Fresh Insights: How Airport Lounge Operators Can Minimise Overcrowding and Enhance Guest Enjoyment

Today, we welcome back Daniel Kinnoch, CEO of LoungePair. Thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to provide us with your thoughts on overcrowding in airport lounges.

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As a frequent flyer, you probably know how important it is to find a quiet and comfortable spot to relax before your flight. Airport lounges can be a great option for this, with their comfortable seating, free food and drinks, and access to amenities like showers and charging outlets.

But sometimes, even the best airport lounges can become overcrowded, leaving you feeling frustrated and stressed. This has become more common with the uptick in people travelling post-pandemic, with reduced flight schedules meaning that flights are fuller, and people are travelling during more concentrated periods of the day.

In this article, we’ll explore why airport lounges get so crowded, what we think lounges could be doing to better manage capacity, and top tips on what you can do to avoid being in a space that can often be busier than the public spaces in the main terminal.

Why Do Airport Lounges Get Crowded?

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on travel patterns, with many people choosing to stay home or postpone their trips. As restrictions have begun to ease and travel has increased, airport lounges have become more crowded, particularly during peak travel periods. This is due in part to reduced flight schedules, which have led to fuller flights and a concentration of travellers at certain times of the day.

Additionally, airport lounges are very popular among travellers, who often find them to be a comfortable and relaxing space to wait before their flights. This demand can contribute to overcrowding. 

Another factor that can contribute to a feeling of overcrowding in airport lounges is the limited number of seats available, as some lounges may not have enough seating to accommodate all the travellers who want to use them. While some lounges are quite large, others are much smaller and may not have enough seating to accommodate all the travellers who want to use them. This can lead to a feeling of overcrowding, even if the lounge is not technically at capacity.

What could lounge operators be doing to minimise crowding and ensure guest enjoyment?

There are several strategies that airport lounges can implement to manage crowding and ensure that their facilities are used to their optimal capacity. Some ideas include:

1) Implementing a reservations system

By allowing travellers to book a specific time slot to use the lounge, airport lounges can better control the number of people in the facility at any given time. This can help to avoid overcrowding and ensure that there is always plenty of space for guests to relax.

Priority Pass and Dragon Pass could incentivise advance bookings through creating a new ‘discounted’ membership tier that does not allow walk-ups.

Airline-operated lounges could also consider offering incentives to encourage travellers to use different lounges or times to spread out demand.

2) Offering premium memberships

Some airport lounges could offer premium memberships that provide access to exclusive areas or additional amenities. This could help to reduce crowding in the main lounge, as premium members would have their own designated areas to relax in.

3) Utilising off-peak hours

Airport lounges could minimise crowding by encouraging travellers to use the facility during off-peak hours. For example, they could offer discounted access or additional perks to travellers who use the lounge during times when it is typically less busy. Some may then choose to plan their travel around these hours.

4) Expand the lounge

In cases where the lounge is consistently overcrowded, it may be necessary to expand the facility to accommodate more guests. This could involve adding additional seating or amenities, or even building a new, larger lounge.

5) Limit the number of guests

Finally, airport lounges could simply limit the number of guests who are allowed to use the facility at any given time. This can help to prevent overcrowding, but it may also result in reduced revenue for the lounge. However, the longer the lounge is left in an overcrowded state, the more people will go elsewhere in any case, affecting long-term relationships, reputation and revenue – we personally think that it’s better that the lounge maintains lower numbers and a consistently good customer experience.

It’s also important to note that while reducing crowding in airport lounges is important for providing a comfortable and enjoyable experience for guests, it’s also important for the health and safety of travellers. Implementing strategies like reservations systems and limiting the number of guests can help to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19 and other respiratory viruses in crowded spaces. Additionally, lounges could consider offering additional amenities and services that promote social distancing, such as spaced-out seating or individual snack packs instead of buffets. By prioritising the health and safety of their guests, airport lounges can ensure that travellers feel confident and safe while using their facilities.

Ultimately, the best approach for minimising crowding in airport lounges will depend on the specific business goals of the lounge, noting that independent lounges, group lounge operators, and airline lounges all have different goals and aspirations for what they want for their guests.

By carefully considering the available options and implementing strategies that are tailored to their unique needs, airport lounges can effectively manage crowding and provide a more comfortable and enjoyable experience for all their guests.

How to Avoid Crowded Airport Lounges

If you’re tired of fighting for space in crowded airport lounges, there are a few things you can do to avoid the crowds:

  1. Book a lounge access pass in advance: Many airport lounges offer access to travellers for a fee, and you can often purchase a pass in advance of your trip. By doing this, you can ensure that you have a guaranteed spot in the lounge. This works better for those lounges that already have capacity control and prioritise advance reservations over unscheduled walk-ups with vouchers or lounge membership programs.
  2. Fly during off-peak times: If you have the flexibility to choose your travel dates, consider flying during off-peak times when the airport is likely to be less busy. This can also mean less crowded lounges.
  3. Use a credit card that offers lounge access: Some credit cards come with perks like complimentary lounge access, so if you have one of these cards, be sure to take advantage of it. This also gives you the ability to use a different lounge than the one you might ordinarily use.
  4. Consider a different lounge: If your usual airport lounge is overcrowded, you may be able to find a quieter spot in a smaller, lesser-known lounge. These lounges may not have as many amenities, but they can be a great option if you just need a quiet place to relax before your flight.

Summing up

Airport lounges can be a great place for travellers to relax and recharge before their flights, but sometimes, even the best lounges can become overcrowded. There are several reasons why this might happen, including the popularity of airport lounges among travellers, reduced flight schedules leading to fuller flights and concentrated travel times, and limited seating availability in some lounges.

To minimise crowding, airport lounge operators can implement strategies like reservations systems, premium memberships, utilising off-peak hours, expanding the lounge, or limiting the number of guests. Travellers can also take steps to avoid overcrowded lounges by booking access in advance, flying during off-peak times, using credit cards that offer lounge access, or seeking out smaller, lesser-known lounges.

By carefully considering their options and implementing the right strategies, both travellers and airport lounge operators can ensure that airport lounges are used to their optimal capacity and provide a comfortable and enjoyable experience for everyone – as they are designed for!

This guest post is brought to you by LoungePair, your go-to resource for all things airport lounge related.

Looking for more ways to avoid crowded airport lounges? Share your own tips in the comments section below! And if you have any thoughts or experiences with overcrowding in airport lounges, we’d love to hear from you.


  1. These notes are common sense any seasoned traveler would know, not insights.

    What does data say about crowding, and what can queue management science do to improve? What does data say about mix of users – elite staus vs credit card vs individual purchase – and how can that be used to find low hanging fruit?

    How do the lounges make a profit per entry with the various uses – and how can insight there lead to strategies.

    What are the specifics of the different business models of the lounges? Which are more / less prone to crowding?

    What results are there for presentation / handling of food and crowding?

    If an industry CEO wants to provide insights, they really should offer that kind of detail to add value.

  2. Hi Greg,

    Thanks for your comment and for raising some good points. You’re right that the title of the article might not be the best one.

    To address your points, gathering data on crowding in airport lounges can be challenging, as this information is typically closely guarded by operators. However, we can say that certain factors, such as the type of business model (e.g. airline-branded vs independent), the mix of guests (e.g. elite status vs credit card vs individual purchase), and the presentation and handling of food, can all impact crowding levels.

    In terms of profits, it’s worth noting that many airline-branded lounges are actually loss-makers, serving more as a marketing expense, particularly when the majority of guests are from the same airline. On the other hand, independent lounges have different business models (i.e., charging for access, membership fees, reimbursement from providers like Dragon Pass and Priority Pass), that all impact on profitability.

    We appreciate your interest in this topic and will continue to try to gather and share data-driven insights as we can. Thanks again for your comment.


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