Best Airport Lounges for Business Travelers

By Jessica Sillers

Airlines and airports would like you to believe every lounge area combines the serenity of a spa oasis with the productive business energy of your favorite industry summit. In reality, an airport lounge can be a great place to freshen up and get work done—or it can be a total dud. We’ve rounded up some lounges that are worth a visit, and we’ll tell you the easiest ways to get in before your next flight.

Top Airport Lounges

A great airport lounge offers better food, faster WiFi, more comfortable working conditions, and even a place to shower or nap before a flight. These go above and beyond in terms of their comfort, style, and amenities that may actually make you want to head for the airport early.

Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse – JFK, New York City, USA

Great food and a glitzy atmosphere (including a distinctive red couch by the pool table) make this lounge a traveler favorite. WiFi is reportedly on the slow side, so plan to have some offline work available.

American Express Centurion Lounge – SFO, San Francisco, USA

Outstanding food and Napa Valley wines make this lounge a popular option in one of the busiest airports in the world. Grab a shower, or tackle to-dos at semi-private work stations or the computer bar.

United Polaris Lounge – ORD, Chicago, USA

This lounge is by far the best rated at O’Hare, and offers work areas, showers, dining, and even four sleeping rooms. Services like clothes pressing can help you prepare to make a good impression as soon as you land.

Air France Business Class Lounge – CDG, Paris, France

This airy lounge can accommodate more than 500 people, so you’ll feel less cramped than at many other lounges. Chic decor (that gold mirrored ceiling!), sommelier-selected wines, and soothing wellness areas add Parisian elegance and luxury to your layover.

SilverKris Lounge – Changi Airport, Singapore

One of the largest business airport lounges in the world is modeled after a home, with separate areas for relaxing, dining, and working. Work stations and showers are available, and the food has earned some of the highest praise for any lounge on review sites.

How to Get In

Business class tickets often come with complimentary airport lounge access. Even if you’re flying coach, though, there are a few ways to gain access to an airport lounge:

Credit card membership

Some credit cards offer airport lounge membership as a perk. The drawback is that the annual fee is often hundreds of dollars, so review terms carefully to decide if a credit card is right for you.

Airline membership

Similarly, some airlines offer lounge membership for an annual fee. If you travel frequently with the same airline, a $500 annual fee may break down to a reasonable per-visit rate.

Day pass

Less frequent travelers may balk at dropping hundreds of dollars, but they can still benefit from a chance to work or relax in peace and quiet. American Airlines and United Airlines offer day passes for $59. For international flights, check with your airline or on an independent site (e.g., LoungePass or LoungeBuddy) for day passes, often in the $30-40 range. A day pass may only be valid for a few hours, so tackle priority tasks first.

When Are Airport Lounge Passes Worth It?

Airport lounge quality can vary, and not all business trips are equal. Your company’s travel policy can provide guidance on when it’s appropriate to add a lounge day pass to business travel plans. Some helpful criteria to consider are:

How long is the layover?

An hour layover is barely enough to grab coffee and head for the connecting gate. On an eight-hour layover, business travelers have more need for a place to work, nap, and recharge.

What’s the business traveler’s seniority?

Employees in a higher role may have earned additional privileges for their flights.

How important is working on the travel day?

Staying productive on a travel day is always more challenging than being in the office. The main airport seating area is loud, distracting, and uncomfortable. A few quiet hours in the lounge can be your best plan to cross important items off your list.

Which lounge is on your route?

Some lounges are ultimately disappointing. When you’re planning your itinerary, it’s worth a quick check on a review site to see if the lounge is lackluster or actually worth the money.

A lounge pass can be a welcome perk or a powerful tool to get some real work done on the road. Keep an eye out during the travel planning stage for options that help get a business trip off on the right foot.

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