Airline lounges provide sanctuaries for harried passengers Patti Pietschmann Starting tomorrow, Dec. 20, air terminals (and highways leading to them) will be jammed with holiday travelers going home, to visit friends and relatives or heading on a well-earned vacation. Most will endure long periods waiting in crowded airports. But savvy flyers will head to one of many comfy airline lounges where they can enjoy drinks, snacks, WiFi and a more relaxing experience for $40 a person (and up), free for some First Class passengers and for an annual fee for others.
(The Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse at LAX is free for upper class passengers and one of the tops in this writer's book, along with the old Virgin America Loft at LAX, which is now closed but passengers can access Alaska Airlines lounge). Photos by Patti Pietschmann
Which ones are the best? The old Virgin American Loft (pictured above) at LAX was one of my favorites. Delta's lounges are also right up them with this travel writer especially at LAX where some tasty snacks and good wine and spirits are served. However Priority Pass picked a selection from Jamaica to Dubai to consider.
The awards are based on ratings provided by Priority Pass Members and recognize excellence within the world's largest independent lounge membership program. Priority Pass now includes more than 1000 airport lounges in over 500 cities and is this year celebrating its 25th Anniversary.
The organization's overall winner for this year is Club Kingston, at Jamaica's Kingston Norman Manley International Airport. With a decidedly Jamaican flair, the lounge features artwork and décor sourced from across the country plus local food and drink including traditional Jamaican patties and peas soup - all served to a gentle soundtrack of reggae music. An on-site bartender even creates signature cocktails, including a 'Club Kingston Classic', 'Priority Passion' and 'VIP Splash'. But it's not all pleasure! The lounge also offers excellent facilities to support business travelers on the move, including a conference facility and dedicated work stations.
They also chose Tallinn Airport Business Lounge at the Lennart Meri Airport Tallin, Estonia as Best Lounge in Europe , closely followed by La Valette Club in Malta International Airport. Tallinn's Airport Business Lounge was designed to give travelers the feeling that they are waiting for their flight in the comfort of their own living room and aims to live up to the airport's customer promise of being "the worlds cosiest airport". Stand-out features include a massage chair and sleeping pods, a library where travelers can select an in-flight read, a curated selection of local food, beer, wine and spirits, a cosy electric fireplace and even an outdoor terrace - all of which clearly helped the lounge draw the plaudits of Priority Pass Members throughout 2017.
This year's overall winners are:
Global: Club Kingston at Kingston Norman Manley International
Europe: Tallinn Airport Business Lounge at Lennart Meri Tallinn Airport
Asia Pacific: SATS Premier Lounge at Singapore Changi International
North America: Salon VIP Lounge, Québec Jean Lesage International
The Club MCO at Orlando International Airport in Florida was ranked top for Best Business Facilities, with its 'Productivity Zone' (designed to help guests conduct business calls in private and provide a quiet space to work) proving very popular with travelers. The Club MCO was closely followed by Dubai International Business Class Lounge at Dubai International Airport, which was also highly commended in this category. Both lounges received further recognition in their respective regional awards, with The Club MCO 'highly commended' in North America, while the luxurious Dubai International Business Class Lounge was named top lounge within the Middle Eastand Africa.
Other North American lounges that fared very well in the final two categories, include Turkish Airlines' Lounge in Washington DC winning Best Quality of Refreshments. Its signature dishes of lamb with baked eggplant and Mediterranean salmon, often followed up with Turkish tea or coffee alongside fresh baklava, proved a hit with travelers. Elsewhere, The Club BWI in Baltimore USA, was recognized for the service and attitude of its lounge staff.
In the Asia Pacific market, SATS Premier Lounge Terminal 3 at the world-renowned Singapore Changi International Airport, was named Regional Lounge of the Year. The lounge is known for giving its guests a chance to experience Singaporean culture, featuring real orchids, a display of Peranakan porcelain plus artwork depicting local scenes, decorating the lounge - which also hosts regular events, (such as serving fresh mooncakes during the Mooncake festival) ensuring that visitors are treated to a unique experience each time they enter the lounge. Its signature SATS Laksa meal is also a favourite for travelers.
Ahlan Business Class Lounge at Dubai International was named Lounge of the Year for the Middle East & Africa. Surrounded by wine barrels and wine chillers, the lounge specializes in creating personalized dining experiences for guests. Its signature 'Refresh' cocktail, a buffet offering an array of Arabic delicacies, a la carte menu and spa - all helped the lounge secure its win. It was also highly commended in the Best Business Facilities category.
Priority Pass received over 72,000 ratings from its Members in this year's awards via the lounge rating function on the Priority Pass website and app. Members provide ratings on a wide range of criteria covering overall lounge quality, refreshments, staff, business facilities and ambience.The original and largest independent airport lounge membership program.
Priority Pass is the original and largest independent airport lounge membership program, accepted at over 1000 lounges worldwide across 500+ cities and in more than 130 countries, (regardless of class of travel / airline flown) plus access to exclusive Collinson partnerships and dining, retail and spa offers through the Priority Pass app.
Priority Pass is a flagship product of the Collinson Group, a global leader in influencing customer behaviour to drive revenue and value for its clients and program members. The Group offers a unique blend of industry and sector specialists who together provide market-leading expertise in delivering products and services across four core capabilities: Lifestyle Benefits, Loyalty, Insurance, and Assistance. Collinson Group has more than 25 years' experience, with 25 global locations, servicing over 800 clients in 150 countries, employing over 2000 staff, managing over 20 million end customers.