Airport Lounges: Reviews and personal experiences
Avril-Ann Braganza, Averil Nunes, Sudhi Sinha and Kishore Rathod tell you about Business Class lounges of airports in Heathrow, Frankfurt, Istanbul, Mumbai and Abu Dhabi
Joyous Exuberance, Heathrow
Done up in cheery colours and away from the hustle and bustle of the common waiting area, the British Airways Galleries Club Lounge (accessible to eligible One World passengers at T5) brightens up your day while you’re adjusting to time-zone shifts and feeling grumpy. A quick trip to the well-appointed washroom space, complete with branded, sweet-scented hand washes and lotions, will leave you fresh as a flower. The free-flowing space glides from one sitting area to the next, partitioned by rows of neatly stacked wine bottles. You can sink into the armchairs at a low tea-table or find high tables with greater surface area to get some work done using the free wi-fi. It would be more fun to wander around this massive space, though. Or help yourself to the breakfast buffet, which has everything from fresh fruit, cornflakes and nuts to gluten-free milk and cookies.
Home away from home, Frankfurt
Comfortable, homely and private, the Lufthansa Senator Lounge at the Frankfurt Airport brings you as close to home as you can get in a foreign country. Once you enter the lounge, make your way to the food and beverage area, where you can pick a high-table or regular table and enjoy a drink and hot meal. To the right, you’ll find the business centre with PCs, internet access, copy machines, fax machines and printers at your disposal. Should you prefer working on your laptop, there’s free wi-fi. While you can spend your time curled up in one of the cozy leather chairs with a newspaper or a magazine in the common area, you can also relax or take a nap in one of their five ‘relaxing rooms’ furnished with comfortable beds, a table stand and a lamp. The lounge also has approximately 10 individual shower rooms. While there are multiple Senator Lounges in Frankfurt, the one in the main terminal is not too far from the shops. In the ‘C’ terminal there are certain gates (C14, C15, C16) that are directly accessible from the lounge. You can board the airplane from these gates without leaving the lounge. –Avril-Ann Braganza (Inputs from Sudhi Sinha)
Turkish Extravagance, Istanbul
There’s no limit to luxury, and the Turkish Airlines lounge at Ataturk Airport allows travellers ultimate indulgence. In fact, it is so good that it maybe a good idea to book flights a few hours apart so that you get a leisurely stopover at Istanbul to completely soak in the lounge experience. There's enough to keep you exploring for hours–the coffee bar with a dozen coffee varieties; the soft drinks shelf with sparkling water, colas and juices; the bar with the finest liquors from across the world; three food stations for a Continental fare, a local Turkish spread of kebabs and salads, and a third serving pizzas and bakes, straight from the oven. The dessert station's melt-in-the-mouth pastries and pista-laden baklavas are a huge challenge for calorie conscious folks. There is only so much you can eat and once you are full, you want your space and you want entertainment. For space and rest, there are sleeping rooms and giant reclining chairs. As for entertainment you've got international newspapers and magazines, a library with an array of titles, the television wall with nine LCD screens (and individual headphone consoles for the respective audios), the Playstation corner, a movie hall for theatre-like viewing experience, a pool table, a connected Mac workstation for key crunching and the Skype zone to chat with folks back home. You can leave your kids at the Curio City kids room and pick them up in time for the flight. Moreover, the lounge is the closest you'll get to seeing so much of international business-wear fashion under one roof, with accessories and attitudes to match. Oh and the Turkish massage therapist does a fine job of releasing the knots of the neck muscles, leaving you perfectly relaxed for the grind of a long flight ahead.
Cozy Corner, Mumbai
Laid out restaurant style on the third floor of Mumbai’s T2 terminal, the Business class lounge is a great place to while away a few hours, or minutes, before it’s time for your flight. If you’re in time for an early dinner, you’ll find a generous and rather sumptuous buffet. Aside from the customary Indian food, there offer a few Italian dishes, quick bites like kebabs and sandwiches, not to mention dessert and more. You could help yourself to tea, coffee or even wine. And there’s always someone around to lend a hand should you need it. You can recharge your cellphone and yourself, spend time surfing or simply find some space on the couch in the TV room. Don’t get too comfortable though; the lounge is at quite a distance from the departure gate and boarding announcement can’t be heard in the lounge. You’ll have to keep your eye on the flickering departure board, but given our experience these are not always accurate.
Happy Kids and Happy Parents, Abu Dhabi
Walk through the separate Business and First class entrance, where eight Etihad check-in counters await you. It resembles a five-star hotel lobby with luxurious leather couches and warm lighting. With no queues, you can waltz through check-in, security and passport control to the Pearl Business Class and Diamond First Class lounges. Once your boarding pass is checked, you can choose to unwind with a newspaper, magazine or book on one of the leather sofas in the Pearl Business Class lounge, or walk on to the buffet and bar, where a variety of delicious salads, hot dishes, desserts, cold-cuts and drinks await you. Should you need to work, the business centre, is equipped with Macs, internet access, fax, telephone and printing facilities. You can also freshen up in one of their showers while your clothes are ironed and shoes are polished. Don't worry about the kids, qualified nannies in the family room will watch over them. Designed to keep children happy, they can busy themselves with the books, toys, TV and the children’s menu that's available. So go on, pick one of the treatments (they also have 15-minute treatments), including a facial, foot detox or a scalp massage and pamper yourself at the Six Senses Spa; it's just what you need to rejuvenate yourself before your flight.
Compiled by Pooja Bhula