An airline lounge for all travellers
Getting to international airports three hours ahead of departure, or having to hang around for long stopovers can be really painful. If you’re on a long haul flight or just plain tired, the waiting time can be excruciating.
The seats feel more uncomfortable than ever before, the people around me seem louder or more annoying, and for some reason it always feels like everyone is sneezing in my direction.
As a frequent flyer with my national airline, I haven’t had to experience any of this for over ten years. I actually don’t mind being in the airports early as it gives me a chance to relax before I get on a very long flight.
But for many, the opportunity for getting into a lounge seems a difficult one. When airline lounge is mentioned, many people think they need to be flying first or business class, or, at the very least be a frequent flyer with a specific airline.
But this is not always the case.
So, on my recent trip to Vietnam, I explored another avenue. I wanted to check out the lounges that are available to all travellers, irrespective of airline or travel class.
I reached out to Plaza Premium Lounges, the largest network of independent airline lounges in the world and spent some time in several of their lounges.
Plaza Premium Lounge – Brisbane Australia
This lounge, officially opened in September 2016, occupies a spot on Level 4, with a terrific view of the aeroplanes outside. If plane spotting is your thing, then pulling up a comfortable armchair just inside the window should see you starting off your trip in style.
For those that have other things on their mind, then there are other things to keep you occupied.
The entire lounge has been designed and decorated with the Australian landscape and natural resources in mind. Tiles represent the waves and pieces of Victorian Ash timber separate the areas. It’s an open, natural looking space, and it represents this country well.
The lounge area
The lounge offers a space to get away from the general crowds of the airport, allowing you some peace and quiet before your flight. There are plenty of comfortable spots to sit, with easy access to the dining area.
Some of the chairs near the window are more secluded than others in the main area. Having said that, I never felt as though I was being crowded out.
All chairs have built-in tables between them which also contain the ever-important power points, meaning you don’t need to sit in the business area to charge your devices.
A selection of magazines and newspapers are also available.
Individual pods make up the business area, immediately inside the entrance. Here travellers can get some privacy to work and power up their devices. They are perhaps a little on the small side, but remain functional.
There are also two lounge owned Windows PCs which may be used if necessary.
Free wifi is provided throughout the lounge and runs at a suitable speed.
Bar and Dining
A modest variety of food is available at all times when the lounge is open. Dining options are self-serve from the bar area. An a la carte menu offered on a rotational basis is also available. Food and beverages may be consumed in the dedicated dining area or in the lounge area.
All food is sourced from local producers where possible or further afield in Australia.
A bar service is provided with a focus on Australian beer and wine.
Whilst the entry price covers many things, this lounge is not a five-star restaurant nor does it have an expensive or expansive wine list. But it’s not pretending to have either.
If you have been into airline lounges before, this is probably the area where you will notice a difference. Here in this lounge, the bathroom facilities are basic. They are clean and efficient, but basic nonetheless. One shower only is provided and is combined with the disabled facilities.
The spa here at the Plaza Premium Lounge is not included as part of your entrance price. The prices for treatments are a bit steep in my opinion, with AUD$49 for a 15 minute hand therapy through to AUD$150 for a one hour massage.
It does however excel with the range of products used. Continuing their philosophy of using Australian sourced products, the spa uses products from Jasmin Organics. Based on Tamborine Mountain in the Gold Coast hinterland, this organic farm produces a natural range of beautiful skincare.
Even if you don’t use the spa, you can purchase some of this product to take away with you.
This lounge is located at the Brisbane International Airport, on the departures level (4), between Gate 81 and Gate 82.
Once you pass through security and passport control, turn right into the general concourse, head towards gate 81 and it’s up an escalator.
It’s open every day from 5.30am until 11.30pm.
Who can come here?
The lounge is open to anyone, irrespective of who you are flying with.
Plaza Premium Lounges have also become the lounge of preference for many airlines around the world who don’t have their own dedicated lounges. So, whenever you are travelling, make sure you check to see if your airline is one of these.
Priority Pass members can also rest their legs here.
There are also certain access privileges open to holders of some top-tier credit cards like American Express, so once again, it’s worth checking prior to flying.
To access this lounge you can simply pay at the door. 5 hours of lounge access is available for AUD$66 per person (inclusive of tax). Children aged 2-11 receive a 30% discount.
The Plaza Premium Lounge also runs regular promotions.
Current promotions are:
- One person AUD$55 or 2 for AUD$99. This promotion concludes at the end of December 2016
- Book a 5 hour lounge package online and receive a free 15 minute hand or foot therapy
- Christmas giftcard special- Buy a giftcard that is valid for 5 visits for AUD$199
They also have a free membership option whereby providing a simple name and email address at the door will get you an instant (and ongoing) 15% off the current rate.
Bookings may be made online or you can just pay at the door. If you are wanting to use the spa during peak times, it would be advisable to book in advance.
The website is a little glitchy when trying to select options from drop down boxes, but nothing I couldn’t work through.
Staff here are responsive so if you are encountering any issues they will help you work through them.
If I didn’t have an airline lounge to go to and I had a long wait at an airport, I would definitely find value in paying for a lounge such as this.
The quietness away from the rest of the airport crowds along with the ability to have a few drinks, some good food and even sometimes a shower makes all the difference to a long haul flyer like me. Added benefits such as easy access to electricity, free wifi and reading material tick more boxes.
This is the first independent lounge to open at Brisbane International Airport and it’s already becoming popular with travellers.
It’s important to remember if you are visiting this lounge that they are not competing with many of the classy airline lounges. The way I look at these lounges is that they are “middle of the road”. They offer a respite away from the general airport population and the higher-end luxury of the airline lounges.
With a footprint that covers 140 locations in 35 airports, they really are an airline lounge for all travellers. I know I will find myself in one of these sometime in the future.
Planning on coming to Brisbane? There are a huge variety of hotels to choose from.
Thanks to Plaza Premium Lounges who sent me a complimentary pass for access into their new lounge. As always, all opinions and observations are entirely my own.
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