Arrivals lounges the secret to a smoother landing

It's been a long flight, and officially an overnight one at that. You land at 6am, and despite a decent nap in your business class seat you still feel a bit rough around the edges.

You probably look it, too.

That's when your first stop should be an airport's arrivals lounge to refresh and refuel.

Apres-flight facilities

Grab some freshly prepared breakfast and a much-needed coffee, maybe a quick shower, send off those emails you wrote on the flight, and then – when you're feeling back on top of things – make your way into the city for the first meetings of the day.

Arrivals lounges are the apres-flight cousin of departure lounges, and much fewer in number. Typically found only at an airline's home port, they usually lay down the welcome mat to only first class and business class travellers making an early-morning touchdown.

Scroll through the gallery above for a look at some of the best international arrival lounges. 

How early? Cathay Pacific's overnight flight from Sydney to Hong Kong (CX138) usually lands around 5am, well before the Airport Express train begins running to the city.

This makes the Cathay Pacific arrivals lounge at Hong Kong Airport perfect for a post-flight pitstop between getting off the plane and heading off to a pitch meeting.

Early doors

It's a compact affair, nestled in a blink-and-you'll-miss-it part of the walkway between the airport's two terminals.


But with a breakfast buffet and a la carte menu, eight shower suites plus space to plug in your laptop and catch up on email, it certainly ticks the business travel boxes. (It's worth noting that Platinum-grade Qantas frequent flyers can can visit this lounge - even if they've flown in Cathay Pacific economy class.)

Another benefit of arrivals lounges: after landing on an early morning flight, there's a good chance you won't be able to check straight into your hotel, so this is the best way to regain your humanity before the working day begins.

British welcome

The same applies to the British Airways Terminal 5 arrivals lounge at London's Heathrow Airport.

Step off the flight from Sydney via Singapore, into the BA arrivals lounge and you can tuck into a hearty English breakfast with everything from porridge and pork sausages to kippers and black pudding.

BA ups the ante with a staggering 94 shower suites plus six over-sized 'cabana' rooms boasting a deep bath tub for a relaxing soak.

The showers and cabanas also offer a complimentary pressing service. Open the double-sided door, hang up your jacket, shirt and pants and press the Valet buzzer. Inside of 10 minutes they'll come back wrinkle-free so that you're looking sharp for the day ahead.

You can also snare a free 15-minute facial or neck-and-shoulder massage at the lounge's travel spa.

(Qantas travellers have access to a more modest American Airlines arrivals lounge at Heathrow's Terminal 3, although this is currently closed for renovations. When it re-opens in June, travellers will enjoy larger shower suites and dressing areas with a valet pressing service, along with an improved breakfast buffet.)

Salon fresh

The Etihad Airways arrivals lounge at Abu Dhabi Airport raises the bar even further with a boutique men's salon where barbers offer a complimentary wet shave using a cut-throat razor and quality shave lotions from Murdock's of London.

Last month I visited the Swiss arrivals lounge at Zurich Airport, which boasts a wonderfully European breakfast spread (yes, Bircher muesli and Swiss chocolates both make an appearance). Topping off the 20 spacious shower suites and valet pressing service are three private hotel-style bedrooms, one of which has a double bed and ensuite shower.

If your schedule allowed, you could happily bunk down in this lounge until your hotel check-in became available.

Do you use airport arrivals lounges – and if so, how do you rate them? Let us know in the Comments section.

Few people spend more time on planes, in lounges or mulling over the best ways to use frequent flyer points than David Flynn, the editor of Australian Business Traveller magazine. His unparalleled knowledge of all aspects of business travel connects strongly with the interests of Executive Style readers.

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