When traveling for business, waiting for boarding at the airport can be both stressful and unproductive. Popping by one of the airport lounges is a great way of making better use of that time. Lounges can be great to focus and get some work done before your flight. The services and benefits available at airport lounges vary and so do the ways you can access the lounges. Here’s our guide to airport lounges for business travelers.

What are airport lounges?

Airport lounges are facilities that offer better comfort and amenities than the waiting areas of airport terminals. Most major airlines have at least one lounge in their hubs and in the major airports they operate in.

The perks you can enjoy at lounges typically include food and beverage services, restrooms and comfortable chairs. But they can also include more exclusive services such as spas, bedrooms and showers or even business centers.

There are many ways for travelers to access lounges, including flying first class or business class, having a premium frequent flyer status or owning a premium travel credit card membership.

Benefits of airport lounges for business travelers

For business travelers, having access to airport lounges has many benefits. Here are the most common ones:

  • Comfortable seating – lounges typically offer armchairs and sofas where travelers can relax comfortably before their upcoming work trip. Some even go the extra mile by offering sofas or reclining chairs.
  • Quiet – airport business lounges are the perfect place to unwind and enjoy some peace and quiet far away from the bustling gate. Enjoy comfortable seating while having a chat with your coworker or partner.
  • Complimentary food and drinks – lounges tend to offer a selection of complimentary food and drinks varying from simple snacks to a full buffet and hot meals. All lounges will offer warm and cold drinks, although some might charge for premium drinks such as champagne.
  • Working areas and phone booths – airport lounges often offer working areas, phone booths and even meeting rooms for business travelers. You can take advantage of these amenities to hop on a last call before your flight or progress on a project that can’t wait. Some working areas include a printer, desktop computers and desk phones.
  • Entertainment – some lounges offer entertainment options like TV screens, newspapers and magazines or entertainment areas for children. If you pick the right lounge, you might even be able to play video games.
  • Restrooms and showers – tired of waiting in line for the restroom? The airport lounge will be a less crowded space with usually cleaner and less busy restrooms. Keep in mind that most international airport lounges are equipped with shower cabins and all necessary facilities such as towels, shower gel and shampoo. This can really make a difference if you’re on a long business trip and you need to freshen up during your layover.
  • Sockets – with lounges, there’s no need to stress about charging all your electronic devices before leaving home. Lounges are typically equipped with sockets to charge your phone, laptop, e-reader, wireless headphones and more.
  • Faster Internet connection – to get some work done or enjoy seamless video calls, you’d better have a good Internet connection. Airport lounges typically offer a faster internet connection than terminals, allowing you to work or entertain yourself seamlessly.
  • Wellness services – some premium lounges offer wellness services such as spas, saunas or gyms so you can prioritize your wellbeing even during business travel. A massage can be a great way to relax in between long flights.

How to get into airport lounges

If you’re wondering how to get access to airport lounges, keep on reading. There are many ways for business travelers to access airport lounges. Below are the most common methods to get into lounges:

  1. Through a premium rewards credit card. One of the easiest ways to get access to an airport lounge is through a credit card. Some credit cards like the Business Platinum American Express come with a subscription to Priority Pass, allowing you to access one of the airport’s lounges for free, whether you’re traveling Economy, Business or Premium. American Express offers a corporate card, so if you’re a frequent international business traveler, it’s worth checking if your company can get you one. Other credit card issuers like Visa or Mastercard can offer a LoungeKey program – a complimentary benefit that allows passengers showing their premium credit card to enter the lounge. A credit card with lounge access typically offers other benefits such as discounts on restaurants, so be sure to check them out before making your choice.
  2. Through an airline’s co-branded credit card. Many airlines offer co-branded credit cards that come with added benefits for travelers. Access to the airline’s airport lounge is one of the benefits of these cards, along with free checked luggage, priority boarding, and more. If you’re used to traveling for business with a particular airline, getting a co-branded card can be a good investment, especially if you’re used to flying from that airline’s hub city. 
  3. Get a lounge membership. If you’re not interested in the benefits of a premium credit card, you can also buy an airport lounge membership directly. Programs like Priority Pass and LoungeKey have an annual membership that gives you access to a multitude of lounges worldwide, ideal for international travelers. That membership comes with other perks such as discounts in restaurants and boutiques.
  4. Get an airline-specific lounge membership. If getting an airline’s co-branded credit card doesn’t sound interesting, you might prefer to get an airline-specific lounge membership. Some airlines have their own lounge networks in airports and won’t accept you in their lounge if you’re not a member of their specific program. So getting a membership can be valuable, especially if your travel policy states that you must travel with a specific airline.
  5. Join an airline alliance. An airline alliance is a partnership between airlines. By joining an airline alliance such as Skyteam or Oneworld, you can access the alliance’s airport lounge as long as you’re flying with a member airline. Skyteam lounge access is included for Elite Plus, First and Business Class customers at more than 750 lounges worldwide and Oneworld lounge access is available to frequent flyer program members with the Emerald or Sapphire tier status. Many other benefits come with these programs, so you get a lot for your money.
  6. Earn airline loyalty status. All airlines have a loyalty or frequent flyer program that you can join for free. Those programs come with thresholds and associated benefits. The more you fly, the more you collect points to reach the next level and better benefits, such as free lounge access. If your travel policy indicates that you must travel with a particular airline, joining such a program can be interesting.
  7. Business and first-class tickets. If you’ve purchased a business or first-class ticket, it usually includes free access to the airline's lounge. All you have to do is show your boarding pass at the lounge’s reception desk. If your travel policy allows you to travel in business class, this may be the easiest option.
  8. Get a day pass. A simple way to try out the lounge experience is by buying a day pass. It’s a good way of testing a lounge and understanding if it’s worth investing in a method that’ll provide more long-term lounge access. The one-time access fee differs for each lounge, so do check on the airport’s website beforehand to avoid surprises. Check if your travel policy allows you to expense a day pass.

 How to get the most out of your lounge experience

As a business traveler your lounge experience can be so much more than just getting some complimentary food and drinks. Check out our airport lounge tips for you to enjoy your experience to the fullest.

  1. Research airport lounges before going to the airport. A lot of airports offer several lounges but you won’t be able to access all of them. Make sure you understand which you can enter and in case you have several options, research which lounge is best for your needs. In some cases, you could also be allowed to bring a guest for free with you, in other cases the person accompanying you will need to pay, so take that into consideration.
  2. Explore the lounge. Once you’ve entered the lounge, make sure you explore everything it has to offer. Some lounges offer spa services, entertainment areas or amazing views. Don’t hesitate to ask the staff about what services are available to be sure you’re not missing out on anything.
  3. Prepare for the flight. Use your time in the lounge to prepare for your flight. If need be, reorganize your bag if you had to take some items out to pass security. Charge your electronic items, and download a movie or a TV series to keep you entertained during the flight.
  4. Make use of the business amenities. Use the quiet and comfortable areas to prepare your final presentations or answer emails before taking off. Don’t hesitate to take calls and enjoy the high-speed internet connection or print documents from the business center if needed.
  5. Enjoy free samples. Lots of airport lounges have free newspapers or magazines for travelers to read. Some of them shouldn’t leave the lounge but others can be taken on the flight for you to read. Likewise, some cosmetics samples are sometimes available, in which case don’t be shy and feel free to try one.
  6. Pack snacks for your flight. Consider packing some snacks such as crisps, biscuits, fruit and a bottled drink for the flight. Most lounges have an unlimited buffet from which you can take away some food unless indicated otherwise.

Best airport lounges around the world

From New York to Sydney, the airport lounges below offer a top traveler experience thanks to their premium amenities and benefits.

Lufthansa First Class Terminal (Frankfurt International Airport, Germany)

This exclusive lounge in Germany is entirely separated from the rest of the terminal. Here are the benefits you can find in this lounge:

  • Private security and passport control lanes
  • Reclining chairs
  • Five private workstations
  • A cigar lounge
  • Nap rooms with twin-size beds
  • Bathrooms and showers
  • A restaurant and a bar
  • Flight displays
  • A play area for children

Swiss First Class Lounge (Zurich International Airport, Switzerland)

This elegant Swiss lounge provides a very high level of comfort with the following amenities:

  • Conference room
  • Working areas
  • A bar with a wine list
  • A restaurant
  • Two bedrooms with a double bed
  • Tarmac views
  • TV screens
  • A terrace

Qatar Airways Al Mourjan Business Lounge (Hamad International Airport, Qatar)

This modern lounge with an impressive architecture boasts the following facilities:

  • Quiet rooms
  • Two dining areas and a bar
  • A dessert buffet
  • A rest area with a sofa, a chair and a screen
  • Nap pods
  • Showers and restrooms
  • A business center where you can work
  • A kid and gaming room
  • A smoking room
  • Lockers

The Pier Business Cathay Pacific (Hong Kong International Airport)

The largest lounge at Hong Kong International Airport is remarkable for the space it offers and for its quiet spaces.

  • Here are most of the amenities it has to offer:
  • Four areas for food and beverage
  • A yoga and meditation area
  • 14 shower suites
  • A relaxation room
  • A business center with available Mac computers
  • Luggage storage
  • Restrooms

American Airlines Flagship Lounge (John F. Kennedy International Airport, New York, USA)

One of the top lounges in the world, JFK’s American Airlines’ Flagship Lounge offers the following benefits:

  • A check-in area
  • A quiet room
  • Shower suites
  • A business center
  • Phone rooms
  • A cloakroom
  • Phone booths
  • Unlimited à la carte dining for exclusive customers
  • Wall art
  • A buffet and bar
  • A business center
  • Showers and restrooms
  • A quiet room
  • Newspaper and magazine choice
  • Flight displays

Qantas First Lounge (Sydney International Airport, Australia)

The Qantas hub features an impressive first-class lounge, with the following features:

  • Floor-to-ceiling windows providing amazing tarmac views
  • A library area with books and magazines
  • A bar and a restaurant
  • A business center
  • A spa
  • Showers and restrooms
  • Leather couches and chairs
  • Two private offices with desk, printer and chairs

As a business traveler, airport lounges are the perfect place to relax before a flight, whether you need to get some work done and take some calls or simply chill and entertain yourself. The best option to access a lounge depends on your personal situation and which benefits you’d like to enjoy, as well as what’s allowed by your travel policy. So be sure to do your research before choosing.

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