Your correspondent will never forget her first fancy airport lounge: Virgin's Heathrow Clubhouse in London, which included free sandwiches, showers, a massage and a haircut next to Chris Noth, as well as the sense that we were in the company of global movers and shakers — at least the ones who weren't flying private.
Such are the benefits of lounge access, even beyond the opportunity to escape the hoi polloi for a (somewhat) more reliable wifi signal and as many cans of Coke as you can drink/stow in your carry-on. Never are they as attractive as when you're stuck between the Chick-fil-A and the Sbarro's trying to get some work done before your flight.
At least one airline will make getting past the velvet ropes easier on you: Major Middle Eastern carrier Emirates is now offering paid access to its lounge in Dubai. All you need is membership (not status) in its Skywards frequent flyer program, plus $100 for access to the biz class lounge or $200 for the first-class space. And you can take $100 off each of those fees if you have Silver of Gold status in Skywards — meaning that Silver and Gold members can get into the biz class lounge for free, regardless of their class of travel.
This deal won't do you any good if most of your travel is domestic. That said, Emirates often has very competitive fares to Africa and Asia, and it's increasing its non-stop flights from the U.S. to Europe, including a just-announced-today route from Athens to Newark.
Emirates has recently struggled to raise revenue: "in November 2016, the airline reported a 75 per cent drop in half-year profits." This should be regarded as an effort to reverse the trend. High-flyers will undoubtedly not like the idea of the great unwashed crowding into their lounge for a lousy $100 — but we see this as a win for average travelers looking for some quiet on their way to parts unknown.