x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

The best airports to lounge around at

This year’s top 10 included three lounges from Middle East airlines.

Emirates Airline's lounge for first class passengers in Dubai International Airport.



WAM
Emirates Airline's lounge for first class passengers in Dubai International Airport. WAM

When you jet off on your next business trip, you might want to check the 2013 top 10 list of premium airport lounges to make your journey a little easier.

After all, we all like to travel in comfort and style.

The annual survey, compiled by thedesignair.net, an airline product and design innovation-led website in partnership with travel intelligence company Skift, reviewed 75 lounges this year focusing predominately on international airlines.

The judges focused their evaluation on the lounge design and brand experience, also giving strong consideration towards the quality of products and services on offer and the level of innovation.

And this year’s top 10 included three lounges from Middle East airlines – the Emirates First Class Lounge at Dubai International Airport which came in at third place, the Qatar Airways Private Terminal at Doha International Airport and the Qatar Airways Lounge in Terminal 4 of London’s Heathrow.

The lounge that was considered the most luxurious was Cathay Pacific’s collection of lounges at Hong Kong International Airport, closely followed in second place by the Qantas First Class lounge at Sydney.

The list’s judging panel consisted of six industry experts, led by Jonny Clark, who as the founder of thedesignair.net brings more than 10 years’ experience of airline brand strategy.

The other judges included Rob Schwartz, the global creative president for the advertising agency TBWA and Daniel Baron, the owner of Lift Strategic Design, which offers consultancy focused on airline brand, cabin interior design as well as customer journey development.

Third place in the second annual lounge list compiled by this partnership, represents a move up seven places for Emirates Airline from 2012 and sees the carrier sit above the British Airways Concorde Room in Heathrow’s Terminal 5 and the recently opened Air New Zealand lounge in Los Angeles.

The Dubai carrier’s First Class lounge was judged “the perfect place to prepare or recover for your long flight” by the judging panel, which credited the airline with the foresight to refocus and reinvest in its products to provide first class passengers with a “wealth of luxurious offerings”.

The panel concluded that if Emirates was able to provide more intimacy, the lounge could climb even higher in future surveys.

With Qatar Airways also receiving solid feedback, it was further evidence that Middle East airlines are providing strong competition in the race to offer the finest service for premium flyers.

Q&A

Jonny Clark, the founder of thedesignair.net, reveals how the panel narrowed down their premium lounge list.

How difficult was it for the panel to reach a decision?

The experience of airlines is totally subjective, and each of our judges comes from a differing angle of their expectations and experiences. This year there have been a variety of excellent openings, and it seems the more recent lounges from both a design aesthetic and product offering are proving themselves leagues ahead of some of the more traditional lounges.

What set the top three apart?

Emirates Airline, Qantas and Cathay Pacific offer a balanced image of the best of the aviation industry. Emirates First Class lounge is one of the biggest in the world.

Marc Newson has designed the entire Qantas experience, and it is this seamless experience and quality that makes the lounge stand above the rest. Cathay Pacific, with the launch of [its latest lounge] The Bridge, now completely owns the Hong Kong Airport experience.

Such wealth of lounges, each one unique from the other, but yet with an overarching look and feel, means that travellers can find a lounge that matches their personality or needs.

How are Middle East airlines fairing in the race to secure more premium flyer market share?

The Middle East is associated with opulence, luxury and wealth. With the expansion of their route network, they are able to compete with the national carriers of most countries.

Top 5 premium airport lounges of 2013:

1. Cathay Pacific ‘Lounges’, Hong Kong

2. Qantas First Class, Sydney

3. Emirates First Class Lounge, Dubai

4. British Airways Concorde Room, Heathrow Terminal 5

5. Lufthansa First Class Terminal, Frankfurt

Source: thedesignair.net and skift.com

business@thenational.ae