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The world’s best airport lounges – and how to get your foot in the door

JOHANNESBURG – For those of us not flying first class, watching those elite flyers breezing into exclusive airport lounges can leave you feeling like a travel plebeian. But what if we let you in on a secret? Gaining entry to these oases of amenities, cuisine, and hospitality is more achievable than you think.

“Lounge access is a game-changer for frequent business travellers looking to remain productive, rested and refreshed,” says Bonnie Smith, GM at FCM. “More travellers are viewing lounge access as an investment in their wellness and performance.” The question? How can you do it sans the premium air ticket?

Smith explains how any traveller can slip past those velvet ropes and into the front of the lounge experience:

Leverage your credit card perks

If you have a Visa (Signature or Infinite) or Mastercard (World/World Elite), you can enjoy private use through ‘Lounge Key’. Your travel management company (TMC) can help by explaining which cards qualify, sharing tips on getting the most out of your lounge visits, and assisting with any questions about the limited number of entries per year.

Lounges for everyone, even without fancy cards

Not everyone has a super-duper credit card, but that doesn’t mean you have to miss out on the lounge love. “FCM partners with programmes like Lounge Pass which gives you access at 350 airports worldwide. We can advise you on the best passes based on your travel frequency and desired amenities. Plus, you can purchase access to specific lounges directly through us, offering more flexibility for your trips,” says Smith. Lounges fill up fast, so Smith emphasises on leaning on your TMC to pre-book your lounge access.

Inspired to linger longer in airports? These are some of the best business class lounges on the map:

Best for gym rats: Virgin Atlantic’s Clubhouse, London Heathrow

For those who want to keep those gains coming on the road, Virgin Atlantic’s Clubhouse lounge at Heathrow is the spot. Get your heart pumping on their state-of-the-art Peloton spin studio, then rinse off that hard-earned sweat in their luxurious shower suites.  Once you’ve crushed your workout, relax in the cosy library or enjoy some fresh air and plane-spotting in the lounge’s outdoor garden.

Best for pampering: Air France’s La Première Lounge, Paris Charles de Gaulle airport

This is an unapologetic palace of pampering. The newly launched private rental suites are larger than some Paris apartments, decked out with living rooms, bedrooms, bathrooms and even outdoor patios. When you need a break from your opulent suite, dig into the gourmet cuisine crafted by celeb chef Alain Ducasse himself. Or get truly glamorous at the Sisley spa, where you can indulge in signature facials, body treatments and up to 30 minutes of complimentary botanical services.

Best for foodies: Turkish Airlines Business Lounge, Istanbul

For any true foodie, this lounge is an absolute must-visit culinary destination. From mouthwatering global cuisine buffets laden with fresh salads, exotic curries, and decadent Turkish sweets, to sizzling grill stations plating up premium charred meats and veggies – there’s something to satiate every craving. But the real draw is witnessing the live cooking theatrics, as chefs flambe, sear, and artfully compose edible masterpieces right before your eyes.

Best for snoozing: Swiss Air First Class Lounge Terminal E, Zurich

Forget basic loungers – they’ve got full hotel-style day rooms with double beds decked in Hästens bedding so pricey, it costs more than your car. Talking tens of thousands here, people!  Each snooze suite has an en-suite bath, tarmac views and free water/charging stations. It’s napping at its most opulent. 


For more information about FCM Travel, or to interview FCM Travel General Manager South Africa, Bonnie Smith, call Dorine Reinstein on 083 278 8994 or email

About FCM Travel:

FCM Travel, the flagship corporate travel brand at Flight Centre Travel Group (FCTG), is the business travel partner of choice for large national, multinational and global corporations. We are an award-winning global corporate travel management company ranking as one of the top five by size around the world. We operate a global network which spans more than 100 countries, employing over 6000 people.

FCM are transforming the business of travel through our empowered and accountable people who deliver 24/7 service and are available either online or offline. Leveraging FCM’s negotiating strength and supplier relationships in conjunction with our tailored business travel programs, our expertise delivers more for our clients where it matters most to them.

Visit us at

Issued by: Big Ambitions

Contact: Dorine Reinstein

Tel: +27 83 278 8994


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