Sunday, March 14, 2010

President’s Club Lounges SEA and EWR

During my overnight mini-mileage run between SEA and EWR I was able to take in the President’s Club lounges offered by Continental in both cities.  Being an advocate of Air Canada’s Maple Leaf Lounges (free wifi, free booze, free snacks) and a hater of United’s Red Carpet Clubs, I wanted to see how the President’s Club stacked up.


This is the first lounge I’ve been to that requires you to buzz a doorbell to gain access.  As you’d hope, the lounge is located directly between gates B9 and B11 which seem to be used solely by Continental.  Being half asleep I missed the sign saying this and pulled on the handle a few times as my brain tried to process what was happening.  Once I had the door figured out, I was met by the lounge ladies with a smile. 

I figured that my *Gold status through Air Canada combined with Continental being new to the Star Alliance would cause some questions and/or problems.  Instead the lounge lady took my card and boarding pass and start to talk to herself under her breath.  As I found out a week later when using this lounge for an Air Canada flight SEA-YVR, Continental has provided these ladies with a scripted checklist to determine access for Star Alliance status members.  When I inquired to the difficulty of learning the new rules, the ladies responded that it wasn’t all that difficult thanks to the checklist.

The lounge itself is small and cosy, but you don’t feel cramped at all.  The leather chairs (only about 15 of them) are comfortable and to Continental’s credit, there were power bars hidden under them that were easily retrieved for powering laptops or charging phones.

Internet access was as simple as picking the appropriate open wireless network and you could immediately start browsing.  I still get free wifi in the Maple Leaf Lounges, but I have to enter name and flight info to be able to browse.

Food was limited to chips, cookies and fruit.  Drinks weren’t provided in a self serve manner (other than water and coffee) which meant I had to go to the bartender for an OJ and a tomato juice.  Booze was free, but I was far too hung over to take advantage of this.

My first use of this lounge impressed me enough that I used it on my Air Canada flight the following week.  Air Canada leaves from the North Satellite terminal which is served by a RCC known not-so-affectionately as “the bunker”.  On this use I was able to guest in another person with no hassle, but we had to leave early to make the 15 minute walk/train ride to the North Satellite.

Overall rating for the SEA President’s Club: 4/5


After my redeye from SEA to EWR, and during my subsequent 2.5 hr turnaround to return to SEA I spent some time at the President’s Club in Terminal C3.  My primary goal at this lounge was to get in, have some OJ and yoghurt, and to get a shower. 

Getting into the lounge was easy.  No questions about anything and, as far as I could tell, no reliance on an admission script.  I’m guessing that this lounge sees more people flying on different Star Alliance airline status’s that they’ve learned quicker.

This lounge is huge.  I don’t think I ever saw all of it while I was there.  “Comfy chair” seating was the standard 2x2 facing together pattern.  The difference was that the table that was in the middle has power plugs built right into it.  This is an awesome idea as it saved me hunting high and low through the lounge for the always elusive empty chair near a wall plug.

As I entered I enquired about using a shower, but all were busy so I was told to return in 30 minutes.  After getting some phone recharging time, OJ and a danish, I returned to get a shower room.  The ladies running the showers weren’t overly friendly but they performed the jobs I needed from them.  The shower room was large, clean and definitely ready for use.  While nothing special, the room had all the things that I needed.  I took my time (30+ minutes) since they never mentioned a duration of use to me.  I left refreshed and feeling human again.

I didn’t get a lot of time in the EWR President’s Club lounge, but I’d rate it a solid 4/5.

A little mileage run

In February I had a night to spare while in Seattle and with nothing to do I was looking for options.  When planning my move from one hotel to another on this night, I happened to do a quick search for flights.  It turns out that there was a SEA->EWR redeye and morning return that could be purchased for less than the night at the hotel.

The economics were simple.  Hotel + Food + Drinks > Roundtrip Airfare.

It was with this that I went on my first mileage run.  Usually mileage runners will look at the cents/mile that the trip costs and try hard to get below 3 or 4 cents per mile.  In my case, the difference in probably costs of staying in Seattle vs. flying actually had me saving money, thus a negative cents per mile factor.

On top of the savings, I also was going to get my first look at Continental’s product.  Now that they’re flying out of YEG I figured that this would be a good experience to base future flight decisions on.

The only catch was that I was booked in Y (Economy) and had no chance of an upgrade.  As the date neared, both Continental’s website and the KVS Tool showed that both flights were packed.  I braced myself for a transcon flight crammed into cattle class.

On the SEA-EWR segment I pulled the lucky straw and had (as far as I could tell) the only empty seat on the plane next to me.  A little more room to stretch out in made sleeping on this redeye much more bearable.  The EWR-SEA segment again graced me with good luck as I had one of three empty seats next to me again.

All in all, a good way to kill 13ish hours and save a little bit of money.  Oh, and also collect a bunch of mileage too.