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Lonely Diamond Medallion seeks bored coach-class prole: Meet "Lounger," the latest depressing Tinder knock-off

Maybe Ashley Madison could merge with this "find a +1 for your airport lounge" app and revive its flagging brand


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Scott Timberg
September 4, 2015 8:13PM (UTC)

Ashley Madison has lately been through a show of post-apocalyptic bluster, crowing about the 87,596 women who had just joined the site despite a brutal hack, its CEO’s resignation and reports that many of its supposed women members were in fact fembots. But the infidelity website may have an innovative way to rebrand itself and get ahead of the next news cycle.

That is, it could merge with a bizarre-but-inevitable new app called Lounger, that’s being touted as a sort of Tinder-for-airports. The site does not exactly say, wink-wink, nudge-nudge, that it’s about facilitating quickie sex. But it doesn’t require a lavish imagination to see what the point of this thing is if that's not it.

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Why is Lounger inevitable? A huge number of flights are delayed every day, leaving lots of us with dead time and nervous energy. And since the security clampdowns after 9/11, the only people who are enjoying flying seem to be those with fancy platinum-style memberships that allow them not only to breeze through the security lines but to slip into fancy lounges to hang out and drink while hunched over laptops.

Why does the new app sound bizarre? Because with so much of the chatter around Lounger (including Lounger's Facebook page) as being a ticket to the fabled Mile High Club, its hard not to see that the ultimate consummation of your Lounger experience is likely to be a bumpy ride in an airplane bathroom. (Maybe that’s a turn-on for a lot of people.)

But the other weird element here is the fact that to work, Lounger has to make it possible for platinum types to bring the unwashed masses into their sleek, exclusive lounges before hooking up. It’s the latest odd turn in the “sharing economy.”

This comes from the site:

Sign up for free and meet travelers from around the world in the relaxed environment of airport lounges. Meet and mingle, upgrade your transit experience or make a kind gesture to a stranger by inviting them as your plus one.

Upproxx reports co-founder Fred Roeder spelling it out this way:

Most frequent flyers with lounge access can bring a companion to the lounge as well but merely make use of it in 1 out of 20 cases. Thus there’s a heavy underutilization of their companion tickets for lounge access. At the same time non-elite travelers (more than 95% of people at airports) never get to see what’s behind the millionaire doors of the Heathrows, JFKs, Hanedas, or Kingsfords of this world.

So Lounger is not just selling companionship and sex – things that capitalism has a long history of making money from. It’s selling the fantasy that those of us in the prole-or-middle-class might be invited into the world of luxury (and, presumably, sin) that these “elite” travelers enjoy. The mind reels at what the real exchange here is about.

Of course, there are a few options to restroom sex. The Upproxx story suggests capsule hotels, those horizontal morgue-like spaces that started in Japan and have spread out (in most cases, getting a bit roomier) to the U.S., England (the “Yotel”) and elsewhere.

Maybe these new sorts of airport “connections” will mostly give people a chance to pass the time, to gripe about how much they hate waiting for flights, or whatever, and not a plan for an airborne encounter.

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In any case: This touch of class (and airport elitism) may be just what Ashley Madison’s brand needs to restore its shimmer. You read it here first.

And imaginative app-makers should try to dream up a few new ideas: A Lounger for Black Friday lines, a Lounger for the DMV, and a Lounger for that dead hour when you get set times wrong and mull around in a club waiting for the band you came to see. Have some time to kill in a Greyhound station? At a crowded Whole Foods on the weekend? The possibilities are endless.


Scott Timberg

Scott Timberg is a former staff writer for Salon, focusing on culture. A longtime arts reporter in Los Angeles who has contributed to the New York Times, he runs the blog Culture Crash. He's the author of the book, "Culture Crash: The Killing of the Creative Class."

MORE FROM Scott Timberg

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