Anyone Who Has Flown In The Last Ten Years Will Attest That Airports Are Gateways To The World, But That The Airport Experience Isn’t Necessarily The Most Elegant Or Enjoyable.
Airport Lounges Provide Vip Services And A Quiet Retreat From The Terminal’s Commotion, Making Them An Attractive Option For Travelers.
But Do The Extra Fees For Airport Lounge Access Really Pay Off? Find Out If The Perks Of The Lounge Are Right For You In The Following Text.
Table of Contents
The Diverse World of Airport Lounges: Where to Find Them
Lounges In Airports Are Private Areas Where Passengers Can Relax And Enjoy Perks Like Complimentary Refreshments, Internet Access, And Even Showers. There Are Essentially Three Types Of Airport Lounges.
Lounges For Flying
The Admirals Club, United Club, Sky Club, And Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse Are Just A Few Examples Of These Kind Of Lounges. Access To These Lounges Is Typically Restricted To Passengers Of The Linked Airline Or Those In Possession Of A Premium Co-Branded Airline Credit Card.
Some Airlines, Like Virgin Atlantic And British Airways, Exclusively Allow Admission To Its Premium Cabin Passengers And Top-Tier Elite Program Members, While Others Sell Club Memberships To Passengers. Alliance Members Are Often Given Access As Well.
Oneworld Emeralds, For Instance, Are Granted Reciprocal Access To American Airlines’ Flagship First Lounges.
Lounges That Accept Credit Cards
Instead Than Being Run By An Airline, These Lounges Are Managed By A Credit Card Company. The Centurion Lounges Operated By American Express Are The Most Well-Known Of Their Kind.
Those Who Use Certain Credit Cards, Such As American Express’s The Platinum Card®, Are Given Instant Entry.
There Is Also Capital One, Which Operates A Lounge At Dfw And Plans To Open Lounges At Iad And Den.
In Addition To Its Relationship With Airport Dimensions, Chase Has Expressed An Interest In Opening Its Own Lounges At Seven Airports Around The United States And One In Hong Kong.
However, At Now, The Opening Dates For The San Diego And Boston Lounges Are Tentatively Slated For The Latter Half Of 2023 And The Former Half Of 2024, Respectively.
Lounges For A Party You Didn’t Throw
These Lounges Are Not Affiliated With Any One Airline Or Credit Card Company. Membership Schemes Like Priority Pass Make These Available, Or You Can Pay A One-Time Fee To Gain Access.
If An Airline Doesn’t Have Its Own Lounge At A Given Airport, It Can Nevertheless Contract With A Third-Party Lounge To Give Its Premium Passengers Access.
The Typical Night Out In A Lounge
The Quality Of Many Lounges Is Poor. There Are Typically Drinks And Snacks, Free Wi-Fi, A Place To Sit, And Spotless Restrooms.
There Are Even Spots To Get Some Work Done Or Go Plane Spotting Every Once In A While. Even Though Lounges Are A Nice Perk, They Are Often Overcrowded And Have Long Lines.
However, On Rare Occasions You May Be Able To Discover A Somewhat Quiet Priority Pass Lounge, Such As The Primeclass Lounge In Terminal 1 At Jfk.
However, You Should Know That This Is An Extremely Rare Occurrence, As Most Modern Lounges Are Always Full.
Highlights From “Over-The-Top” Lounges Airlines Put The Most Resources Into Providing A First-Class Lounge Environment For Their Exclusive Passengers.
For Instance, United Airlines’ Polaris Lounge, Which Debuted In 2016, Features Plush Couches, Work Rooms, Showers, A Buffet, A Bar, And A Table Service Restaurant.
Lufthansa, A Star Alliance Member, Is Well-Known For Its Luxurious First- And Business-Class Lounges In Both Frankfurt (Fra) And Munich (Muc).
There Is A Complete Bar, Plenty Of Comfortable Seats, An À La Carte Dining Experience, Showers (And Baths), And Even A Cigar Lounge At The Lufthansa First-Class Terminal, Which Is Located In Its Own Unique Structure.
Hon (Lufthansa’s Top-Tier Elites) And First-Class Passengers Are The Only Ones Allowed In Lufthansa’s First-Class Lounges.
Accessing Airport Lounges: A Guide
Priority Pass Is Often Used To Gain Entry To Airport Lounges. The Platinum Card® From American Express, The Chase Sapphire Reserve®, And The Capital One® Venture® X Rewards Credit Card, To Mention A Few, All Provide Priority Pass As A Standard Benefit For Frequent Travelers.
American Express Centurion Lounges, Priority Pass Lounges (But Not Priority Pass Restaurants), And Other Lounges As Agreed With Various Operators Are All Available To Platinum Card® From American Express Cardholders.
These Are The Delta Sky Clubs, Escape Lounges, And Virgin Atlantic Clubhouses In Jfk, Ewr, Sfo, And Dulles In The New York Area.
Chase Sapphire Reserve®: Offers Access To A Network Of Lounges And Restaurants Through Priority Pass, In Addition To A Limited Network Of As-Yet Unopened Chase-Branded Lounges.
The Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card Includes Access To Capital One Lounges In Dallas–Fort Worth, Washington Dulles, And Denver, As Well As Priority Pass Lounges (But Not Priority Pass Restaurants).
Access To The United Club And The American Admirals Club Is Available To Cardholders Of The United Clubsm Infinite Card From Chase And The Citi® / Aadvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard®* From Citi.
Finally, If You’re Flying In A Premium Class, Chances Are Your Airline Offers You Access To Its Lounge, Or A Contracted Lounge, At The Airport. Depending On The Airline And The Specific Route, Elite Frequent Flyer Program Members May Also Be Granted Admission.
United Clubs Are Accessible To Star Alliance Gold Members, Such As Those With Lufthansa Status, Who Are Taking Off From The Same Airport As A United Aircraft Operated By Another Star Alliance Member.
United’s Star Alliance Gold Members Can Use Their Privileges Exclusively When Traveling Internationally.
In A Similar Vein, Elite Aadvantage And Mileage Plan Members Flying Between The United States And Asia, Australia, Europe, The Middle East, New Zealand, Or A Handful Of South American Nations Have Access To The Flagship First Lounge.
Lounge Access Fees
However, Not All Lounges Require Membership Or Accept Guests.
A Priority Pass Membership Is Included With Some Credit Cards, Like The Capital One Venture X, As Described Above. However, What If You Were To Go Ahead And Sign Up For Priority Pass Membership On Your Own? Members Pay $99 Yearly For A Priority Pass Membership And Then $35 Per Visit And $35 Per Visitor.
Priority Pass Also Features Two Pricier Tiers, Standard Plus And Prestige, With The Former Costing $329 Annually For 10 Free Visits, Followed By $35 Each Visit And $35 Per Visitor, And The Latter Costing $469 Annually For Unlimited Member Visits And Still Charging $35 Per Guest.
Memberships To The Airline’s Club Are Also For Sale:
Executive Members Of Delta Air Lines’ Skyclub Can Bring In As Many As Two Friends At Any Given Time, And Can Use The Club As Often As They Like For A Yearly Fee Of $1,495. The Individual Membership Is $695 Per Year And Includes Access For The Member And Up To Two Guests.
An Annual Membership With United Airlines Costs $650 Per Year And Provides The Member With Benefits For Themselves And Two Guests (Or One Adult And Dependent Children Under The Age Of 21).
Membership In American Airlines’ Admirals Club Starts At $1,250 Per Year For A Household Of Four, And $650 Per Year For An Individual With No Status.
It’s Worth Noting That The Yearly Charge For Each Of These Airline Lounge Memberships Is Reduced When Paid For Using The Matching Co-Branded Credit Card. An Annual Charge Of $450 For The Citi® / Aadvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard®*, For Instance, Can Be A $200 Discount Over The Cost Of An American Admirals Club Membership.
For $35 To $50, You Can Fly With Several Carriers For A Day. Since Buying Lounge Memberships Directly From The Provider Is Plainly A Bad Value Proposition Unless You Fly Frequently, This May Be Your Only Viable Choice For Paying For Admission To A Lounge.
Value Is Maximized When Lounge Needs Are Factored Into Credit Card Selection; For Example, If You Frequently Fly United, Carrying The United Club Card Could Be More Cost-Effective Than Buying A United Club Membership Separately.
A Word Of Caution
As A Result Of The Epidemic And Subsequent “Revenge Travel,” Waiting Areas Like The Lounges Are Frequently Crowded. Signs Limiting The Number Of Priority Pass Cards Allowed Into A Partner Lounge Or Waiting Lists For Centurion Lounges Are Not Unheard Of.
Even Worse Are The Interminably Long Lineups, Which Have Been Widely Documented On Social Media For Entry To Places Like Delta Skyclubs.
Do Lounges At Airports Have Any Value?
Airport Lounges’ Value, Like That Of Many Other Travel Options, Will Vary Depending On The Individual.
It’s Great To Have A Spot To Relax Away From The Hustle And Bustle Of The Airport Terminal Where You Can Get Something To Drink Or Eat, Use The Internet, And Use Clean Bathrooms.
If You Can Find A Way In, Visiting A Lounge Like The Lufthansa First Class Lounge Or The United Polaris Lounge Is An Unforgettable Experience.
When Faced With Enormous Lines At Airport Lounges Like The American Express Centurion Lounges Or Delta Skyclubs, The Bigger Question Is Probably Whether Or Not Airport Lounges Are Worth It. Is It Really Access If You Have Lounge Access But No Lounge Will Let You In?
However, There Are Usually A Plethora Of Lounge Options; For Example, The American Express Platinum Card Grants Access To Lufthansa Lounges When Flying Lufthansa, Delta Lounges When Flying Delta, American Express Centurion Lounges, And A Plethora Of Additional Options If You Enroll In The Included Priority Pass Membership.
Unless You’re Flying Through An Airport With Very Few Lounge Selections, The Odds Are Rather Good That Your Airport Lounge Experience Will Be A Nice One.
It’s Usually Worth It To Spend The Extra Money Or Points Or Elite Status To Gain Access To A Lounge When Flying. Wi-Fi, Clean Restrooms, Drinks, And A Place To Sit Are Just The Beginning; Seated Meals And Upscale Drinks Are Also Available.
Is It Worth It To Wait In Line For The Lounge For Several Hours? No. Is It Really Worth It To Get To The Airport Early To Use The Lounge? Depends.
It’s Not Worth The Trip For Stale Crackers And Cheap Wine, But Arriving In The Lufthansa First Class Lounge (Or Terminal) With Plenty Of Time To Spare Allows You To Have A Fine Meal, Drink Expensive Beverages, And Perhaps Even Smoke Cigars.