Airline lounges have come a long way. What were once simply comfortable, private areas have transformed to elite spaces that provide several large-screen TVs, strong Wi-Fi and other amenities. Some airlines take the lounge concept a bit further by offering unusually creative—and in some cases downright bizarre—perks.
Beer-pouring robot: They’re not as great as human bartenders for conversation, but they reportedly have mastered the perfect pour. These robots serve customers in tech-happy Japan airports, including ANA Lounge at Tokyo’s Haneda Airport (HND), All Nippon Airways Star Alliance Gold Lounge at Kansai International Airport (KIX) and the United and American airlines lounges at Tokyo’s Narita International Airport (NRT).
Pancake printing machine: This device captures not only the imaginations of travelers, but also satisfies their appetites. Hot pancakes arrive like sheets of paper out of a Xerox machine—and are so tasty that some travelers book flights around its operating time, generally from 5–10 a.m. The machines operate in Alaska Airlines’ boardroom lounges in Anchorage, Los Angeles, Seattle and Portland, Oregon, airports.
Private cabanas: Dubbed the world’s most exclusive balcony, Cathay Pacific’s seventh-floor Hong Kong Airport Lounge, known as The Wing, provides five private cabanas and 12 shower suites for first-class fliers of Oneworld alliance flights. The cabanas contain a daybed, rain shower, deep tub, closet and desk, and staff supply guests with robes, slippers, towels and toiletries.
3-D printed coffee: Tired of drinking coffee that doesn’t provide any visual excitement? Lufthansa addressed the issue by partnering with Ripples, creator of a new $999 coffee machine that makes 3-D art prints, to serve lounge guests with lattes topped with a printed design of their choice. Fliers use a smartphone app to choose their latte art from an image library—or to create designs of their own.