The wonders of business travel fade quickly, and after thirty years of it I find myself working harder to keep the process from draining my mental and spiritual reserves.
Airline lounges are hardly novel (they have been around for almost as long as paid passenger air travel,) but their continued evolution is a joy. Thirty years ago, when I first found myself elevated into business class by a thoughtful employer, the Singapore Airlines lounge at LAX was little more than 200 square foot windowless room with soft lighting, chairs, and some soft drinks.
Today in many parts of the world, lounges look more and more like WeWorks, with WiFi, plugs, light buffet service, full bars, and even showers. There are places to eat, sleep, bathe, work, and watch a little TV. Almost, in other words, all the comforts of home: enough to take one’s mind off of the stressful process of travel and engross it in something more worthwhile.
For me, they are my place to get a few last things done before the plane takes off. I can no longer work on planes for reasons too convoluted to discuss here. On a typical trip I’ll have anywhere from 90 minutes to three hours to do just enough to buy me time to get to the other end of my trip. It is almost always enough.
Creativity gets a boost for me as well in these places. Of the two books I have written, a surprising proportion has been written in these spaces, so much so that I actually put All Nippon Airways in the acknowledgements of my last book. So more than just sanctuary from the unpleasant preliminaries of trans-oceanic flight, lounges for me are temples of intense and deeply satisfying focus.