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Airport Lounge Etiquette

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Make yourself at home – just not too much

Stay friends with your fellow business travellers by following the unwritten rules that govern airport lounge etiquette.

After a long day in the corporate jungle, sinking into a lounge chair and sipping on a complimentary drink may well be the highlight of business travel. Many airlines are busy trying to outdo each other with their airport lounge amenities and perks, with most boasting complimentary food, drinks, Wi-Fi, reading material, showers and even spa treatments.

But whether you have paid a one-off lounge entry fee, used loyalty points to gain access or you’re a long-term premium member, remember that every guest has the same rights and privileges. Dressed in a business suit or high vis, it’s essential for everyone’s comfort to act appropriately and respect your fellow travellers.

Dress up

If you’re travelling for business, the chances are that you will be appropriately dressed. But be aware that some lounges have quite strict dress codes and these can vary around the world according to local customs and cultures. If you stay with a smart casual look you should be fine. Common dress code no-no’s include sleeveless shirts for men, open toed shoes, sports wear, ripped clothing, short shorts, baseball caps, hoodies and thongs.

Power up

It’s Murphy’s Law that as soon as you arrive at the airport, you discover that your phone or device battery is running low! So by all means use the lounge power outlets to charge up, but be aware that these are in hot demand – especially during peak times. So you probably don’t need to be 100% charged, especially if others are hovering. But remember that you will need at least some charge if your boarding pass is on your device. Plus when travelling internationally, some airport protocols require you to power-up your device for the security team before it is allowed on to the plane.

Turn it down

On the subject of devices, be considerate and adjust the volume of your music, notifications and your voice. Remember that many people may be trying to get work done, so use your headphones and take that Skype call outside. Not everyone wants to hear about the deal you’ve just landed or about what you really think of your boss!

Respect space

Don’t invade another person’s personal space and be aware of cultural differences – where allowing more space may be appropriate. And just because you’re relaxed and you’re celebrating closing a deal with a beer or two, don’t chat up your neighbour – the chances are the only thing you have in common is a plane ticket!

Drink up - don’t stock up

Enjoy a drink or two, and a snack, but do it all in moderation. It’s not about getting as many drinks under your belt before wheels up. And it’s not an ‘all you can eat’ buffet. Be patient when the bar staff are busy and don’t pilfer/stockpile items to enjoy in your hotel room later.

Tidy up

Enjoy the free reading material, but put newspapers and magazines back in the racks for others and dispose of your wrappers and rubbish. Lounge staff are usually busy enough without having to clean up after every guest. Keep yourself tidy too, by keeping your shoes on and your feet off the furniture. Store luggage and belongings near you and out of the way of others. During busy times when space is at a premium, don’t use a spare chair to hold your bags.


In short, enjoy all the airport lounge perks on offer and make yourself at home – but remember that you are not at home.