a white car parked on a runway with an airplane in the background

From a workout and shower motivated by big jets, to private car transfers directly to the plane, airport lounges can bring some of the weirdest, wildest, wackiest and most wonderful experiences.

As people’s travel routines have changed, so too have the amenities being offered in these airport dens. Plenty of high class lounges offer opulent Champagne and other amenities, but these are the places with unique treats and opportunities that leave a lasting impression, long after flight.

If you’re looking for a new bucket list, or just a collection of weird and curated travel experiences to strive for, here are the coolest things you can experience in the world’s best airport lounges around the world.

a room with exercise bikes and a window with airplanes in the background

Peloton Bike Workouts

Both Capital One and Virgin Atlantic now offer a productive, tiring and amusing way to pass time in the airport: Peloton bikes.

Capital One’s new Dallas lounge has a Peloton room with runway views, while Virgin’s beloved Clubhouse at London Heathrow offers a workout room with up close and personal views of aircraft parked at the gate.

Thankfully for everyone involved, both lounges offer bespoke shower facilities to recharge, refresh and change into fresh gear before the flight.

Access: Capital One Lounges can be accessed by Capital One Venture X cardholders, or Venture Cardholders using guest passes. Non-cardholders can also pay to access the lounge for $65 per person. The Virgin Clubhouse at LHR is accessible to Virgin Atlantic Gold members, Upper Class or Delta One passengers, as well as select Delta elites.

a room with a lamp and chairs

Direct Lounge Boarding

I can tell you what airport luxury isn’t: leaving a gorgeous airport lounge 30 minutes before you’d like to, because you’ve got a long and uncertain walk to the gate.

Even in first class, many airlines require passengers to trek from their lounge space to faraway gates, and that can account for extended periods of wasted time and buzzkill. Emirates is one of the few airlines which changed the game in this regard.

At JFK, London and Dubai, many of Emirates lounges offer direct for flights, right from the lounge. This means passengers can wait until final call, savoring one last sip, or bite before making the short — and private — walk to the plane.

Access: Emirates Skyward elites and Business or First Class customers.

a room with a bar and chairs

Speakeasy Access

An airport lounge is nothing without a bar, but what about a “secret” bar?

When Amex opened a Centurion Lounge at New York JFK Airport, the premium card issuer took a very New York approach, by adding a prohibition style secret speakeasy to the mix.

Guests enter the lounge, and those in the know, know where to push against an invisible door to gain entry into this exclusive bar within a bar. Inside, you can’t help but swoon over the decor, the one of a kind drinks or the novelty.

Access: American Express Centurion Lounges are available to Amex Platinum and above cardholders, as well as Delta Reserve cardmembers.

a piece of sushi on a counter

All You Can Eat Sushi

Japan Airlines always offered lovely airport lounges in their Tokyo Haneda and Tokyo Narita “home” bases, but the airline used the pandemic to expand a popular concept, which leaves the perfect last taste of Tokyo.

On the 4th floor of Haneda Airport Terminal 3, Japan Airlines (JAL) has opened Sushi Tsurutei, a proper sushi restaurant making incredible nigiri right before your eyes, with sushi counter service. It looks and feels like a high end omakase joint.

If sushi isn’t your jam, fear not. There’s a fine dining area, and separate ramen themed restaurant in the lounge too. Of course, since you’re in the lounge, it’s all free.

Access: Oneworld Emerald and JAL First customers.


Sauna Time

Nothing says airport like a sauna, does it? Ok, that’s totally untrue. But — Finnair is changing that, as the airline looks to showcase its cultural staples to the world. There are more saunas than cars in Finland, and more than one sauna for every two people.

If you’ve got a long layover in Helsinki, the Finnair Lounge offers a chance to enjoy a lovely sauna and steam while you wait, perhaps helping to release some toxins from the drinks on the flight over!

As one would hope, or rather — require — Finnair has plenty of shower facilities to change and relax after the peaceful experience. It’s unquestionably a bit out there, but it’s also kind of cool. Sadly this lounge is temporarily closed, but back soon!

Access: Oneworld Emerald and Finnair Platinum or above.

a white car on a runway with an airplane in the background

Private Chauffeur To The Plane

One of the most awkward features of the airport lounge experience is knowing when to leave. You don’t want to be too keen and get to the gate early when you could be relaxing in a beautiful space, but you also don’t want to miss your flight.

This is where the Air France ‘La Premiere’ Lounge in Paris, Lufthansa First Class and Swiss First Class Lounges in Frankfurt and Zurich respectively are incredible. PS @ LAX also offers this concept for flights on any airline, for paid guests.

First Class guests are chauffeured to the plane at the perfect time, without the need to set foot in the terminal really. It looks baller, it feels baller — it is baller!

Access: VIP elites with each airline and first class passengers only.

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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  1. “Peleton bikes” and “the coolest airport lounge experiences” is an oxymoron, sure exercise bikes in a lounge is different but not in a good way. The spa that the bikes replaced were so much more useful – and i would have thought more widely used? Who honestly wants a workout before boarding a plane – and worse who wants to be sat next them (or their sweaty gym bag)… but the rest of the experience are indeed cool…

    1. I think you’ve gotta consider transit passengers. Particularly for airlines like Virgin, you’ve got a lot of people coming off NYC-LHR and waiting to connect onto JNB, TLV or other far away destinations. I had the drag feeling of a day of flying, so getting a work out and a shower in can do wonders for kicking jet lag or just staying fit.

      1. i am clearly not the target audience, my next virgin trip isn’t till feb, usually it would be tricky to get a spa appointment unless you had 2-3hours spare in the lounge, i wonder if the same is true for the peletons.. either way i will miss the virgin spa, sadly i never got to try the club house jacuzzi or the upper class onboard massage.. times change.. and perhaps the virgin spa is my generations version of the jacuzzi/onboard massage… sad times

  2. I just did flew Swiss and not only were all the Zurich lounges still closed, but NO services you mentioned for first class were being performed. Huge disappointment paying the price with no services.

  3. I’ll add the business class lounge in Punta Cana which has a pool overlooking the apron. The kids loved it!

  4. I boarded an A350 from the LH Lounge in BOS. There was an escalator from the lounge to just outside the jetbridge for anyone with Lounge access, not just Biz or FC. This was in 2018, the Int’l Terminal in BOS is finishing up a major renovation/redesign this year (or next!), so YMMV.

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