Airport lounges, once places to escape from as fast as possible, are now an important part of today’s travel experience. Airlines are stepping up to the challenge by designing comfortable, convenient, sometimes even stunning airport lounges to cater to the business traveler.
If you travel often and have membership in a frequent flyer club, you may already enjoy access to many of the exclusive lounges operated by airlines and their alliance members. But you don’t need to be a frequent flyer to take advantage of these perks.
Some airlines allow you to purchase your way into the “clubs” that cater to business travelers. For example, you can buy an annual or in some cases a lifetime membership. With this membership, you don’t have to be traveling on a business or executive fare to gain entry to the lounges. There are certain entry rules and rules of conduct and dress (respectable) to abide by, depending on the airline. Most of these clubs also offer a one-time visit pass.
Some of the airlines also have club agreements with credit card companies affiliated with their frequent flyer programs.
If you travel on several different airlines on a regular basis, it might make sense to purchase a pass from an independent program such as Priority Pass, which gives you entry into 600 airport lounges regardless of who you’re flying with, what class you are traveling, or whether you belong to an airline lounge program. You can choose among several membership options. Clients of UNIGLOBE Travel qualify for discounted Priority Pass memberships and can register online at www.prioritypass.com/tp/uniglobe. Members receive a monthly e-zine informing them of any lounge additions or changes plus a handy paperback directory of participating airport lounges around the world, also available in downloadable form.
There are some lounges that do not require any club membership at all and are available to any traveler for a fee.
If you are traveling on a carrier which is a member of one of the three major airline alliances (SkyTeam, OneWorld, Star Alliance), you can usually access lounges operated by those members, too.
In general, customers are admitted if they hold a same-day ticket on the departing airline, or other airlines allied with that carrier. Most lounges are located beyond security in the gate area.
Some of the features customers can expect in these lounges include personalized travel assistance, complimentary soft drinks, juices, coffee, tea, cappuccino, pastries and other snacks. Alcoholic beverages are complimentary at some, or a small fee at others. Most lounges offer newspapers, periodicals and magazines. Other amenities you may find, some of which are free and some are available for a nominal fee, are high-speed WiFi wireless internet service, fax, photocopy and laser printing services, free local calls, and data jacks for laptops. Most also offer conference rooms for in-transit business meetings.
Club members may also enjoy priority check-in services and frequent traveler security lines.
Overseas international lounges are some of the most luxurious, offering restaurants, spa facilities, even private cabanas with showers and a bed. North American lounges are somewhat more functional and less high-end, but there are still many excellent ones. All of them are beautifully designed rooms many with scenic, sound-proofed views of the terminals or runways and full meal service and cater to business travelers who either need to get serious work done, or need to get some serious rest.
Before you depart, inquire at your departing airline to find out what kind of amenities you can enjoy at club lounges. To read independent and consumer reviews of lounges, airlines, and airports, check out the Skytrax web site.
|World’s Best First Class Lounges*||World’s Best Business Class Lounges*|
|1. Thai Airways
(Bangkok International Airport)2. Qatar Airways
(Doha International Airport)
5. British Airways
7. Malaysia Airlines
9. Asiana Airlines
|1. Virgin Atlantic
(London Heathrow International Airport)2. Qatar Airways
(Doha International Airport)
3. British Airways
5. Etihad Airways
7. Qantas Airways
9. Malaysia Airlines