When you think of VIP lounge access at the airport, you might think it's a perk only wealthy globetrotters and business travelers can enjoy. While that used to be true, getting airport lounge access is now possible even if you're on a tight budget.
Nowadays, there are many ways the rest of us can access that sweet, relaxing airport lounge!
In this post, I'll outline some options for getting into airport lounges for minimal cost. So even if you're not traveling first-class, your journey will be off to a flying start!
Is Airport Lounge Access Worth Paying For?
Is there any point in paying extra for airport lounge access if you'll only be there for a short time? Well, it comes down to personal preference. But lounge access has lots of benefits, whether you're a leisure or business traveler. Let's look at a few.
- Better Environment: If you love traveling but hate the hustle and bustle of airports, the airport lounge offers relief. With its quiet environment and comfortable seating, make it your hideaway from the chaos of the airport.
- Free Food & Drink: Okay, they're not technically free if you paid for the lounge access, but you won't have to shell out for sub-par food and expensive drinks in the other shops at the airport. Lounge access often comes with hot meals, alcoholic beverages, and many snacks!
- Great Working Amenities: If you're traveling for work, the airport lounge is the perfect spot to catch up on work. Not only is it quiet, but there's usually a dedicated workspace, good WiFi, and lots of electrical outlets.
- Relax & Recharge: If you're traveling long-haul or have a layover or transfer, the lounge allows you to relax and recharge.
How to Get Airport Lounge Access for Less
Now let's get down to the best part. How exactly do you get airport lounge access without breaking the bank? And is there really a way to get into those exclusive lounges for free? Let's find out!
5. Buy a One-Day Lounge Pass
If you know you've got a long journey ahead, it might be worth investing in a one-day lounge pass. After all, you want to be in the best possible state when you reach your destination!
The cost of a one-day lounge pass varies depending on the airport and lounge you're visiting. Some airports even have more than one type of lounge to choose from! The average price of a one-day lounge pass is US$30 to US$65, and what you'll find in the lounge tends to vary by price.
This option might not be super-cheap, but it's probably worth it for long layovers. It's also much less expensive than booking a hotel room!
4. Use Your Credit Card Perks
Many US travel-focused credit cards partner with airlines to offer lounge access at discounted rates. Make sure to check whether you're entitled to a discount!
If your credit card doesn't offer this perk, it might be worth signing up for one that does—especially if you are a frequent traveler.
Which credit cards have airport lounge access as a reward? Here are a few you can look into:
- American Express Platinum Card: Grants access to airport lounges worldwide with up to two additional guests
- Chase Sapphire Reserve: Offers Priority Pass and Sapphire Lounge access for the cardholder and up to two guests
- Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card: Offers lounge access to 1,300 lounges worldwide
- United Club Infinite Card: Grants access to United Club and select Star Alliance lounges for immediate family members of the cardholder and two guests
As well as discounted airport lounge access, the best credit cards tend to offer other travel bonuses and rewards. You can get discounts on flights, hotels, and car hire, so always investigate those perks. The more rewards you take advantage of, the higher your savings!
Check out our recommendations for top US travel credit cards with awesome travel perks.
3. Purchase Annual Lounge Membership
Annual lounge membership is a smart choice if you are a frequent traveler. But how does it work?
First, you choose the airline and sign up as a member. Then, once you're a member, you'll get lounge access for that airline. The downside is that not all airports will have a lounge for the airline you signed up for, so choose carefully!
A lounge membership pays for itself in the long run if you travel a lot and plan your flights. Always do your research to maximize the benefits of your airport lounge access!
2. Use a Third-Party Lounge Booking Service
It's true, airports can be chaotic. To tackle this, third-party programs were created to make airport lounge access more accessible.
Third-party booking services such as LoungeBuddy or Priority Pass make it possible to purchase airport lounge access anywhere. LoungeBuddy has over 280 lounge partners worldwide, and Priority Pass offers access to over 1,000 airport lounges all over the world. Another great option is Visa Airport Companion.
You just have to pay for the service subscription to get access to any airport lounge included in these programs.
1. Travel With Someone With Airport Lounge Access
Anyone with membership access to airport lounges can bring in a guest or two. So if you're that guest, you're getting free airport lounge access!
Membership sharing is an excellent way to maximize those sweet airport lounge benefits. For example, if you travel as a couple, one of you can sign up as a member of the airport lounge, and you'll both get access!
Make sure to read the fine print of your airport lounge access membership. Most memberships allow a couple of guests but not all of them—so always check first.
Travel Smarter with Pilot!
Now you can enjoy all the perks and benefits of having airport lounge access with these money-saving tips.