Air travel has changed since its heyday. What was once a luxury experience has since been replaced with shrinking seat-sizes, overpacked terminals and overworked flight crews.
There are a few airlines however, whose top-tier service out does the days of PanAm flying, and whose onboard experiences are only rivaled by their on-the-ground lounges. Here’s a shortlist of some of the most incredible airline lounges across the world, that are keeping the idea of luxury in the skies, alive.
Lufthansa First Class Terminal, Frankfurt
If you’re passing through Frankfurt on a Lufthansa first class flight, get ready for a lounge experience unlike any other. Lufthansa’s first class lounge isn’t just a lounge – it’s an entire dedicated terminal exclusively for first class travelers.
Lufthansa’s First Class Terminal is first and foremost, extensive. At 19,400 square feet (outdone only by the Emirates First Class lounge in Dubai), this dedicated terminal-lounge guarantees that you’ll definitely have ample privacy, and plenty of space for lounging and dining.
Unsurprisingly, first class travelers are treated to an incredible dining experience, complete with a wide selection of top-shelf wine and liquor. There are also private workstations with sliding doors and phones, quality wifi throughout the lounge (surprisingly not always a given in lounges) and a dedicated children’s area for families flying together. Plus, there are a few amenities in the Lufthansa’s First Class Terminal that truly do surprise.
The first, is the cigar lounge, which offers a selection of cigars starring Switzerland’s Villager brand, along with over 130 different kinds of whisky & scotch, and it’s the perfect place for smokers to unwind. Then there is Lufthansa’s bathroom suite. While most First Class lounges offer showers for their guests to use, Lufthansa, is one of the only airlines who also offer a bathtub suite, complete with their limited-edition, signature rubber duckies.
The luxury experience at Lufthansa’s first class terminal isn’t just limited to the physical amenities, but also includes some above and beyond customer service and care. First class passengers here don’t just have an exclusive check in area – lounge visitors have dedicated security screening and immigration services, and when it’s time to board, passengers are attended to by a personal assistant, who will drive you directly to your airplane in a Mercedes or Porsche.
This is one lounge where access is truly limited to first-class flyers and top-tier elites. First Class travelers on Lufthansa or Swiss airlines are welcome, including if your only connecting flight is in first. That means even if you arrive in Frankfurt on another class of service, that you can still access the lounge if you’re flight out is in first class on Swiss or Lufthansa. The highest tier travelers in Lufthansa’s Miles & More program, HON Circle, who are flying in any cabin on Austrian, Lufthansa or Swiss are also eligible for entry, and anyone who is granted entry can extend an invitation to one guest flying on the same flight.
Turkish Airlines Business Class Lounge, Istanbul
Turkish Airlines Business Class Lounge in Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport is probably the best equipped, most beautiful business class lounge in the world. This sprawling two-floor oasis features some exceptionally high quality amenities, and lucky for you, it’s one of the most easy-to-access ultra luxury lounges around.
This lounge can boast just about anything that a frequent traveler could hope for. There’s multiple dining rooms with both buffet and to-order meals featuring both international and Turkish cuisine; as well as an entertainment area with nine large televisions (and headphones to listen in); lie flat massage chairs; shower suites and even a golf-simulator. Plus, there are self service wet bars strewn across the lounge and even a station serving fresh simit Turkish bread.
For long-haul travelers, the lounge also has special sleeping rooms, but they’re only accessible if you’re connecting at IST for at least four hours, prior to boarding a long-haul flight that’s at least eight hours long.
Turkish Airlines Business Class Lounge at IST is accessible to all of Turkish business-class passengers, as well as any Miles & Smiles Elite and Elite Plus members flying in any class, Star Alliance Gold members traveling in any cabin and Turkish Airlines Corporate Club members. (Star Alliance Gold members may bring a guest.)
Emirates First Class Lounge, Dubai
Welcome to the largest First Class Lounge in the world – the Emirates First Class Concourse in Dubai.
This incredible luxurious space spans the entire length of the terminal itself, and mirrors the typical terminal experience – with duty-free shops, seating areas and dedicated boarding gates – minus the crowds.
The Emirates First Class Concourse also has an impressive array of amenities. There’s two large sleeping rooms, each equipped with dozens of day beds for some quiet time, along with a day spa where first class passengers can book a complimentary treatment. You can also stop for a shower, a shoe shine, to smoke a cigar at the Cigar Bar or even enjoy a customized wine tasting as the Le Clos Wine Cellar with your own personal sommelier.
Most frequent travelers are especially impressed by the in-lounge boarding gates, that save you from having to leave the sanctity of the first class experience simply to board your flight.
The airline has recently eased access to this exclusive lounge. Those traveling in Emirates first class have complimentary access, along with Emirates Platinum members, however since 2017 Silver and Gold members, along with Emirates business class travelers can pay for upgraded access to this one-of-a-kind lounge.
ETIHAD The Residence Lounge
Etihad’s First Class lounge in Abu Dhabi is swanky enough, but there’s one exclusive part of this already exclusive traveler space that outdoes all other lounges.
The Residence in Etihad’s private three room suite, complete with a butler service, is available on their A380 flights. Guests who travel on this ultra-high-end route, naturally also have their own, private lounge on the ground.
The Residence lounge is hidden towards the back of the First Class Lounge. Imagine being greeted by your private butler, served cocktails, top shelf liquors and caviar, then served an impeccable three course, exceptionally plated silver dinner service. Fancy a cigar after? A shoe shine, a shave or spa treatment? Just ask your butler, and he’ll be happy to set it up for you.
Of course, guests here are welcome to enjoy any of the facilities in the general first class lounge as well, which include a gym, salon, barber, six senses spa, relaxation area and a kids playroom.
The only way to get into the Residence lounge is to fly The Residence.
Swiss First Class Lounge in Zurich
The Swiss First Class Lounge in Zurich has been stunningly remodeled, and now features an innovative design with incredible dining and equally great amenities. The attention to detail here is impeccable, and in true Swiss fashion, you’re offered a water and chocolate with pretty much everything you eat or do.
The Swiss First Class Lounge in Zurich boasts a host of incredible amenities. The bedrooms in the the sleeping area are some of the best any lounge has ever seen; and there’s even a rare outdoor terrace where you can enjoy a lovely sunny day.
There’s your typical dining area, shower suites, plenty of seating and a cigar room, however the real crowd pleaser is the Grappa bar, a centerpiece in the lounge. The Grappa bar has more than 100 bottles of Grappa, which passengers can sample at their leisure.
This lounge is open to first class passengers on Lufthansa or Swiss, as well as HON Circle members traveling in any class. ■