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

Dec 14, 2020

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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.

(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 photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy.

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