How many people would love to have access to an airport lounge? Imagine all the free snacks, food, free WiFi, magazines, shower facilities, etc. you could get if you only traveled business class or higher. But honestly, would you want to shell out several thousand Euros for a flight that you can get in economy class for a few hundred?
Quick trips are usually bearable, however, what do you do when you have a long layover? Even worse, what do you do if you’re stuck at the airport for several hours? Sit around? Walk around? Well, you could, but what if we told you that you could easily get access to an airport lounge without the need of buying a first class or business class ticket?
We’ve consolidated a few tips to help you potentially escape the airport irritations while you travel.
In the good old days of flying, lounge access was only for business class travelers who carried their exclusive airline loyalty cards around, typically paid for by their company as a perk. Well, those days are mostly gone and one way to gain access to an Airport lounge is if you frequently fly one airline exclusively, then you may want to consider joining their club membership which provides you access into their alliance airport lounges. Example being Star Alliance or Oneworld airlines. You’ll pay a hefty “registration fee” of several hundred dollars depending on the airline’s membership policy plus an additional annual fee to retain that membership.
The key thing to note here so to check the destinations you travel too. These lounges are typically only found in larger airports across the globe that are frequented more often by the group of airlines.
Many airline lounges will sell day passes, enabling you to purchase access at a way cheaper price tag than if you were to purchase a business class ticket. This day pass, for what they are, come with a larger price tag, and it is up to you to weigh if the price is actually worth the time and service of utilizing the lounge. As an example, Alaska airlines sell day passes for roughly 45 Euros per day.
If the airline you are traveling on does not offer a day pass, then you can check out Lounge Pass. They belong to the priority pass group and allow you to purchase lounge access on a daily basis for a variety of airport lounges in their network across the globe. Select the country, airport and potentially terminal of the airport you want access to and then purchase your pass accordingly.
Do note the catch though. Despite them being called day passes, many of these are time limited, which means they only allow you to spend a few hours (typically around three hours) in the lounge before you need to leave. Make sure to read the small print.
Third Party Vendor
If the above two options are nothing for you then try a third party. There are quite a few out there, that have partnered with airlines through compensation fees allowing them to offer membership to their members and hence have them gain access to airline lounges across the globe. Similar to the above tip with a daily pass, you could join Priority Pass for an annual fee and gain access to over 1000 airport lounges across the world.
The upside to this type of membership is the tier levels that are offered. You can pay a higher fee and get unlimited access, or in case you do not travel frequently you pay nearly half the top price for roughly 10 accesses per year with additional visits similar to a day pass.
Public Airport Lounge
Why want access to exclusive airline lounges when you can access a public lounge?
They are limited and only available in some airports. Many of the benefits mirror that of the airline lounges, including comfortable chairs, WiFi access, small meals, etc. They work fairly similar in regards to access as the Day Pass mentioned above and depending on the airport offer a variety of services as previously mentioned. Some even have showers, massages or spa services. At the time of this writing public lounges are still not big, however, give the legacy lounges a good run for their money.
Just check the airport page you are traveling to or do a quick search online for public airline lounge including your destination and see what comes up.
Many airlines offer the perk of lounge access to loyal customers who carry their respective Elite status. This means that your either a frequent traveler with the same airline and accumulate status miles which then unlock this additional perk or you attain it through a variety of other traveling methods. Either way, it gives you access.
Something to note here is that some airlines do restrict access in certain lounges depending on their loyalty status program. Perhaps Gold and Elite are allowed entry at Airport A, however, at Airport B only Elite status have lounge access. This very much depends on the airline, the airport and who leads the network.
One perk of holding certain credit cards is the privilege of lounge access. Many of these cards, however, come with hefty annual fees for just having the card.
The American Express Platinum has a price tag of roughly 650 Euros per year just to have the card (price may vary based on your country of residence), however, that is a steep price to pay if you do not travel a lot. Aside from access to lounges you logically receive other benefits as well. We recommend the American Express Gold which will give you two lounge accesses per year and comes with a yearly price tag under 100 Euros.
There are also many airline credit cards that offer the airport lounge access perk as well. The only thing to be cautious about here is that you read the fine print and ensure that your spending habits and affordability match the credit card you are applying for.
The last way and perhaps strangest is utilizing the kindness of others. There are many people who have gained lounge access simply by asking someone who has access. Often, premium lounge cardholders have the possibility to bring along a guest. You can check travel forums or places like eBay or Craigslist for guest passes, often free or at a very cheap rate, someone is willing to get rid of.
Those are a few methods you may potentially use in your future travels to get access to an airport lounge while traveling, especially on long-haul flights.
Is there anything we missed. What are your thoughts on airport lounges and do you use them? Are the above methods useful for you? Did you know about them?
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