London, United Kingdom
Masdar City, Abu Dhabi
Auckland, New Zealand
New York, New York
Airport owners, operators and airlines want to do away with the anxiety of air travel, turning their facilities into spaces to relieve stress, delight the senses, and feel immersed in a luxury experience. Taking design and service cues from the hotel sector, they’re adopting concierge service and the inviting design of five-star lobbies. Spa amenities once reserved for first-class lounges—showers, sleep rooms, massage chairs, easy chairs—are now being offered throughout the departure lounge.
The goal: to inspire passengers to buy more goods and services and make the airport a brand of choice for future flights. The experience isn’t just limited to those who are coming or going from a destination. International transfer passengers are becoming an especially lucrative target, especially in Middle Eastern hubs that increasingly aim to occupy them with shopping and high-end entertainment.
As in hotels, technology is becoming critical in enhancing the user experience. Passengers can connect to free WiFi and download apps that highlight airport attractions and help them navigate the experience. While passengers can pay for a more personalised touch with personal shoppers or airport butler services, the most luxurious experiences are reserved for those who are paying top dollar. That can mean getting privacy and a feeling of the outdoors at the Qantas business lounge in Perth or getting first-class treatment in the Frankfurt Lufthansa lounge where, after taking an elevator to private passport control, a driver will escort you by Porsche to the plane.
Choice and comfort are defining elements of the Business Lounge. Customers can dine on the sun-filled interior ‘deck’ overlooking the atrium, join others around the fireplace in the den, or relax privately in a classic Eames lounge chair. Dining is centred around an active ‘street’ where customers can enjoy menus influenced by Los Angeles’ multicultural cuisines, including dishes served from food carts inspired by the city’s street food culture. A full-service cocktail bar and shower suites complete the current offering. The lounge also includes a formal dining experience, workstations, a family zone and private shower.