CNN.com covers my favorite airport lounges, and in order of preference even. I admit I haven’t done the Qantas first class lounges in Sydney and Melbourne since they’ve been remodeled, it’s been about five years since I’ve been in them actually, so they aren’t included. But certainly they’d compete.
Readers of this blog will find no real surprises. I do like the Thai first class ground experience in Bangkok better than any other, from the personal service to the spa. Theirs is unlike any other airport spa offering, with private treatment bungalows and hour-long Thai massage, plus excellent bath amenities to shower up afterwards (you’re choosing your oils, after all, and probably don’t want to leave those on during the long flight).
And Lufthansa’s First Class Terminal in Frankfurt remains a special experience, though the first class lounges are of course good and in some cases even come with the car transfer to the plane, e.g. in Munich you’ll get that if departing from a non-gate position.
I choose the Singapore JetQuay terminal for private immigration, the Virgin Clubhouse at Heathrow for its architecture, and finally Cathay Pacific’s The Wing largely due to the cabanas as outstanding shower rooms to round out my top five. I suppose in Singapore some might prefer The Private Room, but since I’m more interested in expediting service and carefree escort than comfortable extended time in-lounge and food I didn’t make that calculation.
At its core, lounges matter because they provide a quiet, productive, peaceful place to leverage time before and after a flight. The vagaries of travel, from security to international formalities to connections, mean more time than might otherwise be necessary in airports. Just as improving the inflight experience generates revenue, improving time on the ground creates a competitive advantage. And arrivals lounges matter, not just departure lounges, especially for those early morning arrivals so common in Europe and where you can’t just check into your hotel room for a shower before heading off to meetings.
The most luxurious, over-the-top lounges provide for a truly enjoyable and care-free, stress-free trip. My favorite part is not thinking about when it’s time to leave, or even where your flight is leaving from, when it’s someone else’s job to worry about that for you. It elevates travel from mere transportation to an enjoyable experience.
Of course, I’m happy to experience these things from my perch of award travel, usually including them in mileage redemptions rather than paying full freight. So I’m truly fortunate.