There is no doubt that travel can be an incredibly stressful experience. With security concerns at an all-time high, just getting to the plane can be something that frazzles the best of us. Even as a seasoned traveler, there are times when I find myself on edge when getting to the airport, sweaty after security and a disheveled mess. This is why getting away from the hustle and bustle of the airport is something I can’t do without.
Even if the lounge doesn’t have the amazing food and drinks that you normally see in Asia, Europe, and the Middle East, just having a place to collect your thoughts is a welcome reprieve.
This is often a nuance that is hard to convey in words but once you experience it, you won’t want to go back. Some of my closest friends figured that I was overselling the whole experience … that is until we traveled together and they got to experience the Aspire Lounge in Calgary and the American Express Centurion Lounge in Houston. Now they are converts and have structured their travel with lounges in mind.
Why Is It Better?
There are quite a few reasons why lounge life is much better than sitting at the gate and I’ll run through my reasons but I invite you to comment if there’s something you love about the lounge experience that I neglected to include.
It’s true that food in a lounge can be hit or miss, especially here in North America. You could get food that rivals many good restaurants, like in the Centurion Lounge in Dallas, or you could be faced with eating veggies and dip with some cold sandwiches.
In either case, you get something to eat and it won’t cost you anything. Compare that to the mediocre food you get in most airports and the exorbitant prices they charge.
At every single lounge I have been to, there I have had access to unlimited soft drinks and mid to top tier alcohol. Some lounges use bartenders to mix your drinks and some allow you to self-serve and decide how stiff you want your drinks.
Personally, I’m not much of a drinker but I certainly get my fill of Cokes and Club Sodas. If I’m feeling a little frisky, I’ll mix myself a Cran and Soda … if you see me drinking a fizzy red drink … watch out 🙂
If you’re heading out on a vacation, being able to get into vacation mode with some Rum and Coke is sure nice, especially considering you aren’t paying for it. Even though I don’t drink much, having a bartender mix me a drink that I have never had before is a nice perk. If I love it, I’ll add it to my list of preferred drinks … if I don’t, I won’t drink it. In both cases, it costs nothing … so the price is right.
You know when you make it through immigration and security and you’re all sweaty? Wouldn’t you love to be able to take a shower so you can get on the plane refreshed? I personally have a very difficult time sleeping when my skin feels sticky so taking a shower in the lounge is heavenly. I mean it’s not as cool as taking a shower on board a plane but it’s still really good 🙂
You don’t have to eat, drink or take a shower to appreciate how much more relaxing it is in the lounge then out in the airport. I was curious how loud the airport boarding area was versus the lounge and you don’t have to be the greatest detective in the world to guess that it’s much, much louder.
Similar to how I measured how loud planes are, I measured the decibels in The Wingtip Lounge in Terminal 4 of JFK, versus how loud it was at Gate A4. The results are quite telling.
Not only is it 7 decibels louder at the gate, it’s much more unpredictable. If you look at the waveform, you can see that the lounge is more consistent, though there are some spikes because the staff was putting away dishes. The gate has very large spikes in noise due to announcements, people talking loudly and foot traffic moving about in the area.
I think it’s clear that being in a lounge is much more relaxing. I don’t know about you but I would take the lounge any day of the week.
The Extra Perks
In every lounge, you can almost assuredly find very comfortable seating, with some lounges featuring chaise lounge chairs. Many First Class lounges even feature private rooms that you can sleep in. If you get really lucky you might find yourself in a lounge that provides massage services, a haircut or perhaps a mani/pedi.
Okay, I’m Sold But What Does This All Cost?
This is the part where I shake my head a bit because lounge access is included for free as part of the American Express Platinum Personal card. Sure the annual fee for the card is $699 but if you take a look through my review of the card, you’ll see that you can literally reduce that cost to $299. That $400 off isn’t $400 in onboard wifi credits or free checked bags. I’m talking cold hard cash you can apply against the annual fee.
Don’t forget that the $299 you pay in annual fees gets you 60,000 Membership Reward Points. Even if you very conservatively value them at 1 cent per point, you still get $600 of value right there.
Essentially the lounge and other perks are all free.
Now I’m not going to tell you that this card is perfect for you but take a look through my review of the card to see if makes sense for you but I think for most people, the American Express Platinum Card provides incredible value.
Trying to convey how much better it is to start your journey in a lounge is like trying to explain what color is to someone that is colorblind. Until you experience it, it’s sometimes hard to see the value which is why I’ve tried to lay out the benefits to you as succinctly as possible.
There’s also something to be said about discovering new lounges in each new city you visit. It really is a fun way to start your journey and now that you can see that you don’t have to be rich to get access, perhaps you too can enjoy the journey as much as the destination.