Did you know that last year over 1.4 billion people traveled through an airport—and that’s only counting North America! This is the ACI’s (Airports Council International) latest findings on airport traffic. Each year the ACI gathers traffic data from their council of more than 300 participating airports and publishes trends and forecasts for the upcoming years. With roughly 3.9 million daily travelers competing for places to sit, stand or even lay down at the terminal gate, where do you end up waiting for your flight? It’s no wonder people are looking for any possible advantage to avoid crowded airports.
Skift Travel Trends, a research company that publishes the popular The State of Global Travel report each year, shows there’s a 10 year growth trend of 5.5%, with the last couple of years pushing above trend. 2015 showed a 6.5% growth in tourism by flight, with 51% of Americans making their way to Europe for vacation/holiday, followed by Asia and trailing with trips to various locations in the Americas.
As air travel continues to grow as the most accepted way to travel–compounding crowds at the airport– more serious travelers, as well as leisure travelers, are feeling the pinch as they hunt for seats and space, and fight for internet bandwidth. It’s a pervasive problem in travel friction and airport lounges are cited as the top cited solution by travel expert, Dina Roche with the TravelDiet.com, for soothing travel friction.
The Beginning of the Airport Lounge
In articles like, 5 great way to travel internationally and growing concerns surround travel friction, the top solution for avoiding the crowds seems to come back to this…airport lounge clubs. Why is this though?
Airport Lounge clubs were originally a perk devised by an airline for their privileged frequent flyers specifically designed to reduce travel friction—well okay, they were developed as a customer experience program and branding effort, but reduced travel friction has become the fallout benefit. They sported a get-away space where members could sit back and relax before their next flight.
Today, there are independent airport lounges that travelers can access regardless of the airline, or class, they are flying. During the 90s, Priority Pass negotiated contracts with airlines allowing access to all travelers becoming the first agnostic airport lounge provider. Around 2005, more prestigious credit cards lines such as Chase, American Express and VISA followed suit negotiated lounge access for their members.
Today, Priority Pass has become the world’s largest agnostic lounge provider. They offer members access over 950 prestigious airport lounge clubs in 400 cities and 200 countries.
An Inside Look at Why Airport Lounges
Still, what makes these lounges so attractive to serious travelers? Airport lounges provide far more than the escape from an overcrowded terminal, although, that alone is one reason people continue to buy memberships.
So, while airport foot traffic may increase to as much as 77 million travelers in the coming year increases the size of standing traffic at the gate, the avid travelers’ top priority is often productivity, as much as it is finding quiet space to work or relax. The sanctuary of lounge access via a Priority Pass membership checks all these boxes, and membership is not dependent on the flight you take, nor the class, nor the amount of miles or points you may have with an airline.
Here’s an exclusive look into what’s hiding behind those frosted glass doors and why $99 a year is so attractive. Welcome to Lounge Class.
Airline, or Airport Lounges offer a clean upscale space often void of the noise and clutter found at the gate. They offer an abundance of plugins for your devices and space for seating. Occupancy is often capped to ensure a high level of ambiance.
While every lounge is different in terms of amenities, most offer some form of relaxation be it billiards, massage therapy, private sleeping quarters, or free high-speed Wi-Fi.
Food and drinks, aside from the free Wi-Fi and quiet spaces, are the top draw for an airport lounge. This is because everything is free—more times than not.
Edible options range from the luxurious buffet shown here to healthy bites and snacks like fruits and small sandwiches. Drinks range from top-shelf alcohol and craft beers to soft-drinks, juices and bottled waters.
Lounge sizes vary too. Larger airports usually have much larger spaces with a mix of couches, sofas, recliners and table tops for conversation, work or grabbing a bite to eat.
Airport lounges often help maximize a traveler’s productivity with comfortable secluded space for meetings and gatherings.
Private, reservable conference rooms are key perks for traveling executives and business development managers that may need a little more privacy before, between or directly after flights.
Airport Lounges offer a cozier, home-like atmosphere. This kind of relaxing environment isn’t just a sanctuary for weary international travelers that can sometimes grab a shower and freshen up before leaving the airport directly to a meeting, but they also serve as a place to help center and ground restless children.