sleeping in airport

Worst Airport Lounges in the World

Information verified correct on October 25th, 2016

With crowded sitting areas, poor services and a lack of luxury, these lounges aren't worth an admission fee.

We recently highlighted some of the most lavish airport lounges the world has to offer. Now, we’re looking at the other end of the spectrum with a comprehensive list of the worst airport lounges in the world and how you can avoid them.

9. Plaza Lounge Seeb Airport – Muscat, Oman

The word "average" comes up a lot in conversation around Plaza Lounge at Seeb Airport. With limited seating options, dated restrooms and average entertainment facilities, this lounge doesn’t give off that VIP vibe. Access to the Plaza Lounge is available through pay-per-use or as a free facility for first class flyers, though many reviewers have commented that if this wasn’t the case, they certainly would not pay extra to use it.


As this is the only exclusive lounge available at Seeb Airport, you may have to take what you can get.

8. American Airlines Admirals Club – Newark, USA

Considered one of the least impressive of American Airlines’ Admirals Clubs, this lounge at Newark International Airport doesn’t present much luxury. For starters, you have to pay for the food. There are also no showers, spas or private rooms for relaxation. Available to AAdvantage or oneworld elite status members and Admirals Club members, the Newark AA lounge is essentially an exclusive version of your regular airport waiting area.


The SAS Business lounge offers premium services for guests flying on an SAS or Star Alliance flight from Newark, so that may be your best bet for a bit of luxury here.

7. Qantas Business Class Lounge – Shanghai Pudong Airport, China

Although the Qantas Sydney lounge made it onto our world’s best list, this Shanghai counterpart doesn't hit the mark. Since Qantas doesn’t technically operate its own lounge in Shanghai, business class travellers and frequent flyers are given access to the No. 69 Shanghai Airport Authority lounge instead. Styled with a basic layout and interior design, the lounge doesn’t exactly scream opulence. The basic buffet selection, plus a few pre-packaged sandwiches, some snacks and a bar, mean that you might find more variety in the public waiting area. While the lounge doesn’t offer much privacy or relaxation, there are showers and bathrooms available for freshening up before your flight.


Although Shanghai Pudong Airport has a wide range of lounges, none of them look much better. You could try the No. 77 China Eastern Plaza Premium Lounge available to Priority Pass members, but even then there is a two hour time limit.

6. Lufthansa Business Lounge – Frankfurt Airport, Germany

lufthansa airport business loungeLufthansa's business lounge doesn’t really live up to its name. If you’re after a comfy seat, you’ll have to run to reach one of the 36 armchairs available. For unlucky number 37 and beyond, it’s uncomfortable, plastic bench-style seats. You’ll also need to get out your headphones to block out the TV at the centre of the lounge. Although the rolls and bar snacks offer more sustenance than some other airport lounges, you won’t find a hot meal here. Under-equipped and crowded, the Lufthansa Business Lounge is basic at best. But at least there’s Wi-Fi.


If you’re willing to fork out the extra cash, the Lufthansa First Class lounge at Frankfurt Airport has won awards for its features and services. Just goes to show options can be hit-and-miss even with the same carrier.

5. GOL Smiles Lounge – São Paulo Guarulhos International Airport, Brazil

The GOL Smiles Lounge at São Paulo’s Guarulhos International Airport is available for premium and business class guests with a range of carriers, including Delta, Emirates, Etihad, Qatar and SWISS airlines. But basic amenities, dated furnishings and overcrowding have put this airport lounge on our list. In fact, the whole space screams “glorified waiting room”, with one person on Tripadvisor going so far as to say: “The Smiles lounge is the worst. Avoid if possible.” Duly noted.


Check out the Admirals Club, the LATAM and oneworld lounge or the Star Alliance lounge for a more promising experience.

4. Cathay Pacific and Dragonair Lounge – Beijing Capital International Airport

This shared Cathay Pacific and Dragonair lounge is functional but not exactly stylish. Practical but bland partitions help give guests some sense of privacy between the general lounge area, business centre, snack table and basic buffet but there are no showers here and only basic bathroom facilities. Adding to the atmosphere is the intermittent announcements of which flights are boarding – which may or may not be shouted out by an attendant walking through the lounge.


Priority Pass members have access to six different lounges in the international terminals of this airport. All of them look more promising than the Cathay Pacific and Dragonair lounge, so it may be worth looking into a membership if you travel through Beijing a lot. Alternatively, you could consider a credit card that offers Priority Pass visits, such as the American Express Platinum card or Citi Qantas Signature.

3. First Class Lounge, Cairo Airport

This massive lounge is contracted out to most of the airlines flying through Cairo Airport, including Qatar Airways, Egyptair, Etihad and Emirates. It features four themed areas or sub-lounges – American, English, Egyptian and Italian – that look more like tacky restaurants or bars than VIP areas. Online reviews suggest the quality of the amenities vary significantly between these areas, so your visit could have the same hit-and-miss feel as trying to find a good place to rest in an actual airport terminal.


Air France and KLM share a smaller, separate lounge at Cairo Airport that looks more like what you’d expect for first and business class travellers. So if you want to access a lounge at Cairo Airport, it could be wise to book a premium ticket with one of these two airlines.

2. oneworld and airberlin Exclusive Waiting Area – Vienna International Airport, Austria

The oneworld Alliance Exclusive Waiting Area at Vienna Airport is like a limbo between your standard public waiting area and proper airport lounge. Open to elite frequent flyers of airberlin, Virgin Australia and Etihad, it’s quiet and quaint. You may also want to grab a bite to eat before heading into the waiting area, as there is no food available and beverages are limited to tea, coffee, soft drinks and water. With no showers or entertainment facilities, the airberlin Exclusive Waiting Area is a far cry from luxury.


Lufthansa’s super-elite HON Circle Lounge at Vienna offers the tranquillity and luxury you need from a lounge – if you can get access to it with your ticket or frequent flyer status.

1. First Class VIP Lounges No. 6 and No. 7 – Changsha Airport, China

Decked out with doily-covered chairs and daggy carpets from a bygone era, these two business class lounges are less inviting than the terminal waiting areas at Changsha Airport. While the lounges do have user-friendly PCs for work, if it gets hot you have to cool yourself with a standing fan. As for food and drink, well, if you like cans of coke, instant coffee and pre-packed biscuits, then this is the place to be.


Changsha Airport has a total of 10 lounges, which can be accessed with a first or business class fare for most airlines, or purchased if you’re flying economy. Unfortunately, the only details we could find make it sound as if they’re all of a similar standard, despite the airport being relatively new.

Although airport lounges are usually a better alternative to the public waiting lounge, these ones don't really make the cut. Unless you have complimentary access to a lounge through frequent flyer membership or your airfare ticket, you may want to take a close look at what the lounge offers before shelling out the entry fee.

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Sally McMullen

Sally McMullen is a journalist at who is a credit cards, frequent flyer and travel money expert by day and music maven by night.

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