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Thursday, May 23, 2024

Lounging Around

Airport delays may seem inevitable. In May 2011, a regional unit of American Airlines, American Eagle, kept 608 passengers on board 15 different flights for more than three hours. Officials from the Department of Transportation fined the airline $900,000 in November for the lengthy nightmare.

That probably won’t end long delays at airports, so we asked frequent flyers — Glen Dunkerson, the CEO of Atlas Van Lines, who has flown more than 2 million miles, and Brent Beeler, the retired chief operating officer for Berry Plastics, who flies 100,000 miles a year — how to find comfort during substantial holdups.

One recommendation: Look close to home. The Evansville Regional Airport, currently developing jet bridges for smoother access from the terminal gates to the airplanes, long has been known for the comforting rocking chairs in the lobby and a parking lot close to the terminal.

Still, the best source of relief can be found in the airport lounge (used by airline club members). Airport lounges provide complimentary sodas, beers, wines, and premium spirits, but what excites Dunkerson is the peace and quiet. “If you’re working every day,” Beeler says, a lounge is a place to “refuel. It’s a gas station.” Most lounges, he adds, have a work center with “no cell-phone zones” and computers with high-speed Internet access.

Bad weather or flight changes are concerns for any traveler. In the lounge, airline associates worry for you. Beeler confirms his flight information with a lounge employee. If any changes occur, a staff member notifies him. “What’s most important,” says Beeler, “is to have attendants who are knowledgeable.”

Even if you aren’t an airline club member, access into lounges is possible. Some alternatives include day passes, offered by most United States airlines ($30-$50 depending on the airline).

Membership for Priority Pass ($100-$400), an airport lounge access program, gives access to 600 lounges worldwide. Some credit cards including American Express Platinum ($450) and Ameriprise World Elite MasterCard ($50) also get holders into most airport lounges.

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