The 7 do’s and don’ts in an airport lounge
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.
Editor’s note: This is a recurring post, regularly updated with new information.
Airport lounges can be great places to relax before your flight. They provide you with food and drink and a quiet, comfortable place to sit, and allow you to charge up your devices or get some last-minute work done before your flight. Some really good lounges may also have amenities like a spa, a la carte dining or showers (though most of those are closed to stop the spread of COVID-19).
As lounges worldwide continue to reopen, we thought it would be a good idea to offer some lounge etiquette pointers. If you’ve never been in a swanky airport lounge before, here are some simple do’s and don’ts to help you maximize your experience.
1. Do your homework in advance
Depending on the airport you are flying from and the ticket or status you hold, you may have access to more than one lounge. Flying on a British Airways Club Europe flight from Heathrow Terminal 3? You have access to several different lounges run by different airlines that vary enormously in quality. Before you travel, check the following online in advance:
- Which lounges you have access to.
- Which is considered the best lounge of the options.
- The location, opening hours and access policy of your preferred lounge(s) — you don’t want to spend ages wandering around trying to find a lounge that ends up being closed.
2. Do arrive early enough to enjoy it
If you have access to a truly excellent lounge, like the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse at Heathrow, you want to have enough time to enjoy it. It may not make sense to leave home at 4 a.m. just to have time for a cocktail before the sun rises. But if you have a flight at a more civilized hour, you should plan your check-in to allow enough time to experience everything, including complimentary 15-minute treatments in the spa, a view of the runways from the roof terrace and a meal in the formal dining room.
If check-in for your flight opens three hours before departure and it will take you about 30 minutes to check in, pass through security and walk to the lounge, you would have around 90 minutes in the lounge before boarding starts (depending on the aircraft type, airline, airport, etc). This is a good amount of time to explore the lounge and make the most of it.
Rushing in late with only five minutes to scoff down a sandwich and a drink isn’t going to be the most relaxing start to a flight.
3. Do a full lap of the lounge on arrival
Even if you have visited a particular lounge before, the best place to sit might not be apparent when you first walk in. The seating near the entrance or the buffet may be busy and not so relaxing. In contrast, if you do a lap of the lounge, you can not only get your bearings on where everything is (including things like bathrooms, charging points and possible runway views), but you might find a much quieter and more peaceful place to sit farther back because other passengers plonked themselves down in the first chair they saw.
4. Don’t take your eye off the time
Many lounges — especially independent, third-party lounges — will not make any boarding announcements. If you are enjoying yourself, time can really fly by, and you might forget about the reason you traveled to the airport in the first place — to get on a flight. Neither the lounge nor the airline will be very sympathetic if you miss the flight because you enjoyed yourself too much. Set an alarm for boarding time on your phone before you enter the lounge if need be.
As well as keeping my eye on the time, I like to Google my flight number, which means my phone will then provide updates for things like delays and gate changes.
5. Don’t disturb the peace
FaceTiming loved ones back home? Watching a funny video someone sent you with a crying face emoji? Taking an urgent business call? These are all fine to do in an airport lounge on one condition:
As much as you might love the sound of that baby’s laugh or that amazing music video for the new song you can’t get out of your head, those around you in the lounge don’t care to listen in. They’d prefer to enjoy some peace and quiet before their flight.
If you are taking a confidential business call that you don’t want strangers to hear (even if it’s only your side of the conversation), consider ducking into a meeting room or private space within the lounge — you never know who could be listening!
6. Don’t hog more space than you need
Airport lounges are essentially public spaces, so you will be sharing them with strangers. With the pandemic continuing, lounges have spaced out seating to enforce social distancing. There is a temptation to spread your luggage and coats across multiple seats to give yourself as much personal space as possible. If everyone did this, there might not be enough seating for all guests.
Bottom line: Don’t take up more space than you need. You wouldn’t like it if someone did that to you.
7. Don’t go overboard just because it’s free
You might be tempted to eat and drink as much as you possibly can because it’s all free. This can be a bad idea — if you drink too much, you might not even be allowed on the flight, and if you eat too much, you might ruin your appetite for what could be a great meal later. If you are planning to go straight to sleep on the plane, you might struggle because you’re too full.
If you wouldn’t eat that much at home before bed, don’t do it in an airport lounge.
Lounges can make your airport experience so much more enjoyable. It’s worth looking into how you can access them with your credit card or status, or whether it’s worth paying cash to get inside. As with any travel experience, there is a certain etiquette that should be observed. Follow these simple guidelines and you’ll get the most out of your lounge experience.
Featured photo of an Amex Centurion Lounge by Zach Griff/The Points Guy.
Welcome to The Points Guy!
Earn 90,000 bonus miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new card in the first three months of card membership. Offer ends 11/10/2021.
With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.
- Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 Bonus Miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer expires 11/10/2021.
- Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
- Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
- Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
- Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
- Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
- Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
- Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
- Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
- No Foreign Transaction Fees.
- $250 Annual Fee.
- Terms Apply.
- See Rates & Fees