/ Airport(Executive) Lounges
Does anyone on UKC use them? I do so occasionally and have to say that in most cases they are worth considering when compared with what passes for catering etc in the public areas of airports.
On our recent trip to Malta we visited the Aspire Lounge at Liverpool. My advice to any UKCers thinking of using it - DON'T.
My experience of them (usually at someone else's expense) is that they turn the usually hellish experience of air travel into something actually approaching civilised
> they turn the usually hellish experience of air travel into something actually approaching civilised
By and large yes. However the best I can say about the Liverpool one was that the environment was mediocre and the choice of food was roughly coffee and biscuits or coffee and biscuits.
La Valette at Malta airport was heaven
Regularly for the last 15-20 years. I recently got lifetime membership of one airline frequent flyer program with lounge access - I flew with them a lot for many years... and have access to Priority Pass lounges such as Aspire. Was last in the Manchester Aspire lounge which serves a poor G&T but has OK food and Boddingtons. Its main problem is it appears to be used by animals as there was so much food spilt on the floor. American lounges aren't always too great but Scandinavian ones are generally very good.
I've used one at Heathrow terminal 5 when my flight was delayed for hours because of snow. Food was good but main benefit of having your own seat and charger and not having to gather all your belongings every time you need the bathroom if you're by yourself. Also quiet. Was fairly expensive per hour but they let me stay for several more than I paid for.
I've used them a couple of times.
Had a lovely shower and freshen up at one in the US on the way to Canada, but didn't have a huge amount of time to savour the experience before heading off for the connecting flight. Can't remember which airport - possibly Boston, JFK or Detroit. Pretty sure it was United Airlines own lounge.
Getting a shower at Heathrow after the marathon journey back from Sakhalin was always welcome. Sadly I’m too sensible to make full use of the free booze.
You must be going to the wrong lounges (or more specifically the wrong airports!). I haven't used the paid lounges, but certainly the Star Alliance lounges are generally of a good level nearly everywhere (honourable exceptions being the United lounges in Boston, Dallas and Chicago).
Almost all of the Air New Zealand lounges are excellent, and the lounge at Tom Bradley (LAX) - once you have escaped the Kafkaesque nightmare of US Homeland Security screening - allows a long hot shower, fresh noodles, and sitting outside watching the sun dip down over the Californian backdrop (although admittedly the outside section does smell of aviation fuel quite a lot!). The first class lounge in SIN Changi is also something to behold. International lounges are almost always much nicer than the domestic ones. The Air Canada lounge in LHR has an entertaining amount of maple syrup and maple timber (presumably to gnaw on). My kids reckon the pad thai in the Singapore lounge in LHR is the best they have ever had.
I think my needs are not that complex, but they are more difficult to achieve without a lounge. If I have been travelling for 12hrs+ and have the same to go, a shower would be lovely. A comfy seat, some edible vegetarian food, sunlight if possible, and a change into clean underwear/shirt. Far enough away to walk off the deep vein thromboses. Preferably, no need to clear security multiple times (which makes leaving the airport for a walk impossible). It's interesting how tough it is to achieve those things in some places - not that it matters a lot for short domestic flights, but for long haul I think lounge access is really helpful.
Use regularly / mainly with PP
Best - Zurich, Madrid, Helsinki, Hong Kong, Beijing, Copenhagen. Hon mention to Luton (yes - saved me from the package mail more times than I can recall)
Worst - T5(LHR), Berlin, JFK
My bank presently gives me 4 a year for free, I think it can be pleasant enough. Changing banks soon and losing that benefit, though, and I'm not too bothered about this. Doubt I'd pay 25 quid for access (which is about the going rate) unless I needed somewhere to work.
3 or 4x a month mainly across Asia and US, normally the upgraded lounge rather than business/club. The difference having a shower on arrival and food that has been freshly cooked rather than warmed up is the main benefit.
I find them generally good but haven’t used the one you mentioned
I've only ever been in 2, courtesy of a mate who has, through his work, membership of such lounges.
Both were while waiting for delayed flights returning from ski trips.
Both would have been pleasant except they were fully booked and while better than the alternative economy lounges there was a lack of seating, queues for the toilet, little food and they were very noisy.
It seems many people have cottoned onto the joys of executive lounges and like many things their popularity could be their undoing.
I've vowed never to enter one again... Many years ago, I travelled from Manchester to Magaluf on an Owl Fanciers Weekender package. The airport was chaotic and busy beyond belief. I decided to avail myself of the Executive Lounge.
Whilst merrily helping myself to free milk stout, I was accosted by a lounge Nazi who demanded to know "Who are you, and why do you qualify to be here?". In reply, I drew myself up to my full 4'11" and scornfully informed him that "My name is no business of yours, but I happen to be an acclaimed Burger Transference Executive at McDonald's, Stockport!".
I got ejected out onto the concourse in a very abrupt manner. I can only assume that he disliked my plumage?... Still, like I say; never again.
Most of the times I fly I am able to access one of the lounges (BA or American Express, KLM,United etc). If I can't access one of those, I will usually pay to get into an Aspire lounge, or similar. When I use Luton I always book the Aspire lounge because it is an oasis from the surrounding hell-hole, even though the lounge itself is second-rate and often overcrowded.
Still, Luton does have the advantage of seating that allows you to gaze down on the hell you’re missing out on in the main concourse!
Had to laugh at your post . I was in a Delta lounge in Atlanta yesterday. There was a big announcement. Everybody was asked to Congratulate 2 marines who had just graduated . The whole place ( well apart from amused foreigners) gave these 2 lads a huge round of applause and standing ovation.
you do not get that in most airport lounges!
They're nice to have but with most stuff around air-travel their purpose is to make other people think they're missing out and aspire towards it (ie. fly more or upgrade) or for people with a certain status to try to increase this through further loyalty to get to a more premium lounge.
I take about 60 flight segments a year for work so have had my fair share of experiences with them but quite often find that I can buy nicer food in the main airport a lot of the time, but somehow because it's 'free' people go crazy for it in the lounge. The free booze isn't much of a draw either because I'm either flying to a meeting or flying home where I then need to drive for 90 minutes.
They're really useful on long layovers though and having showers and lockers to dump your bags is a big help.
I think the likes of Aspire lounges are just repackaged airport restaurants. You pay a fee for the "lounge" and get a crappy meal for free as a result (rather than paying for a meal and getting the seat for free). Quite clever marketing on their part.
My insurance company booked me business class flights home with lounge access with KLM in February - the only time I've ever been in an airport lounge. Quite pleasant in both Geneva and Amsterdam, good food in Amsterdam especially, and combined with the attractive females pushing me around the airport in a wheelchair it made for a surprisingly relaxing trip!
Nail on head. Those needing them to work at the airport should claim it back on expenses.
I slept the night in the lounge at Nairobbery when KQ postponed my flight to Paris because they don't have crew accredited to land in fog. There is a sleeping room but it was in use by one enormous African who was snoring like a horse so I and several other passengers bedded down on the furniture in the lounge and had a reasonable night. Those who accepted KQ's offer of a hotel room had a nightmare trip back into town to a horrible mosquito-ridden hotel on a main road then an early start to get back out to the airport, so the decisison to say put was vindicated.
virgin lounge at heathrow is heaven on earth
I always walk past that place and wonder what sort of mug pays to sit in there with all the velour jogging suits, fake tans and hens slurping cheap champagne and now i know ;-)
Lounges and fast-track security make regular long haul travel bearable. Another vote for the lounge in the Tom Bradley terminal at LAX, the noodle bar is superb. Emirates lounges are among the best, décor and food much the same wherever you are in the world. From the main Dubai Lounge you can board direct into the business class cabin and never have to mix with the hoi polloi in steerage......
I have one of those 'Priority Pass' cards as freebie from my bank. The lounges by and large have been pretty good and as alluded to already they make air travel that bit more bearable when you can chill in a comparatively civilized comfortable environment with some decent snacks and free bar.
The Gatwick Aspire lounge though has consistently been pretty awful insofar as opening its doors to stag/hen parties, out of control kids and other antisocial tw*ts.
Luton airport main terminal is not a terminal but some kind of portal to an 'Event Horizon' hell.
We flew from Luton last year for the first time in decades, after which I vowed never again.
I'm sure the memory will fade one day and I'll be tempted by headline prices ...
... and I'm equally sure I'll regret having done so!
> Luton airport main terminal is not a terminal but some kind of portal to an 'Event Horizon' hell<
Well, I've done 45 mins from touch down to home on a return - so very convenient for me, especially work-wise. But I agree, its usually pandemonium - not helped by the ongoing re-development )after which it should be much better). Hence I arrive as late as possible or use the lounge if stuck (from where I can cast my superior gaze at the throngs below...
By way of a general comment about my OP, I had decided to use the lounge(I have a Priority Pass card) in order to make what was a special holiday for the Mrs(she dislike air travel at the best of times) as little more "special". To this end I wanted to avoid the masses and their screaming kids and make the airport time a little more relaxing and enjoyable. I booked Fast Track security which did actually pay off. We breezed through in as much time as it took to put our effects into the trays and walk through the scanner. The queue otherwise was horrendous.
As I said earlier the lounge experience was an anti climax with a very poor choice of food and a general air of mediocrity.
In stark contrast the lounge at Malta was superb; plenty of space, comfortable armchairs, a pleasant atmosphere and frequent replenishment of food and drinks.
Some years ago I was returning from a business trip to Delhi. The lounge was paradise. There was a wide choice of hot meals which extended well beyond the usual snacks. Drinks were served by a barman who responded to my request for a brandy by filling a standard brandy "Balloon" to within about a centimetre of the rim I also availed myself of the excellent shower facilities and enjoyed a welcome shave with the provided razor etc.
As one of the screaming masses i will happily commit here and now to never using an executive lounge specifically to avoid the chance of spoiling the experience of any of the executives.
Sat in Geneva Airport right now and its as unmemorable as any other... except Lands End airport which is a throw back to a better time.
Any airport where your baggage is pushed out to the plane alongside you in a Sainsburys shopping trolley by the ground crew is a winner. The pilot chats to you while he programs the route into his sat nav so apart from the fact that the plane is launching off the cliff top all seems even safer than normal!
> The pilot chats to you while he programs the route into his sat nav