Once a haven for the lucky few, airport lounges are gaining in popularity, and are more accessible than ever thanks to a flurry of premium credit cards, affordable membership schemes such as Priority Pass, and an ever-increasing number of pay-in clubs available to all travelers for a fee. Lounges typically offer comfortable seating away from the bustle of the terminal, business amenities, and a range of complimentary snacks and drinks which help turn flight delays into productive or relaxing time.
Relatively rare in comparison, and often underused, are Arrivals Lounges. Seldom advertised, and available at a handful of worldwide destinations, the clubs offer travelers arriving in the morning a chance to shower or freshen up and enjoy breakfast on the ground, ahead of their work day.
Arrivals Lounges allow passengers to favor sleep on board over breakfast, a blessing on short flights such as hops between the east coast of the US and western Europe. Arrivals facilities offer a quiet environment to catch up on work ahead of hotel check-in times. Some Arrivals Lounges provide pressing services, so that business travelers can look sharp at their next meeting, and select locations offer extra touches such as private napping rooms.
How to access an Arrivals Lounge
Star Alliance passengers benefit from several Arrivals Lounges around the world. However, access to Arrivals Lounges is not an alliance-wide benefit: unlike departure lounges which are open to all Star Alliance Gold members as well as Business and First Class passengers traveling on any Star Alliance carrier, Arrivals Lounges have much more restricted access rules. They’re operated by individual airlines, typically exclusively for their own Business and First Class customers.
This means that Star Alliance Gold passengers traveling in economy, United Club and Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge members, or premium passengers on partner airlines typically do not have access. Generally speaking, there are also no guest privileges. The tight rules help ensure that passengers don’t have to wait too long—or at all—for a shower.
Arrivals facilities are located after immigration, baggage claim, and customs. Be sure to keep your inbound boarding pass, and present it at the lounge for expedited access.
Our Definitive Guide to Star Alliance Arrivals Lounges aims at deciphering the offer and providing you with concrete details on how to enjoy a valuable perk where available.
United Arrivals Lounge – London Heathrow (LHR)
United’s modern and well-appointed London Heathrow Arrivals Lounge at Terminal 2, “The Queen’s Terminal”, offers passengers arriving in the morning the opportunity to enjoy a full hot breakfast on the ground as well as a refreshing shower.
The Arrivals Lounge is located immediately after immigration and follows the design language of United’s latest clubs, with Ann Jacobson egg chairs, shared worktables, and power outlets at every seat.
A dozen shower suites, all featuring a spacious changing area, a rain shower, plush towels, and Cowshed amenities, await passengers. Should you require pressing service, just hang your clothes inside the double door, and they’ll be ready by the time you are done showering.
The compact but ultra-functional dining room is home to a generous buffet with an assortment of breakfast items including smoothies, pastries, hot sandwiches, cereal and fruit salad. In addition, United offers a complimentary cooked-to-order selection, including eggs any style, smoked salmon, eggs benedict, porridge, pancakes, and a full English breakfast.
The United Arrivals Lounge at London Heathrow airport welcomes the following passengers:
- Passengers arriving on a same-day United international flight in United Polaris Business class or First class (no guests.)
- United Global Services members arriving on a same-day United international flight in any class of service.
- Passengers arriving on a same-day Air Canada flight in Business Class (no guests.)
- Air Canada Altitude Super Elite 100K, Elite 75K or Elite 50K members arriving on a same-day Air Canada flight (+1 guest.)
- Air Canada Maple Leaf Club Worldwide cardholders arriving on a same-day Air Canada flight (+1 guest.)
- South African Airways Business class passengers, Voyager Life Time Platinum & Platinum cardholders arriving on a same-day flight (no guests.)
United Arrivals Lounge – San Francisco, CA (SFO)
A hidden gem—though much older-fashioned than its brand new sibling at London Heathrow airport—the United Arrivals Lounge at San Francisco airport is a quiet and convenient pit stop for a rejuvenating shower and a quick breakfast.
After exiting immigrations and customs, make a left, walk past the bag re-check area and then follow signs to Terminal 3. As you hit the escalators, go downstairs to the baggage claim level and follow the signs.
The Arrivals Lounge features a dozen spacious shower suites, which come with Cowshed amenities and extras such as slippers and toothbrushes. The buffet offers a traditional selection of hot breakfast items such as scrambled eggs, sausage and potatoes, as well as a range of continental items including cereal, fruit, pastries, yoghurt, and oatmeal. Beverages include juices, soda, and Illy drip coffee and espresso.
The Arrivals Lounge at San Francisco airport is run by United’s Global Services team, which provides exemplary friendly and proactive service. Best of all, it’s often eerily quiet, especially after 9am, since United makes absolutely no attempt at advertising the club, and the location isn’t obvious. Our only gripe is the early closing time—the lounge closes promptly at 12:30pm, sometimes ahead of late arrivals.
The United Arrivals Lounge at San Francisco airport welcomes the following passengers:
- Passengers arriving on a same-day United international flight in United Polaris Business class or First class (no guests.)
- United Global Services members arriving on a same-day United international flight in any class of service (no guests.)
Lufthansa Welcome Lounge – Frankfurt, Germany (FRA)
The Welcome Lounge spreads across two levels. On the ground floor is a seating and dining area, along with a full breakfast buffet featuring hot breakfast entrees, delicious fresh pastries, smoothies and other treats. There is also a (rather basic) dark slumber room with a few recliners, a business center, and a smoking room.
On the lower level is an elegant reception area leading to no less than 28 shower suites. While hardly luxurious, the showers are spacious and functional. Feel free to request amenities such as a comb. There is also complimentary clothes pressing service, albeit only for Lufthansa Senator and HON Circle members.
A little extra which we’d love to see at more Arrivals lounges worldwide: the staff proactively offers to store large bags in a secure area behind the reception desk, allowing patrons to enjoy the lounge without bags in tow.
The Lufthansa Welcome Lounge at Frankfurt airport welcomes the following passengers:
- Lufthansa and SWISS First Class passengers departing or arriving on the same day.
- Miles & More HON Circle Members, arriving on a same-day Lufthansa or SWISS flight, or arriving on any same day Star Alliance flight and departing on a connecting Lufthansa flight on the same day.
- Miles & More Senator members arriving on a same-day Lufthansa intercontinental flight.
- Lufthansa Business Class passengers arriving on a same-day intercontinental flight (arriving in Frankfurt, or via Dusseldorf or Munich.)
- Lufthansa Premium Economy passengers holding a voucher.
- Lufthansa Frequent Traveller members arriving on a same-day intercontinental flight.
- United Airlines Polaris Business and First Class passengers arriving on a same-day flight.
- United Airlines Global Services passengers arriving on a same-day United flight.
SWISS Arrival Lounge – Zurich, Switzerland (ZRH)
The SWISS Arrivals Lounge at Zurich airport is conveniently located at the junction between Terminals 1 and 2, after immigration and customs. The lounge is sign posted from the baggage claim area.
The design of the SWISS Arrivals Lounge is typical of the airline’s clubs, with dark hardwood floors, a signature wall made of Jura stone, individual lamps, and exquisite Vitra furniture. In the main lounge area, patrons will find a buffet with a selection of hot dishes, a variety of fruit smoothies, and barista coffee. There is also a quiet area complete with privacy dividers and a water feature, as well as business facilities.
The Arrivals Lounge features 20 shower suites, each equipped with a sink, a toilet, a heated towel rack, and a shower cabin with a glass door and rain and handheld showers. The rooms are smartly furnished, with a storage box for shoes, and a table that unfolds above the toilet to the counter space. Pressing service is available at the touch of a button. In a display of Swiss efficiency, patrons get automatically assigned a shower suite when they check in, and receive a contactless entry card.
The SWISS Arrivals Lounge also boasts an ultra-luxurious amenity: three hotel-like private rooms, furnished with a single or double bed. The rooms are seldom advertised, and available on a first-come, first serve basis to passengers who need to rest for a few hours.
The SWISS Arrival Lounge at Zurich airport welcomes the following passengers:
- First Class passengers arriving on a same day international flight operated by SWISS, Lufthansa or United.
- Business Class passengers arriving on a same day international flight operated by SWISS, Lufthansa or United.
- Miles & More HON Circle members arriving on a same day international flight operated by SWISS or Lufthansa.
- Miles & More Senator members arriving on a same day international flight operated by SWISS or Lufthansa.
- Miles & More Frequent Traveller members arriving on a same day international flight operated by SWISS or Lufthansa
Turkish Airlines Lounge Istanbul Arrival – Istanbul, Turkey (IST)
A miniature replica of Turkish Airlines’ widely acclaimed Lounge Istanbul departure lounge, the airline’s Arrival lounge at Ataturk airport is located on the right hand side after exiting baggage claim. The décor features the Turkish Airlines’ signature arches or “bubbles” that break up the space into smaller cozy and intimate areas.
The delicious breakfast selection, provided by high-end caterer Do&Co, includes a traditional continental buffet, as well as cooked-to-order dishes such as fresh pancakes, paninis and waffles. There are also Turkish specialties including dates and loukoums, as well as an espresso machine.
An elegant spa-inspired hallway leads to beautiful shower suites outfitted with a sink, a toilet, and a rain shower. Amenities include plush towels, a bathrobe, and slippers.
Two day beds are available to passengers who need a rest. There are also an ironing table and a washing machine available for self-service, though the staff often offers to help.
Turkish Airlines Lounge Istanbul Arrival at Istanbul Ataturk airport welcomes the following passengers:
- Passengers arriving on a same-day Turkish Airlines international flight in Business class.
- Miles&Smiles Elite Plus members arriving on a same-day Turkish Airlines international flight in Economy or Comfort class.
ANA Arrival Lounge – Tokyo-Narita, Japan (NRT)
The ANA Arrival Lounge at Tokyo Narita Airport, located after immigration and baggage claim, serves a dual purpose: it is an international arrivals lounge as well as a domestic departure lounge—a unique and cost-efficient combination, which works well for the airline but translates into a less-than-optimal experience for passengers.
The seating area is ultra-functional, with modern clean lines and indoor plants—but compact, busy, and with little privacy overall. A small business center is equipped with a fax/copier. Several shower suites are available.
The food selection is minimalistic, as expected from a domestic departure lounge in Japan. The ANA Arrival Lounge is an exception to the “sleep through breakfast” concept: if possible, consider having breakfast in the air, as the few shrink-wrapped snacks are no substitute for the most important meal of the day. On the brighter side, espresso is available, as well as fresh fruit juices.
The ANA Arrival Lounge at Tokyo Narita airport welcomes the following passengers:
- First Class customers arriving on ANA operated international flights on the day of arrival only (+1 guest)
- Business Class customers arriving on ANA operated international flights on the day of arrival only (no guest)
- ANA Diamond Service members, ANA Platinum Service members and ANA Super Flyers Card members arriving on ANA operated international flights on the day of arrival only (+1 guest)
South African Airways Arrivals Lounge – Johannesburg, South Africa (JNB)
A beacon of hospitality by one of Star Alliance’s lower profile members, the South African Airways Arrivals Lounge is located in the international arrivals area on the upper level, immediately before the exit to the public concourse.
The lounge features a single room with a buffet zone, a dining area, and a small business center.
Four elegant oversized shower rooms, equipped with rain showers, await arriving passengers. A short wait is not unexpected at peak times, although the lounge is typically quiet. Pressing service is available upon request—just hang your clothes inside the designated compartment while you shower, and they’ll be waiting momentarily, wrinkle free.
Breakfast is a simple affair. The selection includes yoghurt, toast, cereal, and one hot option such as oatmeal or scrambled eggs. Beverages include espresso, tea, as well as excellent fresh fruit juices. Passengers connecting on to domestic flights operated by South African Airways may consider showering at the Arrivals Lounge, then heading to the excellent domestic VIA lounge for a much more substantial breakfast selection.
Other amenities include a bag storage area, a selection of newspapers and magazines, and a smoking room.
The South African Airways Arrivals Lounge at Johannesburg O.R. Tambo international airport welcomes the following passengers:
- South African Airways Business Class passengers arriving on a same day South African Airways international or regional flight.
- South African Airways Voyager Lifetime Platinum, Platinum and Gold card holders arriving on a same day South African Airways international or regional flight.
Star Alliance Lounge – Paris Charles de Gaulle (CDG) (Priority Pass)
The Star Alliance Lounge at Paris Charles de Gaulle airport Terminal 1 is not officially an Arrivals Lounge, and no airline offers access to incoming passengers, regardless of class of service.
However, the club happens to be located before immigration and to welcome Priority Pass members, so it makes for a great unofficial Arrivals lounge, as long as you hold a Priority Pass membership, and either don’t have bags or don’t mind leaving them unattended while you use the lounge. (The silver lining is that baggage delivery at Charles de Gaulle airport is often slow, and thus it is perfectly reasonable to stop briefly by the lounge.)
In order to use the lounge, ride the subterranean people mover from the satellite to the terminal, then take the elevator to level 10 from the Duty Free area. Do not go through passport control or you will not be able to re-enter the international area, and will need to continue to baggage claim and exit.
The Star Alliance business class lounge features two shower suites, a comfortable seating area, a small outdoor patio, a hot breakfast buffet as well as tasty French cheese and pastries, and even a selection of alcoholic beverages.
The ability to shower and enjoy breakfast on the ground upon arrival is a convenient yet poorly advertised benefit for Business and First Class passengers arriving at select locations. Arrivals Lounges are all convenient and well appointed, with a few locations offering high-end services such as clothes pressing or private rooms.
While access rules are very restrictive—Arrivals Lounges are off-limits to Star Alliance Gold members and typically reserved for passengers of select airlines—they help minimize any wait for a shower.
The Star Alliance network has more Arrivals Lounges worldwide than any other alliance. Before your next trip, check the loungereview.com worldwide lounge index for details on Arrivals Lounges at your location, and don’t miss out on a valuable benefit!