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Study: More Than Half of Frequent Travelers Use Airport Lounges

A recent report by Airport Dimension has revealed that more than half of frequent travelers have used airport lounges, while the demand for premium retail experiences within lounges is also growing

by Fergus Cole

January 17, 2023

Photo: Courtesy of Alaska Airlines

According to new data, the demand for airport lounges is increasing as over half of frequent travelers have visited one during their travels.

The Airport Experience Research report from lounge specialists Airport Dimensions has found that 57% of frequent flyers have visited an airport lounge at some point in their lives. Furthermore, the research revealed that as the demand for airport lounges is growing, so is the public’s appetite for enhanced retail experiences while using these spaces, with many willing to pay for these extra services.

According to the survey, 25% of visitors to airport lounges went there because the class of flight they were taking allowed them to do so. In addition, almost a fifth (19%) of passengers accessed lounges because it was permitted under a loyalty program, such as Priority Pass, while the same number visited lounges as part of their membership with certain airlines. Meanwhile, 18% of passengers surveyed said they pay directly to access the spaces.

Photo: Schiphol Spaces Lounge. Courtesy of Amsterdam Schiphol Airport

Although airport lounges were traditionally used almost exclusively by business travelers in the past, the survey suggested that this trend may be changing. Just 56% of respondents said they used lounges for their quiet business facilities. At the same time, the biggest draw is now the food and drink on offer at airport lounges, with 78% of travelers using lounges for this reason, followed by 68% who said they used them for their leisure facilities.

Respondents were also asked what facilities they wanted in an airport lounge. The top digital priority for customers was access to flight information, with 83% saying this was the most crucial digital feature. Meanwhile, 80% said being able to order food and drinks online was necessary, and 65% said access to online shopping was a priority.

And while many lounges offer complimentary snacks and beverages, more than a third (68%) of lounge visitors said they would be willing to pay for premium food and drink options. In comparison, 56% said they would be happy to splash out on personal grooming and spa services should they be on offer.

Photo: Clarins Spa inside the Air France Lounge. Courtesy of Air France

“The line between the lounge and traditional airport commerce is blurring,” said Stephen Hay, Global Strategy Director at Airport Dimensions. “While airports in the past have seen lounges as somewhat of a black hole for retail spend, it is now clear that they have the potential to become solid drivers of revenue.”

“While these new revenue opportunities are important, we should not forget that the primary function of the airport lounge is to provide an amazing and increasingly customized experience for each guest,” added Hay.

The last few years have been quite tricky for the aviation industry, with a near-total shutdown of flights across the globe during the pandemic followed by a flurry of staff shortages, strikes, extreme weather, and technical glitches, all causing chaos at airports and disruptions for travelers. 

American Airlines Admirals Club Lounge, Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport / Photo:

As a result, it is normal to see such a high demand for airport lounges, which often work as an oasis for the chaos that airline disruption causes outside its walls. 

Many airlines have been opening or refurbishing airport lounges in recent months in response to growing demand, including United Airlines, which opened a new United Club at Chicago O’Hare (ORD). 

However, other airlines have been restricting access to their lounges in the face of overcrowding, including Delta Air Lines, which recently banned their employees from visiting their lounges until further notice.