how to use airport lounges: Guide to airport lounges

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how to use airport lounges

By the end of the year, travelers will be able to access new outposts at the Newark airport, Atlanta airport, and Washington, DC (DCA). Fans love the Centurion’s focus on specialty drinks and the upscale vibe—so much so that overcrowding has been a more recent issue at some locations. Morgan Reserve card and The Ritz-Carlton Credit Card can also access the lounges. Morgan Reserve cards can bring up to two guests for free, while those with the Ritz-Carlton Credit Card are allowed unlimited complimentary guests.

If you know how to work the system and are willing to shell out a few bucks, lounges are accessible to everyone. In terminals without lounges, Priority Pass often partners with restaurants to offer you and your guests $28 to $30 off your meal as an alternative. Always review the terms and conditions of entry before buying a membership.

  • With overcrowding and a spike in delays and cancellations, gates and terminals can feel like uncomfortable hotbeds of tension, with few open seats, far too many people, and expensive, less-than-ideal food options.
  • Compare the best credit cards with airport lounge access and all they have to offer, and you could be enjoying some peace and quiet in between flights in no time.
  • Finally, there are airport lounges offered through specific frequent flyer programs or through credit card programs.
  • Explore the world and earn premium rewards with Chase Sapphire Reserve® or Chase Sapphire Preferred®.
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In other words, they won’t let you enter because they’re really full. Many airport lounges offer a pay-per-visit rate for everyone, or for customers with credit cards from certain issuers. Conversely, you can also purchase an airport lounge membership outright in many cases, but not all. You’ll get the most value with a rewards credit card that comes with lounge perks, but that’s far from your only option.


Chase, for instance, has launched a new lounge concept for its Sapphire Reserve cardholders called Chase Sapphire Lounge by The Club. The spaces, which have already opened in Hong Kong and Boston, feature amenities like specialty cocktail bars, local food options like dim sum, and “relaxation areas” where guests can lounge. If you are a frequent flyer, lounge access is worth having, but if you fly once or twice a year, staying at an airport hotel before your flight might be a better option.

When you’re finished, the page heading will read “Your registration was successful! Click “GO TO LOGIN” and login with the e-mail address and password you just registered with. Stay on top of all the points strategies, exclusive offers & pivotal news – and lock in huge savings along the way. James (Jamie) started The Forward Cabin blog to educate readers about points, miles, and loyalty programs. He’s spoken at Princeton University and The New York Times Travel Show and has been quoted in dozens of travel publications.

how to use airport lounges

Airline club memberships might also give you access to alliance or partner clubs, such as oneworld or Star Alliance, which will come in handy when traveling internationally. United Airlines offers complimentary lounge access to active duty military members with leave orders, rest and recuperation papers or wearing a uniform. This benefit extends to family members on the same United flight and requires a valid military ID. This is especially true in airline-specific airport lounges since customer service reps can log in to look at your specific itinerary and your options on the spot. Capital One airport lounges let anyone enter for a per-visit rate of $65. However, if you are flying on United, you will have access to Priority Pass lounges with a Priority Pass membership.

Opinions expressed here are entirely those of Condé Nast Traveler’s editorial team. Airport lounges come in all shapes and sizes, with some at smaller airports hardly worth the effort, while those at larger airports can be overly luxurious. Almost all airport lounges will offer free WiFi and a quiet place where you can get work done and complimentary drinks and snacks. At the top end, you have lounges that offer gourmet dining, cocktails, and some that even have spas and showers where you can freshen up.

If you’re thinking of visiting an airport lounge

The best part is that there are several ways you can get into airline lounges without paying for the privilege or flying in a premium cabin. You can also gain free entry to airline-specific lounges by flying internationally in first or business class. Some frequent flyers with elite status may also enter when they fly on an eligible itinerary. You can also inquire in the individual airline clubs directly regarding access, including the legacy carriers within the United States.

how to use airport lounges

The simplest way to get lounge access without a credit card is to buy a day pass to the lounge of whichever airline you’re flying. If you earn enough points or miles through a credit card or airline program, you can gain free or discounted entry to airport lounges once you’ve reached a certain status. Keep in mind that often there are requirements to maintaining said status, such as earning a certain number of miles per year or reaching minimum spends. To learn how to quickly accumulate such points, check our other guide here.

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One-Day Lounge Pass

These spaces are kid-friendly, and may even have kids’ rooms or other amenities available. A third Chase lounge is set to open in the Las Vegas airport, followed by locations in New York-LaGuardia, Philadelphia, Phoenix, San Diego, and Washington-Dulles. Once completed, you will receive a confirmation e-mail with your membership ID and password.

If you’re already at the airport, just walk up to the lounge entrance and ask if you’re eligible for entry. Airport lounges are spaces, operated either by airlines or other companies, that offer an escape from the chaos of the terminals. Here’s what you need to know if you’re thinking of plunging into the world of airport lounges for the first time. However, availability varies from lounge to lounge, and peak travel times may be restricted.

how to use airport lounges

This card has the largest pool of unlimited lounge access, including American Express lounges, The Centurion Lounge, partner networks, Delta Sky Club, and Priority Pass Select lounges. This is the easiest way to gain free, unlimited access to the largest possible number of airport lounges around the world, plus several other benefits that every traveler should have. Having the right card can be the difference between sitting in Starbucks on a 5-hour layover, or indulging in bottomless champagne before boarding for your next trip. U.S. military personnel traveling in uniform on Alaska Airlines can access the lounge free of charge. Active duty military personnel not traveling in uniform can purchase a day pass for $30. If you’re confused about your lounge access, you can contact your airline or your credit card issuer before your trip.

American Airlines

You can access Priority Pass lounges regardless of the airline or class of service you are flying. Now that you know a few of the best methods for accessing airline lounges when you travel, you can relax more and stress less. To access both the Admirals Clubs and the Oneworld business class lounges (such as SFO’s Cathay Pacific Lounge), you have to reach AAdvantage Platinum or better. And travelers must be AAdvantage Executive Platinum to use AA Flagship Lounges or Oneworld first class lounges (such as HKG’s Cathay Pacific the Pier First Class Lounge). Having elite status with a specific airline is a popular way to access lounges for many frequent flyers.

No matter which card you have, make sure to activate your card’s complimentary Priority Pass membership in order to access the lounges. In short, this is a great all-around card for travel, so if you frequently use the card and its benefits, you will more than make up for the annual fee. Uniformed U.S. military personnel traveling on an American Airlines flight get complimentary lounge access, including up to two family members. This policy applies to all domestic and international lounges, except for the Airspace Lounge in San Diego and the Japan Airlines Sakura Lounge in Honolulu.

  • As you enter lounges internationally, you’ll experience much better benefits (even for a paid membership).
  • To be as prepared as possible, look for flights with layovers where you know a solid lounge is available.
  • Choose the redemption option that’s most convenient and won’t devalue your cash back.
  • You can book a pass in advance on the lounge’s website or purchase one at the door, though you may be denied entry if they’re at capacity.
  • Capital One airport lounges let anyone enter for a per-visit rate of $65.

They also come with perks like free checked bags, priority boarding, and an accelerated path to elite status. Plus, you’ll get access to most, if not all, of an airline’s partner lounges. For example, United Club membership also gets you into Star Alliance lounges. He believes in work-to-live, not live-to-work, and loves comparing prices and fees on everything from credit cards to flights to get the best deal possible – a thrifty nomad at heart. Alaska Airlines offers complimentary lounge access to Alaska MVP Gold, Gold 75K and Gold 100K members. Access is only granted when traveling on Oneworld member airlines outside of the U.S., Canada and Mexico.

Admittance is always subject to capacity, and you’ll need a boarding pass showing same-day travel with the airline or one of its partners. Let’s face it — there’s a lot of jargon and high-level talk in the credit card industry. Our experts have learned the ins and outs of credit card applications and policies so you don’t have to.

If you frequently travel, paying for airport lounge access can be worthwhile. You might be able to save on lounge membership by opening a travel rewards card with lounge benefits. The annual fees on these cards range from $95 to $695, often working out cheaper than a lounge membership or buying multiple day passes.

There are many ways for today’s traveler to snag an airport lounge pass. Day passes may be a good option if you’re an infrequent traveler and don’t want to purchase a full lounge membership. Or you may want to apply for a travel credit card that offers complimentary membership to a network of lounges. Lastly, you may want to sign up for airline loyalty programs where you can work toward earning a higher status each time you fly with that airline.

Your travel experience may be greatly improved

Your Select membership benefits are similar to those of the Prestige level, and all of the Priority Pass levels require payment of $27 for each guest. While frequent flyers may have a lot more opportunities to get into airport lounges, the casual traveler can enjoy many of these airport sanctuaries too. We may be compensated when you click on product links, such as credit cards, from one or more of our advertising partners. See our Advertising Policy for more about our partners, how we make money, and our rating methodology.

Mary Davis
My name is Mary Davis. I am successful broker. I want to share my experience with you through tutorials and webinars. For any questions of interest, please contact us by e-mail: [email protected]. +1 973-709-5130


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