Image: United Airlines terminal at Chicago O'Hare airport.
Tim Boyle  /  TIM BOYLE
Travelers race under neon lights and brightly colored ceilings and walls as they hustle through the United Airlines' terminal at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago.
By
updated 7/2/2004 11:13:00 AM ET 2004-07-02T15:13:00

Having access to the right airport lounge can make all the difference between a good business trip and a stressful one. We've all been in a situation where we're rushing to the airport, check in and then feel frustrated by the two-hour wait until boarding time.

Instead of standing around and tapping their feet, savvy business travelers make the most of their downtime by accessing airport lounges, through a first- or business-class ticket or by purchasing membership cards.

The best airline lounges are the ones that offer a bit of everything, from shoeshine and preflight snacks to services like a business center, fax machine and Wi-Fi for those on the go. More and more airline lounges are offering conference rooms as well as catering services for travelers who need to book an impromptu meeting.

One of the most welcome features popping up at airline lounges is showers or spas, which are excellent pick-me-ups for those who are coming off a long-haul flight and need to feel human before dashing off to a meeting (or another flight).

For several years, we have been ranking the best airport lounges, but this year we decided to do something different. In addition to rating the amenities and services of every lounge in every major U.S. airport, we asked our readers to vote on which lounges they like best, and the votes are in.

To determine the winner, we broke down the airline lounges by domestic airport, and each airport lounge was assigned a point for every amenity, such as showers, Wi-Fi, Internet access, conference rooms and limousine service. The winner of the poll received an additional point, and the lounge with the highest rating won. In a few cases, there were ties and one three-way win.

© 2012 Forbes.com

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