The Interview: Anthony Tangorra of Airspace Lounge

New facility at BWI aims to 'redefine' airport experience

  • Anthony Tangorra is CEO and president of Airspace. His company is installing a lounge at BWI in Concourse D. He is standing in the lounge, which is undergoing renovation and construction.
Anthony Tangorra is CEO and president of Airspace. His company… (Baltimore Sun photo by Barbara…)
April 08, 2011|By Nancy Jones-Bonbrest, Special to The Sun

Promising to redefine the airport experience for the flying public, Airspace Lounge is opening its doors in May at Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport.

Located at BWI's Concourse D, Airspace Lounge will provide customers a place to relax and work near their gate. For a day pass starting at $17.50 and topping out at $40 — the price rises as the lounge fills up — the facility will offer passengers with tickets on any airline the opportunity to enjoy a comfortable facility with complimentary food, coffee, soft drinks, wireless Internet, computers and access to a cash bar.

Baltimore-based Airspace Lounge is led by Anthony Tangorra, a former airline transportation consultant who began his career at Continental Airlines. He plans to expand the lounge concept at airports nationwide and overseas.

Tangorra recently sat down with The Baltimore Sun to discuss the project and why he expects it to change the airport experience for travelers.

Why do you think there's a market for Airspace Lounge?

Lounges have been in existence since 1939. Over the last many decades, airlines have built lounge networks that have charged customers many hundreds of dollars per year for access. ... If you ask [experts], they'll say lounge demand in sheer volume is higher than ever. So the demand is high and it's well established. [What's] interesting is that the airlines that run these lounges — for a variety of reasons, mostly overall cost-cutting measures — have closed lounges in their spokes, or smaller markets.

In airports like BWI … the US Airways market share has shrunk over the years, and that could justify them closing their lounge, which only served its customers. The concourse they operate on, Concourse D here at BWI, has more passengers … than ever in its history, about 6 million per year. Our lounge, which is [in the vacated space of a former US Airways lounge] will serve not just US Airways customers but will serve all 6 million passengers on the concourse.

Why BWI?

BWI is an excellent place to start for Airspace Lounge for a number of reasons. First, it's helpful there used to be a lounge here we can renovate. Renovating a lounge presents a few advantages, from a time-to-market and capital standpoint. In addition, there are 6 million passengers per year through this concourse, with no other lounge option. That's also very helpful. And finally the diversity of the customers here on Concourse D at BWI works in our favor. There are legacy airlines like United, Continental and US Airways, but also a large, low-cost airline like AirTran occupies this concourse. … That sort of plays exactly into the Airspace model. It doesn't matter what airline you fly, what class of service, any airlines that come into this concourse … their customers will be welcome at Airspace.

Was there an experience that helped [generate] this idea?

I've always had a love for airports and airlines since I was young. That's what ultimately drove me into this business. But I also am a very frequent business traveler. So, yes, I've experienced a number of lounges, about 150 of them around the world, and have seen many different products. What I noticed in the United States is … a number of different aspects that weren't particularly customer-centric. We need to provide a product that inspires a customer to come in and use our lounge every time they come through BWI Concourse D.

The price for a day pass starts at $17.50.

That grants the customer access to the lounge, which is primarily what lounge customers look for — the quality of separation in the lounge versus what they'd experience if they just sat in the concourse. To that end, to fulfill the vision of Airspace Lounge, we've engaged two architectural and design firms. One, Softroom of London, designed Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse in Heathrow [airport], often considered the best lounge in the world. We've also engaged Bennett Design Group of Houston, Texas, [which] designed virtually all of Continental Airlines' Presidents Clubs in existence today.

It's a fairly inclusive product. We like to think, at that price point, given the product that we're offering, that we're not only a unique customer-value proposition versus the other choices at the airport today but a superior customer-value proposition.

Airspace has said it would redefine the airport experience. What do you mean by redefine?

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