A closer look at the big differences between lounges in the region.
BY MARK CHESNUT
The basic mission of any airport VIP lounge is relatively simple: to provide an oasis of calm in the heart of a hectic terminal; a place where harried travelers can relax, work and await their next flight, far from the ever-crazier crowds at the gate. But the way that lounge operators approach their task is far from consistent, especially in Latin America. Amenities and ambiance vary from city to city, and even within a single airline’s network. Arrive at one airport and you might buy a day pass to a VIP airline club, even if you’re flying coach. Change planes and airlines in another, and you may only merit admission if you’re traveling in the very front of the plane. You could freshen up with a free shower in one lounge, while you won’t get much more than a biscuit and a soda pop in another.
“Overall, the lounges in Latin America are still not that great, when you compare them to the Asian or European Lounges,” says Herman Bern, Jr., president of Panama City-based Bern Hotels and Resorts, which owns a number of large hotel properties. “Many are modeled after the U.S. carrier lounges, and I find them very cold and uninviting. The lighting is always terrible and they feel more like an office than a lounge.”
The situation is especially worrisome in Brazil, according to ...