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Airport lounge experiences can range from dull, crowded spaces proffering bowls of stale nuts to designer digs offering top-shelf booze and spa services. These days, the world’s leading airlines are looking to give frequent flyers and those in First and Business Class cabins a slate of impressive lounge perks, with a newfound interest in health and wellness. Here, seven of the best lounge freebies around the world.
1. Rare Japanese Whiskey
All Nippon Airways Lounge, Narita (NRT); Terminal 1, South Wing, 4th floor, Satellite 5*
ANA’s food and beverage services rank among the best, and the airline works with a slate of culinary talent across the globe — like pastry master Pierre Hermé in Paris and kaiseki king Toru Okuda of Ginza Okuda in Tokyo — to consult on edible offerings. Beyond serving sushi sliced a la minute in several lounges in both Narita and Haneda airports, ANA also pours some of the world’s rarest whiskey, gratis. Japanese whiskey has skyrocketed in popularity during the last decade, with some bottles now commanding thousands of dollars. While a bottle of Hibiki 17 — juice made from a blend of whiskies across parent company Suntory’s slate of top-level distilleries — sells for around $400, thanks to ANA you can sip it for free. *ANA also offers the same whiskey and sushi services at Narita Airport Terminal 1, South Wing, and at two lounges in Haneda Airport (HND) in the International Terminal, 4th floor, one on each side.
2. Spa Treatments
Cathay Pacific’s The Pier First Class Lounge, Hong Kong (HKG); Terminal 1, near Gates 61-63
In 2015 and 2016, celebrated interior designer Ilse Crawford of StudioIlse (whom you may have caught on that Netflix series Abstract: The Art of Design) overhauled both of Cathay Pacific’s two flagship lounges in the Hong Kong International Airport: The Pier First Class lounge and The Pier Business Class lounge. Within the First Class lounge, Cathay offers travelers complimentary 10- to 20-minute foot or shoulder massages, in addition to mini-facials using Gentlemen’s Tonic products. Afterward, voyagers can unwind in one of the lounge’s eight suites, equipped with day beds, reading lights, mirrors and adjustable curtains and blinds.
3. A Moët & Chandon Champagne Lounge
Emirates Business Class Lounge, Dubai (DXB); Terminal 3, Concourse B
Leave it to one of the world’s leading airlines to offer a bubbles bar. At its Dubai lounge in Concourse B, Emirates has partnered with French Champagne house Moët & Chandon to pour four of the brand’s wines — the first time an airline is serving four Moët expressions. One will find Moët Impérial, Moët Rosé Impérial, Moët & Chandon Grand Vintage and Moët Nectar Impérial paired beside canapes like smoked salmon wrapped in nori and veal-bacon gougères.
4. A Spacious Gym
Scandinavian Airlines’ Next Generation Lounge, Oslo (OSL); International Terminal, 2nd Floor
About six months ago, Scandinavian Airlines debuted its first Next Generation Lounge in Oslo, a concept designed to provide travelers with contemporary amenities and services they might use at home. In addition to a barista-staffed coffee bar and light-therapy treatments, the lounge is uniquely outfitted with a 753-square-foot gym equipped with everything from a treadmill to bikes to free weights.
5. Wine Tasting
Iberia’s Velázquez Premium Lounge, Madrid (MAD); Terminal 4 Satellite
Iberia renovated its lounge in the T4 Satellite building of Madrid’s Adolfo Suárez Madrid–Barajas Airport late last year, and part of that facelift included a sleek new 26,900-square-foot lounge clad with a vinothècque, or wine bar and lounge. Iberia is pouring 22 Spanish wines — 13 reds, eight whites and one rosé — that rotate once a year, in addition to beer and harder stuff. Expect varietals like Malvasia, Verdejo and Tempranillo.
6. Celebrity Chef Menus
Qantas’ First Lounge, Los Angeles (LAX); Tom Bradley International Terminal, Level 5*
Neil Perry is, arguably, Australia’s most prominent celebrity chef, counting more than 60 restaurants from Perth to Sydney, the most famous of which is his contemporary steakhouse, Rockpool. When Qantas debuted First Lounge at LAX in 2014, Perry signed on to oversee its 74-seat restaurant (also Perry’s first Los Angeles eatery), and he designed a menu that changes every three months, composed of both Rockpool dishes and those inspired by Southern California. Here, customers can pop in for plates of ricotta pancakes with caramelized bananas in the morning and Black Angus minute steak with chipotle butter and lime — a Rockpool classic — during the evening. (Note: Perry also operates restaurants in Qantas’ First Lounges in Sydney, Melbourne and Auckland.)
7. Saunas and a Detox Bar
Air France’s Business Lounge, Paris (CDG); Terminal 2E, Hall L, 2nd Floor
This past January, Air France unveiled the first part of a two-phase overhaul (stage two debuts in July 2018) to its Business Lounge in Hall L at Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport. Aimed at improving travelers’ well-being, 1,800 square feet of the total 10,500-square-foot lounge are dedicated to relaxation via two saunas and a detox tea bar stocked with Palais de Thes teas. Travelers can also drop in for mini Clarins facials. Come this summer, Air France has plans to expand its Detox Bar to include to-be-determined food and additional beverages.
Featured photo of DXB champagne lounge courtesy Emirates
The American Express Platinum card has some of the best perks out there: cardholders enjoy the best domestic lounge access (Delta SkyClubs, Centurion Lounges, and Priority Pass), a $200 annual airline fee credit as well as up to $200 in Uber credits, and mid-tier elite status at SPG, Marriott, and Hilton. Combined with the 60,000 point welcome offer -- worth $1,140 based on TPG's valuations -- this card is a no-brainer for frequent travelers. Here are 5 reasons you should consider this card, as well as how you can figure out if the $550 annual fee makes sense for you.
- Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
- Enjoy Uber VIP status and free rides in the U.S. up to $15 each month, plus a bonus $20 in December. That can be up to $200 in annual Uber savings.
- 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel.
- 5X Membership Rewards points on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com.
- Enjoy access to the Global Lounge Collection, the only credit card airport lounge access program that includes proprietary lounge locations around the world.
- Receive complimentary benefits with an average total value of $550 with Fine Hotels & Resorts. Learn More.
- $200 Airline Fee Credit, up to $200 per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one qualifying airline.
- Get up to $100 in statement credits annually for purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue on your Platinum Card®. Enrollment required.
- $550 annual fee.
- Terms Apply.
- See Rates & Fees