Picture it: You’re at the airport, waiting for your flight. Around you, the terminal is abound with its usual unrest. To your right, a bored child plays on his iPad, the volume ruthlessly cranked up; to your left, a gentleman snores on your shoulder. The intercom blares with messages for late passengers, babies wail, and overly-eager travelers argue with the check-in desk. To add to your misery, your laptop is running low on power, and every outlet within a two-mile radius seems to be occupied.
Then, from the corner of your eye, you spot an oasis: the airport lounge.
In the chaos of a busy terminal, the airport lounge is a haven from the storm. Complimentary food and drinks. Comfortable chairs. A quiet space to get work done. Sometimes, even showers and massage can be had.
Of course, these perks come with a price. Access to the lounge is usually gained by purchasing a business or first class ticket, by amassing a large number of frequent flyer miles with the airline, or by directly purchasing a day pass. None of these options are particularly cheap.
Regardless, the airport lounge is usually nicer than the rest of the airport. But within this mini-verse of luxury, which airport lounges are the world’s best?
To answer this question, Hipmunk worked with Priceonomics to analyze the data from Skytrax, an airport review site. Here, thousands of travelers post comments about airport lounges and rank them on various facets like comfort, Wi-Fi, drinks, food, and staff friendliness. These ratings fall on a 5-point scale, with 1 being the worst, and 5 being the best.
According to our analysis, the best airport lounge in the world is Qantas First Class Lounge in Sydney Airport—the only lounge to achieve a perfect 5-star rating. In fact, the Australian airline consistently received high ratings; five of the 20 top-ranked airports are Qantas-owned.
At these elite lounges, the reviews speak of other-worldly levels of luxury and service. For instance, one traveler said of the Malaysian Business Class lounge in Heathrow (our list’s second-highest rated location): “Excellent service excellent food. Smiles all round from the staff; the chef even made me a Pecan Pastry specially!” That’s a far cry from fast food courts and snoring neighbors.
Notably, more than half of the lounges that ranked on our list are dedicated to business class flyers. Hipmunk’s vice president of marketing, Roxy Young, said, “It is not surprising that many of the top airport lounges are in airports that have a high percentage of international business travelers. These are flyers who need access to amenities not readily available in public waiting areas.”
Next, let’s breakdown which airport lounges rank best for specific criteria. We’ll start with a really important one: the bar.
Two lounges tie for first place here: Qatar Airways lounge in London, and Qantas in Sydney. It seems Heathrow Airport’s lounges really do drinks right, as the Malaysian Business Class lounge ranks third here as well.
Of course, after enjoying a few drinks at the bar, food is an important consideration—and some of these lounges offer haute cuisine dishes that would earn even the most discerning foodie’s approval.
“This lounge deserves the rave reviews,” wrote one traveler of the Qatar lounge in Heathrow. “Excellent restaurant quality food and service with a knockout wine list. Lunch of crayfish washed down with a premier cru.” Not bad, Qatar. Not bad at all.
In fact, Qatar Airways has the highest rated lounges of any airline. Across lounges worldwide, here are the 10 airlines that consistently receive the best scores:
In all of these lists, airlines based in Asia and the Middle East dominate the rankings. As a representative from Dubai-based Emirates Airlines told The New York Times: “We believe that the comfort and convenience of dedicated lounges enables our passengers to enjoy the Emirates experience even before they have boarded the plane.”
We want to know: Do you agree with the rankings? Are you surprised no U.S. lounges made the cut?
This post was posted by thehipmunk on Hipmunk’s Tailwind blog on October 16th.