What is a lounge and how to get into it

Almost everyone knows what an airport lounge is - a special area in an airport where passengers can spend the time waiting for their departure away from the crowds and take advantage of the services offered in that particular lounge. Most of them are free of charge (hot and cold snacks including alcoholic beverages, Wifi connection, toilets and showers) and some of them cost extra (travel spa or massage, some selected alcoholic beverages such as champagne).

Lounges are globally divided into two types - those owned and/or operated directly by the airline, and those operated by a third party such as the airport itself. In addition, in the case of lounges operated by the airline itself, you may find that the airline offers a different type of lounge for its business class passengers, another for first class passengers and another for frequent flyer card holders at higher levels.

Just as there are huge differences between the services airlines offer on board their aircraft, so too do the lounge levels - globally speaking, the best lounge levels are offered by airlines in the Middle and Far East, but there are some big favourites in Europe too...

The Business Lounge is free of charge if:

  • you are travelling in business or first class
  • you have a frequent flyer card at a higher level with that airline
  • you pay for your entry (where applicable)

You can then enter the First Lounge for free if:

  • you are travelling in First Class
  • you have a frequent flyer card at the highest level of the airline
  • you pay an extra entry fee above your business lounge entry (where applicable)

As we travel a lot ourselves, we have prepared our own reviews of the lounges we consider to be the best in the world:

Europe

  1. Cathay Pacific, London Heathrow - Terminal 3
  2. Qantas, London Heathrow - Terminal 3
  3. Air France, Paris - Charles de Gaulle Terminal F
  4. Swiss, Zurich Kloten - Alpine Lounge
  5. KLM, Amsterdam Schiphol - non-Schengen Business Lounge,
  6. Iberia, Madrid Barajas

North America

  1. American Airlines and British Airways Greenwich Lounge, New York JFK - Terminal 8
  2. Delta Sky Club, Los Angeles - Terminal 3
  3. American Airlines Flagship Lounge, Chicago O'Hare, Dallas Fort Worth, Los Angeles and Miami
  4. Alaska Lounge, Seattle - SEATAC Main Terminal
  5. American Airlines Admirals Club, Washington DC Ronald Reagan National

Middle East

  1. Qatar Airways Al Mourjan Lounge - The Garden, Doha - Main Terminal
  2. Qatar Airways Al Mourjan Business Lounge, Doha - Main Terminal
  3. Etihad Business Lounge, Abu Dhabi, Terminal 3
  4. Emirates Business Class Lounge, Dubai - Terminal 3
  5. British Airways Lounge, Dubai - Terminal 1

Asia and the Pacific

  1. Cathay Pacific The Pier, Hong Kong - Terminal 1
  2. Singapore Airlines SilverKris Lounge, Singapore - Terminal 2
  3. Qantas International Business , Sydney, Terminal 1
  4. Qantas Hong Kong International Lounge, Hong Kong - Terminal 1
  5. Emirates Lounge, Bangkok - Main Terminal

Europe

  1. Air France La Premiere, Paris - Charles de Gaulle Terminal F
  2. Lufthansa First Class Terminal, Frankfurt - Terminal 1
  3. Swiss First Lounge E, Zurich - Terminal E
  4. Cathay Pacific First Lounge, London Heathrow - Terminal 3
  5. British Airways Concorde Room, London Heathrow - Terminal 5

North America

  1. American Airlines and British Airways Chelsea Lounge, New York JFK - Terminal 8
  2. Qantas First Lounge, Los Angeles - Tom Bradley International Terminal
  3. American Airlines Flagship First Dining, Chicago O'Hare, Dallas Fort Worth, Los Angeles and Miami
  4. British Airways Lounge, Boston - Terminal E
  5. British Airways Lounge, San Francisco - International Terminal

Middle East

  1. Qatar Airways Al Safwa First Lounge, Doha - Main Terminal
  2. Etihad Residence First Class Lounge, Abu Dhabi, Terminal 3
  3. Emirates First Lounge, Dubai - Terminal 3
  4. Etihad First Class Lounge, Abu Dhabi, Terminal 3
  5. British Airways Lounge, Dubai - Terminal 1

Asia and the Pacific

  1. Singapore Airlines The Private Room, Singapore - Terminal 2
  2. Cathay Pacific The Pier, Hong Kong - Terminal 1
  3. Qantas International First , Sydney, Terminal 1
  4. Japan Airlines First Class, Tokyo Haneda - International Terminal
  5. Cathay Pacific The Wing Hong Kong - Terminal 1