If you view an airport lounge restroom as a place to shield yourself from unkempt public bathrooms strewn with toilet paper on the floor, steel yourself for the horror: There is toilet paper on the floor of posh airport lounge restrooms. So reports the Wall Street Journal in a dive into the changing face of these lounges, which were once accessible only to business travelers and high rollers. What happened? Rewards credit cards. Access to these lounges is increasingly offered as a perk: The toilet paper anecdote came via a 30-year-old with a Sapphire Reserve credit card who discovered there weren't even seats available in the lounge he entered at Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson airport.
The Journal specifically calls out the Sapphire Reserve card, saying that some mark its 2016 introduction as when things really began to go downhill, as it gives card holders (who pay a $450 annual fee) access to roughly 60 airport lounges in the US and far more than that around the globe. It's spurred a lack of seats and, in more extreme cases, a wait: One woman tells the paper that during a layover at the Dallas Fort Worth International Airport she was told she could be admitted to the lounge in 45 minutes. And once you're there, what was once entree-like food offerings has now diminished to "finger foods" and picked-over buffets, with fliers double-fisting the free drinks. Read the Journal story, which is replete with colorful complaints about lounge patrons acting like "farm animals," here.