Touted as having "uncompromising comfort, unparalleled convenience and state-of-the-art business tools," The Club at Blue Grass opens today at Lexington's airport.
The new executive lounge -- located in Concourse B where the observation deck used to be -- is available to everyone but geared toward the business travelers that make up 65 percent of Blue Grass Airport's customer base.
The Club at Blue Grass amenities include: complimentary snacks and beverages; personalized assistance from airport staff; seating areas with flat-screen televisions; work stations with dataports for computers; complimentary high-speed wireless Internet access; conference rooms equipped with audio/visual equipment; a photocopier and fax machine; a smoking lounge; and current newspapers and periodicals.
"We're set up so we can pipe a Web broadcast into one or more of the televisions," said Mike Gobb, the airport's executive director. Such broadcasts might include the Keeneland horse sales or University of Kentucky football and basketball games that are not on network or cable television, he said.
"We've tried to provide a very comfortable, upscale atmosphere," Gobb said.
Sitting in the shadows of Delta Air Lines' second largest hub -- the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport -- and low-fare carrier Southwest Airlines, which operates out of Louisville International Airport, Blue Grass Airport has to try a little harder, Gobb said.
"We have to do things maybe a little better to compete," he said. "There are amenities here that you can't find in the other locations."
The lounge is expected to be a plus for business travelers in the area. With the new conference rooms, executives can fly into Lexington, meet with business contacts, and fly out again without having to leave the airport.
"We think it's a great idea. It makes a lot of sense. Quite frankly, it's probably going to meet a pretty strong need," said Bob Quick, president and chief executive officer of Commerce Lexington Inc., of the lounge.
"If you're an air traveler and you spend a lot of time in these airports, having an executive lounge is kind of critical."
But Jane Walker, president of Commonwealth Travel, isn't so sure the executive lounge is a good idea.
"It's like taking a step backwards in my mind. We used to have a lounge at the airport ... and no one used it," she said. She said Delta Air Lines also once had a club at Blue Grass Airport and it did not get much use, either.
Such clubs are better suited for "connecting" airports, such as those in Atlanta and Cincinnati, she said.
"I hope it goes well," she said. "I know they're trying to promote use of the airport."
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Non-stop flights between Blue Grass Airport and three Florida cities will be discontinued Oct. 1, apparently because there have not been enough passengers on those planes.
Bestselling author Rita Mae Brown is joining the festivities with a book signing of her new murder mystery novel, The Hunt Ball.
The airport also recently added a lot where drivers may wait in their vehicles until arriving passengers get to the terminal curb.