video I didn’t notice any full sized couches. That’s one thing my wife really likes in some airline lounges – the chance to lie down for a nap between flights. Something I’d ask about before dropping $10/hr.
BTW – Amex platinum cards get you & companion free access to the airline lounge of the airline you are flying. If you are a frequent flier and your employer won’t pop for the membership I’d highly reccomend this option as its served me very well.
I completely forgot to include the link to all my still photos as well, so I’ve updated the post. You can go here. You’ll notice they even have massage chairs and they bring masseuses in during the afternoon peak.
A – You’re right, there aren’t any couches that I could see in there. And yes, the Amex platinum gets you into lounges, but those aren’t cheap cards to have. For the infrequent traveler who gets stuck, these lounges are great.
A — the Amex Platinum card doesn’t get you into every airline’s lounges, as far as I know (which, being based in the San Francisco area, UA my airline of choice, and they aren’t part of the program).
Diners Club also offers lounge access to their members, but when I had that card as a corporate card, there were only a handful of clubs in US cities. I did use the benefit a few times in AMS and FRA, though. The clubs weren’t exactly great.
I’ve paid $50 once when I had a 7 or 8 hour lay-over. For short layovers, I’d probably try and find a decent restaurant, especially since I am usually traveling with my wife (I assume the reLAX loung won’t let you bring guests, just like the airline club day passes).
I have an idea: why don’t airports provide more pleasant waiting environments? I’ll admit the club idea is a good one and worth the price, but when you look at how UNFRIENDLY airport furniture is, you realize how unpleasant an extended wait (for example after a red eye) can be. The arm rests prevent you from lying down; there are few, if any, plugs in most airports, all food services are closed. And those incessant overhead announcements are ridiculous. You are already behind security, why announce the 3 oz rule When you get to an airport serving multiple languages it gets even more ridiculous. These announcements were actually playing at 0300 at ORD when no one was in the concourse except me and some workers. The decibel level was deafening.
I actually invested $39.00 in a Mini-motel. I used it once after an extended stay at ORD overnight after an early arriving red eye. At least it is a clean place to rest. The only problem: when I put in the ear plugs, the announcements were all I could hear. Kind of like ear plugs and screaming children.
Yes, I’m cranky.
Nice idea, still way overpriced.
No free wifi at LAX is a crime. Lots of other airports are free (PHX).
But, if you want to get free wifi at any airport, just park your carcass outside the airline lounges, at least one of them will leak through and not have a password.
BTW, the one airline that is worth paying the extra few bucks on is Bangkok Air. In all their terminals, its essentially a lounge. Free internet, free non alcohol drinks and light snacks and newspapers. That is for all their pax.
nice idea but i am still confused about it.
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