Arriving in new or even familiar destinations is exciting! That is, of course, if the actual traveling part goes smoothly. By the time you stand in long lines, navigate crowded terminals and wait for hours in an uncomfortable waiting area, the excitement will have tampered significantly.
The good news is that there is a respite from all the crowds and chaos, right inside the terminal. Airport lounges! These luxurious lounges help alleviate the small inconveniences travelers experience while navigating an airport.
In this article, we'll share more about what you can expect when you enter an airport lounge and five compelling benefits you'll find inside them.
What are lounges and how do they work?
Lounges are separate areas inside the airport that are only accessible to those with certain credentials and their guests. They include amenities and comforts that you won't find in the regular terminal.
Most airport lounges are based on a certain type of affiliation. Here are the main ones you'll see:
Credit card affiliation
Several premium credit cards come with airport lounge access. Through these cards, you'll receive complimentary Priority Pass™ Select membership after enrolling and completing a one-time activation. Membership gives you access to over 1,300 lounges in more than 500 cities worldwide. Keep in mind these credit cards come with an annual fee.
Some airlines have their own lounges that travelers can use if they're a part of that airline's loyalty program. If you have a preferred airline that you use all the time, this type of lounge may be the optimal choice.
Some lounges are part of a global alliance that includes major airlines. They have their own small network of alliance-branded lounges, such as Star Alliance Lounges.
This is a network of independently owned airport lounges around the world. This includes networks such as Priority Pass®, which offers access to any of their globally located lounges once you purchase a membership.
Why you might use an airport lounge
Not only are airport lounges a respite from the hustle and bustle of airport terminals, but guests get to enjoy a long list of amenities. From free snacks to spacious seating.
Here are 5 key benefits of airport lounges:
1) Airport lounges can be relaxing
Lounges often offer a quiet space to escape the hectic environment of the rest of the airport. You'll find comfortable, spacious seating and less crowded restrooms. Relax while you recharge your devices at your very own charging station. Free, fast Wi-Fi makes it easy to get work done or enjoy streaming a show or movie. Some lounges even have showers or other luxury services such as spa treatments. Who knows, you may even secretly wish for a delayed flight!
2) Airport lounges usually can be family friendly
We all know that traveling with kids takes a lot of effort, planning and entertaining. Airports might feel overwhelming to those with little legs and much-needed nap schedules.
Many airport lounges are family-friendly and offer an array of helpful amenities the whole family can enjoy. Some may even allow kids under a certain age in for free. Once inside, you'll find a calmer space for kids to get some quiet time, catch a nap or watch the planes take off.
Some lounges have "family rooms" which cater specifically to families with kids. This could include kid-friendly food and snacks, as well as toys and books.
3) Airport lounges generally have complimentary food and drinks
Some of the most popular amenities in any airport lounge are the complimentary self-serve meals, snacks and drinks (usually including alcohol). This can be where you get your money's worth in membership, as food and drink prices in the rest of the airport tend to be quite pricey. It may even off-set the price of a one-day pass!
Either way, don't get on your flight hungry. Enjoy a meal in the lounge ahead of time.
4) Airport lounges can be great places to get work done
If you need to get some work done before or after a flight, lounges offer comfortable workstations, free Wi-Fi, charging portals and some even have printers or other business equipment.
The usually quiet lounges offer a more ideal space to take a call or a Zoom meeting, and with plenty of room to spread out, you're sure to find a place to be productive.
5) Locations all over the world
Most major airports throughout the world have not just one, but multiple kinds of lounges. These include airline-specific loyalty lounges, as well as other network affiliated ones. Before you head to the airport, check out the airport's website to see what lounges are there.
Not all lounges are created equal. They can vary greatly in size, amenities and features. For example, the Emirates First Class Lounge at Dubai International Airport offers guests a wine cellar and cigar lounge – but you'll need to have an Emirates Skywards Platinum Elite status to get in. In Chicago's O'Hare International Airport, you'll find United Airline's Polaris lounge. This lounge features a light installation in the ceiling by artist Wolfgang Buttress, depicting Chicago's night sky. To access this one, you must be flying United Polaris, or business or first-class internationally via a Star Alliance member airline.
It's important to know that lounge access can be determined by your airline ticket class (i.e. business or first class), your membership level within a loyalty program, or even the kind of credit card you have. Certain travel credit cards come with complimentary access to certain airport lounges. In other cases, you may be able to purchase access directly with the lounge for a year or just a day.
Lounges make your travel experience more enjoyable by taking away some of the pain points you face when navigating the airport. If you have some time to de-stress, get a bite to eat and a spacious place to relax, it may reduce some anxiety or discomfort before getting on the plane.
If you're a frequent traveler, it's valuable to do some research on the airports you visit the most and which lounges they offer. Once you identify the lounge you're interested in, find out their membership requirements. You may find that your existing credit card or ticket class gets you in. Or it may be worth paying cash to get access. Either way, it's worth exploring as a viable sanity saver the next time you travel.