Design an Airport Lounge That Benefits Travelers and Airlines Alike

As demand for airport lounges grows, it’s time for airlines to consider how the lounge itself can be revitalized to anticipate and meet new passenger needs.
September 6, 2023

Everyone hates long layovers and waiting around in airports, but often it’s unavoidable. What’s worse, time spent in airports has been increasing due to a surge in flight delays and rampant mismanagement. What was supposed to be a layover of two hours could easily turn into five or more.

It’s no surprise then that more and more passengers are signing up to be airport lounge members. Over 57 percent of frequent travelers reported seeking out an airport lounge at least once while traveling. As demand for airport lounges grows, it’s time for airlines to consider how the lounge itself can be revitalized to anticipate and meet new passenger needs.

Because right now, many lounges feel dated and a bit staid. Although lounges are certainly more comfortable than napping at a gate, they often lack digital entertainment and modern features. Sure, you have plush chairs and maybe even a hot shower, but what exactly are weary travelers supposed to do with themselves to make the time pass by? And how can you put passengers more at ease?


Foster a Sense of Arrival 

Though airport lounges are a sort of in-between space, they don’t need to make passengers feel as if they’ve entered no man’s land. Airport lounges can be designed to make passengers feel they’ve arrived somewhere. That starts with the entrance: create an inviting reception area rich in ambiance. Use aesthetic elements, such as welcoming lighting, greenery, and visually appealing design features, to make passengers feel relaxed and comfortable. Scent can also go a long way: think carefully about your scent profile, as opposed to just the smell of leather lounge chairs proliferating.

Airlines should also fuse elements of the local culture, art, and design into their lounges to create a sense of place and authenticity. Take for example Club Kingston at Jamaica’s Kingston International Airport, which plays soft reggae from Caribbean musicians and adorns its rooms with paintings from local artists.

The general idea is to bring the outside inside; show passengers something of the world around them, not just white walls floating in space and time. This boosts connection and helps passengers be grounded somewhere, before taking off into the air again.


Offer Interactive Content

Besides designing a space that piques passengers’ curiosity and cultural interests, airlines also need to offer interactive digital experiences. Consider taking a page out of Gameway’s book, which has built video game lounges in U.S. airports to entertain and engage passengers. Currently available in Dallas and Charlotte, these lounges feature playstations and xbox stations. And it has clearly been effective: Dallas-Fort Worth won the most innovative customer experience airport award due to its foray into the digital world.

That’s the key point here: offering digital content in various mediums, be it games or media or digital displays, can turn an interminable wait into an entertaining excursion. Lounges can even incorporate AR (augmented reality) technology to offer immersive experiences to make the time fly by. AR can be used for virtual tours or enhancing the ambiance with immersive visual elements related to the destination. Throw a headset on a passenger and send them to a tropical beach hours or days before they actually get there.

Beyond AR, airlines should consider installing interactive displays and self-service kiosks within the lounge. These can provide practical information about airport services, flight schedules, local attractions, and personalized recommendations. Give passengers things they can touch and dynamic signs that move to give them a sense of experience rather than just of passing the time.


Create an opportunity

Airlines can also make their lounges useful from a marketing perspective by integrating IoT (Internet of Things) elements to gather some passenger data. These ioT devices can collect info on passenger behaviors, preferences, and usage patterns to gain insights and create hyper-personalized experiences. This data can create tailored services, amenities, and offers to meet individual passenger needs.

With IoT sensors collecting passenger data, lounge staff can deliver contextual services. For example, IoT sensors can monitor traffic patterns and media usage and offer personalized food and beverage recommendations or targeted entertainment options.

Airlines can also integrate social media platforms into the experiences by providing dedicated lounge hashtags, selfie spots, or interactive displays that allow passengers to post directly from the lounge. This not only boosts engagement but also promotes the lounge to other potential members.


The airline industry may be in a bit of a crisis, but the lounge areas don’t have to reflect this. Airlines simply need to offer a personalized lounge experience and provide opportunities for digital entertainment – and make people bemoan a long layover just a little bit less.


Article by: Jimmy Hunt