The Secret to a Zen Airport Layover
I’m lounging in a plush leather chair, sipping a Guinness, reading a magazine and feeling a bit like a fraud. You see, my plane ticket is for economy (or as I call it, steerage) but I’m hanging out in an oasis of calm in a busy airport. This trip did not get off to an auspicious start. I had to park in the far off overflow parking and a wheel fell off my suitcase meaning I had to half carry, half drag the bag until someone took pity on me. Why don’t airports have luggage cart corrals like grocery stores? The lounge was just the thing to soothe my nerves. Wine was needed.
Once you pass through the lounge doors you’re immediately buffered from the bustle of airport activity. The experience is rather calm and serene, which is in contrast with the sometimes chaotic nature of airports. The chairs are comfy. There are free drinks, snacks, newspapers, magazines and wifi. If you need a quiet place to work, there are business centres and conference rooms. Some lounges even have showers, which would be a Godsend after a red-eye flight. Hobnobbing with executives and celebrities. Yep, this is totally the way to travel. Even the toilet paper in the bathroom is nicer.
How do I get in when I only fly economy?
Executive airport lounges are not just for the high-flying executive class. Really, anyone can use these lounges, but there’s a cost. In an effort to rack up some Aeroplan points for a cheap trip to Asia later this year I signed up for the American Express Aeroplan Platinum card. High annual fee but one of its perks? Maple Leaf Lounge access whenever I fly Air Canada. If you don’t have elite status, an executive class seat or another qualifying membership card, you can still purchase lounge access. Prices start at $30 one way and you have to buy in advance. You can also buy a yearly pass or redeem Aeroplan points for a one time visit. Other airlines will have similar plans for their lounges.
Now that I’ve experienced this more civilized way to spend an airport layover would I pay for the privilege once I cancel my credit card? Maybe. If I had a really long stopover and couldn’t leave the airport or if I needed a quiet place to work (especially if the airport didn’t have free wifi). The comfy chairs, the free food and drinks, the peace and quiet… it’s certainly nice. In most situations though I’ll probably continue to rough it with uncomfy seats, pass on the drinks and save my pennies.
Have you ever taken advantage of an executive lounge while flying? Who has the nicest one?