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How Airport Lounges in the United States Compare to Those Around the World

Airports + Flying
by Jori Ayers Feb 27, 2024

Airports are often a necessary pit stop to getting where you’re going. But that doesn’t mean it’s an enjoyable experience between TSA body scanners, flight delays, and complete passenger chaos. Luckily for those who show up to the airport early (or are in the unfortunate situation of having to wait hours on a delay), there are airport lounges. And no, airport lounges aren’t just for the rich — there are plenty of tricks for lounge access like Priority Pass that allow budget travelers to get in too depending on the location.

That said, not all airport lounges are made equal. Some are basic with lackluster food, others are luxurious with multiple restaurants and premium beverages. Unfortunately for travelers in the United States, airport lounges often fall into the former category compared to those elsewhere in the world (aside from the few notable exceptions of outstanding US airport lounges, of course).

Instead of a basic bar and buffet-style food service, for example, the Turkish Airlines lounge at the Istanbul airport has full sit-down service restaurants. The architecture and design of the lounge is also something out of the ordinary.

International carriers like Air France, Swiss Air, or Qantas set a high standard with their lounges. Qatar Airways has private booths, grand staircases, and private shower suites in its lounges, while Cathy Pacific has lounges equipped with cabanas, dedicated workspaces, and day suites.

Although most US airport lounges may not be as lavish as others worldwide, all of this may be a moot point when it comes to actually experiencing a lounge. After all, you’re limited to the airport that has your flight. But that doesn’t mean one can’t dream.

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