For travellers, some airport lounges can be boring. Many are simply big open dreary spaces with a few uncomfortable chairs, maybe some computer desks and a buffet of uninspiring food. The problem for airport designers is that quirkyness dates quickly. It might seem like a good idea to install a piece of modern sculpture suspended in the air above the lounge but give it a couple of years and it will look dated.
Yet quirky lounges and odd lounge features do exist, you just have to know where to look:
UK, Heathrow Airport:
The newly opened plush Bmi lounge in terminal 1 has installed an ‘aga’ to prepare foods like soup and bacon for breakfast. Keeping up with british influences, the lounge also has a British pub inside.
Germany, Munich Airport:
The ban on smoking in public buildings in Germany has been slightly avoided by airline carrier Lufthansa. Even though smoking is banned inside Munich Airport, there is a loophole involving private clubs that gets around the ban. This means that passengers can use the cigar room at Lufthansa’s recently opened First Class lounge at the airport.
USA, Washington Dulles Airport:
In 1962, the airport introduced ‘mobile lounges’ to transport passengers between the terminal and the aircraft gates. These 54-foot long, 16-foot wide, 17.5-foot high vehicles can carry 102 passengers, 71 of them seated, directly from the terminal to the aircraft. The mobile lounges were constructed to protect the passengers from weather, jet noise and long walking distances from the aircraft to the terminal. There are currently 19 in operation at the airport.
Holland, Amsterdam Schiphol Airport:Aimed at a different category of traveller, the Babycare Lounge has seven circular cabins where babies can sleep in a cot while their parents watch over them. There are also baby baths, changing tables, play areas and microwaves… and it’s completely free!
USA, Hawthorne Airport Los Angeles:
Not just limited to humans, pets get their own airport lounges too. Pet-friendly airline carrier Pet Airways lets you drop off your pet in lounges at several US airports, including Hawthorne Executive in LA and Midway in Chicago, before the ‘paw-sengers’ are flown.
Finland, Helsinki Vantaa airport:
Due to open in December, Finnair will open the final parts of its new lounge at Helsinki’s Vantaa airport. Visitors to the 1,000 square metre lounge will find not one but four different types of sauna: an Alpine-style spruce sauna, a stone sauna, a steam sauna and a traditional Finnish sauna. Best of all, the traditional Finnish sauna will have a view of the runways. Business travellers should be aware of not getting too relaxed and suddenly realising their plane is about to depart, chasing down the runway in a towel. Or worse, with nothing on at all!
Don’t forget your cheap holiday insurance!
When buying your cheap holiday insurance, don’t assume that every policy is the same. Your needs may be different from others, so make sure the policy you buy provides the cover that you require. Read the small print, check the level of cover and ensure you are covered for any activities that you want to undertake. Carry your travel insurance documentation with you on holiday and keep the 24-hour emergency medical assistance number on you at all times along with your policy number.
† Premium £5.91 includes Insurance Premium Tax; based on an individual traveller aged under 55 taking out a Standard single-trip policy for 3 days in Europe including personal possessions cover and purchased within 14 days of departure date. Cover details and prices are correct at time of going to press (November 2009) and are subject to change.