What goes into designing the modern airport lounge?

The newly opened SkyTeam lounge in Istanbul airport

We get a preview of Istanbul’s new SkyTeam lounge to find out how it will meet the needs of tomorrow’s business travellers...

In an age when travellers can breeze through the airport using only their phone to check-in their luggage and sail through security gates, designers of the future lounges need to consider technology and connectivity as much as they do comfort and hospitality

The lounge is the perfect antidote to the chaos and crowds of an airport, a space to enjoy some pre-flight downtime, grab a bite, do some work or while away the time updating your social media.

And it is these wants and needs that have been put front and centre of the latest SkyTeam lounge which opened at Istanbul’s new $11 billion airport - set to become one of the world’s busiest air hubs when fully operational, catering for millions of passengers each year across five concourses and 143 gates.

Homage to surroundings

The first thing you notice about this airport lounge is the personalised approach. Designers ditched the traditional welcome desk in favour of individual ‘welcome pods’, allowing for a more informal experience. With walls clad in moss and locally-crafted tiles, it's a million miles from the cookie-cutter lounges which have become all too common in the airports we pass through.

Incorporating elements of regional architecture was key, seen in the lounge’s soaring entrance adorned with a latticework that filters light and scatters the floor with reflections inspired by the traditional mashrabiya - an ornate screen often found in Middle Eastern houses.

Authentic tastes

When it comes to food and drinks, particular attention has been given to the array of authentic Turkish bites such as freshly-cooked pide, mezze and traditional tea, coffee and wine sourced from local vineyards. However, when your customers are from all over then world your cuisine needs to cater for all tastes, so there are also Western menus and dishes designed to help minimise jet-lag.

Design and layout

Naturally business travellers are not necessarily just looking for a place to sit and snack - many need this time to work. So, central to the design is the lounge's seating layout, which reflects the ever-changing needs of today's passengers. Individual armchairs in quieter areas intentionally placed further away from the lounge's high-traffic zones have been designed with solo travellers in mind, while tighter clusters of seating are perfect for co-workers seeking out a space for a pre-flight meeting.

The seats also have built-in power outlets - a blessing for anyone who's ever embarked on that frantic, pre-flight airside hunt for an airport power point. Whether they're working on their own laptop or using the built-in tablets, passengers can do so without having to worry that they're draining that all-important battery power.

For the discerning business traveller the days of a one-size-fits-all-style lounge totally devoid of any personality is a thing of the past. Lounge life has never looked more appealing.

Find out about the benefits – including lounge access – of signing up for SkyTeam member airlines’ frequent flyer programmes. No need to register for several programmes, their alliance-wide offer has you covered. Find out more