These five pods turn airport lounges into smart workspaces

By David Flynn, December 19 2017
These five pods turn airport lounges into smart workspaces

Stop by some of the newest airport lounges of Cathay Pacific, Singapore Airlines and United Airlines and you'll spy a special breed of furniture made with today's business traveller in mind.

It's the work pod: a custom-designed seat which doubles as a temporary pre-flight workspace.

That means a wide, comfortable seat with surrounding walls for privacy; a table where your laptop or tablet can fit alongside a meal or a drink, and AC power sockets within easy reach.

Cathay Pacific Solus

Cathay Pacific kicked off the trend with its original Solus chair, created for the airline's previous generation of lounges by London-based Foster + Partners and Italian luxury furniture manufacturer Poltrona Frau.

Wrapped in a futuristic shell and able to nestle into a corner of the lounge or grouped together in a cluster, the Solus workstation was seen as a means to provide Cathay's passengers with a sense of their own space within the lounge itself.

However, in practice most travellers found them too cramped – especially when it came to trying to fit anything more than a laptop onto the small table. And its high-tech look was completely out of place with Cathay's shift to a more relaxed and residential lounge design, which led to...

Cathay Pacific Solo

Cathay's new lounge designer Ilse Crawford oversaw an evolution of the no-nonsense Solus into the plushly-padded Solo chair.

The Solo is not only more spacious and open than the tight-fitting Solus cocoon, it meshes perfectly with the relaxed residential vibe of Cathay's latest lounges.

Like its sharply business-minded predecessor, the Solo offers a high-walled nook where travellers can work or relax; each seat has a side table, reading lamp and a coat hook.

Singapore Airlines Productivity Pod

Singapore Airlines' own take on this concept is the high-walled Productivity Pod, which borrows subtle design elements from the airline's latest first class and business class seating.

Each pod features a 'corner' seat wrapped it in a curved partition...

... with a roomy table and conveniently-located AC and USB sockets. This is easily the most spacious airport lounge 'work pod' we've encountered.

United Airlines Polaris Quad

United's new wave Polaris business class seats and lounges includes this 'Quad chair' workstation.

Created by PriestmanGoode, this bespoke seat offers storage for your coat and cabin bag (you can see the bag tucked away next to the passenger – a very thoughtful design indeed) plus a pull-out table with integrated tablet holder, and of course AC/USB charging points plus a personal reading lamp.

Plaza Premium workstations

Many lounges in the pay-in Plaza Premium network have these honeycomb-like workstations – wach with its own bench, reading light and  AC/USB power ports:

Plaza Pemium's new-look cubicles are more stylish but perhaps less functional, with a smaller table set off to the side.

Also read: How to book a private working suite at the Qantas first class lounge


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.

07 Jun 2016

Total posts 29

The CX Solo chairs are let down by the choice of light source in the reading light. Firstly, the light itself gets VERY HOT. Avoid touching at all cost or you’ll burn your fingers. Secondly, it emits so much heat that after a little while one half of my fave felt fried. I’m 6’2” so this might be less of an issue if you’re smaller but why CX hasn’t installed more modern and cooler LED lights is beyond me.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

26 Oct 2017

Total posts 92

Hi David. Is it just me? Apart for work spaces, I feel all these Solo chairs in lounges, suites in first, wall dividers in business etc etc are a little bit of a indictment on society. We're starting to live in a world where people don't want to see anyone anymore. Is a nod, a smile and a simple hello to a stranger becoming too much for travelers?


05 Jun 2012

Total posts 128

Travelwell, I look at this, sadly, from both the same and opposite perspectives. I am sick and tired of going into lounges where solo travellers have hogged the double tables, or sofas, or groups of seating for four, etc. Now that I travel less for business and more with family, I cannot tell you how irritated I am when someone travelling on their own takes up a space which means that a family cannot sit together. When travelling solo, I try to take up solo spaces, to because I don't want to interact with others (well, ok, sometimes for the reason (blush)) but because I realise that these spaces can, if well designed, make my more comfortable and well set up for what I want to achieve but also because it allows others to use non-solo space when they are travelling in non-solo groups, Perhaps, with that context, you might rethink your assumption that use of solo spaces is predicated on anti-social instincts? It might be just the opposite...

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