Air travel is a microcosm of society, with behaviors and cultural norms that span a wide spectrum. Since deregulation travel has become more affordable, and society has become wealthier. Low cost carriers have driven down airfares as well. It’s a small-d democratic experience.
And most airport lounges in the U.S. are open to anyone that can pay. That grew out of the civil rights era. Exclusive lounges might make entry decisions on impermissible grounds so the objective criteria of cash access was used instead. Passenger behavior in lounges can be atrocious.
But there are also more exclusive lounges, limited to business class passengers only, or first class passengers. However just because you’re flying business class doesn’t mean that you have class as this passenger in a United Airlines Polaris lounge shows:
— Cindy Chiu (@TravelGal12345) April 1, 2023
Polaris lounges are United’s exclusive spaces. They’re large, stylish, with sit down dining and a strong cocktail game. Even the airline’s secret Global Services level passengers don’t gain access when they aren’t flying international business class, and business class passengers don’t gain access even on premium cross country routes. Those restrictions don’t ensure that the passengers live up to the standards of the lounges, however.
Everyday passenger behavior in lounges has gotten worse, from being draped over couches asleep (lounge couches aren’t nap rooms) to simply sticking bare feet up on the furniture. Would you do this at the home of an acquaintance – someone you know, but not well? Why do this in front of other passengers, and on furniture that doesn’t even belong to you? Even regular United Clubs don’t allow outside food, surely clubs can impose minimum standards like ‘no shirt, no shoes, no entry.’?