The Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse LAX Joins Priority Pass (With A Major Catch)

Earlier View from the Wing wrote about how the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse LAX is being added as a Priority Pass lounge. This is a really exciting development on the surface, though I assumed there had to be a catch, given that the lounge is small and has a really impressive food & drink selection. It looks like we now have more info.

The Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse Los Angeles is indeed being added as a Priority Pass lounge as of November 20, 2017. The catch, according to the Priority Pass app, is that Priority Pass members will only have access to the lounge between the hours of 5AM and 12:30PM.


This makes perfect sense. Virgin Atlantic has up to two daily flights from Los Angeles to London, departing at around 5PM and 9PM. Their Clubhouse is only about 4,000 square feet, so there was no way they would have room to handle Priority Pass customers over those hours (especially given the number of people with Priority Pass memberships nowadays).

Instead they’re using Priority Pass as a new revenue stream by opening the lounge in the morning to accommodate those guests. They’re paying the rent anyway, so they might as well open it earlier, as the revenue from Priority Pass will greatly exceed the incremental operating costs.

As you’d expect, the experience will be significantly watered down, though. The Clubhouse will offer beer, wine, and a cold buffet, but won’t offer their signature cocktails or a la carte dining at that time, which makes perfect sense.

LAX is an airport that is desperately in need of more Priority Pass lounges, especially given how spread out their terminals are. As it stands, LAX has two Priority Pass lounges — the Korean Air Lounge at Tom Bradley International Terminal, and the Alaska Lounge at Terminal 6. This will be a great new options for passengers departing out of Terminal 2, since previously there were no airside walkways that could get Terminal 2 passengers to either lounge.

Terminal 2 is used by Aer Lingus, Aeromexico, Delta, Virgin Atlantic, and WestJet, so this is a good new option for passengers traveling on those airlines. The only other lounge in the terminal is the Delta SkyClub. While the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse no doubt has nicer decor, I suspect the SkyClub will have a far superior food & drink selection to what Virgin Atlantic will offer in the mornings.

Still, I’d consider this to be a big win for Priority Pass at LAX, and I imagine they’ll have no issues filling up the lounge with Priority Pass members over eligible hours. Now can we just get a Priority Pass restaurant at LAX (as we’ve seen at other airports), please? šŸ˜‰

Comments

  1. Hopefully those hours are strictly enforced. I’ve had no issues getting into load of PP lounges outside of their hours. KAL lounge LAX for example.

  2. Do they kick everyone out of the lounge at 12:30 or do you just have to enter by then? I ask because I’m flying through LAX in a few weeks with an unfortunately long layover and am wondering if I’d get 1 hour in the lounge or 4.

  3. @david That is typically what happens at other lounges with specific operating hours for Priority Pass members. It remains to be seen what will happen in practice at this lounge.

  4. @david you can take the bus from Terminal 2 to TBIT and use the KAL lounge if they kick you out.
    It actually isn’t too hard to get to and the views from the KAL Lounge of TBIT are probably better than from Terminal 2. Or was it Terminal 3 that was horrible?
    Bummers they didn’t have this option when we flew through in late August. And just in time for when I am switching to Alaska, so no real use for me now.

  5. searched a roundtrip flight today for LAX-LHR and it was 11 THOUSAND dollars for Virgin. 11k. are they on crack

  6. @Patrick – I have tried many times to get to KAL lounge outside of their hours just to see and I’ve always been turned away. KAL @ LAX treats Priority Pass members like second-class citizens (rightly or wrongly) so I don’t even bother anymore.

    This is a nice addition but I don’t use T2 very much; hopefully they start adding restaurants or at least more offering at other terminals for this very busy airport!

    Also cannot wait for LAX to finish connecting up all the terminals to each other. One can dream.

  7. Aaron, how the heck would they kick out PP users at 12:31 pm?

    Summon them by name? Round them up and lead them out?

    No, I’d assume as long as you are in there by 12:30, you can stay. You’d have left long before the first Virgin Atlantic flight anyway

  8. I think LAX needs a The Club, to handle the amount of PP guests that go through it . Although a voucher system at some LAX restaurants would be a nice addition as well. I think given how many people are trying to game the system with that program, I can see limitations being added.

  9. @Martin, if the first Virgin Atlantic flight of the day doesn’t leave until 5PM, presumably they could round up basically everyone and kick them out (maybe make a note of any actual Virgin flyer who enters before 12:30 to avoid offending them, and then just go around to everyone else and ask them to leave). But given that they close entry a full 4.5 hours before the first flight, perhaps they’re operating on the assumption that almost everyone who enters before 12:30 will have left on their own by the time their own passengers start showing up in large numbers.

  10. David,

    That’s true but there may be other classes of flyer who are entitled to use that lounge, e.g. Delta elites, Virgin elites flying on Delta and so on.

    IOW it’s not just Virgin or PP folks, but people who qualify in other ways? I don’t know.

    I’ve been to other lounges where airlines share them at different times of the day, and the lounge doesn’t close. For instance at SFO Korean Air uses the BA lounge until about lunchtime. BA flyers arriving early get to eat Korean food!

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