Which Airport Lounges Are Worth Scheduling a Long Layover For?

by joeheg

When you first get access to an airport lounge, all of them are magical. You get snacks and drinks. Maybe there will be some hot food (or not). You get free Wi-Fi access and plenty of chairs with plugs. You could get used to that kind of life.

It doesn’t take long to realize that you can try only so many snack mixes and crudites before they all taste the same. Then you visit a lounge that’s more than you thought possible. This usually happens at an airline’s flagship lounge located at the major hub city, like the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse in London, Turkish’s lounge in Istanbul or the Lufthansa First Class Terminal in Frankfurt.

These aren’t just lounges; they’re experiences. Shouldn’t you want to spend some time there to enjoy them?

I’m interested in knowing what specific features or amenities in a lounge would make you want to schedule flights with a long layover just to spend more time there.

We’ve only visited three lounges that I’d consider spending more time in than was necessary. One of them was the Thai Lounge in Bangkok. We were only flying business class, but that still allowed us to get a massage (which Sharon got but I didn’t). The lounge itself was nice enough, but nothing extraordinary.

The next lounge we visited that was “that” nice was the Star Alliance Lounge in Los Angeles. It is a beautiful space with a dining area, outdoor terrace, and indoor view of the terminal. We spent maybe two hours there, waiting for our flight, because we arrived at the airport extra early. That was more because we were cautious about not being late for our flight to Australia than really wanting to sit in the lounge for two hours. We revisited this lounge several years later before our flight to Singapore and it was more crowded than I remembered, but I did find the hidden noodle station.

The final lounge we visited which was better than the norm was the Singapore Airlines SilverKris Lounge in Singapore. We spent several hours waiting for our flight, which was time for us to take a shower and have breakfast after our long flight from Los Angeles.

a sign with flowers on it

These lounges are quite luxurious, but I can’t imagine taking time out of my vacation just to spend time here instead of reaching my destination. I’m wondering at what point does visiting a lounge become a part of the vacation experience?

Since I usually need to book our trips around which airlines have available award space, I’ve never had the opportunity to book a flight based on the lounge. However, the closest thing I’ve ever done to this is when I booked a flight with a long layover so we could go to Dublin for the afternoon for lunch.


I am interested in knowing which lounges provide an exceptional experience that is worth going out of your way to visit. Are all the top-rated lounges first-class, or do some business-class lounges also provide a similar level of comfort and luxury? Does the appeal of these lounges lie in the excitement of visiting them for the first time, or do they continue to impress with every visit?

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JJ August 6, 2019 - 9:45 am

I think regardless of the lounge, after 3-4 hours, it gets a little old. I think the ones I would spend the most time would be the Qatar First Class lounge in Doha (where 6 hours actually flew by! – the Qatar Business Class lounge is a close 2nd), Air France La Premiere Lounge (CDG), Lufthansa First Class Terminal (FRA), Polaris Lounges, Qantas First (SYD). Other than that, I probably wouldn’t purposely extend a layover to visit a lounge.

joeheg August 6, 2019 - 11:30 am

Are the Polaris lounges really that nice?

DC not in DC December 13, 2023 - 3:25 pm

Sapphire Lounge BOS for the full-body massage chair then shower. Great food and drinks.

Air India in BKK and DEL for the same reason as LH FRA…beds and showers after TPAC or TATL flights.

Christian August 6, 2019 - 11:18 pm

The Lufthansa lounge in Athens was really nice. Nicer than the lounge in Frankfurt, in fact, but not enough to schedule a stopover. Cathay lounges are really nice in first class. For those, maybe. The Chicago Polaris lounge is the best I’ve experienced domestically. Those are nice. Probably not worth a stop to experience unless you’re a major aviation geek, but I am, so I’d likely do it again if chance allowed.

Dobbson December 12, 2023 - 7:57 pm

The Iberia lounge in Madrid is large, clean, excellent hot and cold food options, awesome shower rooms and comfy swivel pod chairs. You sit at a level above the gates and have a nice view of what’s going on down below. The best I’ve been would be the Turkish Lounge in the new Istanbul airport. Had a 9 hour stop there and didn’t want it to end. Had a little closet to sleep in. Made the lounge in Dubai pale in comparison.

For a standard Priority Pass lounge, it’s a toss up between the Marco Polo Lounge in Venice or the Salas Lounge in Madrid.

Babblespeak December 12, 2023 - 9:14 pm

The lounges we stay at on long layovers are the ones we visit to save money on airfare. It’s amazing how we can save hundreds of dollars on flights by going to some garbage Priority Pass lounge for an extra hour or two. To save chunks of our money, we don’t care about the lounge more than if we can get a stale bagel and a semi-clean bathroom.

Jonathan December 12, 2023 - 10:41 pm

Turkish Airlines’ lounge at xIST was neat, since it (eventually) had its own security and immigration. It was tucked away in a forlorn part of the terminal, so it was never too busy (at least IME). In comparison, the current TK IST lounges don’t pass muster.

docntx December 13, 2023 - 3:36 pm

Shame it is no longer safe to go through Turkey if you are Jewish or have any evidence of having been to Israel.


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