With elite fliers complaining that airport lounges, a sought-after retreat from the hurly-burly of airport concourses, are getting too crowded with the rest of us, the airlines and card companies that run them are tightening access.
The most recent restrictions are from American Express, which has been expanding its network of Centurion lounges. Effective March 22, they are only for passengers about to leave on a flight that day; passengers arriving and wanting to freshen up are out of luck. The lounges are already limited to American Express Platinum and Centurion card holders, and even those elite members won't be allowed in until three hours before flight time.
American and United have set restrictions that will take effect next November, with United imposing the same day-of-flight-only rule, and the flight must be on the sponsoring airline or a partner.
Delta imposed a similar policy on January 1st, and also stopped selling $59 day passes to its Sky Club lounges. Non-elite cardholders can get a pass for $29. Alaska Airlines, which has three lounges at Seattle has ended access for members of Priority Pass, a program that offers access to hundreds of lounges world-wide, but will sell $50 day passes.