Business takes us to people and places that were previously unimaginable. Perhaps some were imaginable–trips to London, New York, Tokyo or Berlin. But Dubai, Sydney, Kuala Lumper or Lima? As a business traveler, the world is your client and airports do a fabulous job not only facilitating your comings and goings, but also offering premier options to relax, eat, work or a combination of all three.
Airport business lounges have rapidly evolved over the years. Initially offering simply a seat with an internet connection and perhaps a glass of wine and shrimp cocktail, lounges are now mini-hotels, replete with executive chefs, showers and buffets with more options than you could possibly desire and unparalleled ambiance.
Gaining access to an airport lounge can come in a variety of ways. If you are traveling in business or first class, you will typically receive free access to most lounges. If you’re in economy, you will likely need to pay. Either way, the plethora of lounges these days is extensive, but we’re going to dive into some of the best.
In no particular order, first up is the Plaza Premium Lounge, Terminal 2, at Rio de Janeiro Galeao International Airport. At a very affordable $32.72 per passenger, this lounge ranked an impressive 5 out of 5 from Netflights.com. Private relaxation rooms, showers, an ambiance that is nearly spa-esque but professional enough to get some work done, the Plaza Premium Lounge is a must access when flying through Rio. Made-to-order sandwiches get rave reviews online, as do the chocolate smoothies.
The 1903 Lounge, Terminal 3 at Manchester Airport is an “adults only” lounge, so if you’re towing along your 5-year-old to experience Manchester while you’re at work, you’ll need to pass on this option. At a buffet offering fit for none other than a king, you can expect nothing short of spectacular from the English with 1833 vintage reserve cheddar and real dairy ice cream from Cheshire Farm. The drinks menu will make you dizzy, but in a good way.
Another lounge that will keep the head spinning is Lounge @ B, Terminal 3 at Dubai International Airport. For $38.67 a pop, you can plop into a massage chair that rivals a real masseuse and also putting you in a relaxed mood are an array of pastries, Champagne and amazing customer service that rivals any lounge’s on the planet.
Ever had a craving for lamb pie? Or perhaps rice pudding? According to several users on Yelp, the Strata Lounge, International Terminal at Auckland Airport boasts perhaps the best lamb pies and rice pudding on the planet! This is a business lounge, through and through, but the food is where it truly stands out. Sleek, sliding glass doors and a range of New Zealand wine and beers will keep you satiated, but perhaps not in tip-top shape to work on that investor presentation.
While the lounges themselves are fabulous, a post on the best airport business lounges would need be complete without a mention to the credit cards that can gain you access to said lounges.
The Platinum Card from American Express
Before jumping into the card offers here, we should touch on Centurion Lounges, which can be found worldwide in the most premier, often-traveled airports, including San Francisco, Sydney, Sao Paulo, Houston, Miami, New York, Mumbai, Mexico City, Las Vegas, Dallas and Buenos Aires. Each location features a healthy square footage and an even healthier offerings of food, drink and amenities. In Dallas, for example, spa treatments await as does a menu designed by Dean Fearing, a James Beard Award-winning chef. Need a shower after a long flight? Hit San Francisco, shower to your heart’s content, and then ramble on over to their wine tasting station.
We could keep detailing city by city but the point here is the Platinum Card from American Express gives you access to Centurion Lounges. This card will also gain you access into Delta Sky Clubs if you’re flying that airline.
Citi/AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard
A bit of a mouthful, this advantageous card from Mastercard brings with it Admirals Club membership coupled with access for immediate family members or two guests traveling with you. Admirals Club is a network of lounges operated by American Airlines. Originally started in 1936 to provide perks to loyal airline passengers, members of the club were referred to as admirals and greeted as such.
While you’ll likely be traveling with other adults while on business, having this membership is an added perk when you find yourself on vacation with the kiddies. The lounge has a great space for kids to unwind and play, which is music to any parent’s ears.
Delta Reserve Credit Card from American Express
This card is Delta-specific as the name suggests. You will receive access when flying Delta to its Sky Clubs, but a knock on this card is it previously allowed for complimentary guest access, which is now been rescinded.
As a card holder, you will also receive a free checked bag, 20 percent inflight savings as well as priority boarding. With the business version of this card, you are privy to some interesting perks that make that annual fee much more palatable.
Business lounges are in most major airports and if taken advantage of intelligently, they will allow the savvy traveler to rest up, eat up and even get some work done in between massages. Happy traveling and see you at the lounge!