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Enhance Your Airport Experience


CDNPolar
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What are ways that you enhance your airport experience?

 

I read about Concierge services, and lounges, etc., but how do you enhance your experience?

 

Are there ideas and things to do that I am missing? 

 

How do you deal with a 5+ hour layover?

 

Credit Card lounges - in my experience - are not what they are cracked up to be, and often small, and dirty, and less than mediocre food.

 

Please post ideas and the cost (lounges, concierge, etc.)

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That long layover might be sufficiently long to get out of the airport for a while. Of course, this assumes that there is something interesting to see in the vicinity of the airport. And certainly one has to keep in mind to get back to the airport sufficiently early to reclear the security.

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There are so many airports in the world and so many options, it would take pages to answer.  Maybe try looking at the airports you are considering and see what's available.  Keep in mind that many airline lounges now restrict access for one use or day passes when the clubs get too full, so even if you have a pass, you won't be able to use it.  Consider getting a day room at an airport hotel, or at one close to an airport.  Five hours is really not that long.  

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I am just looking in general what people do to enhance their experience.  I don't want to limit this by naming airports, nor am I really looking for pages of options... just what you have done as it comes to mind.

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32 minutes ago, CDNPolar said:

I am just looking in general what people do to enhance their experience.  I don't want to limit this by naming airports, nor am I really looking for pages of options... just what you have done as it comes to mind.

It's tough to make blanket statements because it really, truly does depend on where you are and how long you have. Five hours at DCA, which is right next to an amazing city that you can get to in minutes, is different than five hours at LGW. If I had five hours at DCA, I would absolutely be leaving the airport and going in to the city. If I had five hours at LGW, I would be a lot less likely to head in to London. But, generally, I am a big proponent of getting out of the airport and heading somewhere unless I really just want to relax/work at the lounge or watch planes. I am also a risk taker, so I am very comfortable leaving the airport when many people aren't. 

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56 minutes ago, CDNPolar said:

I am just looking in general what people do to enhance their experience.  I don't want to limit this by naming airports, nor am I really looking for pages of options... just what you have done as it comes to mind.

 

Some generic thoughts:

 

  • Lounges:  These are my go-to at an airport.  That being said, you can only eat and drink so much and unless you are talking about the very top tier (think Lufthansa First Class Terminal, Emirates First lounge at DXB), Singapore Private Room, etc, lounges can get real old real quick.
  • Walk around:  I like walking so walking around the airport is a good and healthy way to kill some time.
  • Airport hotel:  If my layover gets past 4 or 5 hours, then I start looking for other things.  Some of the smartest decisions I've made have involved spending longer layovers in a hotel room.  Having your own private space, bed, private shower is bliss.
  • Sightseeing:  Another option for longer layovers, particularly if I am not lugging a lot of luggage and there are things easily accessible from the airport.
  • Non-Airport Restaurant:  If there is something reasonably close to the airport to provide a local flavor, another good option.
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I'm swayed by my status because I have access to intl FC lounges on my preferred airlines, regardless of where on the plane I sit or where I'm flying.

 

Not all lounges are equal and they're generally very pleasant places to while away a few hours and much easier than leaving the airport. Decent wines, champagne, hand made cocktails and made to order food so little incentive to seek out an airport restaurant or further afield.

 

There is a point where I wouldn't stay in a lounge for say 6hrs unless it was one that had private rooms/cabanas/bedrooms etc. and I'm not afraid of leaving the airport during connections, just have little incentive to do so in most cases.

 

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A few examples from my own experience...

1. Had 5.5 hours at JFK...went to Xpress Spa for mani/pedi, The Palm restaurant for a meal, then the Delta Sky Club where we sat outside on the sky deck with cocktails and watched the planes on the tarmac

 

2. Another time wiht 6+ hours at JFK in the heat of summer...had a reservation to head over to the TWA hotel pool deck for a swim, snacks and cocktails.  Unfortunately our inbound flight had a severe delay and we missed out on this

 

3.  Once had 7+ hours at DCA after a conference ended and before an evening flight...took the metro to Pentagon City shopping mall

 

4. Once at ATL I simply walked all the way from Concourse T to Concourse F (quite a distance) to get some exercise in

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On 12/10/2023 at 10:33 AM, waterbug123 said:

A few examples from my own experience...

1. Had 5.5 hours at JFK...went to Xpress Spa for mani/pedi, The Palm restaurant for a meal, then the Delta Sky Club where we sat outside on the sky deck with cocktails and watched the planes on the tarmac

 

2. Another time wiht 6+ hours at JFK in the heat of summer...had a reservation to head over to the TWA hotel pool deck for a swim, snacks and cocktails.  Unfortunately our inbound flight had a severe delay and we missed out on this

 

3.  Once had 7+ hours at DCA after a conference ended and before an evening flight...took the metro to Pentagon City shopping mall

 

4. Once at ATL I simply walked all the way from Concourse T to Concourse F (quite a distance) to get some exercise in

Thanks for the tips..

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IMHO the Centurion Lounges and Delta Lounges are rather nice.  Of course it depends upon how many times per year you travel if it is worth the cost or not.  The Centurion lounges are only available at certain airports.  The Delta lounges are only available with a Delta flight and certain conditions met.

 

Priority Pass lounges vary from airport to airport.  They tend to not be as nice as the airline lounges or Centurion.

 

 

Edited by NMTraveller
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As others have already mentioned, there is a huge variability in the "quality" of airport lounges.  And what appeals to person A might not appeal to person B.  A may want some nice drinks and nibble stuff, whereas B might want a nice meal and then a place to nod off.

 

Thus far, the biggest differentiator in terms of "quality of lounges" has seemed to be those based upon the class of service.  That is, and airline's First Class Lounge can be terrific and very different from most (all?) choices of "general airport/airline lounges".

Needless to say, this approach would require one to spend a *lot* of money to get access; it's not a "per visit", "per day", or "per year" privilege.  Those international first class tickets can be might expensive (and unfortunately there fewer and fewer truly "first class" cabins/service).  Also, an airline's premium lounge is likely to be "best" (or among the very best) if it's in a major city in the airline's home country.  Otherwise, they may be sharing a lounge with some other entity, and it may not be special at all (alas!).

 

But a lounge like Cathay Pacific's F lounge in Hong Kong is ... beyond amazing.

And the Lufthansa F lounges in Frankfort and Munich are also special (but nothing like that CX lounge in HK).

 

We haven't (yet!) been in the F lounges for the Middle Eastern airlines, but we'd love to give those a try, along with the F flying experience.

 

We do our premium internation travel using awards, and when the points are used that way, it tends to be the very best bang for the points!  (But that depends upon *our* preferences; someone else may have different preferences of course...)

 

One other "enhancement" I could mention are the private "Meet & Greet" services.  In many locations (local laws vary and may restrict some of this), they'll meet you at the door of the plane as you are walking out, and escort you all the way to your local transportation pickup. Sometimes this involves going "behind the scenes" in relatively lonely hallways, where one is whisked away, avoiding all lines.  In one airport, as we got off the jetway, while everyone headed "right", we were escorted "left", where there didn't even seem to be any place to go.  There was a short velvet rope along part of the wall.  Our escort opened that, and then we suddenly realized that this part of the wall was actually a door.  And in we went, while the escort juggled ALL of our hand carried luggage (except for my purse and the little satchel containing our meds, which [almost] never leaves contact with one of us...).

At one point, he asked us to wait, and took our passports and boarding passes and disappeared.  He quickly returned, and apparently we had just "gone through" immigrations". (!?)  I found that disturbing, because no official had actually seen us or spoken to us.  However, we were no doubt observed by assorted cameras, of course, and the "escort" may have had special training to *do* the regular immigrations Q&A, etc.  Perhaps if we seemed more "sketchy", we'd have seen some more serious officials "up close and personal". 😉 

Not all airlines/airports allow this level of "care", for security reasons and local regulations.

 

Some nicer hotels offer some variation of this Meet & Greet service, too, although how it is handled can vary a lot.

 

In some of the F airport lounges, there are small, private bedrooms, with a proper bed.  It looked like a small and spartan hotel room (very small and very spartan!).  But very quiet, private, and peaceful. DH has had several very helpful long naps in those.  Me?  I prefer to watch the plane action, while stuffing my mouth with what are sometimes *very* nice meals or snacks.

 

GC

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On 12/17/2023 at 9:50 PM, NMTraveller said:

Also one point I might add is that the airport lounges can be at different gates than your flight.  At times it can be a bit of a walk or shuttle to get there.

And in European airports within the Schengen area, the airports are usually split in two separate areas: one for flights within Schengen and other for flights to/from other countries outside Schengen (eg. USA or UK). The location of facilities like lounges may thus be in either of these areas or if there is one in both areas then obviously there might be some differences. And of course if you want to go from intra-Schengen to non-Schengen or vice versa, you must go thru border control checkpoint.

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