If you travel often and have membership in a frequent flyer club, you may already enjoy access to many of the exclusive lounges operated by airlines and their alliance members. For example, Star Alliance Gold members (and a guest) can access lounges around the world no matter which class of service they travel in. Among these are the highly acclaimed Silver Kris rooms operated by Singapore Airlines, Lufthansa’s Senator lounges and United’s Red Carpet clubs. SkyTeam member airlines operate 391 lounges worldwide, including KLM’s Crown rooms, Alitalia’s VIP clubs and Air France’s handsome business and first-class lounges. Under the OneWorld banner, eight major airlines including British Airways and Cathay Pacific offer passengers reciprocal visiting rights to their private waiting areas. Club members also enjoy priority check-in services and the use of frequent traveler security lines, both of which streamline your airport experience.
Ask about lounge access when you check in. Many airlines also have agreements with credit card companies (such as VISA and MasterCard), giving gold and platinum card-holders the right to use a private lounge on the day of travel..
Interestingly, UK holders of Barclaycards automatically receive a Priority Pass when they quality for a silver- or gold-level card. And there are some lounges which do not require any club membership at all. These are available to any traveler for a fee (about 26 Euros) and include the Plaza Premium lounges at Hong Kong International, the Europe City Club at the Frankfurt airport and KLM’s Holideck in Terminal Four at Heathrow.
And what are the perks? You’ll enjoy personalized travel assistance, complimentary soft drinks, juices, coffee, tea, cappuccino, pastries and other snacks. Alcoholic beverages are complimentary in some lounges, or can be purchased for a small fee at others. Most rooms offer newspapers, periodicals and magazines, and comfortable seating areas in which to read them. Some have large-screen entertainment centers where you can catch your favourite TV show, movie or the latest CNN report. Other amenities you may find, some of which are free and some are available for a nominal fee, are high-speed WiFi wireless Internet access, fax, photocopy and laser printing services, free local calls and data ports for laptops. Most also offer conference rooms for in-transit business meetings. In its domestic business class lounge at Johannesburg International, South African Airways has even introduced a VIP lounge with a personalized ‚ butler‚ and a premium food and beverage service.
International lounges are some of the most luxurious, featuring restaurants, spa facilities, even private cabanas with showers and a bed. British Airways offers valet services and even full meals at some of its clubs. North American lounges are somewhat more functional and less high-end, but there are still many excellent ones. These include Virgin Atlantic’s Clubhouse in San Francisco, British Airways‚ Terrace Lounge at JFK and Continental’s President’s Club at Ronald Reagan National Airport in Washington, DC. All of these are beautifully designed rooms‚ many with scenic, sound-proofed views of the terminals or runways and full meal service‚ and cater to business travelers who either need to get serious work done, or need to get some serious rest.