Where it is: Charles de Gaulle Airport, Terminal 2E
What it's like: After being welcomed at a private, dedicated check-in area, first-class Air France travelers are escorted to this lounge—where the décor matches Air France's l'Espace Premiere in-flight cabins (plush red carpet, oversized leather armchairs). The amenities here include a work area with free Internet access; a relaxation area with reclining chaise lounges, showers, and Clarins massages; and meals, wines, and champagne. At departure, an agent accompanies travelers to a dedicated boarding gate, and a private Mercedes sedan then takes them to their plane. Vive la difference!
Where it is: John F. Kennedy International Airport, Concourse B Admirals Club lounge, Terminal 8
What it's like: This 7,000-square-foot lounge contains a business center and cyber-café; a special service lets travelers submit print jobs via e-mail or Web-page upload from any location and retrieve them in the lounge. There are shower facilities, meal selections, a wide choice of wines and liquors, and flat-panel TVs with DirecTV programming. Access to the lounge is available to first-class passengers on international or transcontinental flights.
What it's like: Opening in March 2008, this lounge for first-class flyers includes a bar with floor-to-ceiling glass walls overlooking the airport (the better to gloat over less-fortunate travelers), and a restaurant with intimate booths offering all-day dining. Three private cabana rooms with beds and ensuite bathrooms can be reserved in advance; a wide range of spa services will also be available at the adjacent Elemis travel spa. Staff at the lounge's dedicated concierge desk will do everything from booking theater tickets and calling taxis to changing flight reservations (in case you want to stay a little longer).
Where it is: Gates 62-66, Northwest Concourse, Hong Kong International Airport
What it's like: The newer of two premium lounges operated by Cathay Pacific, this first-class lounge gives passengers access to "day-break rooms," six spaces furnished with roomy leather armchairs, 20-inch LCD TVs, and audio on-demand sound systems (waiter service and wake-up calls are also provided). There are also work stations with Internet access, marble shower suites, and five dining and drinking venues—including a noodle bar and a fine-dining restaurant, Haven. Catering is provided by the same company that operates Hong Kong's Peninsula Hotel.
Where it is: John F. Kennedy International Airport, Terminal 4
What it's like: Luxuriously appointed with cream leather, burled wood, and Italian marble countertops and floors, this lounge for business- and first-class passengers also has showers, a business center with 18 Internet stations (and complimentary Wi-Fi), and TV-viewing areas with 42-inch plasma TVs.
Where it is: Frankfurt Airport, next to Terminal 1
What it's like: Occupying a freestanding building separate from the rest of the airport's bustle, this 12,000-square-foot oasis has a cigar lounge; a bar serving 80 different whiskey labels; private glass-doored office units; a rest area with leather daybeds, alarm clocks, wardrobes, and mirrors; and bathrooms with monsoon showers. A "wining and dining" area, with oversized tables for two and leather armchairs, serves refreshments catered by Vienna's highly acclaimed DO & Co. from 5:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. Departing passengers are driven by chauffeured Mercedes or Porsche limousine to their aircraft.
Where it is: Sydney Airport, International Terminal
What it's like: First-class Qantas travelers arriving at this lounge are treated to 180-degree views over Sydney and Botany Bay. Well-known Australian designer Marc Newson oversaw décor here, which incorporates lots of marble and Italian leather lounge chairs. A day spa, with treatment and relaxation rooms, offers complimentary treatments, while travelers who want to work have access to 11 PC desks with Internet access and two private work suites. For those who want to relax, entertainment options include plasma TVs and Sony PlayStation Portables. Neil Perry, of Rockpool restaurant fame, has created lounge menus, with dining in a 48-seat, open-kitchen facility.
Where it is: Doha International Airport, near Main Departures Building
What it's like: This $90 million, 33,000-square-foot private terminal serves Qatar's first- and business-class passengers 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Travelers here can browse in an expansive duty-free-shopping area; get manicures or facials using Elemis products; play video or Sony PlayStation games; work in the business center, which also offers secretarial services; or indulge in a buffet stocked with Arabic and international cuisines.
South African Airways Cycad First Class Lounge, Johannesburg
Where it is: Johannesburg International Airport, Upper Mezzanine Level, International Departures Terminal
What it's like: A chef and a team of waiters are on duty at this lounge, where the décor has a quasi-safari theme (rich-colored leather upholstery, lots of woven textiles and baskets). First-class passengers can choose from an eclectic menu of dishes that changes throughout the day (from breakfast eggs to evening choices like Cape Malay curry), plus full bar service; French champagne and top South African wines are poured. Facilities include shower rooms; a soundproof reading room; smoking room; five soundproof snooze rooms with CD players; and a state-of-the-art business center with international telephone, computer, and Internet services.
What it's like: This 8,000-square-foot lounge, as befits a Virgin outpost, is decked out with fabulous entertainment facilities: the dedicated games area has a pool table, retro video games consoles, and a full cinema. There's also an office and library with work stations for workaholics; an observation deck, with runway and sunset views; an open-air roof garden; a lounge with a ceiling-to-floor Japanese water wall; a gourmet brasserie; and a 45-foot-long cocktail bar. Also available: spa treatments employing Cowshed products and hairdressing services from a Bumble and bumble salon.