The first VIP lounge was the Admirals Club at LaGuardia Airport in New York City. It was originally a press lounge that Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia used during the World's Fair. American Airlines, which was then the largest tenant at LGA, wangled a deal to buy the facility and convert it into a bar and lounge for their special customers—basically, their VIP's. The next club was opened at Washington National Airport as a place for VIP's to store their own liquor (Virginia was a dry state at the time).

Other airlines followed suit and opened their own lounges, but the Admirals Club again set a precedent in the 1970's. Up to that point, the major VIP lounges had been on an invitation-only basis. One passenger sued American Airlines, calling the practice discriminatory: the courts agreed, and forced the lounges to open up their membership to anyone willing to pay dues.

In the last decade, lounges for first class international passengers have become increasingly popular. British Airways was the first airline to offer this service, constructing special clubs in London and New York for Concorde passengers, and elsewhere for its first class passengers. Now most of the major airlines offer lounges for premium international passengers, and the members of each major airline alliance honor each other's lounge memberships as well.

Major airline lounges today include:


Aer Lingus - Gold Circle Club
American Airlines - Admirals Club, Flagship Lounge
British Airways - Terraces, Executive Club
Cathay Pacific - The Wing
Finnair - Silver Wings Lounge
Iberia - Euro Lounge
LanChile - LanChile Lounge
Qantas - Qantas Club International

Star Alliance

Air Canada - Maple Leaf Lounge
Air New Zealand - Koru Club
All Nippon Airways - signet, Club ANA
bmi british midland - Diamond Club
SAS Scandinavian Airlines - Scandinavian Lounge
Singapore Airlines - Silver Kris Lounge
Thai International - Royal Orchid Lounge
United Airlines - Red Carpet Club


Aeromexico - Salon Premier
Air France - Salon Lounge
Alitalia - Freccia Alata, Giotto, Amica, Club Ulisse, Borromini Lounge, Leonardo da Vinci Lounge
CSA Czech Airlines - ABC Lounge
Delta Air Lines - Crown Room, Business Elite Lounge

Northwest Airlines - WorldClubs, Presidents Club

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