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Heralding a return to the glamorous age of travel

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Do you remember your first flight? The anticipation and excitement? Taking in the sights and sounds of the airport, the thrill of seeing ‘your’ plane, the adrenalin kick of take-off? Cast your mind back to the images of air travel in bygone eras when those who could afford to, took to the skies in three-piece suits, dresses and hats, champagne and elegance all the way.

The democratisation of air travel, the rise of low-cost airlines and the relative accessibility of air travel mean flying has become much more quotidian. Whether you are constantly on a plane for business or take one flight a year to your annual holiday in the sun, air travel seems to have lost its lustre. Amid the leisure wear and clear plastic bags bursting with regulation-size carry-on toiletries we yearn for a more refined experience. Add increased terrorism-related anxiety and it’s little wonder we all want to feel a bit more looked after, our journeys made to feel as special as possible.

In the beauty industry, this desire is being answered by prestige brands placing the emphasis on treatments and services at their counters. It is often no longer the case that you can buy cheaper in duty free: Now beauty brands want to attract travel consumers with exclusive products and ‘experiences’ such as a hand massage or a make-up refresh.

One shining example is the Shilla Beauty Loft at Singapore Changi Airport. Here Chanel, the Dior Beauty House, Luxury Skincare Bar by La Prairie and SK-II Pitera Lounge offer truly world-class enclaves of pampering and tranquillity. Who wouldn’t want to book in for a private consultation with Chanel, enjoy an Eye-lifting Massage from La Prairie, an SK-II Power Nap Therapy session (you are encouraged to sleep while a beauty consultant thoroughly cleanses your skin and applies an SK-II Facial Treatment Mask…yes please.) or be the beneficiary of a flash complexion makeover from ‘Fly Perfect with Dior’.

The good news is that we are seeing more and more brands and airports taking their cue from this groundswell of passenger preference so that even if your journey doesn’t take you to Singapore or your ticket doesn’t stretch to the First Class Lounge, making airport time indulgent rather than arduous is becoming a valid aspiration for all.

Take this new initiative at London Heathrow Airport: Billed as ‘a mocha and a manicure’, a new nail service has launched in Terminal 2A Departures. Open to all passengers, the Wellness Spa in the Plaza Premium Lounge offers a walk-up and walk-in service so that you can have an express manicure before boarding. Not only is that a real feel-good way to start your trip, it also saves you time trying to schedule a manicure into your interminable to-do list before you leave. The Wellness Spa has a range of treatments that can be pre-booked or walk-in. As well as the nail services there are a range of massages specifically designed to tackle common travel ailments and fatigue.

Check-in, tune-out: Manicures and massages are the order of the day at the Heathrow Terminal 2 Departures Wellness Spa

Anyone, regardless of ticket class, can access the Plaza Premium Lounge. A range of packages are available including a two-hour visit for £35 and a ten-hour stay for £68. The facilities include all-inclusive food and drink (hence ‘a mocha and a manicure’), including alcoholic drinks, free WI-FI and plush seating.

When balanced against the likelihood of sinking the same amount on a glass of Prosecco/celebratory cocktail in the bar (well, we are on holiday/heading home/about to work hard) plus the requisite impulse buys…why not treat yourself and reclaim your own slice of the golden jet age? The revolution starts here.

Clare Austin
written by: Clare Austin
With a background in fashion and beauty journalism for magazines such as Elle and Harper’s Bazaar Clare is a beauty enthusiast whose pulse quickens whenever a new product hits the shelves.