Hi again, jet-setting friends! It's Ben Schlappig, the blogger behind One Mile at a Time, and the guy who introduced you to my uber-luxury travel lifestyle all made possible by using miles and points. In my last post, I told you about my wonderful layover experinece in Hong Kong, which is the perfect city for it — and affordable too.
If you’ve had the chance to visit a lounge at a U.S. airport, you probably weren’t that impressed. If you’re lucky you’ll have snack mix, raw veggies, and cubed cheese, along with basic drinks. However, internationally it’s a totally different story. How good do airline lounges get? In the Thai Airways First Class Lounge Bangkok you get an hour-long full body massage. In Frankfurt, Lufthansa has a First Class Terminal, which allows passengers to completely skip the terminal, and then they’ll be driven to the plane in a Porsche or Mercedes. The Air France First Class Lounge Paris picks you up at your arriving flight and drives you to your connecting flight.
So not only are these amazing lounges destinations in and of themselves, but they’re also a great place from which to work. I’m fortunate enough to be able to work from anywhere in the world, so it might as well be in Paris while I’m sipping on some great champagne, or in Hong Kong while I’m getting a complimentary foot massage.
We were flying Cathay Pacific first class from Hong Kong to London, and in this case, there were two lounges I wanted to visit, called “The Wing” and “The Pier.”
These are Cathay Pacific’s two first class lounges at the airport, which are open to first-class passengers, as well as top tier elite members in their frequent flyer program, even when flying economy.
Both lounges have some unique features that make them worth visiting for different reasons, in my opinion.
Our first stop was The Wing, located just past immigration.
In addition to a stunning design, full bar, sit-down restaurant, noodle bar, and more, there are two things I especially love about this lounge — the champagne bar and the incredible shower rooms.
The Wing has a champagne bar with two kinds of champagne and a rose. There’s an attendant there who will serve you, or you can just help yourself (which is my preferred method). Usually I’m happy just to see any champagne, let alone a selection of three champagnes to choose from, all of which were excellent.
The other unique feature of The Wing are their shower rooms, known as The Cabanas.
Showering between flights at an airport is a special treat that will help you feel refreshed, though in this lounge they take it to the next level. There are airport shower rooms, and then there are The Cabanas, which are in a league of their own. The Cabanas are private suites with showers, bathtubs, an area to relax, and more. The suite is as big as some New York City apartments, not to mention their design is incredible elegant.
You can even combine my two favorite parts of this lounge, and take a glass of champagne from the champagne bar into The Cabana.
Does it get better than this?
I couldn’t help myself, and had to take a shower in The Cabana, even though I had showered earlier in the morning.
After that it was time to go to The Pier, which is Cathay Pacific’s other first-class lounge.
Personally I think The Pier is the most beautifully decorated lounge in the world. If I had to live in one airline lounge in the world, it would be this one. While other airport lounges might be stylish, The Pier feels elegant and residential, and actually makes you feel like you’re at home.
Our first stop in this lounge was to have lunch. There’s a full menu you can order from, and we had a great three-course meal.
In addition to a great restaurant, the lounge also offers complimentary massages, with the choice between a back massage or a foot massage. I selected a foot massage, which was fantastic. As much as I love massages in general, they’re especially enjoyable before or after a long-haul flight, given how much time you spend sitting.
The Pier also has private day rooms where you can relax between flights. As an aviation geek, I unfortunately have a hard time relaxing in these rooms, given that they also boast views of the runway and taxiway. How am I supposed to rest when I could instead be staring at gorgeous planes?!
A lounge with a view
This is just a small sampling of what you can expect at these lounges, and there are lots of other amazing lounges around the world. Everything in these top lounges is free (multi-course meals, massages, and more), and they’re really destinations in and of themselves.
Getting Access to These Lounges
Typically, first-class lounges are only open to first-class passengers, though sometimes elite members in frequent flyer programs get access to them as well. For example, I have top-tier status with American Airlines (which I get for flying 100,000 miles per year with American and their partners), and then gets me access to first class lounges whenever I fly internationally with American or one of their partners (like Cathay Pacific).
While not quite as over the top, there are also some great business-class lounges out there. Given that they accommodate a lot more passengers, the experience typically isn’t quite as personalized, but they’re still great to have access to.
Stick around to see what's next on our adventure!
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Ben Schlappig, the blogger behind One Mile at a Time, experiences about $1 million worth of travel every year using miles and points — and covers about 400,000 miles annually this way. Ben has teamed up with Bravo’s Jet Set for a series called The Upgrade, in which he shows you how you — yes, you! — can score real-world-ready strategies for upping your travel game. Come along for the adventure!
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