Orlando International Airport, otherwise known as MCO in airline speak (Please don’t call it OIA. Well, you could. But you’d be wrong 😉 ), was a destination for over 47 million airline passengers in 2018, which made it the 10th busiest airport in the U.S. based on total passenger traffic, seeing more passengers than MIA. For many of those passengers, Orlando is their final destination and the need for them to spend hours at the airport waiting for a connecting flight isn’t as great as at a major hub airport like Miami, Atlanta, Chicago or New York-JFK. Subsequently, the airline lounge market has been stagnant (or even declining) over the past decade because leisure travelers weren’t the bread and butter customers for lounges. These lounges were designed with the business travelers in mind, giving them a place to be productive while waiting for their next flight.
Fortunately, times have changed and many more people have lounge access thanks to credit card benefits, so the lounges at MCO are finally starting to catch up.
After checking in at the Virgin Atlantic Premium class desk, we went through security and entered the main North terminal area. I did a quick search and found that with Priority Pass we had access to three lounges in the Gatwick North Terminal. The No1 Lounge looked nice so we headed there. Since all the lounges are in the same area, we could have left and headed to a different one if it wasn’t nice or if it was full. We arrived at the lounge at 11:15 AM and our flight was leaving at 1PM so we wouldn’t have a ton of time to sit around anyway.
Priority Pass is trying to expand its footprint by partnering with non-lounge members. The most common type of partnership is with airport restaurants, like Bobby Van’s in JFK airport, but there are other opportunities that Priority Pass is taking advantage of. When I was taking a morning flight from Charlotte airport, I looked to see if I could get any lounge access since I always overestimate how early I need to arrive for my flight.
There isn’t a Priority Pass lounge in Charlotte, but there is an option if you need to spend some time relaxing before your flight…
If you’ve been paying attention to travel/points/miles/hotels/airlines/planes hobbyist news, you may have heard that the iconic 1962 TWA Flight Center at JFK airport is being restored and reimagined as a first-class hotel. It sounds awesome and Joe and I hope to be able to stay there once it’s open to the public.
One thing the hotel still needed was a cocktail lounge. And what better thing to use as a bar at a hotel at an airport? A plane, of course!
The work area of the Air Canada lounge at Newark Airport is located right behind the check in desk. In the hour or so that I was sitting there waiting for my flight, I heard more people get denied entry to the lounge than were admitted. Why weren’t they allowed in? Because they didn’t know the rules of entry. The person working the desk wasn’t all that sure of the rules either and I heard him give incorrect information to at least one couple. It didn’t affect them getting admission to the lounge, I waited until later to let them know the correct policy.
I’m not surprised people are confused by the rules. Lounge admission policies are unnecessarily complicated. Who gets access with which ticket and when they’re allowed in can change from day to day and even hour to hour.
Luckily, you don’t need to know the rules for every lounge and every program. You just need to know the rules for the programs you’re in and for the lounges you want to enter. Just doing a little bit of homework can go a far way and keep you from getting shut out from entry.