When Visiting An Airport Lounge Isn’t Worth It

Filed Under: Travel

A few weeks ago I flew British Airways to Munich, for the bank holiday long weekend. My flight departed Heathrow Terminal 5 at 20:30. I have Executive Club Silver status (oneworld Sapphire) so can access the British Airways lounges when flying with them.

I could have arrived at 9am and spent the entire day in the lounge if I had wanted to.

There are plenty of airport lounges I will arrive very early for on purpose because they are that good. My record is seven hours in both the Thai Airways first class lounge in Bangkok and the Qantas first class lounge in Sydney.

Qantas First Class lounge Sydney

For my ‘day job’ I work from home/remotely so can work anywhere with a Wi-Fi connection. I finished up a few calls by 3pm and thought about heading to the airport then.

Heathrow would likely be very busy on the Friday of a long weekend so I wanted to try and avoid the crowds by getting there before the afternoon peak hour.

I knew I could keep working in the lounge and there was plenty of complimentary food and drinks there waiting for me, and like any good frequent flyer, thought I should make full use of the status I had worked hard to earn, where I actually have the time to use it.

I could have also gone to the Thistle Hotel to plane spot on their terrace for an hour or two.

But I looked out the window and it was a REALLY nice day outside which can be rare for London, especially in early May.

The sun was streaming through the windows, birds were chirping, and the house was calm and relaxing.

Suddenly the thought of sitting in a dark airport room with hundreds of strangers, just for some free nibbles, didn’t seem appealing.

So, even though I could have maximized my lounge time, I stayed at home and enjoyed the serenity of a quiet, peaceful house on a nice day.

I didn’t arrive at Heathrow until about 90 minutes before departure so still had some time for a quick lounge visit.

The standard Heathrow ‘lounge experience’

When I eventually got to the British Airways Galleries Lounge, I didn’t regret my decision. I find their lounges at Heathrow really underwhelming, especially as the only hot food beyond soup is whatever slop they can reheat as cheaply as possible. Think chicken curries with minuscule amounts of low-grade chicken, and a few vegetarian curries presumably because they’re cheaper to produce.

That’s about it.

Oh, and ‘jacket potatoes,’ like you would make if you were camping.

All served luke-warm.

That is what they have to offer at their flagship international business class lounge.

British Airways Galleries business class lounge seating

In my opinion, there is very little difference between the British Airways Club Lounges at Heathrow, and the Heathrow Plaza Premium Lounges, which can be accessed with Priority Pass.

The staff in this lounge also looked absolutely miserable.

Nudge-nudge, wink-wink champagne

I knew there was a trick where you can have proper champagne but you have to ask a roaming server for it, which makes no sense to me. They should either offer something to everyone, or not offer it at all. The only reason I knew it was available on request was from reading frequent flyer blogs and forums.

There’s this mindset I think most people have where they will utilise something because it’s free, even if they don’t need or want it, or even enjoy it. Airline lounges can be truly horrible, especially if they are overcrowded, but people will sit in the middle of the chaos because it’s ‘free and it seems like they should.’

Similarly, when I arrive at an airport lounge I will usually have something to eat and drink, even if I’m not hungry or thirsty, because it’s there and complimentary.

Bottom line

Normally if you have access to something at an airport, I would encourage you to take full advantage of it and enjoy it. You’ve earned it and It usually does make the traveling experience far more enjoyable.

If I had access to the Concorde Room or the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse I would have arrived as early as possible to enjoy it. I love spending time in airports — I especially love looking at all the departure boards and gates seeing where all the planes are flying off to, as well as seeing such a varied mix of people and wondering where they are all traveling to.

But that Friday afternoon was one of those instances where I had time to spend several hours in an airport lounge, but it just didn’t interest me and I would much prefer to be at home.

Last Friday when flying out to Copenhagen I similarly chose to arrive at the airport as late as possible (45 minutes before departure) and went straight to the gate, skipping the Priority Pass Lounge I had access to.

Do you prefer being at home to being in an airport lounge?

  1. Yeah seriously. Why does everyone live in London and complain about the weather. I think this is the reason why the British were successful in their imperialism. They really wanted to get out.

    Now they go on gap years.

  2. I think you should become emerald and then can enjoy the Galleries First Lounge at Heathrow, a far nicer experience.

    I find the business class lounges at heathrow a joke.

  3. @ When I Travel – if I lived in HKG or LAX I would do everything in my power to reach OWE but I have been hesitant to go for it in London given I know the Galleries F lounges are nicer but not THAT nice.

  4. I feel that these types of posts are more reflective in nature but don’t really offer real substance. I think they’re fine from time to time but after a while it makes this blog seem like ThePointsGuy.

    James comes across as a very intelligent, likable, and warm person. So this is not an attack on him. It’s just that I find myself noticing that the ratio of reflective to substantial posts seems to be increasing by him. Maybe others don’t mind it, but I’m not writing this to criticize James, I’m hoping for more insights and “Oh, what a great idea!” type posts.

  5. Am Heathrow based and couldn’t agree more about BA’s Biz Lounges there. And the Galleries F lounge is usually heaving.

    And those NHS toilets….

  6. For me the absolute worst lounge experience was Air China’s domestic business and first class lounges at Beijing Capital. I was there last July and it felt like there was no AC whatsoever. It was also extremely crowded. Sitting in the lounge was really worse than waiting in the public area. I felt like I was in a Chinese rural train station

    A surprisingly nice lounge i’ve been to was the new Lufthansa lounge at Boston Logan. One of the dinner entries they served was grilled salmon which was one of the best cooked salmon i’ve ever had. They also had free alcohol and open bar which is rare for US airports.

  7. Certainly not worth spending all day, but how do you find it compares to LH/OS? It’s been a couple of years for me, but IIRC I’d prefer BA.

    That said, agreed on your points and always trek to B if I can. Some of the food/drink is quite decent, but could certainly use an upgrade/departure from carbs on carbs on carbs.

    Thankfully have made BA Gold just recently and it’s quite a bit better. GC should, IMO, boost itself to somewhere between the two currently stand.

  8. @james

    It’s fairly easy to earn BA gold status when living in London, you can do it fairly easy.
    I mainly keep it for the BA galleries first lounge and to use the Cathay First Lounge in HKG and also the Qantas F lounge at LAX as those are my frequent spots.

    But you are right, galleries business is so bad, those nasty bacon or egg sandwiches and the 100’s of people.

    But it’s BA’s hub, the only thing they could do is add more lounges due to the volume of people who can use them.

  9. I prefer to stay as longer as possible at home or hotel room when flying with airlines which have bad lounges. It is only worth to stay in a lounge for hours when it has an outststanding product. There are only handful of lounges in which I surely enjoy experiencing their service. I am only talking of F lounges of AF, LH, EK, QF, TG, CX, SQ..

  10. Jacket potatoes as a food option in an international business class lounge are a joke. I mean literally a joke – I have Italian relatives and once they came to the UK and saw a jacket potato for the first time – both the name and the concept (ie the fact one could actually amount to a meal) they found highly amusing. When you think about it they have a point – a potato on a plate, with some bits put on top. I mean, really?

    It’s almost as if BA is run by bean counters – champagne aspirations, potato budget – with no understanding of how this country might be perceived by those from other parts.

  11. I seek out the T3 BA destinations just so I can avoid T5 and the crappy airport experience that comes with it Lol

  12. I can’t speak for LHR but I love LAX’s lounges – I suspect it’s one of the best lounge in the US (QANTAS First class lounge) way much better than AA’s new first class dining room or Polaris – also I love LAX Star Alliance Lounge with sky roof view 😉 I always make sure to have few hours to spare there before my departure time.

  13. I only visit lounges when making connections with layovers. If I’m at home, I never arrive early at the airport for lounge goodies. And likewise, if I’m arriving at an airport for a flight while away from home, I only arrive early if I get kicked out of the hotel and have no where else to go. Unlike Lucky and others here, I haven’t been to the super premium lounges with the fabulous food. And even so, I can’t imagine even the best lounge food can compete with decent restaurant offerings but I’m willing to withhold judgment for the day when I actually step foot in one of those utopia lounges. Until then, I’ll take the comforts of home any day over the airport lounge.

  14. @Boco, while I agree that this post has low information content, it is still a nice way to engage OMAAT commenters and to create a community.

  15. @ Boco – I can’t guarantee every single post of mine will be ground-breaking content that you don’t already know. I like to share my travel experiences (even in a reflective way) as well as do the deeper-dive analysis stuff.
    If you have any suggestions for anything you would like me to delve into I’m all ears!

  16. When I’m leaving on a trip (LAX/Delta), I like to arrive at the airport an hour before scheduled boarding. I hate rushing, and this usually allows me to mosy through security with Clear and Precheck and spend 30-40 minutes in the Skyclub. The LAX Skyclubs aren’t great at the moment, so that’s about enough. On return flights, I’m usually tired/hungover/grouchy, so I just head to the airport as soon as I can manage and find a quiet seat in the club with a beer. I don’t mind spending a lot of time at the club at SFO (or before any return flight home)…the views are great and the food is usually good enough to fill up for my nap on the flight home. Also, jacket potatoes = baked potatoes? I fuck with jacket potatoes then…I’d tear that shit up.

  17. I have found that if I’m flying First Class, most times the first class lounge offer better food than the food served up in the air. After all, the food is cooked fresh rather than being reheated and the kitchen is much larger in the lounge than in a plane.
    When I fly Business class, however, the only times I’ve shown up early for a flight just to spend time in a lounge was to access the VS Clubhouse in JFK, LAX, JNB, and LHR.

  18. @James, no offense to you, but with this post I officially reached (and passed) full champagne shark jump.

    I love a nice glass of champers as. Ich as the next guy (Bollinger Grand Annee is my go to), but when I’m traveling, I want to experience the travel. If I drink the same champagne in BKK, LHR, and YVR as I can at home, I’ve defeated the purpose of travel.

    Can you (and Lucky and all the other travel bloggers) take a minute to tell us about the locally sourced options in lounges? I’d love to know if there’s good local beer, for instance, in a lounge. So far, the only airline who seems to put a priority on this is Alaska, whose lounges have filled me with local craft ales quite frequently.

    Anyway, that’s my two cents.

  19. I agree – most of the times is not worth going early to sit in a lounge. But, there are times I find it useful. For example, sometimes I’ll try and beat traffic and get to the airport early, knowing I can finish whatever work I might need to in the airport lounge (versus staying in the office later, and spending more time in traffic). But oftentimes, it’s not worth getting the airport too early to enjoy a lounge.

  20. @ James –

    Sorry, I meant at their hubs in Germany. One would hope if the T5 lounges are renovated soon they’d be nicer than/equal to those in T2. Given that even BA’s outstations are nicer than T5, I reckon that might be the case.

    Guess in the meantime I’ll base my SH travels off of the T3 destinations.

    PS keep up all the good work! Really enjoying reading your posts (esp as a UK-based FF).

  21. Totally agree, biz class lounges at T5 are a bad joke.

    It could be worse, I flew in F back from Miami last week on BA and the lounge food there was worse than the BA J lounges….not one thing I would risk eating…..and yes I know about the Admirals Club but didn’t have time to go there

  22. @Mallthus – if you want to try local options, I do not think you should look at lounges sicne they cater to (mainly) global business travelers that wants globally recognized brands to have ah “at-home” experience wherever they travel (at least, that’s me).

  23. @James I was flying VS PE back to the states in March. I had just beaten the snow to Heathrow. I didn’t get access to the Virgin Clubhouse. I popped into the priority pass club and the place was overrun. I stayed for a minute cursing my options, and then I remembered I’m a paid Admirals Club member. I walked over and it was like the Heavens parted. There was a single AA flight to Dallas making use of the club, and few other refugees from other airlines. I poured my self a coke and all was right in the world.

    I say all of this to say, that a review of club options in Terminal 3 would be great.

  24. What’s jacket potato? Lol

    Also, why so much holding in the article?

    And what’s the secret to getting the good champagne. That was a big tease and not even a link to an article that explains this.

  25. Get BA Gold and fly from Gatwick, the First lounge there is much better (and business lounge too). Then you can enjoy the One World Emerald perks like Heathrow T3, Cathay lounges in HKG and QF lounges in Oz!

  26. Love travel and like to use miles to make it more palatable, but I think for most people, the time in an airport/airplane is suboptimal and should be minimized. I can think of three times it’s good to use a lounge, outside of the “I gave myself a 15 minute train/traffic cushion and want a quiet place to sit before boarding starts”:

    1. When your departure time is right around the time you would eat and there is pretty good food in the lounge. Thinking specifically of the time I had the Air France business class “Night Service” at JFK where they serve dinner in the lounge before the late night flights, so you can get on the plane and go straight to sleep. Would also apply if I had a flight at say 1:30 PM- might arrive at the airport at noon if there is a Centurion Lounge to scrounge lunch at.

    2. During a delay, especially to have someone help you with rebooking. Although I was once at ATL during a weather delay affecting all flights, and the Admirals Club got so crowded and loud that I left to literally find a quiet corner of the terminal just to sit. Took some looking!

    3. When you have a layover of 1-4 hours, obviously doesn’t make sense to leave the airport.

    For me personally, outside of those, spending significant time at a lounge is pretty much never better than being at home, at work, or at a nice cafe or restaurant. The other good lounge use is for the nervous traveler who feels the need to get to the airport 2 hours before a domestic flight. Not me, but I get that.

  27. This is spot on: “Airline lounges can be truly horrible, especially if they are overcrowded, but people will sit in the middle of the chaos because it’s ‘free and it seems like they should.’” I know I have done that quite a few times.

    And jacket potato= baked potato

  28. I enjoy airline lounges, especially in airports where the non-lounge areas are pretty awful (EWR, JFK etc.). That said, as an economy/business-class not first-class traveler, I wouldn’t say that any of the 100+ lounges I’ve been to were special enough to warrant arriving early. In my experience, lounges usually are better than the public terminal, but not destinations unto themselves. The best lounge I’ve been to is one of the CX business class lounges at HKG (the Pier, I think), and while I loved it, I still didn’t think it was worth arriving early for.

  29. @DCJoe: I totally get where you’re coming from, but there was at least one instance where I entered a lounge, was totally disgusted and walked out. It was several years back at ORD’s T2 United Red Carpet Club (this was pre-“United Club” brand). If I recall, there was literally not a single empty seat in the lounge and I overheard a business traveler speaking into his phone describing it as a “bus station”. I couldn’t have agreed more. I think it was a rare instance of where I was convinced to not use a lounge even when I was entitled to access.

  30. I had my first experiences with the T5 Galleries Club lounges yesterday. You may have been too kind in describing them 😉

  31. Given most of use who have LHR as a hub are BA Gold, the First lounge is really the business lounge (and the Concorde Room is the real First lounge). So their business lounge is just for the hordes of oneworld sapphires (sorry, James), plus a handful of infrequent business class flyers.

    But the main reason you should go for OWE is so you can use the First Wing to check in. Unless you actually like crowded shopping malls, First Wing bypasses all the crap.

    Though I prefer it to when my BA T5 flight leaves from the B gates: even though it’s just another business class lounge, no-one ever seems to go there which, for me, is bliss.

  32. Try the Virgin Clubhouse at Heathrow. That is a lounge I would arrive early to enjoy it.

  33. @James I’m afraid I didn’t really get the point of this article – you could have just said in much fewer words “BA T5 Galleries Lounge is underwhelming and worth no more than an hour of one’s time” 🙂
    Re OWE, you’re basically spoilt for choice if you don’t have to travel BA from T5 – I hear that CX F and QF F lounges are pretty decent (I’ve only been in both J lounges but you can ask Lucky!)

  34. Had my first experiences in a lounge from PY ticket access on a recent trip.
    BA lounge at Boston-Logan wasn’t too bad, a little lacking in food but quiet enough that I didn’t mind staying 2 hours till my flight.

    NRT’s Sakura Lounge wasn’t as great as I was expecting, hotel checkout was at 11am, flight at 6pm so I had a lot of time to spend.
    The downstairs part was crowded, but manageable… but the upstairs dining area had a line about 10 people long that never seemed to go away while I was there.
    I actually felt more relaxed in the open Wa ‘lounge’ in between terminal 2 and the satellite.

  35. You didn’t mention that BA has a dirty trick to ensure you arrive early, the Ryanair-like “Conformance” meaning you’re automatically barred if you don’t pass security early enough to do some shopping. And then you’ll be forced to walk in a crazy detour to pass all the overpriced shops, before you can reach the overcrowded BA lounges with the lukewarm slop.

    The deadline at security is 35 minutes ahead of scheduled departure, no exceptions, you’ll be thrown off the plane regardless of whether it’s even reached the gate yet. Yuk.

  36. British Airways is simply a trash airline. Every restaurant in T5 have better food than ba lounges, even costa or Starbuck…
    Even more, they are the founding member of Oneworld and they dont even give a damn about the ow lounge entrance rule and staffs are literally dream in the reception

  37. I based in HKG, and i could say that any given ow lounge (even business lounge) is better than the galleries first or the concorde room, hence the reason why I only fly cathay on hkg-lhr as the T5 is simply a mess even in first.
    I feel like BA give out baec gold too easily, unlike AA or CX… this often leads to overcrowding in lounge, even in hkg when tonnes of ba gold come and *literally* abuse the pier first or the wing first

  38. Britain’s least favourite airline – British Airways. Food in Galleries Club World and First is depressingly similar. In the Concorde Room it is simply depressing. Linda McCartney’s revolting rosemary and onion sausage as a vegetarian option is hardly a gourmet breakfast experience. Champagne that isn’t worth bothering about in CW and First. Downgraded spirits and wine in the Concorde Room. British Airways no longer give a damn about service, style or quality. If I had the option of staying at home longer, I’d take it. I agree that the food is far better outside these lounges. Even coffee. BA is a failing airline in terms of service and quality. No one appears to care.

  39. I remember when T5 opened, I was so looking forward to visiting. That anticipated joy completely dissapated when I visited the Galleries lounge. ‘What-a-dump!’

    The food is basically disgusting unless you were once a British public school boy. Who makes an accompanying vegetable into a main meal?

    I have never been in the lounge for more than about 5 minutes before it is full.

    I’d prefer to be in terminal 2 at the Priority Pass lounge!


  40. I am like most, if I am home, I get to the airport with time to spare, but PHX only has a shitty lounge I can access in t4. However when I go to Europe I do try to hit every lounge I can time permitting. Even the low end lounges are nicer than the airline domestic lounges. I do like the centurian lounges, except the las vegas one.

  41. When I first started using points to travel, I was fascinated by lounge access (cuz it was a mysterious sanctuary to poor everyday Y pax), so I did check in as early as possible just to enjoy the freebies. My record is 12hrs in TG F lounge.

    But as I travel more and visit more lounges, I agree that it’s not worth the time and effort, especially at the cost of sacrificing the time you get to spend in a destination. I once went to bed at 4pm in Paris and woke up at 2am (partly getting ready to adjust the jetlag back to Australia, partly getting ready for early entry to the lounge) and missed the beautiful night at Paris. When I discovered the star alliance “first class” lounge in CDG was no more than a granny’s living room, I regretted it. So now I tend to spend more time at the destination city than lounge.

    Also I agree London’s weather isn’t that bad. I got sunburned in London and I’m from QLD Australia.

  42. Unfortunately even CCR isn’t any better at Heathrow. When we visited it the last time, it was just after the breakfast rush and the dining area was a total mess. We had a quick breakfast and food was mediocre at best. And CCR has NHS toilets, as usual..

    The seating areas were busy and we had trouble finding any seats for ourselves. We had a glass of (warm) champagne and eventually left the lounge.

    We spent rest of the time at the ordinary BA business class lounge at the B/C (I don’t remember which one) concourse. That was a much better and quieter experience, not that the services were any better but at least it was quiet and clean.

    Considering the size of British Airways and the British market in general, it’s amazing how low BA can go. I’m happy to skip all the BA lounges at LHR and simply just find a quiet corner somewhere.

  43. If any of you think BA lounges were bad… may I suggest that you try KAL lounge at ICN (or JFK)
    Really, really terrible food, overcrowded. KE F lounge is far, far behind HND JL J class lounge. Makes Galleria lounge Heathrow look like a heaven in comparison.

  44. Hey, gives James credit, he didn’t throw in a bunch of unnecessary PP/CC pimp-links…

    How about a follow-up article, on the 5 or 10 airport lounges not worth arriving early for/visiting when traveling?

  45. “My record is 12hrs in TG F lounge.”

    Why on earth would anyone want to spend that much in a lounge, regardless of how nice it might be?

  46. I always find British Airways’ outstation lounges to be marginally better than their “flagship” lounges at Heathrow for some reason.
    There’s more attention to detail, furnitures are less worn-down, nicer staff, a more edible food (especially pre-flight dinning before a Eastbound redeye) and drinks…

    Yes BA lounges at T5 are indeed crowded, run-down, and food offering is barely existent, but it’s still better than sitting outside at departures area.

    p.s. my personal record was 8 hours at Admirals club at Boston Logan, although it was involuntary.

  47. @ Peter

    “We spent rest of the time at the ordinary BA business class lounge at the B/C (I don’t remember which one) concourse. That was a much better and quieter experience”

    It was the B satellite (there is no lounge in C). I completely agree with your assessment. Which suggests the real problem for BA is the sheer volume of people they’re trying to deal with in T5 – even in First. How can you deliver a boutique/luxury product to a mass market? I have yet to encounter any mega-lounge which is different.

  48. 90 % of my travel is solo and I use lounges most of the time because it’s convenient and probably more secure for possessions. I especially like those with locker facilities.
    But for the food? No, much of it is either crappy quality or ludicrously pretentious ( QF F in the latter). For me , a decent buffet selection is infinitely preferable to the ‘fine’ dining deal. Emirates is the best in that regard but others are not far behind. BA F is ok, LH, KLM, SAS , TK are not too bad but nothing to write home about. Thai J lounges are pathetic.
    At the domestic QF business lounges in Australia ( open to OWEs even traveling economy) it’s quite a sight to see high paying customers constructing and cooking shitty toasted sandwiches or taking other poor quality dishes when they could have something genuinely tasty from outside, albeit it at a cost. So I rather buy something outside for 10 or 15 and consume it in the lounge. But I guess most will not do that as the idea of something for nothing is appealing ( doesn’t make it taste any better though). Same, same in Virgin Australia.

  49. Wow, are BA lounges in LHR so bad? I can only read rants. Do not get me wrong I am not a BA fan either but there are certainly other lounges in the world which are absolutely worst..
    The problem with BA..too many have access to their CCR and First lounge..if you want everyone to be BA Gold and OW Emerald than your product is watered down. It is not better than any cheap lounges out there. You can hate QR or SQ for being so strict over their First lounges but you have peace and exclusivity which you are willing to pay for..
    I do not want to sound snobbish…yes, we are all created equally..but under the airline industry..we are different.. there are distinctions to follow and mind to know where you belong to!..

  50. 1) The weather in London in early May is often absolutely lovely. (Lived there fifteen years and worked there , on visits, for over thirty years.) Not sure why anyone would describe a nice day in early May as “rare”.

    2) BA’s Galleries’ food service / clearing / cleaning staff are – almost without exception – kind, helpful, polite and unobtrusive. To read comments that they are “miserable” saddened me.

    3) The photos above suggest the author did NOT visit British Airways “flagship” business class lounge at Heathrow Terminal 5 in the Concorde / First / Club complex but rather the considerably smaller Galleries North which normally is used by passengers leaving from nearby gates who have little time. (Not the first time this uncorrected error has appeared on this website.)

    The author should provide up to date photos and clarify details of his visit to this lounge or just admit that he did not actually go there. Whilst some general comments (the quality of the hot food for example) are valid, inaccuracies such as these call into question the trustworthiness of this entire site.

  51. YAAAAAS. All of this! The T5 BA business lounge is total tosh. The T5 BA 1st lounge is no prize either. My other half is BA Gold and we arrive at T5 as close the flight as possible [tho T3 OW flights are a different story with the CX & QF lounges].

    For my part – I’m Delta diamond. And exactly as you say, with the virgin lounge – we’re at the airport a full three hours early.

  52. Do you prefer being at home to being in an airport lounge?

    ->If the answer is no, one’s must take a good look about his/her life.

  53. @Andromeda

    Obviously a BA employee. Watering down your brazenly defensive post by mentioning the validity of the low quality of hot food.

    Instead of searching the web for critical BA posts try to fix your company’s inadequacies. Every little helps…

    Also get you facts straight:
    Galleries North/South are both the same quality and are the ONLY business class lounges available to J, R, D, I and silver travellers. The staff do appear miserable and they’ve been there for ages. Same faces, same misery.

    James you are spot on mate.

  54. Unlike most of you commenting here, I don’t travel as much as I’d like to, maybe only once or twice a year, but my thinking has always been that if I’m going to be away for a few days or a couple of weeks, and I’m not going with my wife, I’d rather spend an extra couple of hours with the love of my life, sitting out on the deck in the summer or whatnot. And while I love flying, the fewer number of hours I spend in airports the better.

    I’m not status anything, so I’m always in the public areas, and even though we get 4 United passes a year (two for me, two for my wife), we almost never use them. I had an extra 3 hours to kill at SFO recently and used one of the passes, and quite honestly, other than a little less ambient noise, I could have been just as comfortable sitting at the gate. Still got the same amount of reading and work done, etc. Granted, long layovers suck and at those times even a crappy lounge would be better than nothing, but I rarely have to sit around that long unless there’s a serious delay somewhere. I’ve got a 6 hour layover at LHR coming up in a couple of weeks that I’m not looking forward to (might just go into London instead of staying in T3), but on the whole, I’d rather sleep a bit longer, do an “extra thing” or whatever before checking in to the meat grinder.

  55. @James great article and love all the comments and discussion. I find your personal and reflective articles very enjoyable to read and they spark great discussion (Incidentally I think the amount and content of the comments suggests you can safely ignore the few bores sniping at you)

    I confess to having spent eight hours at the QF First lounge in Sydney too. It was part of an enforced layover returning from Asia back to New Zealand. It was a Sunday and I really enjoyed it. I had a very nice massage, explored the various nooks of the lounge (including leafing through some great photo books in the library area) worked at the desks and popped out for some shopping. That lounge is a real haven
    Less pleasantly I often find myself spending three hours in lounges in Shanghai lounges at both terminals (I often come from a city where the drive can vary entirely unpredictability from two to four hours so one has to assume the longest time!) and almost without exception lounges in China are drab, dirty, serve dangerous looking food, warm white wine (if they have any white wine) and the terminals outside are even worse. Even a jacket potato would be preferable!
    But sometimes I will deliberately arrive at an airport early if I have to work. I find most lounges (China excepted) offer some quiet areas/desks where phone calls can be made without disturbing others and work can be done

  56. I think the correct response to this headline is, “most times.” The airline lounge is a nice upgrade instead of waiting by the gate. But my experience with just about every lounge is there’s not a single reason I’d pay extra for lounge access. They don’t give me *that* much satisfaction or life improvement while waiting for my flight.

    If all lounges closed, it really wouldn’t bother me at all.

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