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Airport Lounges: The Insider’s Guide

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Last Updated on August 6, 2018

We want all of our travellers to have an enjoyable travel experience from start to finish, so here’s our guide to getting access to airport lounges, regardless of the airline you’re travelling with or your class of travel.

Airport lounges are a great way to make travelling comfortable and stress-free. But for many travellers, gaining access seems a luxury reserved only for First and Business Class passengers or loyal frequent flyers. Thankfully, that’s not the case. Whether you’re on a short weekend break with friends, are off on your summer holiday with your partner, or are heading on an annual long-haul trip to visit family, here’s how to get some pre-flight relaxation whatever your class of travel or airline.

The airline day pass

Day passes are a great way to enjoy the luxuries of an airport lounge without committing to a costly annual membership, spending years building up loyalty frequent flyer points, or buying expensive airline tickets. They can be especially useful if you’re delayed or have a particularly long layover.

Some airline lounges will let you buy a day pass regardless of if you’re travelling with them or what class of travel. Alaska Airlines, for example, operates Alaska Lounges in LAXTed Stevens Anchorage International AirportSeattle Tacoma Airport and Portland International Airport where day passes can be purchased for US$45. Similarly, United Airlines’ United Club offers one-off passes, which can be purchased at the Club locations. Other airline lounges offer this too, so it’s best to go directly to the lounge and see if it’s possible to purchase a day pass, or check the airport’s website.

Relax before your flight with a complimentary drink in an airport lounge

The independent lounge

There are an increasing number of independent lounges popping up offering day passes to all travellers, regardless of airline or class of travel. These are an easy and hassle-free way to experience the benefits of an airport lounge with no commitments.

For instance, The Club is a network of lounges that offers affordable hospitality to everyone. Simply purchase a day pass from their website (from US$40) or from lounge websites such as LoungeBuddy or Lounge Pass. The Club offers lounges in US and UK airports including Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, Las Vegas McCarran International AirportPhoenix Sky Harbor International AirportHartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International AirportHeathrow Airport and London Gatwick Airport.

 There are an increasing number of independent lounges popping up offering day passes to all travellers, regardless of airline or class of travel

Other such lounge networks include Airspace Lounge; Plaza Premium LoungeAspire Lounges, and No 1 Lounges, among many others.

You can research which airports have lounges where you can purchase day passes using websites such as LoungeBuddy, which allows travellers to search airports for available lounges that can be accessed regardless of class of travel or airline, read reviews, find out the amenities and benefits of the lounge, and also book your entry pass directly on the site. There’s also a mobile app, which is handy if you’re on the go.

Join the club

If you’re a frequent traveller with a specific airline or airline alliance, you’ll probably have access to lounges as you work your way through the various frequent flyer tiers, or you’ll be able to pay to become a member of the airline’s lounge network.

But if you’re not biased to a particular airline or alliance when you travel and would still like a lounge membership, joining one of the many available independent lounge programmes is a great way to benefit from lounges whatever your airline or class or travel. Airport lounge access programme Priority Pass has three different types of membership offering travellers access to thousands of lounges across the world for an annual fee. The membership tiers have benefits for different types of travellers. For example, a standard membership has a low annual fee because members are also required to pay a nominal entrance fee to the lounge, which may be a good option for less-frequent travellers to avoid paying higher membership fees.

Credit card perks

There are many different types of credit cards where spending is linked to award points that can be used towards travel, such as flights and lounge access. American Express, for example, runs the The Centurion Lounge network – anyone with a Platinum or Centurion American Express credit card can then use the lounges for free, while other American Express cardholders can make the most of the world-renowned lounges for a fee. Locations include Dallas/Fort Worth, Houston, Las Vegas, San Francisco and New York, among others. Some credit cards offer membership to lounge access programmes such as Priority Pass, but there are many other varieties of cards and awards schemes, so it’s worth investigating what’s on offer.

Tip: Many lounges will allow those eligible to use the facilities to bring in a guest, so it’s worth checking if your travel partner has access to lounges! Make sure you have a seamless trip from start to finish by also booking your airport transfer before you fly.

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