To my dear fellow flyers on United Airlines, let’s not mess up the great innovation United has introduced in Denver via its Club Fly Lounge. Moderation is key.
New United Lounge Concept In Denver Requires Our Cooperation
United Airlines has introduced a great concept at Denver International Airport it is calling the United Club Fly Lounge. Rather than a traditional United Club lounge geared at providing a comfortable environment for passengers to stick around in, this lounge encourages you not to linger. Rather than prohibit the removal of food and beverages from the lounge, this new concept actively encourages it. More details here, but in short United has introduced a to-go café (much like the Air Canada Café in Toronto or Capital One Lounge in Dallas) that encourages passengers to step in, grab some food and drink, and then head out.
First, a story. When United debuted its Polaris soft product in 2016, it offered a wide assortment of alcohol and showcased it with flashy Bloody Mary carts and wine flights which encouraged you to try a trio of different red wines or white wines before your dinner. As the story goes, passengers consumed so much alcohol that the United alcohol budget was blown on an exponential scale. Cutbacks quickly ensued.
Here again, in this new lounge, is a test of whether we can have nice things. The answer is usually no, especially in the United States (and I say this as a proud American, but a cultural observer for three decades). If passengers come in and select one or two snack items (like a sandwich and some fruit) and then choose a drink, this concept will work…and work stunningly well.
But if everyone comes in with their plastic-lined carry-on bag or a grocery bag from home and treats the lounge like the grocery store toilet paper aisle in March 2020, this concept will fall flat. Even if the lounge itself survives, we will see the quality and quantity of food and drink scaled down to a degree that renders it far less valuable.
So let’s not do it…and of course I am admonishing myself too. Moderation is key. Repeat. Moderation is key. Take a snack for yourself, not for the whole plane or for your kid’s lunches for the next two weeks.
By offering the antipode of a traditional lounge, United will cut down on lounge crowding and offer a valuable service for its lounge members and elite flyers. With gate areas improving at airports across the country, the primary function of lounges for me is a cup of coffee and maybe something to nibble on. By offering barista-made coffee in a convenient venue, United Airlines is augmenting and improving its lounge experience. Yet it is up to us not to go crazy. May we do the right thing…