AIRPORT LOUNGES: what makes a good one, based on Zambian, South African & Heathrow..

In the last month I had the opportunity to sample a number of airline lounges on my travels to and from Southern Africa. It got me thinking to what makes a good lounge.

I had tried out-

– Virgin Atlantic lounge at Heathrow (probably the best airline lounge anywhere in the world!)
– British Airways lounge at OR Tambo Johannesburg
– British Airways Lounge at Victoria Falls Livingstone Zambia (Very homemade approach..!)
– Virgin Atlantic at the OR Tambo Airport Johannesburg (A fairly new airline lounge which while not that large is funky decor as usual with Virgin)

Pictures of each are below, which show the massive diversity in style and decor. The 2 extremes being the BA Zambia and Virgin Heathrow.

BA Zambia has a real “homemade/ low budget” approach and was a mix match of what felt like old lounge furniture, amateur art and was a bit shabby. But saying that it did make me think about what makes it good to have access to a lounge at an airport.

It seem to me that all of them offered:
– An escape from the overall madness that the general area can be, with nowhere comfortable to sit with less noise and hustle and bustle.
– Free drinks and something to eat. On the one extreme is the Virgin Lounge at Heathrow you can chose from a sit down dinner, choose from the deli or order from a menu at your seat. At the other was BA Livingstone with some cheese puffs and sandwiches. But all have something to eat that costs nothing and booze, soft drinks and tea/ coffee.
– Newspapers and magazines to browse through to pass the time.
– Internet access. All had free internet access, which seems to be a policy now for BA. It was very erratic in the Zambia lounge, but that may be more of a telecom issue than a BA issue…!
– Sense of being valued and looked after

Of course there is then the sense of “wow” that Virgin lounges have. They all tend to have their own look and feel, with some theme that links them all back. The BA lounges are much more of a template and look very similar.

But in the end, having access is a boon.

BRITISH AIRWAYS LOUNGE LIVINGSTONE ZAMBIA

BRITISH AIRWAYS LOUNGE JOHANNESBURG

VIRGIN LOUNGE JOHANNESBURG AIRPORT

VIRGIN ATLANTIC LOUNGE HEATHROW

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