A Boston Globe piece, tied partially to the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse in Boston, outlines the different features that lounges offer.
The piece begins with a description of what I see as the top two lounge experiences:
When Gary Leff, cofounder of the frequent flier community Milepoint.com, departs from the Lufthansa First-Class Terminal in Frankfurt, his rental car is valet parked, and a personal assistant arrives to take his passport and process immigration, while he is escorted through a short and very discreet security line.
The major stresses of flying now allayed, Leff can savor his waiting time before the flight. He can enter a cigar bar with a selection of 80 whiskies, lie on a comfy leather sofa in his own napping room, or take a bath in an oversized tub.
“When it’s time to board, you’re escorted downstairs to the waiting driver, who takes you across the tarmac directly to your plane in your choice of a Porsche or Mercedes,” says Leff.
At the Thai Airways First- Class Lounge in Bangkok, a golf cart is waiting to whisk you away to rooms full of Thai food or to a prearranged appointment in a spa bungalow for an hourlong Thai massage.
“These are some of the top specialists in Asia, used to providing spa treatments for Thai generals and royalty,” says Leff.
It then offers my distinction between a basic, notch above, and world class lounge:
Leff flies more than 200,000 miles a year and thus spends a good deal of time in airport lounges. He notes that all of them should have these basic services as a minimum: free Wi-Fi, ample comfortable seating, easy-to-access power sources, substantial snacks, and assistance with ticketing. Add showers, drink service at your seat, boarding announcements, and hot food items, and that lounge is a notch above the rest. To be world-class, it must have sit-down restaurant service, a spa, escort to the plane, and private security screening.
So the categories I was thinking of are:
- Bare minimum acceptable: requires free wireless internet, ample seating, power, snacks, and ticketing assistance (useful for irregular operations, same-day changes, upgrade issues).
- Superior: showers, hot food, ‘plus’ services
- World class: restaurant, spa, escort to plane, dedicated/expedited security.
What, in your mind, makes for a great lounge? Do you buy my distinctions? Are there key amenities that I’m missing?