How to gain airport lounge access anywhere

We’ve explored airport lounge access and found out what it takes to get into different lounges around the world. Read on to discover how you can access your preferred lounge.

Next time you have an hour or so spare at the airport, why not explore some of the available lounges. Image credit: Ridofranz/iStock
Next time you have an hour or so spare at the airport, why not explore some of the available lounges. Image credit: Ridofranz/iStock

Who wants to sit in the uncomfortable seats by the gate when they could be relaxing in an upscale lounge? If travel is a major part of your lifestyle, you might be looking for ways to elevate your airport experience. Gaining airport lounge access will make the travel process more enjoyable.

Airport lounge benefits to consider

All the little extras

Every lounge is different. Some are designed for those with refined tastes, and others are more casual. At just about any lounge in the world, you’ll find the basics, such as free Wi-Fi, workstations, comfortable seating, food and drink, reading materials, and a television.

Some lounges offer more luxurious amenities as well, such as massages, shower and sleep areas, chef-inspired meals, and travel assistance.

Relaxing weary eyes

One of the greatest benefits of spending time in a lounge is the chance to separate yourself from the crowds at the airport, providing some needed peace and quiet between the legs of your journey. If a lounge has showers and sleeping areas, you can avoid the hassles of going landside to find a hotel during longer stopovers.

Traveling with kids

If you’re traveling with kids in tow, a good lounge can be a lifesaver. Many lounges have playrooms designed to keep children occupied while their parents freshen up, attend to business or simply relax for a few minutes.

Keeping fit and active

Sitting for long periods of time can make you stiff and uncomfortable, and it can also be dangerous to your health. If you’re facing a stopover between two long flights, you might want to consider booking a lounge with a gym. A quick run on the treadmill or ride on the exercise bike will get your circulation moving and energize you for the second half of the journey.

Just because you're traveling, doesn't mean you have to give up your exercise regime. Image credit: BraunS/iStock
Just because you’re traveling, doesn’t mean you have to give up your exercise regime. Image credit: BraunS/iStock

How to use airport lounges

You have a few different options if you want to access a lounge. First, you’ll need to consider when, where, and how often you’ll want access.

How often do you travel? There are many options for accessing lounges. To determine which is right for you, you’ll need to look at the way you travel. If you only fly once every six months, you’ll need a different strategy for accessing lounges than if you travel three times a month.

Another factor is the airline itself. Do you typically fly with the same airline every time, or do you choose the most affordable flight that’s headed to your destination? People who are loyal to one airline will have lounge options that wouldn’t be cost-effective for someone who uses multiple airlines. You’ll need to frequently fly with one airline to build up enough points or earn the elite status required to gain entry to a lounge.

Think about whether you want certain amenities from a lounge. Do you need gym access? Do you prefer a full bar and restaurant, or are you simply looking for a quiet area to work for a few hours? It’s smart to know what you want before you invest time, money or energy into finding a lounge.

You should take these questions into consideration when deciding between the different ways of accessing the best airport lounge membership for you.

Fly first or business class

If you want to learn how to get free access to airport lounges, flying first class is your best bet. Almost all major airlines provide complimentary lounge access for their first and business-class guests. Flying first class obviously offers plenty of other benefits, such as roomier seats and upscale luxuries, so if it’s affordable for you, it’s always a good choice, especially for long flights.

Elite clubs

Some airlines also offer free airport lounge access to guests who’ve earned elite status. That usually means you’ve spent a certain amount on tickets with the airline within a given time frame. The requirements can vary by airline, however.

For example, British Airways offer an elite program, which is based on a points system. Rather than focusing on a qualifying dollar amount, the airline distributes points based on the type of ticket, the ticket price, and the route of the flight. If you buy an economy ticket, you’ll earn fewer points than if you go with a first-class ticket.

Once you gather enough points and reach the upper levels of the program, you’ll earn access to the British Airways lounges.

To reach Executive Club Silver, which gets you into British Airways business lounges, you’ll need 600 points.

To reach Executive Club Gold, which gets you into British Airways First-class lounges, you’ll need 1500 points.

If you travel frequently with British Airways, this might be a good option for you. If you fly with multiple airlines, you may not rack up enough points to gain access to the lounge.

Yearly airport lounge membership

Another option for those who prefer one airline is a yearly membership. Most major airlines allow guests to purchase yearly passes to their lounges, allowing them to enter without holding a first-class ticket. If you travel fairly often but perhaps not often enough to earn elite status, this could be a good choice for you.

Most yearly membership programs cost between 450 USD to 550 USD. Memberships offered by major airlines include American Airlines Admirals Club, Alaska Airlines Board Room, and Delta Airlines Sky Club.

Third-party access

If you travel frequently and love airport lounges, but you don’t have a preferred airline, you might want to consider using a third party to book lounge access. Why not book an airport concierge service, which helps clients access a variety of lounges around the globe. Rather than providing direct access to the lounge, this program helps guests determine which lounges they can access based on their individual circumstances.

Along with helping you determine which lounges you can access, this option has many other benefits. With an airport concierge service, you’ll get benefits like curbside assistance and baggage check-in, gate escorting, fast-track immigration and security, and assistance with your connecting flight, car hire or other ground transportation services.

If you’re interested in these benefits, and you’d like to explore a variety of lounges instead of just one, this is the best option for you. Along with airport concierges, there are other third-party programs to consider, such as LoungeBuddy.

Visiting once with a day pass

If you haven’t prepared to access a lounge by buying a membership or earning your way in through elite status, then buying a day pass is an option. Not every lounge offers day passes; most prioritize guests with memberships, elite status or other qualifying factors above day-pass guests. This means, if you have a stopover at a crowded airport or during a busy time of year, you might not be allowed in.

Day passes can usually be purchased for under 100 USD, although some lounges place a limit of a few hours on the pass. This option is best for infrequent travelers or those who want to test out what the lounge experience is like before making the leap and buying a yearly pass.

The American Airlines Admirals Club and Delta Sky Club both offer day passes for their lounges.

Come along as a guest

Do you have a friend or colleague who has a lounge pass? You can sometimes enter a lounge as a guest when traveling alongside someone with access. Certain lounges may allow members to bring in guests for free, while others require a one-time fee, like a regular day pass.

Sit back and watch the planes touch down in the many relaxing airport lounges available across the world. Image credit: Aleksandar Nakic
Sit back and watch the planes touch down in the many relaxing airport lounges available across the world. Image credit: Aleksandar Nakic

What credit card gives you airport lounge access?

Credit cards that provide access to lounges and other perks typically require a yearly fee. If you travel frequently enough, this fee will most likely pay for itself over time. Here are a few options for some of the best credit cards with airport lounge access.

The American Express Platinum Card

If you’re someone with refined standards, and you’d like to make sure you have access to the very best airport lounges available, then this is the card for you. With this card, you can gain access to Centurion Lounges, which are known for being quite luxurious. When you hold this card, you’ll be able to access the lounge, and you’ll be able to bring a guest along with you for 50 USD.

Other benefits of the American Express Platinum Card include:

  • Delta Sky Club membership.
  • Priority Pass membership.
  • Rewards points when booking directly with an airline or with Amex Travel.
  • Rewards points when booking hotels through Amex Travel.
  • 200 USD credit to use toward airline fees throughout the year.

The annual fee for this card is 550 USD.

United MileagePlus Club Card

With this card, you can gain access to every Star Alliance business lounge and United Clubs as well as Amtrak Acela lounges. You’ll earn 1.5 United Miles for every dollar you spend and double the miles for United Airlines purchases.

Other benefits of the United MileagePlus Club Card include:

  • Two free checked bags for two people per flight.
  • Waivers for certain fees.
  • Priority boarding.
  • 50,000 bonus miles if you spend 3,000 USD in the first three months.

The annual fee for this card is 450 USD.

Citi/AAdvantage World Elite Mastercard

Carrying this card will earn you a complimentary American Airlines Admirals Club membership, giving you the option to bring along two guests for free.

Other benefits of the Citi/AAdvantage World Elite Mastercard include:

  • 50,000 bonus miles if you spend 5,000 USD within the first three months.
  • 10,000 miles if you spend 40,000 USD each year.
  • Two miles per dollar for qualifying American Airlines purchases.
  • No foreign transaction fees.
  • Priority boarding.
  • One free checked bag on domestic flights with the airline.

The annual fee for this card is 450 USD.

Delta Reserve from American Express

This card allows you free access to Delta Sky Lounges all around the world. You can’t bring guests along with you for free, but you can get your friends and colleagues in for 29 USD.

Other benefits of the Delta Reserve from American Express card include:

  • Up to 30,000 miles when you spend 60,000 USD each year.
  • Priority boarding.
  • One free checked bag.
  • 20 percent off in-flight purchases.

The annual fee for this card is 450 USD.

Chase Sapphire Reserve

This card gets you into Priority Pass Select, a third-party company that provides clients with access to more than 1200 airport lounges around the world. You can also bring two guests along with you for 27 USD each.

Other benefits of the Chase Sapphire Reserve include:

  • 300 USD annual travel credit.
  • Trip cancellation or interruption insurance.
  • Lost luggage reimbursement.
  • Triple reward points on all travel and dining purchases.
  • One point per dollar for all other purchases.

The annual fee for this card is 450 USD.

There are many different ways to approach gaining access to airport lounges around the world. If you look at your travel and spending habits and balance them with what you’re looking to get from your airport lounge experience, you should be able to figure out the best option for you.

After you figure out a plan for visiting your favorite airport lounge, you should tackle another important step in your travel preparations, booking your Blacklane airport transfer service. Offering affordable professional chauffeur services in more than 300 cities around the world, Blacklane makes life easier for the modern traveler.