Making a 'quiet airport lounge' work for travellers...

By Chris Chamberlin , July 28 2015
Making a 'quiet airport lounge' work for travellers...

Qantas is currently trialling ‘quiet lounges’ – those where boarding calls become the exception, rather than the rule – in an effort to make the environment more calming, interruption-free, and for business travellers, ultimately more productive.

Despite concerns from some passengers, the concept is already adopted by many major airlines around the world including British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Delta, Emirates, Etihad and more.

Of course, it's not enough for staff at reception to simply advise that boarding calls aren't made, so Emirates reinforces that by having clear signs throughout its home hub Dubai lounges.

These signs make it clear when boarding commences and concludes, but could be further improved by promoting an airline's smartphone app to provide pop-up alerts when it's time to board.

Big screens are also important, which Delta doesn't forget in its lounges. It's easy to locate your flight on the Sky Club information screens, which present flights by destination, rather than departure time:

That’s complemented by separate screens positioned in strategic locations throughout the lounges, such as behind the bar, highlighting only the flights which are open for boarding and displaying that information in a larger font that can be read from a distance or in passing:

In Abu Dhabi, Etihad’s Premium Lounge for business class and first class passengers again adopts a slightly different approach, with the space blanketed with standard flight information screens in convenient locations, such as near the sitting areas and next to the bar…

… and which have a clear and specific column for boarding information on the far right, which remains blank until it’s time to pay closer attention:

That allows travellers walking through the lounge to quickly spot their flight and move on if there’s no ‘news’. We also found extra screens clearly visible in the lounge’s separate section for first class passengers and top-tier frequent flyers, where the information was readable from our seat.

If you have any suggestions on how airlines could improve ‘silent lounges’ for you, the traveller, share them in the comments box below!

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Chris Chamberlin

Chris Chamberlin is the Associate Editor of Executive Traveller, and lives by the motto that a journey of a thousand miles begins not just with a single step, but also a strong latte, a theatre ticket, and later in the day, a good gin and tonic.

Delta Air Lines - SkyMiles

14 Apr 2013

Total posts 330

What if the airlines send an SMS reminder that borading has commenced when J & F Pax are in the lounge?

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards Gold

04 Jul 2014

Total posts 132

Think this is a great idea.. Many airlines do already offer this through iPhone apps however (Qantas included)

Delta Air Lines - SkyMiles

06 May 2015

Total posts 54

I know AA lounge in LAX has lots of ipads around. When you sit down just enter the flight details into the Ipad and it will give you visual and audible cue for boarding time, delays and departure gate information. This is very handy especially if your not in direct line of sight to the information screens

Quite lounge is easier for lounges that cater for domestic flights for the reasons below:

  • Shorter flights - less pain for pax i.e. the need to use a lounge is diminished
  • Flights served by smaller aircraft - quicker boarding reducing the need to use the lounge as a waiting room
  • High frequency of flights - increased announcements = increased annoyance

For a quiet lounge to work in an international lounge, there needs to be:

  1. A tiered-boarding approach, where boarding occurs in the order of priority e.g. Y, QC, J/G/OWS, F/P,OWE
  2. Flight information screens/txt message prompts reflect no. 1, above
  3. Trust in the information being relayed via flight information screens/txt message prompts (i.e. the integrity of the application no. 1 above)

In the Qantas First Lounge for example, the announcement that while general boarding has occurred, boarding for passengers in the lounge is held back until such time when boarding has quieten down a bit. That is what I find lacking at LHR, when BA do not make announcements and you kinda have to gauge when the boarding area has quieten down. Even with AA's approach when only a general boarding call is made in the lounge, you can use that announcements to pace yourself and arrive at the boarding gate when the hoi polloi have boarded.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

19 Mar 2014

Total posts 574

The old staggered boarding call, instead of a staggered boarding. 500+ people at the gate waiting to board an A380..... I'm hearing ya!

12 Jun 2013

Total posts 744

I hate it when international lounges call flights ridiculously early.

I flew LAX-SYD on VA the other month. They called boarding in the lounge 40 minutes in advance of departure, so I started moving in the general direction of the gate in a somewhat dawdling manner. By the time I got out of the lounge, it was "final call". By the time I was approaching the gate (geez the new Bradley terminal is big) they were individually calling my name. And yet it was still half an hour to departure!

I asked the gate attendant as he scowled at me, scanning my boarding pass, and he said "Yeah, we're trying to actually get the plane out on time". So I took my seat, last to board, and sat patiently in it for half an hour before they closed the door. Because apparently I really wanted to add an extra half-hour of sitting in economy to my fourteen hours of sitting in economy. 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

26 Sep 2011

Total posts 85

Chance would be a fine thing. Several years ago Qantas had an advertising slogan for its lounges, something like "an oasis of peace". They went ballistic when I suggested that the ACCC might consider that slogan actionable since the Qantas lounges were anything but, with kids running around unsupervised and so on. I wonder how they will enforce the "quiet" aspect of these lounges

RTWFF, 

Kind of like Qantas Domestic Flex ticets, Qantas doesn't necessarily mean "quiet" in the way you and I know it.

"Quiet" is just code or marketing talk to describe the fact that announcements for boarding will not be made.

It is the same for "Flex" tickets that still requires payment of fare difference when changes are made same as the case for Red-E Deal. Its "Flex" but not quite so...Maybe they should market the fare type as "I'm so bad at planning that I cannot tell 24h in advance if I can't catch my flight plus I'm IT challenged and can't change my tickets online for free" fare.

QF 0020410 Gold

08 Aug 2015

Total posts 2

I agree with the SMS Idea; I would suggest 30 mins before boarding--not pseudo boarding.This is when the boarders get bored waiting for the real boarding call.

Maybe Qantas and Virgin need to learn a trick from Vaudeville in the 1950's,when:Communication,was the name of the GAME!!!


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