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Access Airport Lounges

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When you’re traveling with long layovers in airports (especially if it’s internationally), you may become very envious of those first-class passengers that get the keys to the holy grail, so to say.  Those airport lounges you only ever get to see the door of are every bit as great as you think they might be!  Fortunately, you don’t actually have to shell out all that extra money for a first-class ticket to access airport lounges! 

When we were traveling to South Africa we missed our connection flight to London in Chicago (they literally closed the plane door while we were on the bridge and had already gone past the gate – it’s a sore subject).  We ended up having to spend the night at the airport.  When the American Airlines lounge opened back up early in the morning, we were right there. 

Access airport lounges so you're not stuck waiting with everyone else.
Don’t be stuck waiting here with everyone else.

Here are a couple of ways that you can gain access and make that layover more enjoyable! Whichever you should choose really depends on how much you are traveling.

Day Passes

Many of the different airline domestic lounges sell day passes.  These typically may range between $50-$60 a day per adult. This is what we did on our way to Africa.  The $59/each we paid was well worth the quiet, food and drinks! There are also sometimes quiet rooms where you could get a little sleep, showers, and large individual restrooms so you can change and freshen up.

You can also purchase day passes from loungepass.com.  This website has lounges in around 300 different airports around the world!  There are some restrictions on each one, so make sure to read the details when you book.  Some may not allow those traveling on transborder flights, or there may a time limit. 

Access airport lounges
Image by trifore trifore from Pixabay

Priority Pass

This program allows you to purchase one of three different plans, whichever better fits your travel style.  It then gives you access to over 1,300 lounges around the world!  You can search before your trip, or there is a smartphone app you can download so you have the information for each different available lounge at your fingertips while you travel! Similar to the day passes, there may be some restrictions, so make sure to check what those might be.

There are three different plans you can choose from.  The first one is an annual fee of $99 and you then pay $32 for yours and a guest visit each time you use it.  The second plan is $299 annually and gives you 10 free visits.  After that, your visits are $32 each time, and any guests’ visits are $32.  The last plan has an annual fee of $429 and all your lounge visits that year are free!  Your guest visits are still $32 each.  (Bonus, if you have Honey on your browsers, it pops up that there are rewards available on this site.)

Purchase Public Lounge Access

Not all lounges are owned/operated by airlines.  There are a handful of public lounges that are offering the luxury benefits that the airline lounges are.  The amount of these across the world is more limited, but they do exist.  A couple of good resources to find these include The Club and Plaza Premium.  Access to The Club lounges is $40 and Plaza Premium prices vary, but all seem to be under $100, and closer to an average of around $50.

Access airport lounges for special benefits
Access airport lounges for benefits like complimentary drinks.

Credit Cards

There are many different credit cards that offer benefits including access to airport lounges.  The American Express Platinum Card is one that I repeatedly see as a top choice.  There is a $550 annual fee, but the benefits make up for that (if you’re a frequent traveler, they definitely do!).  You’ll get 5x points for flights and prepaid hotels, access to over 1,200 airport lounges in 130 countries, $200 airline incidental fee credit (that’s like for checked bags and in-flight refreshments), $15 a month in Uber Cash for US rides, no foreign transaction fees, a fee credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck, Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite Status, and more! See, worth it!  There are other airline-specific cards you can look at too that have great rewards. 

LoungeBuddy

LoungeBuddy is a site/app that allows you to search for and book access to airport lounges across the world.  You can set up a profile so it can search for lounges you might already have complimentary access to for reasons like credit cards or ticket class.  If you don’t have access to one, you can book a reservation at one anyways! When you book through LoungeBuddy, you don’t have to be flying on the airline whose lounge you’re visiting, just make sure it’s in a terminal you have access to. 

Access airport Lounges
Image by MikesPhotos from Pixabay

Traveling can be stressful enough!  When you have a long layover (planned or not), it’s nice to have some options rather than sitting in those uncomfortable chairs with other people all up in your business.  Plus, snacks at the nearby stores aren’t exactly cheap!  Get into one of these lounges and start enjoying your trip before you get to where you’re going!

Have you ever gone into a lounge without a first/business class ticket?

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