Six airport arrivals lounges that let high flyers land in style

By David Flynn, December 28 2016
Six airport arrivals lounges that let high flyers land in style

It's been a long flight, and officially an overnight one at that.

You land at 6am, and despite a decent nap in your business class seat you still feel a bit rough around the edges. You probably look it, too.

That's when your first stop should be an airport's arrivals lounge to refresh and refuel.

Grab some freshly prepared breakfast and a much-needed coffee, maybe a quick shower, send off those emails you wrote on the flight, and then – when you're feeling back on top of things – make your way into the city for the first meetings of the day.

Make a post-flight pit stop

Arrivals lounges are the apres flight cousin of departure lounges, and much fewer in number.

Typically found only at an airline's home port, they usually lay down the welcome mat to only first class and business class travellers making an early-morning touchdown.

Scroll through the gallery above for a look at some of the best international arrival lounges.

How early? Cathay Pacific's overnight flight from Sydney to Hong Kong (CX138) usually lands around 5am, well before the Airport Express train begins running to the city.

This makes the Cathay Pacific arrivals lounge at Hong Kong Airport perfect for a post-flight pit stop between getting off the plane and heading off to a pitch meeting.

It's a compact affair, nestled in a blink-and-you'll-miss-it part of the walkway between the airport's two terminals.

But with a breakfast buffet and a la carte menu, eight shower suites plus space to plug in your laptop and catch up on email, it certainly ticks the business travel boxes.

It's worth noting that Platinum-grade Qantas frequent flyers can also visit this lounge, even if they've flown in Cathay Pacific economy class.

AusBT review: Cathay Pacific's The Arrival Lounge, Hong Kong Airport

Another benefit of arrivals lounges: after landing on an early morning flight, there's a good chance you won't be able to check straight into your hotel, so this is the best way to regain your humanity before the working day begins.

The same applies to the British Airways Terminal 5 arrivals lounge at London's Heathrow Airport.

Step off the flight from Sydney via Singapore, into the BA arrivals lounge and you can tuck into a hearty English breakfast with everything from porridge and pork sausages to kippers and black pudding.

BA ups the ante with a staggering 94 shower suites plus six over-sized 'cabana' rooms boasting a deep bath tub for a relaxing soak.

The showers and cabanas also offer a complimentary pressing service.

Open the double-sided door, hang up your jacket, shirt and pants and press the Valet buzzer. Inside of 10 minutes they'll come back wrinkle-free so that you're looking sharp for the day ahead.

You can also snare a free 15-minute facial or neck-and-shoulder massage at the lounge's travel spa.

AusBT review: British Airways Arrivals Lounge, London Heathrow Terminal 5

Qantas business class and first class travellers to London (but not Platinum-grade frequent flyers, alas) have access to a newly-opened American Airlines arrivals lounge at Heathrow's Terminal 3.

In addition to 29 spacious showers suites and dressing areas there's a valet pressing service to help you avoid that "I've just arrived on a 22 hour flight from Australia" look.

The lounge cafe serves a full breakfast including several made-to-order dishes, smoothies and real (espresso) coffee plus a 'Grab-n-Go station' if you're hungry but in a hurry.

Read more: New London arrivals lounge opens for Qantas flyers

The Etihad Airways arrivals lounge at Abu Dhabi Airport upgrades the valet pressing to a boutique men's salon where barbers offer a complimentary wet shave using a cut-throat razor and quality shave lotions from Murdock's of London.

After a shower and a light breakfast, you're good to go!

AusBT review: Etihad Airways Arrivals lounge, Abu Dhabi

Qatar Airways' arrivals lounge at Doha ticks all the boxes for the tired business traveller with private shower suites and an a la carte dining room.

If you're a smoker and in dire need of a puff, there's even a smoking room (with a closed door to contain the smell).

AusBT review: Qatar Airways Arrivals lounge, Doha Airport

Finally, the Swiss arrivals lounge at Zurich Airport not only boasts a wonderfully European breakfast spread (yes, Bircher muesli and Swiss chocolates both make an appearance) but 20 spacious shower suites with valet pressing service...

... and three private hotel-style bedrooms, one of which has a double bed and ensuite shower.

If your schedule allowed, you could happily bunk down in this lounge until your hotel check-in became available.

AusBT review: Swiss Arrivals lounge, Zurich

Do you use airport arrivals lounges – and if so, how do you rate them?

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David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

04 May 2015

Total posts 268

Qatar's arrival setup is confusing as there's some kind of lounge before passport control with the border guards at the exit, but then another lounge after you've left that one which is the real deal. Almost thought the pre-passport lounge was the arrivals lounge on my first visit, and was confused why the toilets were outside and there were no showers.

The real lounge is great, if you can find it of course!

02 Mar 2013

Total posts 32

Another useful feature of the Cathay arrivals lounge is they will store your luggage if you have a long layovers and want to go downtown. 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

12 Aug 2016

Total posts 2

Hi all,

Are QF Platinum members allowed access to the BA T5 Arrivals Lounge at LHR if they are flying 'premium economy' on a BA flight from Asia.  I think they used to allow access, but I read somewhere recently that QF Platinum's could not access it unless in Business or First.

Many thanks.


14 Jun 2013

Total posts 353

As far as I know the BA T5 arrivals lounge has only ever been for BA first class and business class or passengers with BA Executive Club Gold, QF Platinum doesn't count.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

12 Aug 2016

Total posts 2

Thanks Mal.

24 Apr 2012

Total posts 2482

Hi Michael,

No access for Qantas Platinum members – access list includes BA First and Club World, Exec Club Premier & Gold and Iberia Plus Platinum. AA Executive Platinum also have access after BA and AA trans-Atlantic flights, but no access for Qantas members or frequent flyers of other Oneworld programs, unless also flying in business class or first class (where you'd get access anyway).

Air Canada - Aeroplan

28 Feb 2015

Total posts 99

The Arrivals Lounge used by Star Alliance airlines at Heathrow's Terminal 2 (turn left immediately out of the customs area and it's right there) isn't very large, but it has good showers, a reasonably varied cold buffet breakfast and an a la carte menu as well, with full English breakfasts of various types. Open only to Business and First customers as well as SuperElite/ Platinum-level passengers in any class (regular Gold level in anything but J or F no longer admitted). Good wifi too.


21 Jun 2016

Total posts 3

I am going to be on the new CX HKG-LGW service on J class next month. Do you know if allowed access to BA arrival lounge in Gatwick?

British Airways Executive Club Gold

25 Jun 2015

Total posts 21

There's no BA arrivals lounge at LGW.

BA Gold

01 Apr 2012

Total posts 185

As mediocre as I generally find the whole BA Business Class experience on the ground and in the air, their T5 arrivals lounge is actually really excellent.  It has separate dining rooms for First Class passengers (Concorde Breakfast Room) and Business Class/BA Golds.  It is really spacious and has a CRAZY amount of showers (something like 70).  If only the rest of the lounges were up to a similar standard.

I was really disappointed with the CX Arrivals lounge which is ironic given that I find their departure lounges up there with my favourites worldwide.  Small and pokey.

12 Sep 2014

Total posts 26

Flying LAX-SYD on AA (J) Feb 11, what's the best lounge option at LAX?

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