Last month, American Express announced that it would be closing its three lounges in Austin at the end of December. The news caused a stir among local travelers and business people who were planning to use them for their company holiday parties. Now they have been given an option: pay $200 per person to stay somewhere else or find another venue outside of the airport.
The “american express global lounge collection” is now off the table. The Austin American Express Lounge was a part of the “american express global lounge collection.” The company has decided to close down the lounge, as it didn’t fit into their new vision for lounges.
The American Express Lounge in Austin is no longer an option.
on October 22, 2021 by Gary Leff
A new club for American Express Platinum cardholders was slated to open at the Austin airport. It began as an Escape lounge that was going to be co-branded with American Express, and now the partnership between the two companies has been established (‘Centurion Studio’).
The airport sought proposals for the operation of a new independent lounge and chose MAG (“Manchester Airport Group”) USA, which operates Escape lounges. The City Council, on the other hand, backed down in a fight over minority contracting regulations.
The lounge was planned to be the following:
- Approximate area: 8000 sq. ft.
- Across from gate 16, on the mezzanine level of the main terminal, six gates distant from the American and United clubs and firmly in Southwest Airlines territory.
- The meal is curated by a local Austin chef.
- “With a ‘Zoning Concept’ concept, [e]ach zone will be named after a prominent Austin area and will have Austin influenced design, e.g. Downtown District, South Congress Café, Rainey Street,” according to the design.
The award of lounge space to MAG was scheduled to be formally approved by the City Council in January 2020, but it was postponed after Airport Dimensions, which operates the lower-quality ‘The Club’ lounges, filed a protest, claiming that the city should accept lower rent from them because they are better positioned to meet government Airport Concession Disadvantaged Business Enterprise standards.
- The Airport Concession Disadvantaged Business Enterprise objective for the Austin airport is 11.06 percent. Bids are graded on whether or not they reach the target, not on how much they exceed it.
- The MAG deal achieved a 13 percent ACDBE by handing over the lounge’s operations (but not ownership) to “D&B Mitchell Group, a Dallas-based, Black-owned firm,” which would deduct a portion of income. In addition, MAG teamed with Mozart’s Coffee, a minority-owned business in the area.
- Airport Dimensions, which came in second and manages The Club lounges, had given a 20% ownership interest to a minority-owned company in the area.
- Airport Dimensions also claimed to be headquartered in Texas, but MAG claims to be based in the United Kingdom. Priority Pass is owned by the Collinson Group, which owns Airport Dimensions. In any instance, under federal standards, locally-owned is an unlawful decision-making criterion.
There were additional offers from Plaza Premium (with whom Capital One is working on its lounges) and Turkey’s TAV Operations Services, which manages Prime Class lounges, in addition to MAG and Airport Dimensions. The MAG offer promised the airport almost twice as much income as the second-placed Airport Dimensions bid.
Scoring Sheet for Airport Lounge Concession Bids
“To remove the airport lounge item and have it published at a later meeting with fresh language after they have had more time to learn about the problems at hand,” the City Council chose not to act on the award.
So, what happened after that? The outbreak of the pandemic. And then it was all put on hold. In the interim, the only lounges at Austin International Airport are those operated by Delta, United, and American Carriers, all of which are now restricted to customers traveling those airlines on the day of departure. There are no independent lounges in Austin, and the airport’s main airline, Southwest, does not have any.
And that’s how it’ll remain for the foreseeable future. The contract to develop a new lounge “was canceled and is not expected to be let again at this time,” according to airport spokesman Mandy McClendon.
More From the Wing’s Perspective
The “escape lounge austin airport” is a new way to get access to the Austin American Express Lounge. The lounge has been taken off the table due to changes in Austin Airport’s security protocol.
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