6 Phenomenal Airport Lounges for Frequent Travelers

The silver lining behind the dark clouds of long layovers, flight delays and just plain painful gate seating areas is the airport lounge. It is an oasis of luxurious decor, healthy snacks and relaxing chair massages in an otherwise noisy, uncertain world.

These escapes are not all the same, however. Here are some of the best from around the country and what it takes to gain entry to these exclusive retreats.

Qantas LAX Business Lounge

Behold the comforting circle of the communal fireplace, the complimentary bar service, California-style food carts and iMac-equipped work stations. This enclave on level 5 of the Departures Terminal is available to first class and international travelers and Qantas Club members.

Virgin Atlantic JFK Clubhouse

Think cool European bar crossed with a top-rated brasserie and a country-club spa. This decidedly uptown experience located on the departure level of Terminal 4 is available to Virgin America first class and main cabin select passengers who purchase a pass.

Cathay Pacific Lounge at SFO

This newly expanded salle d’attente located on the fourth floor of South Departure Hall in San Francisco International Terminal offers the comfort of the brand’s iconic leather chairs and top-notch noodle bar with the convenience of spacious workstations. Plus, lots of places to recharge electronics and private shower suites. It is available to Cathay Pacific, Cathay Dragon or One World carrier first class passengers and one guest.

The Centurion Lounge at IAH

The latest American Express benefit in Terminal D of George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston is a taste of James Beard Award-winning Chef Justin Yu’s vegetable-forward masterpieces. Like other Centurion lounges in LGA, MIA, DFW, LAX, SFO and SEA, this reprieve from the airport hoi polloi is complimentary for global American Express Platinum Card and Centurion Members. (HKG and PHL options are coming soon.)

Delta Sky Club at ATL

The new flagship escape at Atlanta International Airport, high above B Concourse, is an experience that combines Southern cooking (as interpreted by local celebrity Chef Linton Hopkins), Georgia artists and regional history—all the while making it easy to get business done between flights. Every seat features power outlets and Wi-Fi and there’s the option to rent AV-equipped conference rooms. Other conference room locations include BOS, CVG, DFW and DTW.

United Polaris Lounge at ORD

Newest on the scene at O’Hare International Airport near Gate C18 is the refreshing luxury of spa-like showers with Cowshed products, day beds, white-noise machines and a buffet from award-winning chef Art Smith. Additional lounges are planned for international premium cabin passengers in IAH, LAX, EWR, SFO, IAD, HKG, LHR and NRT.