In the hectic environment of an airport, a lounge is a safe oasis for the frequent traveler. But when I was younger, I always believed I'd never have enough money or prestige to get into these "exclusive" lounges.
Lucky for us, access to airport lounges has become more accessible and straightforward. Nowadays, they're often open to everyone regardless of their frequency of travel.
Many people pay a lot of money to access these lounges on a per visit basis. They go in whenever they feel they need that added luxury. But if you're a budget traveler, is there an affordable way to relax in the VIP airport lounges?
Yep! There are services that can help budget travelers get airport lounge access.
Today, I'm exploring one of those types of programs called LoungeBuddy. It's often compared to the Priority Pass, and the 2 of them are probably the top providers for budget-friendly lounge aaccess.
My review covers all you need to know about LoungeBuddy so that maybe you'll be enjoying a little bit of extra luxury on your next vacation!
What Is Loungebuddy?
LoungeBuddy is a platform that enables travelers to access premium airport lounges worldwide. On LoungeBuddy’s website and mobile app, you can find, compare, and book lounge spaces for your travels.
Lounges were once associated with expensive luxury travel. LoungeBuddy changes this paradigm, helping budget travelers access these premium airport spaces.
Its network of lounges is open to all travelers. No membership or first-class ticket required!
The time spent at the airport can transform the quality of your trip. I’ve had to survive long layovers on overpriced airport coffee, squished between strangers—not fun.
Booking a lounge can be a real game-changer, especially if you’re preparing for a long-haul flight. You can enjoy a more relaxing travel experience, away from the crowds and endless queuing at airport restaurants!
Not convinced yet? Trust me... For years I was the same. I thought I should spend all of my money at my destination vs. on the way there, so I was the bare minimum backpacker sleeping on airport floors.
Little did I know that the snacks, drinks and other goodies I picked up while trying to kill time in the airport all added up. And now I actually save money by visiting lounges whenever I travel.
How Does LoungeBuddy Work?
There a few ways that LoungeBuddy is useful...
Checking Already Accessible Lounges
On LoungeBuddy, you can check which airport lounges you already have access to.
To do this, click “Access Methods” on the app or website. Here, you can add any credit cards or memberships you own that may come with perks.
Buy a Single-Use Lounge Visit
Alternatively, you can buy single-use day passes which grants you lounge access for one visit.
On LoungeBuddy, enter the city or airport in which you want to book a lounge space.
After selecting an airport, choose the perfect lounge for your needs. You can find different options based on your budget and desired services.
LoungeBuddy will show you:
- A list of the complimentary amenities for every lounge. Basic services often include food, alcohol, Wi-Fi, and TVs. Some offer exclusive perks like spa services, private rooms, children's areas, and conference rooms.
- A summary of essential information on lounge regulations. For example, capacity constraints, policies on children, and which terminals it is accessible from.
- The lounge’s cancellation policy.
- Precise directions to find the lounge inside the airport.
- Reviews of the lounge left by other LoungeBuddy users.
How Do You Book a Lounge Spot?
To reserve a lounge spot, enter the date, time, and number of travelers. This lets you access the available packages and price options.
You can filter your search according to the amenities you want. Once you've selected a package, you’ll be guided to enter your personal information and payment details. With that, you’ll be all set for comfort before boarding your next flight.
Be sure to check if you’re able to access the lounge! Some lounges may be in a different terminal. So cross-check your flight details with the location of the lounge within the airport and departure area.
You can book a spot in advance or even last minute. This can be a blessing if you’re faced with a delayed flight and need a place to rest at the airport.
With the unpredictability of air travel, if you get stuck waiting at the airport for longer than expected, it’s good to get help with flight claims from services like AirHelp.
Loungebuddy and American Express (AMEX)
As LoungeBuddy was acquired by American Express®, AMEX is the only accepted form of payment. However, Amex cardholders can book lounge access for other travelers to use.
The American American Express Green Card gives $100 in LoungeBuddy credits annually to cardholders. Some conditions apply, but it's not to hard to access this great credit card benefits.
You can use the credit on LoungeBuddy purchases across various transactions within the year.
What Lounges Are Included in LoungeBuddy?
With Loungebuddy's extensive airport coverage, you can browse over 2000 lounges at over 800 of the world’s busiest airports. These include select lounges at JFK in New York, London Heathrow, and Dubai International Airport!
As a frequent flier, I find LoungeBuddy to be a great tool, especially for international travel. As it’s spread worldwide, you'll be able to find a lounge almost everywhere!
Having a place to kick back and relax helps to calm my anxiety before a trip.
How Much Does Loungebuddy Cost?
When buying lounge access from LoungeBuddy, you’ll pay for the lounge cost for a single visit, including all taxes and booking fees. Some lounges also offer premium services at an additional fee.
The price varies according to the amenities offered and nighttime availability. Prices for most lounges vary between $40 and $60. More premium lounges can cost upwards of $70.
If you’re looking to save money, you’ll find purchasing options starting from a mere $25 per traveler.
Easy Booking System
LoungeBuddy lets you “Create a Trip.” By keying in your departure date, airport, and flight number, it’ll show you all the essential information available. For example, your departure and arrival terminals and the lounges closest to your gate.
While you may not be able to buy passes for every lounge, the platform is also a convenient tool for browsing all your options.
Lounge Access Without Business Class Costs
LoungeBuddy is a great way to access exclusive lounges at accessible prices. You don’t have to purchase a specific membership or a first-class plane ticket.
Still, the lounges that offer LoungeBuddy access change frequently and may no longer be available by your flight date.
In such cases, you can get a full refund up to 24 hours before your booking time. But it’s up to you to track the latest updates through LoungeBuddy’s app or website.
LoungeBuddy has a mobile app too! Currently, it’s only available on iOS and not on Android.
The LoungeBuddy app is free and includes all the same services as the website. So you can browse available lounges with greater ease on your travels.
LoungeBuddy vs. Priority Pass: Key Differences
Priority Pass offers a similar service to LoungeBuddy but on very different terms. Priority Pass also has a mobile app that, unlike LoungeBuddy, is available on both iOS and Android.
Here are the key differences between both platforms:
Access to Lounges
With LoungeBuddy, you can secure your spot at a single lounge for a specific day and time. It's more suitable for infrequent travelers who want to access lounges on a pay-per-use basis.
In contrast, Priority Pass acts as a membership, offering different tiers, which allow different levels of access to lounges. It does offer an unlimited access membership to all of the partnered lounges.
The drawback is that Priority Pass lounges can reject you if they reach full capacity.
While LoungeBuddy offers access to a changing pool of lounges, Priority Pass has over 1,300 partner lounges. This means you may find access to lounges through LoungeBuddy that are not in Priority Pass, and vice versa.
If you use Priority Pass, you can also add it to “Access Methods” on LoungeBuddy to check which lounges your membership grants you access to!
Lounge passes on LoungeBuddy vary from $25 up to $75, with most priced at $40-60. Priority Pass has three memberships: Standard at $99 a year, Standard Plus at $329, and Prestige at $469.
As LoungeBuddy charges for every booking, Priority Pass may be a better long-term investment for frequent fliers.
Credit Card Perks
The Chase Sapphire Reserve® and The Platinum Card® from American Express come with a Priority Pass membership. This makes Priority Pass an go-to option for owners of these cards.
Compared to LoungeBuddy, Priority Pass accepts more modes of payment. These include Visa, Mastercard, American Express, and Diners Club.
LoungeBuddy only accepts AMEX as a mode of payment. As I mentioned before, AMEX Green Card holders can receive up to $100 in LoungeBuddy credits each year.
Is LoungeBuddy Worth It?
I think it's worth it to track what lounges you're able to access. That being said, in most cases, I wouldn't use Loungebuddy to actually purchase access into a lounge.
Although it may seem budget-conscious because it offers single-use passes, it doesn't save you money in the long run as you're still paying high entry fees to lounges.
If you're more of an affordable luxury traveler, then maybe LoungeBuddy is worth downloading and using for you. After all, it's more geared toward those willing to spend a little more on higher-end airport lounges.
And it would be more worth it if you do have an AMEX Green Card.
That being said, my go to way of getting into lounges is actually choosing the right credit card. Many good mid-tier travel credit cards give you a membership to Priority Pass that will come with a limited number of free lounge visits. In my opinion, this is the best option!
My Rating: 3.4/5
- Guaranteed lounge access
- Worldwide coverage
- Available on both website & mobile
- Easy and reliable booking system
- Full refund in case of unexpected lounge closure
- Lounges offering LoungeBuddy access often change
- App only available on iOS
- AMEX is the only accepted form of payment
- Still pay high entry fee to lounges
Travel in Style With Pilot!
Even for the most experienced traveler, LoungeBuddy can make a real difference. It can create a smooth and relaxing airport experience while staying on budget!
If you need more help planning and organizing your trip, why not try Pilot?
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Collaborate stress-free with your travel companions and have all the features you need all in one place with Pilot. It’s completely free and ready for you to try it out now!