TALKING POINT | At Australian Business Traveller, we spend a lot of time in airport lounges.
If we’re not attending the official opening or getting an exclusive sneak peek at a shiny new lounge, we’re either waiting for a flight or counting down the hours between flights – just like you probably do.
One type of lounge which intrigues us – and which we make full use of, after long overnight flights and early morning landings – is the arrivals lounge.
Most commonly found at an airline’s home port, arrivals lounges let you refresh, refuel and generally get back on top of things before your first round of meetings – especially if you can’t check into your hotel room until noon or later.
(Our strategy: we call the hotel as soon as we land to see if an early check-in is available, based on occupancy the night before. If the room’s soon to be ready we usually head straight to the hotel; otherwise, the arrivals lounge comes to the rescue, and is a decent place to clock up an hour or two.)
Arrivals lounges don’t need to be extravagant – they’re not first class flagships, and they’re very much built to a singular purpose.
You can go from the compact but ticks-all-the-boxes approach of Cathay Pacific’s Hong Kong arrivals lounge…
… to the ‘breakfast, bath and spa’ of British Airways' Heathrow T5 arrivals lounge…
... raise the business travel bar with the wet shave service of Etihad’s arrivals lounge at Abu Dhabi…
… and even offer private rooms with beds and an ensuite bathroom, a la Zurich Airport’s Swiss arrivals lounge.
That said, the majority of airlines don’t bother with arrivals lounges – Qantas, Emirates, Singapore Airlines and Air New Zealand, for starters.
As it happens, Qantas considered building an arrivals lounge at Sydney Airport, as a follow-up to the opening of its international first class lounge in 2008 – but for various reasons, the Qantas Arrivals Lounge never eventuated.
Today, as an increasing number of business travellers have experienced arrivals lounges run by other airlines at other major airport around the world, we’re asking readers: are Sydney, and arguably Melbourne, missing out?
There’s perhaps less of an argument for a Sydney arrivals lounge than a Melbourne counterpart, considering the proximity and travel time between each airport and its parent CBD.
Then again, Hong Kong, Heathrow and Zurich airports are barely 20 minutes from ‘downtown’ by train (admittedly a dedicated ‘airport express’ train in the case of Hong Kong and Heathrow.)
Both airports have early morning waves of inbound flights from the USA and Europe, as well as shorter but still overnight flights from Asia.
Do you think Sydney and Melbourne airports need an arrivals lounge; would you use it, or do you see inbound visitors in business class or first class using it?