Air travel can be stressful and tiring. It is a great bonus to have a quiet, relaxing lounge to escape to within a hectic airport. While airlines have their own lounges, which tend to be more luxurious than those provided by the airports themselves, there are still perks that passengers can benefit from.
Sometimes it is possible to get a free pass to an airport lounge or pay a nominal fee, whereas airlines offer access to their lounges for first and business class passengers. They are more luxurious, with spas, champagne and sometimes beds to give their premium passengers the best travel experience possible. Frequent flyers can benefit from access to some lounges as well, although each airport’s facilities differ, and some are much better than others.
If you are not eligible for free entry to an airport lounge, it is possible to buy a day pass to one. Try searching online for the best deals before you travel, as prices vary considerably. Check if you can get a free pass from a credit card or bank account. Some come with benefits that include free access to certain lounges while traveling. If you are a service veteran, it is also worth checking to see if you are eligible for free access.
20 20. Showers
Travelling can be a hot and sticky business, and the opportunity to take a shower is one that’s not to be missed. Long-haul flights or flights that cross time zones are exhausting and sometimes uncomfortable. It can be refreshing and revitalizing to luxuriate in warm jets of water before beginning the next phase of a journey.
Some airline lounges will provide showers to their clients. Each airport varies in terms of its facilities but an international airport such as London Heathrow or JFK have showers in their airside lounges, reminds Quora. In airports such as Paris Charles de Gaulle, it is possible to buy a day pass to the airport lounge to use the shower facilities, or you can take advantage of the public showers on the concourse.
19 19. Buses to Local Hotels
When we arrive in a strange destination, whether on a stopover or at our final stop, it is refreshing to know that someone is going to take the strain off getting us to our overnight stay. There are usually plenty of cabs or public buses and trains, but why not take advantage of the lounge’s offer to shuttle you straight to your destination while you relax and unwind.
Most airport lounges will offer you a complimentary bus service to your chosen hotel. However, bear in mind that some smaller or medium-sized airports only have lounges airside, so it is worth checking on your outward trip what facilities are available.
18 18. Wi-Fi
The Internet is a part of daily life and many people rely on it to do business and keep in touch with friends and family. Many airports offer complimentary Wifi to everyone within the airport, once passengers sign in through their connection.
However, screaming children, bustling passengers, and constant announcements can be irritating and distracting. If you want to sit in peace and quiet to go about your business, the lounge will give you the space you need to complete your business effectively before you continue your journey. For example, St. George’s airport, Antigua, lets passengers surf the net while enjoying an alcoholic drink and relax on a massage chair at the same time.
17 17. Children Play Areas
Traveling with children can be very wearing for tired parents. The chance to let them run free on a stopover or while waiting for a flight is very appealing. Some airports are very family friendly. Amsterdam airport offers a baby care area with cribs and quiet places to soothe your infant.
Calgary airport offers facilities for older children, including a Space Port, which has a range of interactive activities that can keep young ones entertained and let off steam while they wait for their flights. Similarly, according to Sleeping in Airports, Chicago airport has a museum specifically focused on children. Children can operate a toy helicopter, plane, and control tower, and this facility has been named best children’s airport play space by Nickelodeon.
16 16. Business Centers
Waiting for a flight can be a time-consuming business for those who have a hectic work life. Some resent wasting the time at airports when they could be carrying out the next deal or keeping in touch with their clients or listening in on a meeting in their office.
Airport lounges cater to this need and many airports and lounges offer conference or business centers or have partnerships with on-site hotels where business centers are located. Toronto airport, for example, has a dedicated business center in Terminal 2. Zurich airport has a business center where colleagues can enjoy an alcoholic drink and a snack while they work.
15 15. Prayer Rooms
For those who need to pray regularly or even those who are after divine intervention because of fears about flying, a prayer room is an oasis at an airport. Multi-faith prayer rooms are commonplace at airports, and they should be clearly signposted in each terminal.
In terminals at Abu Dhabi airport, there are separate prayer rooms for men and women. At Hong Kong airport the multi-denominational prayer room also has foot washing services and a directional sign. Some airports, such as Frankfurt in Germany, there are regular prayer meetings as well. Vienna airport has a pastoral care office where personal advice and counsel can be received.
14 14. Lounge Access
Access to airport lounges is easier than you might think. There are many ways to get free access to airport lounges, and sometimes to the more luxurious airline lounges as well. There are companies that run airport lounges across the world, and passes can be bought online to gain cheaper access to these facilities. Day passes are available but can be a more expensive way to gain entry.
If you are celebrating a special event during your trip, it is worth having a polite word in the ear of the doorman. Sometimes, they will allow access to smartly dressed, respectful travelers for free.
13 13. Napping Pods
There has been a great deal of research and innovation into the benefits of providing sleeping facilities at airports, to refresh and revitalize tired travelers. It can be hard to sleep on planes, and during a stopover or in a different time zone, exhaustion can easily overwhelm us.
For instance, Munich airport in Germany offers napping pods, which are available to rent 24 hours a day. These pods offer a bed with fresh linen, and a private workspace. There is also a multimedia touch screen and you can recharge electrical items, check the latest flight information and even set an alarm clock to make sure you don’t miss your flight.
12 12. Food and Drink
Airports are full of outlets offering meals and snacks to hungry passengers. However, it can be expensive to eat at these restaurants, not to mention the queues and inadequate seating. By purchasing a pass to a lounge, or taking advantage of free access to a lounge, if you are eligible, you can circumnavigate these charges and eat in peace.
At the upper end of the scale, the Virgin Atlantic lounge at JFK offers a brasserie where you can sit and eat, or have the food brought to you in your comfort. There is also a selection of tapas, salads and a children’s menu. All are offered with complimentary wines and soft drinks.
11 11. Spas
One of the benefits of first-class travel business lounges is the selection of spa facilities on offer. For example, the Qantas lounge in Sydney airport houses the Aurora Spa, where travelers can have hand and foot therapies, massage or a facial.
If you are traveling from Hong Kong you can visit the Cathay Pacific lounge where there are private cabanas that have complimentary toiletries, fluffy bathrobes, and a full-sized bathtub and rain shower. If these facilities seem to be beyond your budget, but you have a gold credit card, research the benefits. Sometimes they offer entry to airport lounges as part of your membership.
10 10. Newspapers and Magazines
On the way to board a plane, there is often a small selection of newspapers and magazines that are complementary to travelers. However, if you want a larger selection, airport lounges have a better range, offer you somewhere to sit and read and let you leaf through the latest editions at no extra cost.
For instance, if you happen to be traveling from Indira Gandhi airport in India, you can relax in the lounge and choose from a wide selection of complimentary magazines and newspapers while enjoying a hot meal. At the lounge and spa at London Heathrow airport, you can leaf through a glossy magazine or watch a movie in the cinema.
9 9. Recharging Devices
Tablets, laptops, mobile phones, all these devices are must-haves for most travelers today. If you have children traveling with you, the number of chargeable devices multiplies. Chances are that even if the airport offers the facility to recharge your device, you can’t find the right lead or a free plug to charge the gadgets you have.
If you have taken advantage of an airport lounge, you will have access to plenty of power points and recharging stations. You can leave your device charging while you relax with something to eat or a spot of TV. There will be no frantic waiting by the charging terminal while the children run around or get frustrated. The lounge will give you peace and space to charge in peace.
8 8. Skating Rink and DJ Mixing Desk
So, these might not seem to be vital elements of an airport lounge, but what fun could be had! The Virgin Atlantic’s Club lounge at London Heathrow airport has a DJ mixing studio to help you while the time away.
Alternatively, if you fancy a bit of activity before sitting on a long flight, head to Denver International Airport, where you can enjoy some skating while your luggage is safely stored away. Munich airport has gone one step further and offers a full Christmas market during the winter months, which features a skating rink. Seoul’s Incheon airport also has a skating rink for those who fancy getting their skates on at the airport.
7 7. Smoking Area
Travelling can be a stressful time, and smokers often feel the need for a cigarette while waiting for a flight or between flights. As many airports force smokers to go outside to smoke, once you have gone through security it can seem like an interminable wait until you can light up again.
However, there are smoking facilities in lounges and smoking lounges in some airports. For example, Zurich airport has 22 smoking lounges and was the first airport in Europe to offer a smoking lounge. In the US, Atlanta and Denver's airports have designated smoking lounges, and Tampa International Airport offers you the chance to smoke in the fresh air on one of their terraces.
6 6. Cinema Rooms
If you have a long wait between flights or are waiting for a delayed flight, the time can go by very slowly. What better way to while away the time than by watching a movie? If you happen to find yourself at Changi airport in Singapore, you can do just that in their dedicated movie theater.
This is one of the few airports that offers a free, open to all, cinema experience. Portland, Oregon, has jumped on this bandwagon too and offers passengers the chance to watch an hour-long film made by local filmmakers as they wait for their flight.
5 5. Extra Comfort if the Flight is Delayed
If you are facing a long wait for a flight because of delays, you may wish to use the time to rest, sleep or simply escape the boredom and lines for airport food. If you book into a lounge you will have the chance to eat or just sit in a comfortable seat, or perhaps lie down and take a nap.
It is more refreshing to relax in the peace and quiet of a lounge rather than curl up on an uncomfortable seat with other passengers. Even if you don’t qualify for free access to a lounge, it can be worth paying for entry to give yourself a much-needed haven during a frustrating wait.
4 4. Peace and Quiet!
Airports are noisy. They are full of the sights, smells, and noises of a rushing, bustling community. Sometimes the noise can be overwhelming, especially to young children, not to mention the fear of them running off and facing an agonizing half hour trying to find them.
A lounge is a tranquil oasis in the maelstrom of airport chaos. The lounges offer comfortable seating, subdued lighting and the chance to have a coffee and give the children a chance to play or rest in a safe environment. Dads can sometimes enjoy a game of pool or billiards at some airports!
3 3. Gardens
If you are feeling claustrophobic from the confines of the air conditioning in the terminal, some airports offer gardens to get some fresh air. If you are traveling from Singapore, Changi airport offers a number of gardens for passengers to enjoy. There is a rooftop cactus garden where you can enjoy a drink in the sun. Otherwise, you can visit the orchid garden and enjoy the company of over 700 varieties.
If you prefer an indoor garden, head to Seoul Incheon airport, where they have seven indoor and outdoor gardens, and even an 18-hole putting golf course and 330-yard driving range!
2 2. Easy Access to Staff
It can be frustrating to try and find the right member of staff in an airport to answer your query. If you have booked into a lounge, you will have staff on hand to answer your questions without waiting or searching. It is worth mentioning to the staff at the door if you are a service veteran, some lounges allow them in for free.
Staff can give you flight information and even book transfers or give you information about your destination at the click of a button. Some will even offer fast track boarding to your flight, and if you have ended up in a super VIP lounge, you might prefer to take a limo to the plane!
1 1. Ease of Viewing Flight Information Screens
Obviously, the priority during a wait at an airport is to ensure that you catch your plane on time! While waiting in the main airport concourse, the seats in front of the monitors are often taken up and impossible to gain access to, and it is frustrating to make frantic dashes to check on progress.
In a lounge, there are plenty of monitors available within easy view. Some lounges also offer a viewing platform, so you can watch the planes land and take off as you wait. Staff in the lounges will also provide you with up to date information if there are any delays or amendments.