Words like “delay” and “layover” can strike fear and frustration in the hearts of many business travelers. But even a cancelled flight could be easier to take in one of the many independent travel lounges popping up in airports across the country and abroad. Available by the day or just a few hours, they offer the same amenities many traditional lounges do, such as free WiFi, comfy chairs, snacks and sometimes even a nap and shower. But with an independent lounge, you needn’t have earned a million-miles or be flying a certain airline or class, and many don't require membership. You can just pay to use them when you need them.
Check out these lounges that are turning the airport into a more pleasant place to spend a layover.
ReLAX Lounge, Los Angeles International Airport, Calif.
Veg out in this 4,500-square-foot-space with warm lighting and piped in jazz standards as you settle in with your free gourmet coffee or sandwich wrap. You might even get some work done, with free WiFi and nine computer stations for fee-based faxing and photocopying. Come for one hour ($15) or just a few ($30-40). If you need a full-day stay ($50), you’ll get a gratis glass of beer or wine, but our fingers are crossed that you won’t get stranded.
Airspace Lounge, Baltimore-Washington International Airport, Md.
Take the voucher they give you with your day pass and exchange it for a free drink from the bar or something to eat. Menu items range from hot sandwiches to yogurt parfaits and cheese or hummus plates. There’s an outlet at nearly every seat, free WiFi and a meeting space to help you prep with your team. Rates start at $20 for this lounge but fluctuate during peak spring and summer seasons, reaching as high as $50 per day (no hourly options are available). To help travelers lock in their rate, the company will add the option to book ahead online starting next month. A second Airspace lounge recently opened in Cleveland and a third will launch at New York’s John F. Kennedy International this June.
No. 1 Traveller, London Heathrow Airport, England
Movie screening room? Check. Game room? Check. Showers? Why not? Entry is roughly $48 and includes a fully tended bar and hot dishes such as sausage rolls or Welsh rarebit. For extra help unwinding, you can check out the lounge’s for-fee spa or rent a bedroom to nap. Just keep it short. Visitors can access the No. 1 Traveller Heathrow for up to 3 hours before their flight.
Altitude: A Traveler's Club, Louisville International Airport, Ky.
At the bargain price of $5 per day, this lounge provides free local and long-distance calls, high-speed internet, computer workstations, coffee, soft drinks and charging stations for your laptop and phone. For a fee, you can fax, photocopy or have a drink at the bar. Regular Louisville travelers might consider buying a monthly pass for $25 or a yearly membership for approximately $200.
The Club at RDU, Raleigh-Durham International Airport, N.C.
For nearly $30 for the day, grab a free coffee, beer or wine, ease into a club chair and watch a little satellite TV. In case you need it, there’s free WiFi for catching up on emails, workstations and a spot to store your luggage. Meeting rooms are available to rent, starting at $100 for up to one hour. The Club also has locations at the Dallas, Las Vegas and San Jose airports.
Executive Club, Mobile Regional Airport, Ala.
Ten dollars buys a daily pass where visitors can access this cozy, recently renovated space to work or relax, reading magazines or watching television. Those feeling peckish can enjoy free snacks in the morning such as yogurt, muffins and fruit in the morning and hummus, popcorn and cheese and crackers in the afternoon.
Plaza Premium Lounge, Hong Kong International Airport
Visitors can come just for a shower (starting at $23) or for a multi-hour package (roughly $52 to $90 for stays of two to 10 hours) which includes showers, hot meals like Spanish tapas or fish ball noodles, non-alcoholic beverages, computer workstations, free WiFi, TV, newspapers and magazines. Walk-ins might even receive a complimentary 15-minute massage, subject to availability. Private rest areas are available starting at $78 for three hours. The lounge is one of four at the Hong Kong International Airport operated by lounge network Plaza Premium Lounge Management Limited with more than 100 locations worldwide.
Priority Pass, Cities worldwide
Finally, if you're serious about airport lounges, one option is Priority Pass. Membership grants you access to a variety of lounges, including independent ones and those associated with major airlines. In fact, Priority Pass’s roster includes more than 600 airport lounges (Las Vegas's is pictured above) in more than 100 countries. Membership costs range from approximately $100 to $400 annually. While amenities vary by location, many include the usual perks a traveler might expect: free beverages and snacks, WiFi, conference rooms, showers and rest areas.