How to wait in comfort
There can be precious little to do at an airport between checking in and taking off if you have bought all your souvenirs and don't fancy sitting in crowded departure lounges. In these days of heightened security, you may have hours and hours to while away before you board the airplane. Investing £16-£20 in a couple of hours in an airport lounge could be the answer. They can be a haven of air-conditioned peace and quiet in busy airports, and they have recently opened up to all travellers not just business people bound for that big meeting in Beijing.
Airport lounges offer free soft and alcoholic drinks, tea, coffee and snacks, tv, fax, email and Wi-Fi and local and international newspapers and magazines. Some of the more luxurious lounges have spas, gyms, showers, steam cleaning, shoe shining and, in some cases, babysitting.
I have a very early flight. Can I stay in the lounge all night?
No. Most lounges allow passengers to stay for about two hours prior to departure. They usually keep the same hours as the airport so will not be open over night anyway. Opening times of 6am to 10pm are typical.
Can I bring my children?
Depends on what age they are. While some lounges offer babysitting, many specify that only children over the age of 12 are allowed. In lounges which welcome children they must be accompanied by an adult at all times.
I'm interested in doing some recreational surfing, how do I book a lounge?
The airline you are flying with may operate its own lounges. For example, access to British Airways’ lounges is available to passengers travelling in First, Club World and Club Europe, plus Silver and Gold Executive Club members. British Airways lounges include the First, Terraces and Galleries lounges operated by (or on behalf) of BA and the oneworld partners. Terraces is one of the British Airways lounge types and offers drinks and snacks, business and online facilities (Wi-Fi, use of a computer), washrooms, sanctuary (with sofas, daybeds and recliners), library and quiet area.
Open to Flying Club Gold members, Virgin's Clubhouses at Heathrow and Gatwick are closer to private members' clubs. They are the last word in luxury offering massages, manicures or haircuts, drinks and a delicious menu. In addition, there are lounges at airports around the world (including Manchester) that are open to Upper Class passengers.
Members of Rewards4all, Flybe’s Frequent Flyer Programme, and passengers with Economy Plus tickets have access to the airline's lounges. Wi-Fi access, complimentary drinks, magazines and snacks are available. Executive lounges are available at Aberdeen, Belfast City, Birmingham, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Guernsey, Inverness, Jersey, London Gatwick, Manchester and Southampton. Economy Plus passengers can also use partner lounges in several airports around the UK and Europe such as the Isle of Man, Amsterdam and Paris.
I'm a budget traveller...
For price-conscious travellers, easyJet has opened easyJetLounges. There are the usual perks - beverages and soft drinks, newspapers, internet access - and cost from £14.50 per person. They can be found in most of easyJet’s European bases. Book via easyJet's website.
Alternatively, book with a travel extras website
Airport lounges (website: www.holidayextras.co.uk) offers lounges at 22 airports around the UK including Gatwick, Heathrow, Stansted, Manchester and Glasgow from about £20 per person.
BCP (website: www.parkbcp.co.uk) book lounges (up to a three-hour stay) at 22 UK airports including London Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted and Luton, Edinburgh and Glasgow and Manchester from £12 per person.
Updated April 2013