airport lounges

4 ways to sleep, work or be alone when you’re stuck at the airport.

My column for CNBC this week is a round-up of options for finding a place outside airport lounges to sleep, have a quiet conversation or just have a little quiet time to yourself.

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Business travelers once looked to airline club rooms as calm oases offering quiet areas to relax, work, conduct important phone calls or, perhaps, catch a nap.

But now it’s not unusual for airline-operated and independent lounges to be as crowded and noisy as the congested airport terminals and gate hold areas many frequent travelers are willing to pay a fee to avoid.

Alternatives exist. Sort of.

Outside the United States, travelers seeking alone time might check into one of the Napcabs equipped with beds, worktables, touch screens, WiFi and baggage storage inside Germany’s Munich or Berlin-Tegel Airports.

Elsewhere, Yotel offers cozy, cabin-like hotel rooms equipped with futon-like beds, WIFI, flat screen TVS and bathrooms inside airport terminals in Amsterdam, London (Heathrow and Gatwick), Paris CDG and, soon, Istanbul and Singapore. 

In the United States, travelers seeking sleep, a place to work or a quiet place to have a phone conversation have an increasing range of options.

Downtime at Dulles?

Boston-based Sleepbox plans to cut the ribbon on a post-security micro-hotel on Concourse A at Dulles International Airport next week.

The 16 stand-alone modules have no bathrooms, but are soundproof spaces with mood lighting, WIFI, Bluetooth capability, fold-down work tables, space for storing luggage and beds with memory foam mattresses. Bookings are made via the same smart phone app that allows guests to unlock their room and control features such as the temperature and mood lighting in their unit

Pricing: Average hourly rate for compact rooms (about 30 square feet) is $25 per hour. Standard rooms (45 square feet): $35 per hour. After the first hour, additional 15-minute increments are $5 for the compact room, $7.50 for the standard-room. Rates top out at $120 for a 12-hour stay in a compact room and $140 for 12-hours in a standard room.

Room to relax

Minute Suites is a short-stay hotel chain with six post-security locations in four airports: two in Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport (Concourses B&T); two in Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport (Terminals A&D), one in the Charlotte Douglas International Airport atrium and one in the A/B Connector at Philadelphia International Airport.

The basic 56-square-foot suites have sofa daybeds with a pull-out trundle beds, sound-masking systems, HDTVs (with DirectTV and Netflix) that can also be used as computers, WIFI, and desks. A few suites in the DFW location are larger.

The company is adding four additional locations in ATL airport, a second location in Charlotte and has just announced Baltimore/Washington International Airport (BWI) as its next city. Plans to open branches in four additional airports are being finalized now.

An uptick in the number of millennial travelers is helping drive Minute Suites’ expansion.

A recent Hipmunk travel survey found that more than half of all millennials (54.4 percent) would like  airports to offer nap rooms  

“The second most requested amenity was board games,” said Minute Suites co-founder and CEO Daniel Solomon, “And we have now added board games and other desired services such as exercise cycles and yoga mats to our locations.”

Rates for Minutes Suites start at $42 per hour and drop to $32 per hour after two hours. The overnight rate (8 hours) is a flat $155. Showers (available in DFW Terminal D) and Charlotte Douglas International Airport are $20, with suite rental; $30 without. 

Want to be alone? Step into a Jabbrrbox

Phone-booth sized workspaces from Jabbrrbox, offering travelers private, quiet places to work and make phone calls, are available at New York’s LaGuardia Airport Terminal B, Pittsburgh International Airport (Concourse B and C) and on Concourse B at Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG).

Two new booths were installed in New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport Terminal 4 this week.

Users make reservations using touchscreens on the exterior of each unit and, once inside, will find WIFI, a desk, chair, power panel and another, larger, touchscreen that is used to control the color and brightness of the booth lights, track flight status and take photos.

Jabbrrbox pricing is $10 for 15 minutes, $15 for 30 minutes, $30 for an hour and $60 for two hours.

Work, stand, stretch

Business travelers who need to work but who also want to stretch their legs before or between flights can do both at the complimentary Varidesk co-working space at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport.

Opened in December and located in Terminal C, the staffed workspace has about two dozen height-adjustable standing desks, 75 charging ports and a conference room with moveable walls.

Varidesk chief marketing officer, Sean Scogin, says the company plans to open co-working spaces at other airports soon and may add its new state-of-the-art phone booth to the mix.

Have you found a good way to get out of the fray when you’re stuck at the airport? Share a tip below.

Snaps from British Airways’ lounges at JFK Airport

On my way to London via British Airways from Terminal 7 at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport on Friday, I was invited to tour the newly refurbished British Airways  First lounge, look inside the exclusive Concorde Room and spend time in the Galleries lounge.

Here are a few snaps from the day:

 

The new First lounge is now 60 percent bigger than the previous lounge – and includes a pre-flight dining area (shared with the Galleries /business lounge), a pleasant quiet work area and this lovely large bar area.

When I passed through it seemed to be both self-serve, with bartenders nearby.

Around the corner from the bar is a Wine Room with an enomatic dispenser serving 1-ounce tasting pours of a variety of specially chosen wine. Right now “Chardonnays of the World” are featured.

In addition to a quite bountiful buffet in the dining area, there was this dim sum bar nearby.

And (my favorite, after the complimentary 15-minute facial offered in the Elemis spa) –  a roving Gin and Tonic cart that was visiting both the First and Galleries loung areas.

Have you visited these lounges? Let us know what you think of the new and improved (and almost finished…) spaces.

United Airlines partners with that exclusive private lounge at LAX

You may remember stories about a private terminal at Los Angeles International Airport where passengers pay a premium fee to get special service before their flight, including private and personalized check-in and baggage handling, private security screening, a swank ride directly to the aircraft and a very upscale lounge to hang out in.

The cost? Fees are up there in the rarified “If you have to ask, you can’t afford it” categories:

Membership is $4500 a year, which gives a discount rate on individual visits of (only) $2700 when flying on a domestic flight and $3,000 when flying one-way internationally.

Not a member? Those one-time visits cost $3,500 for a domestic flight and $4,000 for someone traveling internationally.

Want a “cheaper” way in?

United Airlines and The Private Suite have partnered up to offer what it describes as “a highly preferential rate” that will be included in some business-class fares.

Exact pricing isn’t mentioned in the airlines’ release about the new partnership, but on the webpage for the United Private Suite, it says:

“With this service, you’ll save $4,500 on The Private Suite’s annual membership fee that’s normally required for travel with other airlines. In addition, you’ll enjoy favorable rates when compared to making separate bookings for travel and The Private Suite experience.”

Want to book it?

United says the The Private Suite experience is initially available only if you book through select corporate travel booking desks and travel agents, but that passengers will soon be able to purchase the perk  on united.com or through the United app as part of a premium-cabin ticket fare.

 

Denver Int’l Airport will get an Amex Centurion Lounge

American Express is expanding the list of airports with swanky Centurion Lounge clubs with the announcement that a new lounge is set to open at Denver International Airport sometime in 2019.

This one will be located on the Mezzanine of Concourse C at Denver International and, at 14,000-square-feet, will be the second-largest Centurion lounge to be built. A 15,000-square foot, 2-story lounge set to open in early 2019 at JFK International Airport Terminal 4 will be the largest.

Entry will be open to all American Express Platinum Card holders traveling through DEN, regardless of the airline they are flying.

American Express says the Centurion Lounge at DEN will offer the amenities available in other lounge locations, including complimentary food and beverages, a family room, restrooms and shower suites, and high-speed Wi-Fi.

Amex promises that this Centurion Lounge at DEN will also offer “sweeping airfield views” as well as “special amenities and design elements unique to this location,” which they say will be announced closer to the lounge’s opening.

“We are thrilled to share our plans to bring one of our signature Centurion Lounges to the Denver International Airport, as Denver is one of the top airports our premium Card Members travel through,” said Josh McKay, vice president and general manager, Global Benefits and Services, American Express, in a statement.

Other airports with Centurion Lounges include: New York’s LaGuardia Airport, Las Vegas’ McCarran International Airport, Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, San Francisco International Airport, Miami International Airport, Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, Houston’s George Bush International Airport, Hong Kong International Airport and Philadelphia International Airport. The JFK lounge is set to open in early 2019.

Want in? (I do, after getting just a taste for the experience via a complimentary visit to the lounge in SEA.)

Access to The Centurion Lounge is complimentary and exclusive for Platinum Card Members and Centurion Members. Platinum Card Members can bring along up to two travel companions at no additional charge and both Platinum Card or Centurion Members may purchase access to The Centurion Lounge for additional guests for $50 each guest.

(Photos courtesy American Express) 

Orlando Int’l Airport gets The Club lounge

ORLANDO Loungewide

Orlando International Airport has lots to entertain travelers waiting for a flight, but those who want a bit of extra pampering now have The Club at MCO as an option.

The 11th in the string of lounges operated by Airport Lounge Development (ALD), the new 8,000 square-foot open-to-all-travelers lounge at MCO is located on Airside 4 near gate 91 and will be open daily from 6:00am – 9:30pm.

Inside the lounge there are spaces for working or holding meetings, private restrooms with showers, a children’s zone with Xbox games and TV, complimentary snacks and beverages, high-speed WiFi and bar service.

Day passes to The Club at MCO are $35 and entry is also available to Priority Pass, Priority Pass Select, Lounge Club and LoungeKey Members with existing memberships.

ORLANDO KIDS