Sometimes An Airport Gate Beats An Airport Lounge When You Want Some Peace & Quiet

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I’ve just flown over to Europe from Washington DC and because I was flying with Virgin Atlantic (with whom I have no status) and because I wasn’t flying in Business Class I didn’t have access to the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse at Dulles.

That really wasn’t an issue as I have multiple Priority Pass membership courtesy of my credit cards and, although some of the lounges at Dulles don’t admit Priority Pass members during certain hours, I knew that the Turkish Airlines lounge in the “B” concourse area would let me in.

a large glass door with a sign on it

The picture above is the only picture I have of the lounge because it was so full of people that there was absolutely no point in trying to snap any photographs – the pictures wouldn’t have shown you what the lounge looks like, they’d only show you a mass of people all desperately trying to find a seat or desperately trying to protect the seat they had.

I had arrived at the airport reasonably early as I wanted to get something to eat and to get some work done, but the congestion in the lounge made it a terrible place to do either – it was about as relaxing as downtown Baghdad in the early 2000s.

I didn’t have any other lounge options as the remaining lounges at Dulles which accept Priority Pass do not give access to Priority Pass members during the hours I was there (a little annoying), but I knew I couldn’t stay in the Turkish Airlines lounge without going a little insane as the chaos grew around me….so I left.

That turned out to be a great decision as a short walk away I found an empty gate area with plenty of seats and with power and USB ports too.

a row of black chairs in a room

A visit to Starbucks took care of my stimulant needs, a bagel from one of the eateries took care of my hunger and the gate area became one of the best airport offices I’ve had for a couple of hours.

I had power, I had an adequate seat and I had no one anywhere near me for the entire time I was working at the gate – it was bliss!

I have to admit that I found it a little amusing (and ironic) that I spend so much of my time telling people how having Priority Pass membership and/or airline status can really make a difference to your travels by giving you somewhere (a lounge) to relax before a flight, and yet here I was fleeing an overcrowded lounge and taking sanctuary in an empty gate area (of all places!)

Airport lounges are usually one of the better places to spend some time ahead of a flight, but this little experience reminded me not to assume that they’re always the best option. When a lounge is overcrowded and the constantly moving mass of people is getting the better of you don’t be afraid to walk out and seek peace and quiet elsewhere – I can definitely recommend an empty gate.


  1. I have to agree with this. I don’t have status with any airline so I don’t get free lounge access, nor am I really keen on buying Priority pass or getting a credit card with lounge access when I only fly a handful of times a year.. but the time I did get access via my purchased ticket it definitely did feel overcrowded and not worth sitting in.
    At Narita airport in Japan, I’ve found the public Skylounge between the main and satellite terminals in T2 much better than the Sakura Lounge.

  2. I have also done what you did even when I haven’t had lounge access. I can usually find a gate where a flight has just departed and things are pretty quiet. Opportunities get even better when things start slowing down in the evening.

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