1. Do you make boarding announcements?
Above: the new JFK Terminal 4 Delta Sky Club has a great desk for asking questions
We've placed this question as number one for a solid reason. An airline's lounges may share a similar style around the world, but procedures vary. Whether or not a lounge makes broadcasted boarding announcements for flights completely depends on the individual lounge, and can mean the difference between you making or missing a flight.
For example, "luxe" lounges like Singapore Airlines' SilverKris do not make announcements and instead pepper the lounge with sleek flight information screens, preferring to maintain a peaceful, "make yourself at home" atmosphere. On the other hand, we're writing this from within Air New Zealand's Koru Lounge at Sydney International, where the announcements are frequent and loud. That's a blessing for the easily forgetful, but a curse for the easily distracted.
2. Is there anything special I should know to access the WiFi?
Above: Air New Zealand frequently changes their WiFi passwords
Again, airline lounges vary on this, and asking for the WiFi details when you enter a lounge will save time and embarrassment if you get your work space all set up andsurprisehit a paywall.
Some lounges are free and easy when it comes to connecting, while others are located too near boarding gates to have an open network, and may lock it down with a password (which may change daily!) or other authentication screen.
3. Does the lounge offer [showers/hot food/baggage storage/nap room/quiet zone/meeting room/children's area]?
Above: a Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse shower room, with Cowshed toiletries
Lounges exist to fulfill the last-minute needs of frequent flyers, all whilst in comfort. You'll be surprised at what some lounges offer, if only you turn a corner or venture beyond the food zone. Asking for a shower may have you clean and toweled off in 20 minutes, or with directions to another. For example, if you're flying into London-Heathrow in a premium class on British Airways, wait to shower at their sprawling Terminal 5 Arrivals Lounge, which has 94 shower stalls plus an Elemis spa, plus a full English Breakfast buffet.
Lufthansa Senator lounges do lovely nap and business rooms, Qantas' Qantas Club pancake and panini machines are cult favorites, and kids will be entertained in their own little sound-proof zone in Virgin Atlantic 's Gatwick Clubhouse.
In some lounges, asking an attendant for baggage storage may be met with an incredulous look, while otherslike Lufthansa's Munich Airport lounges and Turkish Airlines's stunning Istanbul flagship lounge, provide you with a key to your own in-lounge luggage locker.
While you'll find very few, if any, of these amenities available at US domestic airline lounges, it is worth asking. We always like to have a plan of action for lounge time, and it often hinges on the yes/no responses to these questions. Plus, if there's one too many "no" replies, then perhaps you can shift to a different lounge within your same alliance, where the amenities are better.
[Optional] 4. Do you have an idea of how long a walk it is from here to [Gate #]?
Above: the view from Lufthansa's new A+ Concourse lounges is great, but so may be the walk
Oftentimes, if a lounge does make a boarding announcement, it may come a bit later than general boarding on account of lounge guests holding premium tickets or status, which means boarding is "at leisure." Don't take that leisure too seriously, however; the last thing you want after a lovely lounge shower is getting all sweaty while sprinting to a far away gate. An approximate walking time from lounge to gate is excellent knowledge for maximizing work or relaxation before a flight.
Now, have a look around some of our extensive airline lounge photo galleries:
British Airways' Galleries, Newark Airport
Singapore Airlines' SilverKris, Singapore-Changi Terminal 3
Lufthansa's Business Class lounge, Frankfurt International A+ Concourse
Lufthansa's Senator lounge, Frankfurt International A+ Concourse
Delta Sky Club, New York-JFK Terminal 4
Delta Sky Club, Tokyo-Narita
Oneworld lounge, LAX's Tom Bradley International Terminal
Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse, Newark Airport
Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse, New York-JFK Airport
Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse, London-Heathrow Airport
Virgin Australia, Sydney Airport
Turkish Airlines' flagship lounge, Istanbul-Ataturk International
LAN's Neruda lounge, Santiago International
KLM's Crown Lounge, Amsterdam-Schiphol Airport
SkyTeam lounge, London-Heathrow Airport Terminal 4
Cathay Pacific's The Wing lounge at Hong Kong International
ANA's Business Class lounge, Tokyo-Haneda International Terminal
Did we forget anything? Please share your thoughts in the comments!