waiting area for premium passengers at airports with extra facilities

If you need to be away from the hustle and bustle of the airport transit area whilst waiting for your flight, then consider going to a lounge. A lounge is a section of the airport that the airport company, an airline or third-party company allocates for selected passengers to wait for their flight in slightly more comfortable conditions.

Lounges can also be offered on selected railway services, particularly long-distance intercity routes.

Flying topics: Planning your flightAt the airportOn the planeArriving by plane

Features edit

The exact features vary between lounge operators. In most cases, it will include complimentary refreshments, international newspapers, computer terminals, free Wi-Fi, and television. There may also be desk space and even conference rooms for those who need to get some work done. For passengers flying long-haul, some lounges may offer access to showers. Some carriers have partitioned their lounges in such a way that there is an exclusive section for those travelling on first class and their frequent flyers who hold the highest membership tier. Such sections have even more features such as full meals, complimentary massages, and even a bedroom that resembles a hotel room but again, these depend on the carrier.

Although lounge access is normally offered for departing passengers, some carriers may be able to offer such to arriving passengers on selected sectors (e.g. those on flights from New York to London).

Is it worth it? edit

Lounges run the gamut between offering the bare minimum of amenities and everything except water costing extra to lush temples of relaxation and getting done some work before a business flight with all imaginable luxuries available. There are often reviews by other travelers, which of course run into the same problems of subjectivity and paid positive reviews as do those for hotels and airlines in general. As well, domestic and transborder terminal lounges tend to be relatively inferior to international terminal lounges, given differences in their clientele.

If you are flying first (except within the US) or business class and your ticket includes lounge access anyway, checking out the lounge can't hurt, but whether you should arrive at your initial departure airport early just to be able to spend more time in the lounge depends on your preferences as much as the quality of the lounge. Bear in mind that baggage drop-off often doesn't open until a few hours before departure (though some airlines offer to drop off your bag the evening before for a fee or as an added bonus for higher tiers of their frequent flier program or higher class tickets) and many lounges are past security. If you have a long connection, there is often the question whether you should go to a lounge (maybe even a pay-per-use one) or explore the city. If immigration prevents you from leaving the airport anyway and you have a layover of several hours, a lounge - even one on the expensive side - can "pay for itself" if there's included free WiFi, food, drinks and so on which can get expensive if purchased otherwise at the airport.

Some amenities that are particularly attractive may not be available within certain timeframes. For example, some airport lounges may only offer liquor after noon due to liquor laws, or have a made-to-order noodle bar only open during a certain period of the day. In smaller airports, there may not even be hot food available except during certain periods of the day. It's a good idea to clarify what amenities are available at the time of entry before making a decision to purchase entry, if you are a pay-per-use visitor, either at entry or by phone/email.

Lounges generally have time limits associated with entry or sell passes with the expectations that they be used for only 2-3 hours. However, enforcement of these terms are arbitrary and inconsistent. For example, a lounge that is nearly empty or has negligent staff may not care if you stay in the lounge for half a day, or even sleep overnight, on a 2-hour Loungebuddy pass. Other lounges may ask you to purchase another pass, or check-in again if using a lounge access scheme so they may bill the scheme again for the duration that you are in the lounge. In unusual cases, you may be asked to leave the lounge, and in extreme cases, you may be referred to airport security or police for being disruptive and overstaying your welcome. Enforcement varies from lounge to lounge, airport to airport and country to country. There is oftentimes flexibility associated with lounge access, but take care not to overstay your welcome!

Ways to access edit

To keep the lounge as comfortable as possible for its guests, lounge operators restrict access to selected passengers only. In particular, one's ability to access the lounge depends on one's class of travel, frequent flyer membership tier, or membership in an independent lounge access scheme.

Travel class-based admission edit

For international flights, if you booked in at least business class, it is highly likely that lounge access is already included in the fare you paid. However, some carriers may exclude business class passengers on deeply discounted fare buckets (e.g. Emirates) and/or those who are travelling on business class as a result of an operational upgrade (i.e. those who originally purchased a ticket for a lower travel class but for operational reasons were upgraded to business class at the last minute).

If you are flying first or business class on a carrier that is part of an airline alliance, then you are generally free to use the equivalent lounge of any member of that same alliance as long as they operate in the same terminal as your departing flight and they are open shortly before departure. For instance, if you have a British Airways business class ticket departing from London Heathrow Terminal 3, then you may also use any One World airline's lounge located therein (e.g. Cathay Pacific, American Airlines, Qantas). You may visit as many of them on the same day but you will obviously need to allow a lot of time at the airport to binge-visit and enjoy them, keeping in mind that carriers will only open bag drop four hours or less before departure.

For domestic flights on a U.S. carrier however, having a first class ticket itself no longer entitles a passenger to automatic lounge access. Exceptions include Alaska Airlines and selected transcontinental flights on other carriers which offer cabin service akin to what is seen on a long-haul international flight (e.g. flights between New York and Los Angeles). North American regional independent airlines such as Porter Airlines and Harbour Air are known for providing free lounge access or amenities to all passengers, but many have started closing lounges in favour of additional flexibility and free standby for all passengers to mitigate layovers in general.

When it comes to railway travel, lounge access is usually reserved for passengers in the upper classes and those who have paid slightly more flexible (and thus expensive) fares.

Frequent flyer tier-based admission edit

Star Alliance Gold, One World Sapphire and higher, and SkyTeam Elite Plus members (except those travelling domestic within the U.S.) get lounge access as one of their perks. Individual carriers may permit lounge access at the 2nd or 3rd tier level of their programme but for those who offer lounge access at the former, that privilege may not necessarily extend to flights with partner carriers.

Passengers who have elite status on the frequent flyer programs of U.S. airlines, and are travelling domestically within the U.S. are no longer entitled automatic lounge access based on their Frequent Flyer tier. However, being on the higher tiers may provide discounts on annual membership fees for access those airlines’ lounges (see next section). In addition, people with elite status in the frequent flyer programs of foreign airlines in the same alliance are also generally granted lounge access on U.S. domestic flights.

Moreover, passengers seeking lounge access based on their membership tier need to be flying with a participating carrier on the same day they are seeking access to the their lounge. For instance, if one only has Star Alliance Gold membership but holds a ticket for a flight to Cathay Pacific (a One World alliance member), then one will not be able to access the Star Alliance lounges for that day. You might be permitted to bring a "guest" but this (and the conditions of said guest admission) will vary from carrier to carrier and from lounge to lounge.


Passengers who don't have a first or business class ticket or a frequent flyer with elite tier membership can still often access independent lounges on a pay-per-use basis. The admission price usually starts at US$40. Some lounges allow individuals to purchase access directly, while others offer access through LoungeBuddy (which only accepts American Express cards) or through pay-per-use tiers of a lounge access scheme such as Mastercard LoungeKey or Priority Pass.

Another option is to subscribe to a lounge access scheme. Depending on the chosen scheme, subscribers may pay a discounted per-use rate, receive an annual allowance for access, or have unlimited access to the lounge for the duration of the subscription period. Priority Pass is one of the most well-known schemes and has historically offered good coverage (the program has become subject to severe limitations, however, due to the proliferation of lounge access schemes). Mastercard LoungeKey also offers comparable coverage and requires the cardholdership of a Mastercard World Elite-tier card.

In many cases, membership in Priority Pass and similar programs is complimentary for premium credit card holders, depending on whether the credit card issuer has partnered with such companies. For example, Chase Sapphire Reserve and Capital One Venture X in the US, and several American Express cards worldwide include a membership in Priority Pass. Some worldwide Mastercard World Elite-tier cards are also eligible for the pay-per-use LoungeKey program, and many of these cards come with a complimentary number of passes. Some private banking or investment clients may receive a lounge access scheme membership through their banking or investment relationships.

However, it's important to note that lounge access scheme members usually have the lowest priority for accessing lounges and may be subject to space constraints or limited hours of scheme card acceptance. Priority Pass is particularly notorious for this, with most lounges not accepting Priority Pass clients outside of limited off-peak hours (especially in the US).

U.S. carriers offer access to their US lounges on an annual membership basis, costing $500-600. This is becoming the only way to access the lounge for those taking domestic flights as of 2022. Passengers need to hold a same-day ticket with the airline whose lounge they hold membership with. In some cases, U.S. carriers partner with credit card companies to offer co-branded credit cards that include complimentary lounge scheme membership to selected cardholders. However, the credit card may charge high annual fees and is subject to credit checks and approval.

Emirates offers pay-per-use admission to its lounges at Dubai International Airport starting at $136.50 for non-Skywards members who travel in an economy class or business class special fare ticket. It's also possible to access Star Alliance lounges such as Lufthansa and Air Canada through the Air Canada Maple Leaf Club, but worldwide access starts at a hefty $665 CAD and is limited to departures on a Star Alliance flight. This option is worth considering if you primarily transit through airports that have a heavy Star Alliance presence but don't have an equivalent third-party lounge operator such as Plaza Premium or Skyteam.

In airports without accessible third-party lounges, some Priority Pass memberships entitle pass holders to a restaurant, spa, experience, or other type of credit worth approximately $27-55 USD. This may be considered a superior value by some travelers.

American Express runs a network of lounges around the world for holders of some of their premium credit cards like the Platinum and Centurion cards. These charge high annual fees and require you to have a high credit score to qualify. Some financial institutions may also operate lounges for their premium customers; Singaporean bank DBS has lounges in Changi Airport for the exclusive use of their private banking customers. The United Service Organization (USO) operates a network of lounges throughout the U.S. for the exclusive use of active soldiers in the U.S. military

Lounge operators edit

Air travel edit

Airlines usually operate their own lounges in their hubs and other airports where they mount multiple flights a day to. However at other stations where they fly less frequently to, they will partner with other airlines or third-party lounge operators to accept their passengers.

Airline Name of Lounge Separate section for First Class or Higher tiers Minimum frequent flyer tier for complimentary admission Paid access
Air France Air France Lounge YES — La Premiere Lounge Flying Blue Gold

SkyTeam Elite Plus

YES (€25-50 from Europe; US$35-50 in North America)
Alaska Airlines Alaska Lounge YES (US$60/visit in selected locations or from US$350/year)
All Nippon Airways ANA Lounge YES — ANA Suite Lounge ANA Mileage Club Bronze

Star Alliance Gold

American Airlines Admirals Club YES AA Advantage Platinum (for intercontinental and selected trans-continental flights only)

oneworld Sapphire (for intercontinental and selected trans-continental flights only)

YES (Admirals Club membership required)
Asiana Airlines Asiana Lounge YES - Asiana First Lounge Asiana Club Diamond

Star Alliance Gold

British Airways Galleries YES - Galleries First/Concorde Room BA Executive Club Silver

oneworld Sapphire

Cathay Pacific Cathay Pacific Lounge (generic)

Lounges in Hong Kong:

The Wing

The Deck

The Pier

The Bridge

YES Marco Polo Silver

oneworld Sapphire

China Airlines China Airlines Lounge Dynasty Gold

SkyTeam Elite Plus

Delta Airlines Sky Club n/a SkyMiles Gold Medallion (for international flights only)

SkyTeam Elite Plus

YES (SkyClub membership required)
Emirates Emirates Business Class Lounge

marhaba Lounge

YES - Emirates First Class Lounge Emirates Skywards Silver YES

- Emirates Business Class Lounge - US$125 (for members) and US$150 (for non-members)

- Emirates First Class Lounge - US$250 (for Economy class members) and US$300 (for Economy class non-members); US$125 (for Business class members) and US$150 (for Business class non-members)

EVA Air EVA Air Lounge (generic)

Lounges in Taipei:

The Garden — Infinity MileageLands Diamond only

The Infinity — EVA Air business class and Star Alliance business class

The Star — Infinity MileageLands Gold and Star Alliance Gold

The Club — Infinity MileageLands Silver and Star Alliance Gold

YES Infinity MileageLands Silver

Star Alliance Gold

Lufthansa Lufthansa lounge YES - Senator Lounge Frequent Traveller

Star Alliance Gold

Qantas Qantas Club YES Gold Qantas

oneworld Sapphire

Qatar Airways various YES - Al Safwa Privilege Club Silver

oneworld Sapphire

SAS SAS Lounge YES - SAS Gold EuroBonus Gold

Star Alliance Gold

YES ($32 if online, $46 at reception)
Singapore Airlines Silver Kris Lounge (lounge in Singapore only for first and business class passengers, not economy class passengers with elite frequent flyer status)

KrisFlyer Gold Lounge (in Singapore only)

YES Kris Flyer Gold

Star Alliance Gold

Thai Airways International Royal Silk Lounge

Royal Orchid Lounge

YES - Royal First Lounge Royal Orchid Plus Gold

Star Alliance Gold

United Airlines United Club Yes — United Polaris Lounge (for international business class only) United MileagePlus Premier Gold (international flights only)

Star Alliance Gold (non-U.S. airlines only)

YES ($59 per visit for non-members; up to $650 annual membership fee for members)

Rail travel edit

Country Railway Operator Lounge Name Access Requirements
Belgium/France Thalys Thalys Lounge Premium ticket on Thalys or MyThalys World Club or Club+ status
Belgium/France/UK Eurostar Business Premier Lounge Business premier ticket on Eurostar
UK Caledonian Sleeper Avanti West Coast (Euston, Glasgow Central)

ScotRail (Aberdeen)

Guest Lounges (Dundee, Fort William, Inverness, Leuchars St Andrews, Perth)

2-bed VIP Cabin sleeper ticket

Caledonian Double/Club ticket

Germany DB DB Lounge First Class ticket on an InterCity or ICE train
Canada Via Rail Via Rail Business Lounge Business Class Ticket
Canada Toronto Dominion Union Pearson Visa Infinite Lounge Presentation of a TD Visa Infinite or Infinite Privilege Credit Card
US Amtrak ClubAcela (Washington Union station)

Metropolitan Lounge (Boston South station, Chicago Union station, LA Union station, Portland union station Philadelphia 30th Street station, New York Penn station)

Amtrak Guest Rewards Select Plus or Select Executive members traveling with a same-day Amtrak ticket

First class or sleeping car tickets Business class tickets (in Chicago, Portland, St Louis, and for LA Union station Coast starlight passengers only) Complimentary Single-Visit Station Lounge Pass holders

See also edit

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