While I’ve written about the independent airport lounges known simply as “The Club” before, I’ve never actually visited one until last week when they let me in to poke around The Club at PHX. For those unfamiliar, The Club lounges are operated by Airport Lounge Development and open to all flyers regardless of airline or elite status. It’s $35 to enter and I was blown away to see how the amenities compared to other domestic lounges. In terms of food and beverage, the Admirals Club is snack time after a youth soccer match while The Club at PHX is a private suite at an NFL game.
In Phoenix, the club is open to everyone from 8am-3:30pm and becomes restricted to British Airways premium cabin passengers from 3:30pm to 7:30pm. If you happen to enter at 3pm, though, I don’t think anyone is going to ask you to depart before the BA crew files in.
While domestic lounges are content to give you a tub of yogurt pretzels and some old mealy apples, The Club at PHX offers a full spread of snacks. Bags of chips and granola bars are nicely arranged in bowls around both of the lounge areas (there are two — one quite large and the other more compact) and when the lounge changes over from regular access to BA access, a full spread is presented. An assortment of sandwiches, olives, cheeses, fresh vegetables, multiple soup options, and flavored popcorn were all free for the taking. Check out the very impressive menu and peruse the photos of what you can actually expect:
The sandwiches didn’t do much for me (the bread-to-meat ratio was off), but the soups were great, especially the Southwest Corn Chowder with a little bite to it. The flavored popcorns were fun and having actual vegetables is a nice change in the pre-packaged world of airport lounges.
You want pasta salad? They got it. Dessert? They’ve got a tray of fresh cookies for you along with little cheesecake bites. All in all, it was the nicest spread I’ve ever seen in a domestic lounge. That said, it’s really an international lounge in disguise. That British Airways flight is the only one that goes in and out of PHX every day — they just can’t accommodate larger planes here — so the solution was to make this a shared use lounge. The exciting snacks seem to find their way out to the regular guests in the non-BA times, but they’re first served to the international guests.
As for liquor, I thought it was a great selection. You could easily drink your $35 worth if you wanted to with premium brands like Glenlivet and Tanqueray. While I was surprised to see the lounges of most domestic carriers charging for the good stuff, at The Club, it’s all included.
One thing I truly loved about this lounge is that the staff is genuinely friendly. We’re not talking “fake-smile, don’t bother me” friendly here. These people truly care about your experience and that was evident as I watched them greet each guest. They weren’t just pouring drinks, they were interacting with people and asking questions about their lives. It’s rare to feel true hospitality in an airport, but at The Club at PHX, it seemed to be the norm. What a lovely surprise.
Overall, I think the Club at PHX is a nice change of pace from the nickel and diming options that the legacy carriers offer. For $35, it’s cheaper than a day pass to those other lounges and you get more for your money. I’d love to see more of these at smaller airports around the United States.
[Special thanks to Nana for letting me write this from her guest room!]