For those of us who fly frequently, taking a seat at a lounge is a pretty important part of our pre-flight ritual.
It's a chance to grab a bite to eat and something to drink, and to get online and get some work done before we're cut off from the world.
Access to a good lounge network is one of the few tangible benefits for that hard-earned frequent flyer status.
So travellers who often fly from regional airports without lounges are missing out on an valuable part of that membership package for many flights.
As an example, Virgin Australia has been talking about a Hobart Airport lounge since early 2012 but its opening has been repeatedly pushed back, with the latest forecast being sometime in 2015.
That's a long time wait for, well, a place to wait.
But is there a useful alternative to the conventional concept of an airport loung – something that meets the core needs of frequent flyers when an airline can't offer the full lounge experience?
When you get down to it, there are just three things that a passenger really needs.
For me, the key to getting any work done at an airport at all is to get fast and reliable internet access.
At crowded places like airports, mobile networks don't cut it. They get slow, and the paltry data allocations on offer in Australia mean they're not suitable for extended use.
Most airline lounges solve this problem with fast and free (if password-protected) WiFi for guests.
The good news is that many airports are rolling out WiFi to passengers.
Even if the access isn't free for everyone, providing access to the top tier of access to frequent flyers would be a great
improvement to productivity while we're on-the-ground.
The worst part about waiting in an airport's main terminal has to be the mad rush finding a seat. There's normally just not enough seating to go around.
If you need to get some work down, not having a table to sit down at can be the difference between actually getting something done before your flight and wasting an hour of your time.
Reserving some seats for frequent fliers, close to the boarding gates, with a few tables for getting some work done would save us a bunch of time looking for free seats amongst a crowded terminal, and making the most of our time before the flight.
Food and beverage
This may be a somewhat controversial opinion, but for me the complimentary food and beverage is the least important part of the lounge experience.
I'm at the airport to fly, not to eat and drink.
That said, it's nice to have the choice before you get stuck with airplane food for a couple of hours.
Providing a complimentary voucher to pick up a coffee and a bite to eat wouldn't help us get work done before the flight, but it'd make a nice gesture of goodwill towards frequent flyers who are missing out on what they'd get if they were leaving from a bigger airport.
Solution: the 'express lounge'
Virgin Australia partner Air New Zealand is one of the world's more innovative airlines, and its Koru Express concept is a case in point.
Think of it as a 'pop-up lounge', except that it's not a temporary affair
Located at Air NZ's Christchurch's regional terminal, Koru Express provides a small enclosed area behind one of the terminal's cafés and is reserved for the same who'd have access to Air New Zealand's full-size Koru Club lounges.
The café provides a ready supply of coffee and snacks to keep travellers happy. Combined with some reserved seating and Internet access, it's almost everything you need from a lounge, but smaller.
Airberlin has adopted a similar concept with its Exclusive Waiting Areas found in six airports in Germany.
They offer frequent flyers hot and cold drinks, comfortable chairs and handy AC power sockets (the airport itself takes care of the WiFi).
What's your take: should more airlines be considering the 'express lounge' concept for regional airports?
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