Let’s face it, even the most advanced travelers can’t always avoid long layovers after a super long flight. I am talking about the kind of layover that is usually too short or inconveniently timed to get out and explore, but too long to not be completely uncomfortable and bored out of your mind. How do you tackle this type of layover? I have an affordable solution for making your extended airport layovers a lot more comfortable.
Before you embark on your trip, you should make sure that your carry-on has a change of underwear, a change of clothes, toothbrush, toothpaste, and a travel-sized pack of baby wipes. These items are essential to freshening up after sitting down for 8+ hours.
Last year, I flew from Bali, Indonesia to Chicago with an 8-hour overnight layover in Doha, Qatar. The flight from Bali to Doha is 10 hours. My flight landed around midnight and take off was at 8 AM. The thought of getting a hotel crossed my mind, but I would only be able to enjoy it for around 6 hours since I’d have to show up at the airport 2 hours before my flight. I don’t know about you, but paying a full hotel fare for just 6 hours sounds like a rip-off to me. I also knew that I was not going to sit around the terminal for 8 hours trying to kill time in a noisy and uncomfortable airport.
My secret to navigating layovers like this is quite simple: I pay for access to an airport lounge. An airport lounge is a facility designed to make travelers more comfortable than sitting in a terminal. Amenities vary based on the lounge and airport. Some common amenities are:
- Complimentary prepared foods
- Complimentary snacks
- Complimentary alcoholic beverages
- Internet room with computers
- Comfortable leather seating
- Sleeping areas
Back in the day, these lounges were reserved for Business and First Class customers. Thanks to the internet, anyone can access a lounge.
During this layover, I paid to access the Doha Airport Oryx Lounge. It had all of the above amenities. During the 7 hours I spent there, I:
- Ate 3 meals ($45 airport retail value)
- Drank 1 glass of wine ($10 airport retail value)
- Took a shower (PRICELESS!!!)
Before I tell you how you can get like me and start to enjoy the luxuries of airport lounges, I must say that some lounges are still exclusive to Business and First Class customers. Thankfully, many are not.
There are many ways to gain access to a lounge, but I will cover just two:
- Using the LoungeBuddy app
- PriorityPass membership
LoungeBuddy is an app that “revolutionizes the airport experience by giving any traveler the ability to discover, book, and access premium airport lounges worldwide.” I first learned about the world of lounges through LoungeBuddy. At the touch of your fingers, you can purchase access to over 300 lounges worldwide starting at just $25.
The app tells you which terminal a lounge is in, whether or not you may purchase access (since some lounges are still elitists and even has reviews from other guests. Open up the Apple App Store right now and download LoungeBuddy. Use the code, kyd6sT8iOt, to get $10 credit towards your first lounge experience. Do it now so that your credit is in your account before your next trip. You don’t want to lose out on $10 of free money because you procrastinated.
If you travel more than a couple of times per year and are interested in accessing lounges more frequently, you should invest in a Priority Pass membership. LoungeBuddy is great for travelers who only need a lounge every once in a while; Priority Pass is an investment for the serious traveler. It is a membership that gives you discounted access to over 1,000 airport lounges around the world including some of those exclusively reserved for Business and First Class passengers. Standard membership costs $99/year and gives you and a guest lounge passes for just $27 each.
I became a Priority Pass member last November during their Black Friday sale. I paid just $59 and I can access most lounges for $27. As of September 2018, the fee has increased to $32 per lounge. Thus far, I have stayed at 3 (Doha, Madrid, and Dubai.) The lounge in Madrid had a sleeping room, showers, and delicious food. Priority Pass is absolutely worth it.
If you want to try Priority Pass, I am extending to you my Friends & Family discount cuz in da (travel) clerb, we all fam. (Bonus points if you recognize this reference.)
There you have it! Two ways to eat, drink, and be merry during a long layover. I’d love to hear about your long airport layover in the comments below.