The Airport Lounge Experience
Having only flown a few times, the airport lounge experience is something I'd never really given much thought to, but after spending a couple of hours in the executive lounge on a trip to New York, there truly is nothing like the airport lounge experience, providing you can afford it.
In this instance I didn't have to. I'd been invited for a long weekend in New York by my close friend James, whose Sister and Brother-In-Law had offered for us to crash at their apartment overlooking Central Park. And if that wasn't all, his Brother-In-Law Phil would be travelling with us on business and use his airport lounge membership to take us along as a 'guests'.
Well, it sure beats driving down to Dover and taking the Ferry across to Calais before driving down to the South of France every summer.
At the crack of dawn on Friday morning we arrived at Heathrow airport, dry mouthed, blurry eyed and trailing virtually empty suitcases behind us. We'd fill them with clothes and souvenirs during our trip. Once we'd queued up to claim our tickets, Phil came to meet us after a quick phone call and ushered us into through the doors as his guests into the executive airport lounge.
Stepping through the doors left behind a frantic world of bustling people, buzzing noise and the smell of disinfectant in favour of soothing music, the faint scents of delicious food and a welcoming calm. Our airport lounge experience had only just begun.
Having left our luggage in the cloak room, as typical men, the first thing we did was make our way over to the breakfast buffet on display. We helped ourselves to cereal, toast, croissants, pain au chocolats, juice and cups of piping hot tea. We knew that the in flight meal would be virtually inedible, so now was the time to stock up on food for our 8 hour flight.
Having gorged ourselves on a hearty (and very tasty) breakfast, we chilled out in the incredibly comfy sofas, casually chatted about the week's events and read the morning's paper or the latest men's magazines in perpetual bliss.
Phil had to leave us for a while to go and get some work done. So he took himself off to a secluded part of the lounge full of work stations equipped with phone, fax and WiFi connections.
While we had a three hour wait for our flight, we were so relaxed that the time passed in a blink of an eye, so while you might say that an airport lounge is just a glorified waiting room, the soothing atmosphere, food, entertainment and comfy chairs just make the time fly by.
Would I pay for airport lounge access? As an infrequent traveller who's a hardcore driver (I even drove all the way to Italy once) having an airport lounge membership wouldn't benefit my holiday making or business travelling habits.
However, if I was a regular business traveller, like Phil, then it would definitely be a worthwhile investment. Not just to enjoy myself, but to simply relax and get all my work together in preparation for what awaits me at the other end of my journey.
Having the time, comfort and seclusion to get a ton of work done definitely seemed to benefit him in his role. Meanwhile for myself and James, the airport lounge made the long wait for our flight very enjoyable and the 8 hour flight didn't feel like such a long journey afterwards either.