What’s more important to you in a premium cabin airline lounge: a great buffet or a la carte dining?
In trying to be objective, I’ve put together three pros and three cons for buffets and the same for sit-down dining.
- More variety
- Speed (instant gratification)
- Chance to showcase quality
- Lower quality
- Temperature control
- Crowds/Waiting for refills
A La Carte Dining Pros
- Personalized Dishes
- Less Waste
- Higher Quality
A La Carte Dining Cons
- Wait time
- Less Variety
- Variable quality
I’ll stipulate that a nice buffet is perfectly sufficient. For example, I had breakfast in one of the Lufthansa First Lounges in Frankfurt last week. The spread was amazing:
This was more than enough. But the issue here is not about sufficiency, but about preference. I find myself rarely touching the buffet when in a Lufthansa First Class Lounge because I far prefer to sit and order food. It just makes the premium cabin experience more personalized.
And let’s be real: not all buffets are like Lufthansa’s. Take United’s new Polaris Lounges. The buffet is nice enough: the assortment of food available is more than enough for a meal. But the a la carte menu offers freshly-prepared choices that just strike me as far better than anything on the menu. I find this is almost always the case when both options are available, including with Garuda Indonesia, Malaysia Airlines, Singapore Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Qantas (Sydney and Los Angeles), Star Alliance LAX, American Flagship Dining, and British Airways. That’s just a small sampling.
Perhaps I do not give as much weight to time in the way most do. I can work from anywhere in the world as long as I have a stable phone and internet connection. When I have a long-haul flight that grants me lounge access to a nice lounge, I will make it a point to arrive early or schedule deliberately extended connections. Not only does that give me time to work, but it gives me time to fully enjoy all the amenities of the lounge.
For those who view a la carte dining as a gimmick, why? For those of you who would never schedule a longer connection than necessary, do you prefer buffets over a la carte dining?
I’m just a sucker for a la carte dining. Maybe I’ll get over it, but I think offering a quality meal on the ground makes the business or first class experience so much more premium.