Tuesday 20 March 2018

Lounging around - the best places of calm in airports

Dubai business lounge, Emirates
Dubai business lounge, Emirates
Mark Evans

Mark Evans

Airports are a necessary evil - but good lounges can take the stress out of a long layover. Looking back over 2017, the best offered an oasis of calm, an area for working (all have complimentary dedicated wifi) and at times food of such quality that you could skip the in-flight catering. Here's a look at the pros and cons of a selection from 40,00-plus miles of travelling last year.

Starting at home, Dublin Airport's 51st & Green in Terminal 2, which opened in the summer of 2016, has a number of pluses. If you're an aviation geek, the USP is the view: a spectacular vista of the tarmac hustle and bustle that is making Dublin a key transatlantic hub. The food selection is small enough, compared with middle-eastern and Asian lounges, and it could do with more USB outlets and sockets, but the big plus is shower rooms.

Turkish Airlines lounge, Istanbul
Turkish Airlines lounge, Istanbul

The more private, semi-circular lounge area to the right of the entrance is the best, so arrive early to bag a seat. Outside is bustling with US-bound passengers, so the lounge (situated beyond US border control) is a nice break from the chaos. Dublin's best option is the Etihad lounge at T1, available for passengers to and from Abu Dhabi. Unusually, it has waiter service and the full Irish breakfast is top notch. Showers are available and it's a comfortable spot - even better, in my mind, than Etihad's main, and busy, lounge in Abu Dhabi.

With double-daily flights from Dublin, there is a chance that you'll end up in Turkish Airlines' award-winning lounge in Istanbul's Ataturk Airport. First, the pluses: where else would you get a snooker table, Scalextric-style racing track and computer games? The food, created by airline partner DO&CO, is plentiful, as is the wine selection.

It is enormous, but also a victim of it is own success, so it is bustling. The good news is that Istanbul is getting a new airport, with capacity for 150 million passengers, which is due for completion in the third quarter of this year, with services commencing a year from now.

Stateside, Newark is often handier than JFK if time is precious getting into Manhattan for business. The United Club in Terminal C is massive, but can get busy all the same.

Recently renovated, the big pluses are productivity; it has plenty of workstations and semi-private working areas, plus showers. Food choice is limited (soups and snacks) but good. As can be the case in America, free alcohol is limited, so you'll need to pay at the bar if you want something grander than a Budweiser. A good place to work, rather than play, it is a big improvement on previous incarnations at New Jersey airport.

The only negative point of the KLM Crown Lounge at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam is finding it - compared to everything else, (which is a breeze), it's difficult enough. The emphasis appears to be on alcohol. There is a huge array of wines, as well as Heineken, on tap for weary business travellers. The seats are comfy enough to fall asleep in and there are plenty of power connections.

Doha International doesn't do the hard stuff (soft drinks and coffee/tea only), but unlike other lounges, there is plenty of space for working in the brightly-lit lounge. The big plus is immediate access to a dedicated security area, so arriving into Qatar is a stress-free experience.

And the best of 2017? It's an old favourite - and one visited numerous times on layover - at Dubai International. The Emirates lounge has all the usual lounge attractions; comfortable seating, shower rooms and so on, with the added bonus of high-ending dining (or simple hot dogs if that's your thing), plus immediate access to gates. The lounge is so big, in fact, that you sit near your next gate and walk downstairs direct to your aircraft. Wifi can be uneven at times, but the drinks selection is good and there is even a smoking area.

Sunday Indo Business

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