The dream has always been to be ushered aside with a respectful hand on your shoulder, and asked to “Come this way, sir/ma’am.” You’d be escorted to a corner of the airport where the only people there have been specified to do so with careful thought, and a secret door is revealed to you. It doesn’t matter where you’re going. You’ve been invited. And in that moment, you’re a somebody. You’re important. Here are five incredibly exclusive airline lounges of the invite-only variety, all of which you probably didn’t know about.
Qantas – Chairman’s Lounge
This particular slice of exclusivity is named so due to the rumour that Qantas Chairman, Leigh Clifford, personally considers and signs off on each membership. A membership, if granted, lasts for two years. And what a two years it could be.
Everything runs on your time in what Qantas CEO, Alan Joyce, once claimed to be “… the most exclusive club in the country...”. The kitchen (buffet + a la carte menu), bar (self-serve + other), and even entry– as in members are able to access the lounge at any time without a boarding pass. Fancy taking a few meetings but unsure where? Yeah, right, sure. Just head on in. Kick your feet up, no biggie.
Bonus: guest allowance of three people in Sydney and Melbourne first class lounges, priority on flight upgrades, extra 25kg on checked baggage on Qantas and Emirates international flights.
Virgin Australia – The Club
By and large, The Club is Virgin Australia’s version of Qantas’ Chairman Lounge. Two year runs, invitation by CEO John Borghetti, anytime access, as well as a kitchen and bar that runs 24/7. Members can also nominate their significant others for their own membership, and for the extremely productive travellers, their assistants for Velocity Platinum status. Ain’t nobody fresher than my clique, apparently.
Where it differs from its crimson counterpart is the complimentary limousine transfers when you travel on domestic east to west flights, as well as when you’re LA or Abu Dhabi bound. This also covers a private car for when you need to go the distance between Australia’s domestic and international terminals.
Bonus: option to request one of two private VIP rooms with the Star Alliance first class lounge, LA when travelling homebound to Sydney/Brisbane.
Cathay Pacific – Marco Polo Club Diamond Plus
Cathay Pacific has been proving a worthy contender in the VIP lounge game. Along with the set staples of service and such (not to mention companion privileges for member’s spouses), Marco Polo Club Diamond grants your access to Oneworld Emerald’s most exclusive airline lounges. Such gems within this alliance include Cathay’s The Wing First Class lounge, Qantas First lounges, and British Airway’s Galleries First Lounge at Heathrow.
Bonus: buggy pick-up on arrival at Hong Kong airport.
Emirates – iO
This one is a little more enigmatic than the rest. You’d be hard pressed to get a word about the iO program from any Emirates employee. So few outside the company know how to qualify. Those who do, however, will be greeted by a sales manager and a chic black card. Additionally, initiates will receive a pack with a Mont Blanc wallet, matching luggage tags, and a Skywards Gold card for their partner.
While there is no physical iO lounge at Dubai airport, members may seek refuge within the Emirates first class lounge for a little privacy. Standout perks of being an iO member includes a chauffeur and car service, specifically that of a Range Rover directly from the plane to your next flight, and a guaranteed business class seat on any Emirates flight. Not too shabby.
Bonus: you can order your favourite meal on demand with instructions on how it should be prepared.
British Airways – Executive Club Premier
While the lounge is nothing more than standard for a VIP lounge, British Airways’ Executive Club Premier program is truly like having the keys to the kingdom. How so? Beyond being given upgrades wherever available, Premier travellers can book confirmed seats on sold out flights, and delay aircraft for up to thirty minutes to make connecting flights. It really can’t get much better than this.
Bonus: fast track security and immigration lines, personal assistant upon check-in (selected airports only).