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We're not sure why "independent shared-use lounges" haven't caught on in America sooner. A lot of people will pay $35 for a clean, quiet place with free wine and reliable Wi-Fi.

The Club at PHX airport lounge opened Wednesday at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport for fliers who want a club lounge environment, but either they don’t have a club lounge membership or they’re seeking an alternative.

The Club Airport Lounges are a new pay-as-you-go experience presently operating in Atlanta, Dallas, Las Vegas, San Jose and now Phoenix. Operated by Airport Lounge Development Inc. (ALD), the “independent shared-use lounge” concept is relatively new in the U.S., but it’s common in Europe and Asia.

“The U.S. market has been dominated by the major airline carriers, but airline lounges are becoming much more exclusive and overcrowded,” says Nancy Knipp, senior vice president at ALD. “We also want to attract someone who previously might not have thought to visit an airport lounge.”

In an effort to attract that new customer base, access to The Clubs in only $35, including free Wi-Fi, snacks, non-alcoholic beverages, and beer, wine and spirits. Members of Priority Pass—a sister company of ALD—and Lounge Club are welcomed free of charge.

Additional amenities include newspapers, magazines, TVs, flight info displays, workstations, printing and faxing. Some of the Clubs also have shower facilities and Conference/VIP rooms that can be booked in advance for an additional fee.

You can purchase admission coupons well ahead of your flights via phone, email or online. The pay-as-you-go business model also taps into spontaneous purchase behavior typical at airports. We’ve all sat in one too many crowded gates or lonely food courts with a dead phone and tired body while watching others stride into their cushy members’ lairs.

The design of The Club Airport Lounges is fresh, minimal and contemporary with lots of natural light and floor-to-ceiling windows—think Aloft Hotels or CB2 stores—but with softer, more muted color tones.

“We designed The Club Airport Lounges with a variety of seating so people can choose the type of experience they want,” says Knipp. “There’s a quiet area where people don’t use their phones, a business center area, and an F&B area.”

“How do you get people not to use their phones?” we asked. “If that’s the case, we’re sold already.”

“We have a very engaging staff who will indicate to people when they’re shown around to please not use their cell phones in that area,” answers Knipp. “And people are very obliging because we have a lot of other areas. Really the goal is to create an ambience like a nice comfortable hotel, and extend that sense of hospitality to an airport environment.”

Knipp adds that plans are underway to double the number of Club Airport Lounges over the next three years, and without naming specifics, she says two are expected to open by the end of the year.

The Club at PHX is located near the higher “B” gates in Terminal 4.

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Tags: amenities, lounges, loyalty

Photo credit: The Club at PHX airport lounge at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. Airport Lounge Development

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