For frequent air travelers, lounge greatness – like beauty – is often in the eye of the beholder. But enough of us know what works, so we feel confident in sharing some of our favorite airport lounges from around the world. The following 50 picks are based on many well-informed responses from Business Traveler’s readers and staff.
This list isn’t definitive, but it’s a start.
American Airlines Flagship, New York JFK T8
The space is open and has an uncrowded feel, even when it’s busy. Comfortable lounge chairs are framed by huge floor-to-ceiling windows with airport views. There’s also a separate First Dining Room for first class guests.
Delta Sky Club, New York JFK T4
Primarily aimed at Delta Sky Club members, anyone can get in for $50. This lounge boasts an outdoor patio in warm weather, and there are appealing shower facilities too.
British Airways Concorde Room, New York JFK T7
For first class BA passengers. The exclusive enclave is spacious and comfortable, with friendly staff and excellent wine.
Oneworld, Los Angeles
Customers can choose from eclectic and international menus created by renowned Australian fusion chef Neil Perry. There’s also a cocktail bar and 16 shower suites.
American Airlines Flagship, Los Angeles
The First Dining Room is a standout with its impressive à la carte menu. There are currently four Flagship lounges from AA; the next three are Dallas/Fort Worth, London Heathrow and Philadelphia.
Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse, Los Angeles
This $3.3 million Clubhouse has got all the basics right – and enough food so that you can get on the flight and sleep all the way home if you wish.
Star Alliance, Los Angeles
One of the best lounges in the US, with an open terrace. There’s plenty to like here, with views over the ramp, a tasty selection of food and good wine.
United Polaris, Chicago
This is United’s flagship while more Polaris lounges are under construction. There are showers, daybeds, good food and cocktails.
British Airways, Boston Logan
BA is currently investing $115 million into its US lounges. The Concorde Dining restaurant is one of the visible highlights of this investment, and it opened in 2017.
Air Canada Signature Suite, Toronto
Very chic, with a full-service restaurant that includes a private dining room for small groups or families. Exemplary food and beautiful use of maple wood, but no showers.
LATAM VIP, Oneworld, Sao Paulo
The staff kept the buffet replenished and the place tidy. There were at least three attendants just looking after the six showers.
Star Alliance, Rio de Janeiro
Brazilian design is showcased at this attractive lounge, run by the Plaza Premium Group. It’s open to Star Alliance Gold status passengers as well as business and first class ticket holders.
British Airways Concorde Room, London Heathrow T5
Refreshed in November 2017, the Concorde Room is for BA’s first class passengers and Gold Guest List members. There’s an à la carte restaurant for dining and a bar service.
Emirates, London Heathrow T3
This well-equipped lounge has plenty of secluded spots to work and relax, and has the advantage of direct boarding of the plane from the lounge.
Etihad Airways, London Heathrow T4
Adjacent to the Terminal 4 Skyteam lounge, this has free spa treatments (albeit in 15-minute appointments), good food and a buzzy atmosphere. It’s for first and business class passengers combined.
Qantas, London Heathrow T3
Opened in November 2017, this has Neil Perry’s Aussie-style dishes, a cocktail bar, six shower suites, workstations and more besides. For first and business class passengers combined.
United Airlines Club, London Heathrow T2B
One of the three Star Alliance airline lounges in Terminal 2B, the United lounge has good views, a lovely atmosphere and a long bar with good service and a wide selection of drinks.
Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse, London Heathrow T3
There have been recent changes including losing the spa bath, but this is still one of the top lounges in the world, and a great advertisement for the differentiation the Virgin brand has brought to flying.
British Airways Club and First, Gatwick South
With good views, a choice of wines and food and a mezzanine level in the Club lounge, these two newish lounges have been warmly welcomed by BA passengers.
51st & Green, Dublin
This is the pre-clearance business lounge for flights to the US. You can pay for access $40 per person online or $45 at reception, though it is complimentary to business class ticket holders.
Air France La Premiere,
Paris Charles de Gaulle
Opinions differ about Air France, but there is a consensus about this classy lounge with its Clarins spa, top wines and serene, peaceful atmosphere.
Aspire, Zurich Terminal E
Aspire has two lounges at Zurich. This one is that rare phenomenon – a lounge with an outdoor terrace, plus views of the apron, runway and the main terminal. It’s a pay to enter lounge starting at $38 per visit.
Finnair Premium, Helsinki
Great for the Finnish design, food and sauna. Exclusively for Finnair Plus Platinum and Gold members, or Oneworld Emerald cardholders.
KLM Crown, Amsterdam Schiphol
This lounge for intercontinental business passengers is undergoing an upgrade, but is still open; completion is planned for 2019.
Lufthansa First Class, Frankfurt
Dedicating an entire terminal to first class customers is simply amazing and is many fliers’ most memorable lounge experience. Lufthansa and Swiss frequent fliers are welcome.
VIP Lounge Frankfurt
A luxurious VIP area with limousine service, restaurant, private rooms/suites and cigar lounge. Premium services, bundled at premium prices – starting from around $380 per person.
Swiss First, Zurich Terminal A
This lounge reopened in March 2018 with great food, bedrooms and an outside terrace in the summer. It’s widely considered to be one of the best lounges in the world. Over in Terminal E, another Swiss First lounge is not as new, but just as luxurious featuring bedrooms and an outside terrace.
Turkish Airlines, Istanbul
It may be crowded, but this lounge has everything to while away the hours of a long layover, with plenty to eat, a great drinks selection and spaces to sit and relax.
MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA
British Airways Galleries/First, Johannesburg OR Tambo
BA’s First and Club lounges in Johannesburg have a great selection of fresh food, a great wine selection, good coffee and free massages.
Emirates First Class, Dubai
The two Emirates lounges had a $11 million refurbishment completed in 2016. Paid-for access used to be for Emirates passengers, but since 2017 you can buy your way into first class for $200, while the business class lounge costs around half that price.
Etihad Airways First, Abu Dhabi
The service, food and drink are all first-rate, according to our 2016 BT review. You take a quick workout or spruce up at the barbers or spa before the flight. You can pay to get in (from $200 for first class, $100 for business).
Qatar Airways Al Mourjan, Doha
One of five Qatar lounges in the main terminal, all sumptuous, this one is noteworthy for its gracious space and variety. Another Qatar lounge, the Al Safwa, is just as gracious but reserved exclusively for first class ticket holders flying with Qatar Airways.
Saudia Alfursan Golden, Riyadh
Both first and business under one roof, with first class more secluded. There’s a good buffet, showers and Apple computers to use.
JAL First, Tokyo Narita
The first class lounge for Oneworld Emerald members (the Sakura lounge is for business class). It’s small, with a buffet section of Japanese and Western food, plus showers.
American Express The Centurion, Hong Kong
For Amex Platinum Card and Centurion members. The Centurion area features a menu by chef Lau Yiu Fai of the Michelin-starred Yan Toh Heen at the Intercontinental Hong Kong.
Cathay Pacific The Deck, Hong Kong
Opened in March 2018, this replaces the Cabin lounge. It’s for Cathay’s first and business class passengers, Marco Polo Club Silver members, plus Oneworld Emerald and Sapphire members.
Cathay Pacific The Pier First,
Cathay Pacific has a number of lounges at Hong Kong: The Wing, The Cabin, The Bridge and The Pier. The Pier was refurbished in 2015, and the BT review in 2016 called it “superb.”
Singapore Airlines Silverkris, Singapore Changi T2
There are two Silverkris lounges in Terminal 2B at Changi Airport – left for first class, right for business. While the business class lounge beats some first class lounges, the understated luxury of the Silverkris first class lounge is certainly a step above.
Cathay Pacific, Singapore Changi T4
Opened in 2017, this is one of the distinctive Studioilse-designed lounges which are becoming Cathay trademarks. Facilities include a noodle station, but no showers or tended bar.
Cathay Pacific, Shanghai Pudong
The Cathay Pacific and Dragonair lounge is for first or business travelers plus one guest; or for Oneworld business class passengers.
China Airlines, Taipei Taoyuan
An impressive, surprisingly large and stylish business lounge with extensive food options, showers, workstations and more. The buffet has a mix of Chinese and Western dishes.
Hong Kong Airlines Club Autus, Hong Kong
Opened in 2017 at a cost of more than $4 million, there are showers, a huge buffet and great views of the bridge to Macau. It’s free for first and business class passengers, or you can pay HK$350 (about $45) for entry.
Malaysia Airlines Golden,
Reopened in March 2018 after months of renovation, this smart lounge in the international terminal is a showcase for Malaysian food, with traditional Malay, Indian-Malay and Sino-Malay dishes, plus Western food.
Skyteam, Hong Kong
Often busy, but a highlight here is the “on demand” noodle bar, which provides three types of Chinese noodles that are cooked on order.
Thai Airways Royal First, Bangkok
The feel is calm and friendly, and you can have a complimentary one-hour full body massage. Just make sure you don’t miss the plane.
AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND
Air New Zealand International, Auckland
Opened in 2015, the ANZ flagship lounge is for ANZ business class passengers and travelers with a lot of Airpoints.
Qantas First, Brisbane
Qantas started out in Queensland nearly 100 years ago, so their Brisbane lounge is special with lots of natural light and smart design.
Virgin Australia, Brisbane
Like the Virgin Australia lounges in the bigger cities, there’s a dedicated espresso and wine bar in the center of this lounge. The WiFi is fast.
Qantas International Transit, Perth
With Qantas’ nonstop flights from London, this lounge focuses on “wellness” with healthy food, yoga classes, “bright light therapy” and other jetlag-countering ideas for travelers on long haul flights.
Virgin Australia, Sydney
The signature espresso and wine bar lies in the center of the room, but there are also meeting rooms, and a huge range of reading material.