The World's Most Luxurious Airport Lounges
For premium passengers, the days of sleeping in a chair at the airport gate are over. No more standing in line to charge a phone, either. Airlines are designing elegant lounges with new amenities and personal services for their best customers.
Access varies, from one airline to another; you may have to book a certain class of travel, pay a fee or use mileage points. Visit the airline's website or call its reservations department for details, and remember: the requirements we've listed below are subject to change.
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United Polaris Lounge, O’Hare International Airport, Chicago, Illinois
The first phase of this fabulous space—all 12,782 square feet of it--was recently completed. Now United’s premium class business customers can come in for a craft cocktail or to work at a pull-out desk and dine at a full-service restaurant. The lounge also features private, spa-like showers, stocked with fine bath products, towels and slippers. Additional Polaris lounges are planned for Los Angeles, San Francisco, Houston, New York/Newark, Washington Dulles, Tokyo Narita, London Heathrow and Hong Kong.
How to get in: Fly United Polaris business class or United Polaris first class on a long-haul, international flight, or fly international first or business class on a Star Alliance partner airline.
Turkish Airlines Lounge, Ataturk Airport, Istanbul, Turkey
Lounge Istanbul Departure has been named one of the top ten private passenger lounges in the world. Guests can sample regional dishes from Turkey or foods from around the world, practice their skills on a cutting-edge golf simulator, play video games, or drive on a realistic racetrack.
A children’s play area, library, prayer room, movie theater and more also help pass the time. Lounge Istanbul Arrival offers a library, local and international magazines and newspaper and relaxation areas with showers. Staff will iron your clothes upon request.
How to get in: The lounges are open to business class passengers traveling with Turkish Airlines or Miles&Smiles Elite and Elite Plus cardholders flying economy class, as well as Star Alliance gold members. See information on lounge entrance prices here. Call the airline for more info.
Virgin Atlantic JFK Clubhouse, JFK International Airport, N.Y.
Virgin Atlantic’s exclusive Clubhouses can be found in London’s Heathrow and Gatwick airports, JFK International, Newark, San Francisco, Boston, Los Angeles, Washington Dulles, Hong Kong and Johannesburg. The emphasis is on pampering, with speciality cocktails, great food and a relaxed atmosphere—but quiet areas make it easy to catch up on business. The Clubhouse at JFK offers massages, pool tables, a high-end salon and more.
How to get in: Clubhouses are reserved for Upper Class passengers and Flying Club Gold members. Confirmed Virgin America First Class passengers, Main Cabin Select guests and Elevate Gold members can buy Clubhouse day passes. Call for details.
Emirates First Class Lounge, Dubai International Airport, Dubai
To get an idea of the size of Emirate’s business and first class lounges, consider this: they run the length of Terminal 3 in Dubai International Airport, which is one of the largest buildings in the world. In the First Class lounge, located on Concourse A, stop for a smoke at the Cigar Bar, dine on international dishes, freshen up in a shower-spa or relax in a chaise, complete with pillows and a blanket.
How to get in: First Class lounges in Dubai are open to Platinum members of their flying program, along with a guest, regardless of class of travel, as long as the guest travels with the member on the same Emirates flight. First class passengers can also access the lounge.
Icelandair Saga Lounge, Keflavik Airport, Keflavik, Iceland
Icelandair’s Saga Lounge reflects the country's culture and natural elements through its beautiful Nordic design. Guests enjoy outstanding views of the Snaefellsjokull glacier as they dine, enjoy drinks, or warm themselves by a fireplace made of columnar basalt. Light foods like salads and cold cuts are offered, as well as treats like creamy potato soup and smoked salmon, and skyr, the Icelandic national yogurt. The open, self-serve bar is stocked with Gammel Dansk, a popular bitters liquor, and Brennivin, an Icelandic schnapps often served with a signature Icelandic dish, fermented shark.
How to get in: Requirements vary; see the website for details.
Qantas International First Lounge, Sydney Airport, Sydney, Australia
Watch the air traffic from this Qantas lounge or let a mixologist prepare your drink. If time allows, slip into the spa for a massage or shower. There are private suites and a library if you’re working; guests can also access a variety of magazines and newspapers, teas, coffees and other beverages. As you enter the lounge, drink in the fresh, clean air circulating through its 98-foot, 8,400 plant vertical garden.
How to get in: Your next onward flight must be Qantas-marketed, with a QF flight number. One guest is allowed, if traveling with the member on the same flight. Lounge passes can also be purchased or obtained by using membership points. See the website or call the airline for details.
Finnair Lounge, Helsinki Airport, Helsinki, Finland
As you’d expect, the three Finnair Lounges at Helsinki Airport include Finnish saunas. Amenities differ, but guests can enjoy private shower suites, play areas for kids, hot breakfasts and other foods, gourmet snacks and beverages.
How to get in: The Premium Lounge is open to Platinum and Gold members of the airline's flying program plus one guest, and oneworld Emerald cardholders, plus one guest, as long as the departing flight is operated and marketed by a oneworld airline. See the website or call for additional information.