Airports: Here comes à la carte pricing

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Courtesy Relax Lounge/LAX

À la carte pricing is not just on the planes these days—it's at the airports, too.

LAX's international terminal has just opened a new "pay-to-use" public lounge prior to the security gates called reLAX, where anyone can pay $25 to spend three hours reLAXing in über-modern, white leather chairs surrounded by orchids and flat-screen TVs. The cost also covers all the snacks and beverages you want, plus wireless Internet, faxing, photocopying, and printing—making it especially appealing to business travelers not flying business class anymore (and therefore, not enjoying their airline's private lounge).

The lounge looks great (there's a whole photo album on the website), but I wonder whether it's worth the cost. The snacks are apparently pretty measly, according to the L.A. Times , and if you want a decent meal, you're going to have to pay for it. No alcohol is served, either. And Wi-Fi is available in the rest of the airport for only $9.95 per day.

The other thing that bugs me is that this is another example of how travel is becoming more segregated by class. For the people who can afford a little luxury—at the airport, on the plane—travel is becoming more comfortable, but for people who can't afford to pay (or don't want to), the travel experience is getting worse.

But maybe this is just the future of travel, and we all better get used to it.

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