Airport lounges, explained

So I’m sitting in the Aspire lounge in AMS airport, it’s 1AM by my body clock, and I can’t brain enough to do real work. So let’s talk about airport lounges.

What is the deal with them? Like most inexperienced travelers, I used to wonder this as well. What are these magical, pseudo-exclusive realms behind tinted glass sliding doors? And why would I want to visit one? Am I missing out, or is it just some overblown fancy-pants luxury?

Let’s get one thing straight: yes, airport lounges are luxuries, and no, you do not need them. That said, here’s what you get from a lounge:

  • It’s quiet, and the seats are more comfortable than the public airport areas. You won’t hear periodic security announcements. Usually there are multiple areas with your choice of desks, seats, recliners, etc.
  • (Sometimes) extra-quiet rooms with comfy recliners and dim lights, for napping.
  • “Free” food. OK, it’s not really free, because you paid for lounge access, either directly or indirectly. But lounges generally have decent food out for the taking – snacks, salads, soups, sandwiches, cookies, sometimes fancier fare.
  • “Free” booze. It still amazes me every time I walk by the bottles of wine and liquor, and fridges full of beer, out for the taking. Sometimes it’s good stuff, too.
  • “Free” decent coffee. Usually there will be one of those automatic espresso machines that grinds the coffee fresh and attempts to do a robot imitation of your preferred coffee style.
  • Showers! I haven’t made use of this perk yet, but I probably will one day, after a long flight.
  • Some lounges even have beds.
  • Nicer, quieter bathrooms.
  • Free, good quality wi-fi. Usually.
  • Plenty of power outlets.
  • Magazines and newspapers.
  • Often, lounges are located on the second level of terminals and have epic views of the airfield and environs.

So basically, lounges are a nicer place to spend your long layover. And you should have a long layover, because it’s better to be bored then rushed.

How do I have so much experience with lounges? Well, I travel a lot, and I have this Platinum Amex card. It costs me $450 a year, which is a lot. But it basically functions as a giant travel perk bundle, and one of the perks is that if I fly the right airlines (meaning Delta, mostly) it gets me into a lounge pretty much anywhere I go.

So there you go. Now you know what the deal is with airport lounges, and why you might want to make use of one on a long trip. Or not.

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  1. One other great feature is “personalized boarding announcements”. In my experience you can ask the person a the desk -where you enter – to notify you when YOUR flight is about to board.

    These lounges are one of the few things that make frequent air travel bearable.

  2. I have just flown from UK to Australia via Singapore and the shower in Singapore is a great thing.

    Free Wini is another perk in airports where there is no or limited time free Wini.

    Some Airport lounges such as Port of Spain in Trinidad are not worth the visit (circa 2010)

  3. For Wini read WiFi

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