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Inside airport lounge to-go boxes: A 2020 pandemic special

Dec. 14, 2020
4 min read
Inside airport lounge to-go boxes: A 2020 pandemic special
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COVID-19 has led to some notable shifts when it comes to travel-related amenities.

During a handful of budget hotel stays on a recent road trip, I encountered a pandemic-fueled pivot from a vast lobby buffet to brown paper bags filled with items so sugary, even the most relaxed of public school districts would balk.

Airport lounge visitors have been a bit more fortunate, however — while to-go meals have also become the norm at a handful of popular lounges, the options are often a step up from what I was provided at roadside hotels.

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(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

Naturally, when it comes to "to-go" treats, the American Express Centurion Lounge takes the cake (note: cake reference for cliche purposes only).

Amex's new Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) location has been serving takeaway boxes since it first opened, enabling compliance with the local government's evolving restrictions.

Amex customers can grab a take-away bag, including a choice of wrap, potato chips and/or a breakfast bar. (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

Amex is also offering to-go boxes at its Philadelphia (PHL) and Seattle (SEA) locations.

LAX options include:

  • Lavash Wrap (Roasted Maitake Mushroom, Avocado, Arugula, Tarragon Aioli)
  • Lavash Wrap (Pollo alla Diavola, Avocado, Arugula, Tarragon Aioli)
  • House Made Potato Chips (Kennebec Potatoes, Onion Dip)
  • Breakfast Bar (Shortbread Cookie, Orange Marmalade, Streusel)

Breakfast Philadelphia to-go boxes include:

  • Seasonal Fruit Salad
  • Greek Yogurt Parfait (Greek Yogurt, Fresh Berries, Housemade Granola)
  • Boreka of The Day (Seasonally Inspired Puff Pastry)
  • Seasonal Hand Fruit

While PHL lunch/dinner guests can choose from:

  • Merguez Shwarma (Housemade Merguez, Garlic Tehina, Tomato, Cucumber)
  • Eggplant Shwarma (Grilled Eggplant, Garlic Tehina, Tomato, Cucumber)
  • Babaganoush (Eggplant, Tehina, Crudite)
  • Chopped Merguez Salad (Baby Greens, Seasonal Vegetable, Housemade Merguez, Herb Vinaigrette)
  • Dessert (Chocolate Chip Cookie, Seasonal Hand Fruit)

Meanwhile, at SEA, here's what you'll get at breakfast:

  • Seasonal Mixed Fruit Bowls (Ellenos, Non-Fat Greek Yogurt Parfait)
  • Chia Coconut Oatmeal Bowl
  • Hard Boiled Egg
  • Breakfast Pastry
  • Select Beverage (Orange Juice, Fruit Smoothie du jour)

Or lunch/dinner:

  • Greek Chicken Wrap
  • Oriental Soba Salad (Chicken, Orange Sesame Vinaigrette)
  • Vegetarian (Winter Fennel and Celery Salad, Lemon Herb Vinaigrette)
  • Mixed Green Salad (Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing)
  • Premium Tortilla Chips
  • Dessert (Seasonal Select, Hand Fruit)
  • Beverage (Agua Fresca, Unsweetened Iced Tea, Cold Brew Coffee, Regular and Decaf Coffee, Hot Tea)

LAX has also given airlines an opportunity to dream up new packaged-meal offerings, as I encountered during my recent visit to the airport's United Club.

United's offering to-go snacks at LAX. (Photo by Zach Honig/The Points Guy)

Guests aren't permitted to remove their masks to eat or drink in the lounge, but can enjoy their snacks on the airline's terrace, as space permits.

TPG's Chris Dong witnessed a similar arrangement at the Admirals Club in New York, with American Airlines insisting that visitors enjoy their snacks outside of the lounge as well.

American Airlines is offering to-go boxes with a granola bar, fruit snacks, crackers, cheese spread and almonds. (Photo by Chris Dong/The Points Guy)

It can be exciting to snag some treats "for the road," but I definitely miss the diverse array of airport lounge food, from Lufthansa's outstanding schnitzel to the self-serve noodle bar at the Star Alliance Lounge at LAX.

Pre-pandemic LAX offerings included a self-serve noodle bar at the Star Alliance Lounge. Photo by Ravi Ghelani for The Points Guy.

As much as we all miss our beloved travel perks, with more great vaccine news this week, we hopefully won't have to wait too much longer for many to return.

Featured image by (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

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  • For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
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  • Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
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TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
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  • Intro Offer
    For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

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  • Annual Fee

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  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

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Why We Chose It

The Citi Premier’s 3 points per dollar spent across a wide range of popular categories is one of the more lucrative offerings in the world of points and miles. The Citi Premier comes with a $95 annual fee and is currently offering a solid sign up bonus of 80,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months. It also has some valuable transfer partners to make the most of your rewards. Add in access to Citi Entertainment plus a $100 hotel credit for any single-stay hotel booking that exceeds $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through the Citi travel website, there are few reasons why the Citi Premier should not be in every traveler’s wallet.

Pros

  • Earns 3x points on restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, air travel and hotels.
  • $100 annual hotel savings benefit (on single hotel stay bookings of $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through thankyou.com)
  • Points transfer to 16 airline programs, from JetBlue to Virgin Atlantic.
  • World Elite Mastercard benefits, extended warranty, damage and theft protection.

Cons

  • $95 annual fee
  • Lacks travel protections that other travel rewards cards come with
  • For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
  • 80,000 Points are redeemable for $800 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com
  • No expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases