Whose Lounge / Premium Ground Experience is Best?

The Lufthansa First Class Terminal in Frankfurt is certainly a special idea, an entirely different building from the masses.

You’re greeting by a staff member on entering the lounge and they become your designated personal assistant, who will be the one that will come to get you when it’s time to board your flight. To get to the plane you get a chauffeur-driven Porsche or Mercedes.

There’s private security screening and passport control, a lovely restaurant with menu and buffet, a nice bar, a cigar lounge and showers and slumber room and… Well, it’s a truly great lounge.

 

Transited there a couple times several weeks back. Some of the more snobbish set say the place is going down hill, but the conventional wisdom is that it’s the best lounge in the world.

To me, though, the best overall ground service is departing Bangkok in Thai Airways First Class. Thai can be hit and miss at best in the air, but on their ground in their home airport service really is extraordinary. From the private checkin area your carryons are taken for you, you’re walked through a private passport control, and into a waiting golf cart where they drive you through the business class lounge to the first class lounge. It has private rooms, lovely food service, the attendants are outstanding, but most of all… the spa.

First Class passengers can have a 30 minute neck and shoulder massage or an hour-long full body massage. I started with a shower, then the full massage, followed by another shower. 

One tip not everyone knows is that Thai Airways business class customers can receive the 30-minute neck and shoulder massage, subject to availability (that is, if they aren’t otherwise serving first class passengers).  So swing by the spa and make an appointment if you’re flying in business.

Back to the first class lounge, and when it was time to board an attendant came to fetch me, escorted through security, and then golf cart to the plane.

The Singapore Airlines first class lounge in Seoul serves caviar. It’s not high-end stuff, but I don’t know of any other lounge (as opposed to on-board) which does. I haven’t visited there yet.

I also haven’t been through the new first class lounge in Singapore Changi’s terminal 3 (back in March I was connecting to business class, and stayed in terminal 2) but for all of the early anticipation I’ve heard mostly negative reactions, lack of light, perfectly fine in all regards but not special.

Still, I haven’t heard anyone compare either lounge to the Lufthansa First Class Terminal or to Bangkok’s First Class Spa.  And other airlines are offering spa services, too.  British Airways replaced their Heathrow provider Molten Brown with Elemis.  (Virgin no longer provides spa services onboard.)  Qantas even offers a restaurant and spa in their First Class Lounge at Sydney, and I have family that speaks well of it, though I haven’t yet been.  But can it really exceed Thai’s offering (even if Qantas offers a wider variety of treatment options)?

I guess my real question is, what am I missing?  I’m not so much a oneworld guy, I haven’t visited Cathay Pacific’s The Wing and The Pier.  But really, the reports aren’t amazing

So whose ground service is best, and what else do I need to try if only to be complete?

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Comments

  1. I transited through the LH First Class lounge in Frankfurt June 12 and July 5. Overall service was nothing short of fantastic.

    A full bath helped take 15 hours of flying time away and made for a relaxing continuation of our journey. The restaurant area was great and the food was delicious.

    Very minor issues during the first visit were the advice by a Lufthansa flight attendant that it’s a “short walk” from the gate to the First Class Terminal. That airport is never a fun walk, so be sure to ask ground staff for a pickup. Wi-fi was also unresponsive for the first couple of hours.

    These minor bumps were more than made up during our second visit. A very pleasant staff member took our bags and processed our paperwork while we went through security and once again enjoyed the comfort of the lounge. When it was time to go, she escorted us downstairs to our car for the trip to the aircraft.

    Nice to be able to skip the boarding lines, especially when there’s a separate loading bridge for First Class at Frankfurt.

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