Everything You Need to Know About Airport Lounges
If you have ever considered using an airport lounge, whether a frequent traveller or an occasional flyer you can find all you need to know about airport lounges right here.
With everything from how to find the best deal based on your travel plans, the benefits, membership scheme comparisons and much more.
Read on to become an airport lounge expert!
All You Need to Know Airport Lounges
What Are Airport Lounges?
Airport lounges are services provided to travellers either by airlines or independent operators. They are spaces within the airport that offer enhanced facilities such as better WIFI, more comfortable seating and free food and drinks.
Airport lounges are spaces in airports available to travellers. All airport lounges will offer the following services;
- More comfortable seating
- Faster WIFI
- More charging points
- Free food and drinks
- No airport announcements
Some airport lounges offer;
- Meals rather than just snacks
- Premium drinks packages
- Entertainment areas such as gaming or play areas for children
- Runway views
Airport lounges are great if you are a frequent traveller, for nervous flyers, as a place to get some work done and sometimes they work out cheaper than eating and drinking in the main public area of the airport.
Types of Airport Lounge
Whilst there are lots of different lounges throughout the world’s airports there are two main categories of lounges that travellers can use;
Airline lounges are operated by airlines to provide a premium service to their premium guests. Access to these lounges is usually included if you are travelling first, business, or club class. Access varies from airline to airline so it is always worth checking if your flight ticket includes entry.
This information may also be printed on your ticket.
You cannot buy access to these lounges either online or through a membership scheme.
British Airways Lounges – read the details of who can access their lounges
Most airport lounges are operated by independent providers. They may run lots of lounges, like Aspire lounges, or just one such as The Yorkshire Lounge.
You can generally buy access to these lounges directly, through the airport website, through an online site such as Lounge Pass or through a lounge membership scheme.
The price and access details vary depending on where you buy access from.
Are Airport Lounges Worth Paying For?
Now you know a bit about the types of airport lounges you might be asking yourself whether it is worth buying access. Here are the main points to consider;
- If you are planning eating and drinking at the airport before your flight an airport lounge can work out cheaper, especially if it’s one that does meals rather than just snacks.
- If you want to get some work done at the airport and value more workspace, with proper desks, charging points and better WIFI.
- Perhaps you are a nervous flyer and appreciate a calmer environment. Airports can be very noisy and overwhelming and a lounge can be a much nicer space to be in.
- Maybe it’s a special occasion and you just want to treat yourselves.
- You are a regular flyer and would use airport lounges often enough that a membership scheme makes them cheaper than using the airport facilities.
Airport lounges can be great in all these situations and worth paying for as a result.
How Do I Access an Airport Lounge?
There are several ways to get airport lounge access.
Buy Direct from the Lounge Company
Some companies let you buy access to their lounge directly.
Aspire Lounges – they operate lots of lounges in the UK and Europe. You can check prices and buy access through their website.
Number 1 Lounges – one of the most popular lounges at London Gatwick, with lounges at London Heathrow and Birmingham airports too. You can buy access through their website.
Buy Lounge Access Via the Airport
Most airports will have a section on their website which covers premium services such as fast-track security, priority parking and airport lounge access.
Edinburgh Airport – you can book the Plaza Premium Lounge or Aspire lounge via their website
Gatwick Airport – there are 6 lounges you book via the airport site including the Clubrooms
Manchester Airport – you can book the Escape Lounge or the premium 1903 Lounge on their website.
Buying Access Online
Some holiday and travel sites also sell airport lounge access. You can sometimes get good deals but it is always worth comparing the prices with buying lounge access direct or via the airport.
It’s also worth bearing in mind that sometimes buying online via a deals site might be cheaper but access is only for 2 hours, not 3 hours which it can be if you buy direct.
Holidayextras sells lounge access online and generally has some good deals.
Lounge Pass has a huge selection of lounges available to buy on a pay as you go basis
What’s Better Pay as You Go or An Airport Lounge Membership Scheme?
The decision on whether to pay as you go or buy a membership lounge scheme really depends on several things;
- Where you are travelling to and from
- Whether you will have a guest with you
- How many times you plan to use a lounge during the year
For shorter flights where you may have less time in the airport, it doesn’t always make sense to use an airport lounge.
Buy or Gain Access To A Lounge Via a Travel Credit Card
Some credit cards have travel perks as their rewards for card users. Some of these include free airport lounge access. These cards may have a minimum spending or earning requirement and can have high-interest rates if you are not paying back in full each month. It’s always best to check the small print.
Some credit cards have free membership to an airport lounge membership scheme, but this could still mean that you need to pay each time you visit a lounge.
The Points Guy has details of the cards that offer lounge access. Most of them offer free airport lounge membership and a fee each time you visit.
The devil, as always, is in the detail.
Free membership is not the same as free access to airport lounges. Most of the offers promoted are free memberships with travellers still having to pay a fee to access the airport lounge.
Accessing Lounges Through By Paying As You Go Or Membership Scheme
If you plan to be travelling and using airport lounges frequently then using an airport lounge membership scheme might be the best option for you.
You generally need to be planning on using a lounge around 6 times or more to make it worth your while buying a membership. However, that depends on where you plan to travel and whether you will be alone or with a guest.
Airport Lounge Membership Schemes
There are several airport lounge membership schemes. Joining these schemes gives you access to airport lounges at a reduced rate. The two most popular schemes are;
Dragon Pass – operates throughout the world and is good value
Priority Pass – operates throughout the world, my preferred choice with Standard Plus being great value if you are using lounge 7-10 times a year
Priority Pass Airport Lounge Membership Scheme
Priority Pass is one of the biggest airport lounge membership providers.
It has 3 levels of membership;
- Standard – £69 fee plus £24 per lounge visit
- Standard Plus – £229 for 10 visits and then £24 per visit
- Prestige – £419 unlimited lounge visits
What are the Advantages of Using an Airport Lounge?
I always like to think of using an airport lounge as an upgrade to the airport experience.
Here are the main benefits.
More Comfortable Surroundings
Airport lounges are generally quieter than the main public spaces in an airport. This can make for a more relaxing pre-trip flight experience – ideal if you are a nervous flyer like me!
The seating in airport lounges is usually more comfortable with lounges offering a mix of seating, as well as tables, chairs and workstations.
Often there are nicer views with some airport lounges having runway views. This can be interesting to watch.
Free Food and Drink
All lounges have free food and drink. What the food and drink is varies from lounge to lounge.
All lounges will have hot and cold drinks and snacks. Some offer hot food items such as soups, or self-service hot dishes. Some offer puddings, sweets and ice creams.
Most drinks in airport lounges are free, including alcoholic drinks. Some lounges charge a premium for drinks like champagne.
Some lounges have showers which are ideal if you have a connecting flight, or are in between longer haul flights for example. Being able to freshen up after a long journey makes travelling so much easier!
Airport lounges generally have much better WIFI than that available in the main public area of an airport.
The WIFI is always included in the price paid for lounge access.
Work Stations and Charging Points
Airport lounges cater for business as well as leisure travellers.
That generally means there are plenty of charging points all around the lounge. Many lounges have work pods or workstations enabling busy travellers to make the most of their time.
Some lounges have entertainment facilities such as gaming stations and film screens.
Pros and Cons of Using Airport Lounges
- Airport lounges can be a fantastic way to upgrade your airport experience and make much better use of your time at the airport.
- Using an airport lounge can work out cheaper than buying food and drink at the airport.
- Airport lounges can be ideal if you find the noise and hustle of airports a bit overwhelming. They are a much calmer environment.
- Some airport lounges restrict access at busy times to those who have booked direct. This can mean if you try and access a lounge through a membership scheme you might not be able to get in.
Tips For Using An Airport Lounge
- Check what food and drink is available before you book as this might help decide if the airport lounge is good value or not.
- If you are planning on using an airport lounge you need to know where it is. Airports can often have several lounges and they can be located in completely different parts of the airport, or in a different terminal. There are also different lounges for domestic and international flights.
- You must show your boarding pass when to access an airport lounge however you booked.
- Although alcohol may be free remember not to overindulge otherwise you could be denied boarding for your flight.
Airport Lounges – Conclusion
- Airport lounges offer little sanctuaries of calm at airports for travellers who are prepared to pay to access them
- They offer upgraded facilities, food and drink to leisure and business travellers
- Airport lounges can be helpful for nervous flyers – it’s harder to be nervous when you are distracted by snacks!
Airport Lounges FAQs
Do Airport Lounges Have Free Food?
All airport lounges have food available free of charge to guests using the lounge. The choice varies from lounge to lounge. There are always snacks, which may include something like soup. Some lounges have hot meals available.
Do Airport Lounges Have Free Alcohol?
Most airport lounges have free alcohol available. Some charge extra for premium drinks such as champagne. Travellers should be careful not to overindulge and risk being denied boarding for their flight.
Are Airport Lounges 24/7?
It depends on the airport but generally speaking, they are not. Airport lounges generally close after the last flight departs and reopen 3 hours before the first flight of the day departs.
Do Airport Lounges Have Showers?
This depends on the lounge. Some lounges do and some lounges do not. You will need to check the facilities at the airport or lounge you are planning to use.
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Author Bio – Melanie Newdick, Airport Lounge Expert
I’m an airport lounge expert because;
- I’ve used airport lounges all over the world
- I am a Priority Pass airport lounge member
- Airport lounges help me manage my anxiety about flying better
- Check out my top money saving resources
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