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Travel news, reviews and intel for high-flyers

A zone of their own

As the competition for premium travelers grows more intense, airlines and airports are concentrating more resources at the beginning of the trip. The result is a host of new lounge experiences cropping up in airports around the world.

With the relentless growth of airline traffic, frequent fliers are seeking more than just serenity and a snack in those moments prior to boarding. In addition to peace and quiet, what these travelers expect is a top-end dining experience, technology that works and a little something special in the way of customer service.

Here’s a look at some of the latest lounge launches and product innovations around the world.

The Americas

United Polaris Lounge

LOCATION Chicago O’Hare International Airport near Gate C18.

INFO The Polaris Lounge was designed to complement the Polaris business class seat. The lounge features a number of semi-private seats that are spacious and quiet. The lounge offers an upscale dining experience, including a buffet and salad bar. There is also a complimentary full-service restaurant.

Eight more Polaris Lounges are scheduled to open in the following cities – Los Angeles, San Francisco, Houston, New York/Newark, Washington Dulles, Tokyo Narita, Hong Kong and London Heathrow.

ELIGIBILITY United Polaris business and first class customers, as well as Star Alliance premium passengers departing on international flights. However, United Club members and Star Alliance Gold members do not have access unless they are ticketed in business class.

The Club

LOCATION Boston Logan International Airport Terminal E

INFO The second independent lounge by Airport Lounge Development group will have a two-phase opening at Boston Logan. The first phase is now operating from 5:30 AM to 1:00 AM offering guests premium alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, snacks, WiFi, power outlets throughout, flat-screen televisions, a variety of reading materials and more,

The second phase will happen this summer, which will include an updated 3,506 square feet of space with new restrooms and shower facilities.

ELIGIBILITY Access to the lounge is available to travelers through the purchase of a day pass online or at the lounge. It is also available to members of Priority Pass, LoungeKey and Lounge Club, in addition to premium passengers of participating airlines.

Star Alliance Lounge

LOCATION Rio de Janeiro’s Galeão – Tom Jobim International Airport level 3 of the new international departures pier in terminal 2

INFO The 6,500-square-foot lounge is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and offers seating for more than 150 guests with views across the airport and beyond. Views across the airport and beyond to key Rio de Janeiro landmarks – Sugar Loaf and Christ the Redeemer – are visible in the distance.

ELIGIBILITY Passengers traveling on Star Alliance flights in either First or Business Class or to those holding Star Alliance Gold status. In addition the lounge is open to Air Canada Maple Leaf worldwide card holders and United Club members traveling in Economy Class.

Turkish Airlines

LOCATION Dulles International Airport, Washington, DC.

INFO The Turkish Airlines lounges at Dulles is the first in the US for the airline. The lounge offers a food and beverage buffet, showers and bathroom facilities, free WiFi, a business area, prayer and relaxation rooms, a direct connection to the Aerobridge, and entertainment.

ELIGIBILITY The facility serves Turkish Air Business Class and Star Alliance passengers.


Qatar Airways Premium Lounge

LOCATION Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport Terminal 1, 11th floor

INFO The 10,000-square-foot space features two roof terraces with views of the city including the Eiffel Tower and seating for 200 guests. The lounge has complimentary WiFi, a business center with Mac computers and numerous charging outlets. Customers can choose from several dining options and there are private shower facilities, male and female prayer rooms, and plenty of seating for rest and rejuvenation.

ELIGIBILITY The facility is open to Qatar Airways First and Business Class passengers, inclusive of oneworld members.

KLM Crown Lounge

LOCATION Amsterdam Schipol Airport between Pier E and Pier F

COMPLETION DATE Spring of 2019­­­­

INFO Over the next two years Dutch airline KLM will redesign and enlarge its international Crown Lounge at Amsterdam Schiphol. The lounge currently is on the second floor and will be extended with a third floor during renovations. The work will be completed in stages and the lounge will remain open as the airline renovates the space. Seating capacity will be increased from 800 to 1,400 guests and the renovations will add new technology and dining concepts.

ELIGIBILITY The lounge is for business class passengers on intercontinental flights.

British Airways Club & First Lounges

LOCATION Gatwick Airport

INFO Like its Heathrow equivalent, the lounge complex offers separate spaces for First Class and Club World guests. The combined lounge entrance has two check-in desks; take a left for the First lounge and a right for the Club lounge. While the First lounge is the more exclusive space, the Club lounge counters by being visually more impressive.

There is one WiFi network, and while the Club lounge does not have a dedicated business center, there are plugs at every seat. The Club lounge offers showers alongside its toilet facilities and has a kids’ play room as well.

ELIGIBILITY First and Club World Europe travelers and Executive Gold and Silver card frequent fliers

Casa Alitalia

LOCATIONS Rome Fiumicino and Milan Malpensa airports

INFO The new Casa Alitalia lounges in Rome and Milan are part of a new concept conceived by the airline and famed Italian architect Marco Piva. The Rome facility can accommodate 115 guests while the Milan one has seats for 90. Each lounge comes with a live cooking area where chefs will prepare fresh pasta dishes and pizzas in front of guests. There is also a standard buffet area, as well as several VIP rooms, a library, prayer room and shower facilities.

ELIGIBILITY Alitalia’s Freccia Alata Plus and Freccia Alata members, and Skyteam Elite Plus members, holders of long-haul and medium-haul Alitalia business class tickets and holders of Alitalia American Express Platinum cards flying with Alitalia. A single-use admission ticket to the lounges can also be purchased for €30 ($33) on the web.

Asia Pacific

Cathay Pacific – The Pier Business Class Lounge

LOCATION Hong Kong International Airport located near Gate 65

INFO Cathay Pacific’s The Pier business class lounge occupies 35,500 square feet, making it the airline’s largest lounge, with seating for 550 people. Facilities include a dedicated dining section, 13 shower suites, and a relaxation room that features 18 low loungers and other seating. Universal plugs and USB ports under small shelves are within easy reach, allowing business travelers to maintain productivity within the lounge.

ELIGIBILITY Cathay Pacific first and business class passengers, Marco Polo Club Silver and above members, all tier members who have earned lounge passes and/or their friends and families, and Oneworld Emerald and Sapphire members.

Japan Airlines Sakura Lounge

LOCATION Suvarnabhumi International Airport Bangkok

INFO The refurbished lounge has received a new layout in line with the airline’s international lounges in Japan. Along with the reworked space, a new carry-on baggage area with digital locks has been introduced. A new smoking area has been added and the food and beverage offering has been upgraded. The one existing shower suite in the refurbished lounge has been revamped as well and another two have been added.

ELIGIBILITY JAL Mileage Bank Members, JAL Global Club, and first class, business class, premium economy and full economy fare travelers.

Plaza Premium Lounge

LOCATION Brisbane Airport Level 4 of the departures area

INFO The new Brisbane facility is the debut Australian lounge by Plaza Premium, featuring a rustic yet modern design. Floor-to-ceiling windows fill the lounge with natural sunlight, while providing views of the terminal and runway. Also present is the company’s signature honeycomb seating – productivity booths that provide privacy for single travelers looking to work in the lounge. There are plenty of electrical outlets available and complimentary WiFi is also offered.

ELIGIBILITY The lounge is open to all travelers regardless of airline and travel class. A visit of up to five hours will cost $46.

Africa – Middle East

Emirates Lounge

LOCATION Cape Town International Airport international departures corridor next to Gate A3.

INFO The development of this new two-level lounge comes as Emirates ramps up capacity on flights between Dubai and Cape Town with the launch of its third daily service. The lounge can accommodate up to 123 people comfortably, and features a dedicated dining area with a choice of bar seating, a business center that is equipped with touch-screen workstations, a TV area, shower suites and a prayer room.

ELIGIBILITY Emirates first class and business class customers, as well as Skywards platinum and gold members

Etihad First Class Lounge & Spa

LOCATION Abu Dhabi International Airport Terminal 3

INFO Measuring just under 18,000 square feet, Etihad Airway’s newest lounge consists of 16 zones. These include an à la carte restaurant, showcase bar, fitness room, cigar lounge, Six Senses Spa, Style & Shave barbers, nail bar, TV room, relaxation room, prayer room and children’s play room. The Residence customers also have their own exclusive area, which features custom-made Poltrona Frau Italian leather armchairs and sofas, a private shower room, a prayer room and private dining area. Oh, and did we mention that this area is served by a Savoy-trained butler too?

ELIGIBILITY Guests of The Residence, Etihad first class, Etihad Guest Exclusive, Etihad Guest platinum members (plus one guest), Etihad Airways Partner (EAP) airline first class guests, EAP ‘Invitation only’ members (plus two guests) and EAP equivalent platinum members (plus one guest).

Emirates Business Class Lounge

LOCATION Dubai International Airport at Concourse B

INFO Emirates has completed an $11 million renovation of its business class lounge at Dubai International. The refurbishment project took two years to complete and measures close to 10,000 square feet to accommodate over 1,500 customers – a 40 percent increase in seating capacity.

Emirates says that the three new refreshment areas are the first of a several new concepts planned for the lounges at the Emirates hub in Dubai. The Business Class lounge in concourse B is one of six Emirates lounges at Dubai International Airport.

ELIGIBILITY Emirates First Class and Business Class customers, as well as Emirates Skywards Platinum, Gold and Silver members.

Skyteam Lounge Dubai

LOCATION Concourse D, Terminal 1, Dubai International Airport

INFO Featuring Skyteam’s new design concept, most recently seen in the Hong Kong lounge, this 10,000-square-foot facility is open 24/7 and offers seating for 180 customers. Complimentary hot and cold dishes representing the cuisines of Skyteam’s member airlines in Dubai are offered throughout the day. WiFi is available, and there is also a dedicated business center offering printing services. Other facilities include a separate TV room and a children’s room.

ELIGIBILITY First and business class passengers traveling on international flights operated by Skyteam member airlines, and Skyteam Elite Plus cardholders.

Ethiopian Airlines Cloud 9

LOCATION Addis Ababa Bole International Airport

INFO The lounge is comfortable, with fast WiFi (ask for a code at the reception) and a lots of places to sit, eat and work. The lounge is large, and at certain times of the day relatively quiet. The real test would be at a busy time of the day, but it was also clean and the staff members are helpful.

ELIGIBILITY The lounge is used not only by those flying business class on Ethiopian Airlines, but also those flying business class internationally with other airlines, and whose carriers have negotiated access to the lounge.