For someone who’s as passionate about travel as I am, I’m really not keen on flying. I hate the hustle and bustle of airports and the fact that it can be really cramped and people are stressed about delays and other issues.
Three years ago when my husband took out an Amex Platinum Rewards Card, all of that changed. With his card we got a Priority Pass, which includes access to lounges all over the world. There are various different versions of Priority Pass, offering different levels of access. If you’d like to get 10% off a Priority Pass, sign up here! I also have an Amex Gold Rewards Card which gives me two free lounge passes and discounted access to many lounges via the Lounge Pass scheme which is charged directly back to the Amex card.
We no longer needed to sit in busy departure lounges or queue for drinks or food. We had our own little oasis of calm to retreat to.
Since then we have visited lounges at the following airports:
East Midlands Birmingham Manchester Heathrow
JFK Lisbon Muscat Faro
Berlin Liverpool Luton Dubai
Not all airports have lounges, and not all lounges are members of the schemes mentioned above. Some lounges are not part of these schemes but are accessible with the Amex Platinum card. But even if you have to pay for lounge access (it usually comes at a cost of around £20-25), it is well worth the investment. Lounges generally have a selection of complimentary alcohol, plus tea, coffee and soft drinks although champagne is chargeable. The best lounges have bar staff to serve you, and the widest range of drinks. The lower quality lounges have spirits for you to free pour and a choice of a couple of beers and wines for you to help yourself to from the fridges. Whilst this sounds great, there is usually a relatively small choice of cheaper spirits.
The food selection can vary enormously; generally there is a buffet of some description, with hot and cold dishes changing to suit the time of day. We’ve had some amazing food in lounges, one of my favourites is the No. 1 Lounge at Birmingham Airport, where they have a buffet and a small menu to order from. Other highlights include the new Aspire lounge at Heathrow Terminal 5, which had a great hot buffet selection and fantastic views over the stands to watch planes coming and going from.
The lower quality lounges such as the one in Faro only have a limited selection of cold food. We also had some “memorable” microwaved cheese and bacon muffins at the Airspace Lounge at JFK.
The best lounges also have shower facilities and spas available, although some of these services are chargeable. In Dubai, Priority Pass members also have access to sleeping pods included. The best part of the lounges is how peaceful and calm they are compared to the rest of the airport. Most of them are “silent” lounges, they don’t have announcements, so you have to keep an eye on the screens for your flight information. There is usually a selection of different seating configurations, including individual pods, dining tables and lounge chairs.
For me, lounges are an essential part of the airport experience and something to look forward to. I have a couple of lounges I’d like to visit on my travels, including the new 1903 Lounge at Manchester Airport and the new Primeclass Lounge at Muscat Airport. We missed out on the Muscat lounge by about a week on our recent trip, but from what we could see from outside, it looked stunning.
Overall, airport lounges represent excellent value for money, especially if you like a substantial meal and a couple of drinks before your flight!