At many large airports, after you’ve checked in and cleared security, you find yourself in a noisy, crowded departure lounge. You queue for drinks or snacks at fancy prices and then stand, holding a tray, scanning the area for any sign that somebody is about to vacate a seat at a table.
But there is another way. You can buy an airport lounge pass and spend the time before boarding in a private, luxurious lounge with comfortable seating, access to TV and internet, and probably enjoying complimentary drinks and snacks.
The biggest supplier of such arrangements is Priority Pass, which operates three different annual membership schemes – the Standard Plan for the regular traveller, the Standard Plus for frequent flyers and the Prestige, for ‘when airports become a second home’. This is a service for the business traveller rather than for people who board a plane once or twice a year. It covers more than 500 VIP lounges around the world.
A smaller organisation, Lounge Pass, caters for the occasional flyer. It sells passes for 128 VIP lounges at almost 100 airports worldwide, including many UK, US and European airports and Milan Malpensa and Milan Linate. It operates on a pay per visit basis, typically costing in the region of £16 to £20 per person. If that sounds extravagant, check with Lounge Pass before booking that the lounge provides free drinks and snacks and then deduct the amount you would spend in the departure hall to see what the net cost of a bit of pampering is.
There are dress codes in some lounges (e.g. smart casual) and some don’t admit children below a certain age. The maximum stay in the Lounge is usually 3 hours.