Bethenny Frankel Reviews The Virgin Clubhouse Newark: “Garbouj”

Bethenny Frankel is best known as one of the Real Housewives of New York but is also host of Money Court and a former Shark Tank shark. She also has opinions on travel, and in particular the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse at Newark. Her verdict: garbouj. Based on this video, she isn’t wrong.

Flying La Compagnie – the all business class transatlantic carrier that offers a meager product but often at a discount – she had access to the Virgin Clubhouse. Virgin no longer flies to Newark, but still pays on the lounge space. While other Virgin Clubhouses outside the U.K. have transitioned to Sodexo for management, this one is an orphan, still part of its otherwise short-lived Plaza Premium Group contract. And it’s accessible by Capital One Venture X and American Express Platinum cardholders, and even Dragon Pass.

Frankly it isn’t bad for an overrun lounge at Newark with pay-in access, and access possible for passengers of niche foreign carriers without their own space. To borrow a line from Chris Guillebeau about a lounge at JFK airport years ago, this is the “Star Wars Galaxy Bar of middle-cabin travelers’.

There’s menu-based ordering. The food isn’t great but there’s food. And while the trash in the bathroom and shower room isn’t getting emptied regularly, overflowing onto the floor, there’s a shower! Albeit with dirty towels stacked. Frankel calls it “really dreck.”

Frankel is a more sophisticated traveler than you’d expect. She isn’t just someone buying premium cabin tickets, though she certainly does that. She’s an investor in And she calls international terminals “one of the most exciting parts about traveling.”

She’s a traveler. Though she says “the people are working so hard here” and says she’s going to tip well. Surely she must be trying to avoid seeming too entitled, flying business class $6,400 roundtrip – way too much for La Compagnie, which flies from Newark to Paris, Nice and Milan.

I suspect that as an orphan in the Plaza Premium – Virgin relationship, and with Virgin dishonoring the remainder of its contract elsewhere (often refusing Plaza Premium access to its other U.S. lounges, though a contract remains in place for this), it’s not getting the attention it should. La Compangnie – and Singapore Airlines! – really needs to take note here.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Yes it does look disgusting enough that I would typically wait by the gate @ most airports.
    But this is Newark?So I might at least sit in the lounge if not crowded
    Newark is one of the more disgusting crowded old airports in the country so I avoid it like the plague.A last resort.
    And off topic frankly I dislike Virgin Atlantic Upper Class and avoid that too primarily as the nuisance fees are as high as BA.And at least with BA they run a proper First class lounge and expedited private security justifying somewhat the cost of admission.I will likely dump my Virgin Miles on ANA to japan or far worse.I will never ever earn Virgin Atlantic miles again.Here we are in 2023 and still we cant see airline partner availability on their mediocre website
    Like the lounge a total Sh*t show & brand damaging

  2. I was in this lounge April 24, and my visit was drastically different. Food that was brought to my wife and I was fresh and tasted better than most offerings in DL lounges. Bathroom was clean, although replenishment of self serve items was not good.
    Not sure I understand the comment that the lounge and experience was so terrible, but the staff was working so hard and she would be leaving a big tip.

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