Start your holiday the right way with airport lounge access

By: burrows
Get your holiday off to a comfortable start. Relax with your relatives before flying out in one of many available airport lounges at international airports around the UK.

Got your ticket, passport, holiday fever? Now you can get into a holiday mood before you even step onto the plane. Once you’ve cleared the check-in lines and have your boarding pass, get into holiday mode at one of the privately operated lounges accessible to all passengers regardless of their class of travel. There’s nothing like kicking back in a plush armchair with a view of the tarmac while sipping a cool drink in preparation for your flight.

Not long ago, lounges were the exclusive domain of first-class and business travellers, but these days more and more budget travellers and even whole families opt for the tranquillity and comfort of these convenient havens. You can choose between a ‘landside’ lounge, located before passport control, where friends and relatives seeing you off are welcome to join, or go for the ‘airside’ option after passport control, where you can leave the hustle and bustle of the departure lounge behind.

The all-inclusive rate typically includes free drinks and a snack buffet, along with tea, coffee, juice, soft drinks and alcoholic beverages as well as champagne (for a surcharge) to help you get into the holiday spirit. There’s also a selection of newspapers and magazines for you to peruse in addition to internet access and payphones so you can call loved ones before takeoff. Business travellers will find fax and photocopying facilities in most lounges.

Different terms of use apply according to operator and airport. Most lounges will allow children less than 12 years of age to enter the lounge if accompanied by a parent or guardian, while others do not permit infants less than three years old. Disabled passengers are usually requested to notify the lounge in advance so that necessary preparations can be made. Smoking restrictions vary, with many lounges providing designated smoking rooms or zones, while others prohibit smoking altogether.

Lounges typically open in the early morning and close their doors around 21:00 or 22:00 in the evening. Passengers can use the facilities up to 3 hours before their flight is scheduled to depart.

Travellers at Heathrow Airport can avail of the huge Holideck, spread across three floors with the Main Deck offering family facilities and a children’s game zone. The Upper Deck has a sports bar and smoking room and The Haven is a place for business travellers or others to kick back in total isolation. The Flight Deck provides fine vistas for plane spotters through its panoramic windows.

There are no less than a dozen public lounges at international airports across the UK. These include Luton, Gatwick, Heathrow, Manchester, Birmingham, Bristol, Newcastle, Leeds Bradford, East Midlands, Glasgow, Edinburgh and Stansted. Bookings are best made via one of the several dedicated websites such as airport-lounge-discounts.co.uk, which make bookings easy with real-time availability checks and confirmation by e-mail. You can also access information on opening times, rates, facilities, disabled access and smoking restrictions. While some lounges have walk-in rates, online booking is recommended for peace of mind.
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