Premium airport departure lounges you never knew existed

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To some, flying is a chore. It’s the uncomfortable, stressful limbo between the safety of home, and the pleasure of arriving at a holiday destination. To others, however, travelling by plane is as much a part of the holiday experience as sipping on that first poolside mai tai.

This is thanks in part to the rise of premium airport departure lounges, which are popping up to cater to passengers with a more refined range of needs. They often capture a unique flavour of identity and mix it a high level of comfort that many have felt has been missing from airports for many years.

Now you know how to maintain your beautiful skin tone on longhaul flights, we want to share with you how to make the most of stunning spaces that can be found in the airports that act as the gateway to the most iconic locations on Earth.

Cathay Pacific’s ‘Bridge’ Lounge – Hong Kong International Airport

The first stop for us is in Hong Kong at the recently opened ‘Bridge’ lounge, for passengers flying with Cathay Pacific. Designed by UK-based architects Forster + Partners, this lounge is a demonstration of how airlines are now catering their premium lounges to passengers with a more refined and sophisticated taste.

Materials used here include the finest venetian glass tiles, oak panels and travertine stone to create an immersive atmosphere that travellers should make it a priority to enjoy if they are travelling with the airline.

The ‘Bridge’ lounge has been given the tagline ‘A home away from home’, and the residential feeling it emanates of comfort, warmth and familiarity is one we feel is unique to this part of Hong Kong International Airport. With tastefully chosen artefacts that symbolise Asian-culture and a carefully curated selection of books, this is a truly phenomenal premium departure lounge.

What to sample:

When we’re travelling through this airport, we just love to sample the Asian Fusion food on offer – it’s glorious.


Hours: 5:30 AM until last departure
Location: Gate 35, Level 5, West Concourse (enter on Level 6)
Entrance Requirements: First and Business Class customers; Silver, Gold, and Diamond members of The Marco Polo Club; Sapphire and Emerald members of the oneworld alliance.

Virgin America’s The Loft – LAX Terminal 3

Next up is a Virgin America suite in the beautiful city of Los Angeles. This eco-friendly space stays true to the Virgin branding, with its signature red adding vibrancy to the lounge, which is lit using colours that are found onboard its aircrafts. For this reason, ‘The Loft’ is the perfect precursor to boarding a Virgin America plane.


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On offer in this lounge are properly made cocktails using the finest liquors and spirits sourced from all over the world, and gourmet food cooked to perfection by an in-house chef. Free wi-fi means that you don’t have to worry about missing those important emails either.

Children aged 12 and under aren’t permitted into this area, and with a power point located on nearly every super-comfy seat, it’s ideal to relax and unwind before boarding your flight.

What to sample:

Ask one of the bar staff to mix you up a Bloody Mary – a perfect example of this delectable cocktail.


Hours: Between 6:00 A.M. and 11:30 P.M. daily
Location: The Virgin America Loft is located past security at Terminal 3 on the upper level.
Entrance Requirements: All guests traveling on Virgin America or Virgin America partner airlines and passengers departing from LAX Terminal 3 are eligible to purchase loft day passes.

Lufthansa First Class Terminal – Frankfurt

There is nothing modest about the title of this terminal built specially for First Class passengers who are concerned as much with comfort as they are with privacy, and nor should there be. This terminal offers passengers access to a personal assistant, a private lounge area, bathing rooms and a cigar lounge. This isn’t so much an airline looking to keep its passengers comfortable, but it has developed a lounge that is experiential in its qualities.

You won’t hear or see much of this terminal from Germany’s elite airline in the press, and this is something Lufthansa has done intentionally. It’s supposed to be kept exclusive and elite, and that really comes across with the tactfully designed interior, that although slightly masculine in aesthetic, provides a soothing and homely surrounding prior to a flight.

What to sample:

If you arrive early in the morning, the Scottish smoked salmon bagel is the perfect way to start the day.


Hours: Between 5:30 A.M. and 10:0 P.M. daily
Location: Arriving by car follow the signs to the departure level of Terminal 1. Before you reach Terminal 1 turn right towards the First Class Terminal.
Entrance Requirements: You must be flying Lufthansa First Class or be a HON Circle member (Lufthansa’s uber-top tier elite status)

Emirates First Class Lounge – Dubai

Emirates has established worldwide recognition for harmoniously blending aviation and luxury. Its First Class Lounge in the Dubai International Airport is arguably the space that captures this balance most effectively. With sommeliers at your beck and call, quiet rooms and spas dotted throughout this lounge, it is brilliant for catching up on business, grabbing a refreshment, or just relaxing and doing nothing much at all.

With so many connecting flights going through Dubai International, access to a lounge like this should be highly valued. It’s quiet, peaceful and easy to relax in prior to your flight.

What to sample:

There is a fantastic a la carte menu and wine list here.


Hours: 24/7
Location: Terminal 3. Concourse B, 4th Floor, between Gates B16 and B18.
Entrance Requirements: Emirates First Class and Business Class Customers

Qantas First Class – Sydney

Qantas has first class lounges in both the Sydney and Melbourne airports, and with the Sydney lounge being largely designed by its Creative Director, Marc Newson, its fair to say that Qantas is leaps and bounds ahead of its competitors.

The lounge itself is spacious, but has been segmented into smaller compartments that offer both privacy and comfort. The restaurant offers gourmet Australian cuisine and is accompanied by a Michelin star-worthy wine list that is highly sophisticated.

The spa can provide customers with a 50 minute full body massage, and living walls dotted throughout the lounge give it a natural life that can mean it is easy to forget you are actually waiting in an airport.

With the longest flight in the world currently owned by Qantas and flying out of Sydney, this departure lounge is the perfect place to unwind before the longest of longhaul flights.

What to sample:

You just have to get a massage here – the full body massage takes 50 minutes and is the perfect preparation before embarking on a long flight.


Hours: Between 3:00 A.M. until the last Qantas flight
Location: Departures Level, opposite Gates 4 and 5
Entrance Requirements: Qantas Platinum Frequent Flyers, Gold Frequent Flyer and Qantas Club Members