TPG's Guide to Airport Lounge Etiquette
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Airport lounges can be a jungle. You've got a cross-section of people, whether it's business travelers closing deals or fanny-packing leisure travelers calling every person in their cell phone before their big voyage.
In my travels, I've seen -- and heard -- so many irritating people that I'm offering a quick manifesto on appropriate lounge etiquette. Feel free to add your suggestions or disagree with any of my proclamations.
Use your lounge voice
A lounge voice is somewhere between the "6-inch voices" my elementary school teachers used to encourage and a normal speaking voice. I know many people are skeptical that modern cell phones will fully pick up on your voice, but trust me, they will!
There's no need to whisper, but a lowered tone when talking on the phone is much appreciated. I don't need to hear the dirty details of your Vegas weekend or how awesome you are at closing deals.
When speaking with others in the lounge, remember that this isn't your local pub. While the beer may be flowing like a pub, try to keep your voice in check.
Coffee tables are not ottomans
I want to kick my feet up after a long day on the road as much as the next weary traveler, but I restrain myself. While lounge furniture can be dingy at best, it still doesn't make it okay to put your nasty shoes on it. If you really feel the need to prop your feet up, use your own luggage and try to be a little discreet about it.
The bar isn't going anywhere
I often see people double-fisting drinks as if it were last call at a dive bar, but drinking yourself into oblivion generally doesn't work out for anyone. Lounges these days are crowded and I've been bumped more than once by an intoxicated passenger unaware of their surroundings. I can be an advocate for a couple of drinks before flying (just remember to hydrate as well), but don't go overboard.
Don't hog the power outlets
One of my pet peeves is the lack of outlets in lounges. If you are sitting near a coveted power source, share it with others who need it. I was in desperate need of juice recently and sat next to someone with their phone, laptop and camera charging. I asked nicely and they gave up a precious outlet after a little huffing and puffing. Try to be courteous.
Clean up after yourself
Most lounges are scarcely staffed, so don't make your area look like an atomic bomb exploded. I know it's annoying that there aren't even trash cans in many lounges, but simply keeping your area clean will go a long way. No one wants to watch your banana peel slowly decompose — wrapping it in a bar napkin is much nicer than leaving it out.
Park your luggage appropriately
Lounges are generally packed, so make sure your rollaboard and carry-on are parked conveniently. Don't put them in front of an empty chair or in the main thoroughfare. Prop them up against a wall or flush against your chair.
Shut your computer up
It amazes me but I've been next to many people who Skype or play movies loudly. For everyone's sanity, use headphones.
Having access to an airport lounge can make a hectic day of travel or a long layover a million times better. And an easy way to obtain lounge access is through having the right credit card. Currently, the best credit cards for airport lounge access are The Platinum Card® from American Express, Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard®, Delta Reserve® Credit Card from American Express, and United Club Card.
The Amex Platinum earns the top spot because it gives you access to Centurion Lounges, which are among the best you’ll find at any airport. The Platinum Card also gets you Delta Sky Club access when you're flying Delta. The Amex Platinum also offers a Priority Pass Select membership (with two guests included).
The Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard comes with Admirals Club membership, along with access for immediate family members or up to two traveling guests. Even better, Citi updated the card’s perks to include membership for authorized users of this card — and you can add up to 10 AUs for free.
With the Delta Reserve® Credit Card from American Express, you get Sky Club access when flying Delta. Unfortunately, you no longer get complimentary guest access, though you can bring in up to two guests (and children under the age of 21) at the discounted rate of $29 each.
The United Club Card offers access to United Clubs, Star Alliance-branded business lounges around the world and Amtrak Acela lounges. Just make sure you have your United Club membership card in hand, not the credit card. (The information for the United Club Card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.)
For more Lounge 101, check out:
- The Ultimate Guide to Amex Centurion Lounges
- The Most Exclusive Airport Lounges in the World
- The World's Largest United Polaris Lounge: By the Numbers
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Photo by Daniel Ross/The Points Guy