A travel host who flies 100,000 miles a year says airport lounges are overrated

Left: A woman at a night market with crowds in the background stands holding a bowl of noodles. Right: Inside a lounge with several seating areas and hanging plants from a mezzanine.
Travel host Samantha Brown prefers to hang out in terminals over lounges before a flight because they're less stressful and more fun to explore.Joey Hadden/Business Insider
  • Samantha Brown avoids airport lounges, finding them overrated and anxiety-inducing.

  • Brown, a seasoned traveler, prefers exploring terminals despite having lounge access.

  • She enjoys walking, browsing, and people-watching, considering terminals more engaging.

Airport lounges can make travel days easier and more relaxing with cozy couches, complimentary meals, and — in some cases —free facials secluded from an otherwise busy terminal.

But not for Samantha Brown.

Brown, who flies 100,000 miles a year and hosts travel shows on networks like PBS and the Travel Channel, has access to Delta, United, and American Express lounges worldwide, but she prefers to spend her pre-flight time in terminals.

"The whole lounge experience is a tad bit overrated — there, I said it," Brown said in a recent TikTok video.

Business Insider recently interviewed Brown to find out why she avoids spending time in what are often the most luxurious settings a terminal can offer.

"Sometimes, I'll go in to get a cup of coffee, a meal, and use a nice, clean bathroom, but I don't spend time in the lounge," she said.

Lounges add a layer of anxiety around missing a flight

Brown said she often deals with travel anxiety. She combats this by arriving at the airport three hours before boarding — and avoiding lounges.

"I feel trapped in an airport lounge. And I can't relax. They're often far from my gate," she said. "And most of them don't make announcements. What if I forget?"

After getting through security, Brown says she heads straight to her gate for a "proof-of-life check" to ensure her flight is listed in its queue.

Then, she explores the terminal.

"I have never regretted how much time I've spent in the airport," she told BI. "There's always stuff to do."

Inside an airport terminal with people walking toward a series of shops
Passengers walk through shops in an airport terminal. Joey Hadden/Business Insider

Airport terminals are more fun

In lounges, Brown said people spend most of their time sitting, which doesn't appeal to her before boarding a flight on which she'll have to sit for hours longer.

Instead, Brown prefers taking long walks around the terminal to exercise, browse stores, and people-watch.

"Airports are my teenage mall. Some feel like cities in themselves, like the Denver airport is bigger than Manhattan," she said. "We're all in this place for a short moment. We're all going somewhere else. It's magic."

For Brown's packing tips and trip ideas for summer travel, check out her Summer Travel Trends Report in collaboration with Klarna.

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