Lounges are one of the best perks for frequent flyers. In the midst of noisy, crowded airports, lounges are areas of relative calm and quiet where you can relax, get some work done, and/or enjoy some complimentary food and drink (before enjoying even more complimentary food and drink on your flight). 😉
After visiting a host of lounges in airports across the globe, I have come to appreciate how lounges vastly differ in what they have to offer.
In an ideal world, any decent lounge will have a variety of seating options, hot and cold food options, a variety of beverages, and (ideally) a nice view.
But that is not always the case. For example, at the bottom of my list, the Air Astana business class lounge in Almaty, Kazakhstan, which offers a place to sit, but charges for everything else (including water). I wound up spending time exploring the (small) terminal instead.
This is a stark contrast to, say, the Turkish Airlines business class lounge in Istanbul, with diverse food, beverage, and entertainment options that warrant at least several hours to fully appreciate.
Major hubs often have a variety of lounges to choose from. Your access to these lounges will depend on your class of service, the airline alliance with whom you are flying, and any lounge pass (e.g., Priority Pass) or credit card you hold. Knowing which lounges you have access to and researching which perks each lounge has can be the difference between drinking Coors Light and decent champagne prior to your flight.
What Is Lounge Hopping?
Lounge hopping is the practice of optimizing your airport experience by enjoying the best of one lounge and then moving on to another lounge to do the same. You could be motivated to lounge-hop by an amenity offered in one lounge, like a shower, and then move on to more exciting food and drink options in another lounge. Or, perhaps you’d like to get some work done in a less crowded lounge before moving to another for a specialty cocktail in a busier lounge.
Whatever your motivation, doing a bit of research and planning in advance can turn an ordinary airport experience into a relaxing and fulfilling way to pass the time before your flight.
There are usually no rules limiting you from hopping between the many lounges available to you on the day of your flight, besides the fact that some Priority Pass lounges may restrict entry based on your flight time (i.e., you may only access the lounge a certain number of hours before your flight) or impose a maximum stay limit.
Therefore, if you find that there are a dozen lounges you can visit at a certain airport prior to departure, you’re more than welcome to show up well in advance and maximize the experience hopping from one lounge to another.
Resources for Planning
Prior to your flight, you will want to do some research into the lounges you have access to, the layout of the airport, and maybe what others have written about the lounges.
If you are flying on a business class or First Class ticket, each airline alliance (Star Alliance, Oneworld, and SkyTeam) has a search engine that tells you the location, amenities, and access policy of lounges in any given airport. This will give you a good idea of how many lounges you have at your disposal, as with a ticket in a premium cabin, you can access almost any lounge associated with the airline alliance with whom you are travelling.
You can also load up airport maps on the Star Alliance website. This is particularly helpful if you’d like to get an idea of the airport’s layout and the location of different lounges. Note that, while all available lounges are displayed for some airports, I also found instances where no lounges were listed when there were indeed several options available.
Similarly, if you have a Priority Pass membership through a credit card (such as the American Express Platinum Card or American Express Business Platinum Card), you can search for lounges that you have access to in any given airport on the Priority Pass website.
With this information, you will want to note the terminal from which you will depart and the terminal(s) with the best lounges. You will sometimes need to allow an extra hour or more to transit between terminals, go through security, and arrive at your gate (or another lounge) in time for boarding.
Lastly, you may want to do a bit of research into what others have said about the available lounges. There could be valuable information about typical peak times for each lounge, specific food and beverage options, hours of operation, and amenities that set one lounge apart from the rest.
A Firsthand Experience at London Heathrow
I recently flew from London to Frankfurt and found myself with a few extra hours to spare due to a cancelled flight. As per usual, I arrived at the airport many hours in advance of my flight, wanting to lounge-hop, do some work, and get to know the airport better.
With a Lufthansa business class ticket, I was directed to the Lufthansa Business Lounge in Terminal 2A, just after security. I was pleasantly surprised to find special Oktoberfest food and beverages available, and spent some time enjoying fresh pretzels, sausages, Bavarian mustard, and a cappuccino.
After breakfast, I thought I would relocate to the Singapore Airlines SilverKris Lounge, located in Terminal 2B, which was about a 15 minute walk. The Lufthansa lounge did not have a shower, and after a quick search on the Star Alliance Lounge Finder, I saw that the Singapore Airlines lounge did.
After a refreshing shower, I decided to get some work done in the SilverKris Lounge at one of the semi-private workstations. I also took the opportunity to enjoy a Singapore Sling from the bar and Salcombe Dairy Singapore Sling ice cream that is exclusively made for this lounge.
My laptop battery was soon to die, and having forgotten a UK adaptor at home, I decided to move across the hall to the Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge, hoping that there would be a North American plug to use. Sure enough, the work stations had North American sockets, and I finished up some work while enjoying some champagne and a quick lunch. Before boarding my flight, I headed back to the Lufthansa Business Lounge for another pretzel and an Oktoberfest beer.
A Few More Examples
I’ve picked out a few other examples of airports around the world that are particularly well-suited to lounge hopping.
1. Miami International Airport
Imagine you are flying out of Miami on a Finnair business class ticket, giving you access to any of the Oneworld lounges. You also have the American Express Platinum Card, which gives you access to both the Centurion Lounge and an unlimited Priority Pass membership.
The flight to Helsinki departs at 9:45pm, and you decide to consider how you’d like to spend your time at the airport. A quick search on the Oneworld lounge finder shows that you can access four lounges, including the American Airlines Flagship Lounge in Concourse D, which is also where Miami’s Centurion Lounge happens to be located.
As a Priority Pass member, you also note that there are another four lounges that you can access. You’d have access to two Star Alliance lounges – Turkish Airlines (Concourse E) and Avianca (Concourse J) – as well as the Club America Lounge (Concourse D) and the LATAM VIP Lounge Miami (Concourse J).
If you are particularly keen on airports and don’t mind a few trips through security, you could spread out your stay across all of the different lounges over the course of the day. After one last meal aboard Finnair, I imagine you’d be ready to doze off as you hop across the Atlantic fully horizontal and well-stuffed.
2. Los Angeles International Airport
If you find yourself stuck at LAX on a long layover followed by an Air Canada business class flight, there is a surprising number of lounges at your disposal.
You could start your lounge-hopping journey at the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse in Terminal 2, which grants access to Priority Pass cardholders between the hours of 5am and 10:45am.
Then, in the Tom Bradley International Terminal, you can enjoy access to the Star Alliance Lounge from your Air Canada business class ticket, as well as the Korean Air Lounge with Priority Pass between the hours of 11am and 5pm.
Finally, you could then make your way to the the Maple Leaf Lounge (thanks to your Air Canada business class ticket) and the Alaska Lounge (with Priority Pass) in Terminal 6, which is where you’d board your Air Canada flight.
3. Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport
Bangkok Suvarnabhumi boasts one of the more impressive lounge offerings in Asia, with 14 Priority Pass lounges and nine Star Alliance lounges (10 if you are booked on a First Class ticket).
Priority Pass will get you entry to the Turkish Airlines Lounge, the Oman Air First & Business Class Lounge, and the Air France–KLM SkyLounge, all of which appear to be perfectly reasonable places to relax before your flight.
If you are on a business class ticket with a Star Alliance airline, you can also enjoy the amenities of the Singapore Airlines SilverKris Lounge, the EVA Air Lounge, and any of the Thai Airways Royal Silk and Royal Orchid Lounges. And if you have time, you can even treat yourself to a complimentary 30-minute neck/shoulder or foot massage if you are flying with Thai Airways business class, or a one-hour body massage if you’re flying in Thai Airways First Class, at the Royal Orchid Spa.
4. Singapore Changi Airport
Lastly, Singapore Changi has a whopping 12 Priority Pass lounge options, five Star Alliance lounges, and six Oneworld lounges at your disposal.
Some of the Priority Pass lounges are used as contract lounges by airlines who don’t have proper lounges. If you have time, one particularly interesting Priority Pass location to visit before your flight might be the Jewel Changi Lounge, a lounge situated within the airside Jewel shopping mall complex at Changi Airport.
Oneworld flyers departing Singapore have a very attractive lineup of lounges to choose from, including the British Airways Lounge & Bar, the Cathay Pacific Lounge, and the brand-new Qantas Lounge.
Meanwhile, although there are many options available to you as a Star Alliance passenger, it is unlikely that you will find anything better than the Singapore Airlines flagship lounges.
One of the best ways to enhance your travel experience is to be familiar with the lounges that you can access with your ticket, credit card, or lounge membership. In most major airports, there will be at least several lounge options to choose from, and as many of you can appreciate, the amenities, food, drink, and seating options can vary greatly between lounges.
If you don’t mind arriving at the airport early, you can experience the best of what each lounge has to offer by planning out your visit and lounge hopping. Those of you who are even more motivated can spend an entire day indulging in cuisines and beverages unique to different airlines.
Lounge hopping might involve some planning in advance and the willingness to go through security multiple times. While this could be a deterrent to some, it allows the airport enthusiasts among us (or anyone with a long layover) to squeeze some extra value out of their ticket, credit card, or lounge membership.
Have you ever lounge-hopped before? Do you know of any other airports that are particularly well-suited to lounge hopping? Feel free to leave a comment below.