The best airport lounge memberships

An airport lounge membership can help turn a stressful journey into a restful one. These networks of airport oases offer places to escape the crowd, get a little work done, and even take a quick nap.

An airline membership could get you into a number of different airport lounges. Image credit: jacoblund/iStock
An airport lounge membership could offer you more than just free Wi-Fi. Image credit: jacoblund/iStock

Airport lounge memberships can be expensive, which is why it’s important to choose wisely. Fortunately, we’ve done the legwork for you and comprised a list of our five favorite members-only airport lounges.

Most airline clubs offer annual or one-time airport lounge memberships that allow entrance to their lounges around the world for members.

Credit card companies, such as American Express, have also recently begun to open members-only airport lounges around the world. Once you have decided on an airport lounge membership, round off your next airport experience by booking an airport concierge service, to fast-track immigration and travel efficiently with a VIP Meet & Greet service, which will streamline your arrival or departure.

American Airlines Admirals Club lounges – friendly oases around the globe

American Airlines lounges feature a network of 50 Admiral’s club lounges and 60 partner airline lounges around the world, from Chicago to Paris to Rio de Janeiro. Amenities vary somewhat by location but generally include complimentary snacks, house drinks, and personal travel assistance. Many clubs also have shower facilities and business centers. Members are permitted to bring up to two guests into the lounge with them.

Membership is 600 USD per year with a 50 USD first-year initiation fee. American Airlines offers a 100 USD discount to AAdvantage elite members (their highest status of frequent travelers), who can also gain a one-year membership by trading in 50,000 AAdvantage miles. If you don’t fly with American Airlines regularly to warrant a membership, one-day passes are also available at select locations for 59 USD.

Delta’s Sky Club lounge — the largest single network of lounges

Delta’s Sky Club network is spread out across more than 50 locations and offers complimentary food and beverages, plus travel assistance.

An annual Sky Club membership is 545 USD (or 50 USD per monthly installments) or 54,500 SkyMiles. An executive membership, which allows a member to enter with up to two guests per visit, is 845 USD (or 75 USD per monthly installments) or 84,500 SkyMiles. There is a first-year initiation fee on both types of memberships. Single visit passes are 59 USD.

Make the most of your airport experience by checking into an lounge. Image credit: LightFieldStudios/iStock
Make the most of your airport experience by checking into an lounge. Image credit: LightFieldStudios/iStock

United Club lounges span the globe

United Airlines has United Club lounges at 35 airports around the globe, in cities from Cleveland to Tokyo to London. In addition to offering complimentary food and drinks, United Clubs offer private work areas, complimentary printing and fax services, and private meeting rooms. Some United Club lounges have shower facilities and family rooms. The Club in Houston even has a room with cinema-style seating in front of a big-screen television.

It costs 550 USD per year to become a United Club member, with a 50 USD first-year initiation fee. United Airlines give a 100 USD discount off the cost of a membership to Premier 1k MileagePlus members, their highest status of frequent travelers. You can also use 70,000 MileagePlus points (gained from flying with the airline, with one of its partner airlines, and/or using an affiliated credit card for certain purchases) for a one-year membership. One-day passes are available at select locations for 59 USD. If you buy a one-day pass and decide to purchase a one-year pass within 30 days, United deducts 50 USD from your membership fee.

How Priority Pass can get you into a range of lounges

Not all airport lounges are tied to a single airline. If you travel on a variety of airlines, you might be better off with a network of lounges. Priority Pass is a single membership that allows you access to a network of more than 1,200 airport lounges in airports across North America, South America, Europe, Africa, Asia, and Oceania. The network covers 500 cities in 143 countries. Many Priority Pass lounges are in airports that don’t have any United Club, Admirals Club, or Sky Club lounges.

Most Priority Pass lounges offer free food and beverages, free Wi-Fi, plenty of outlets to charge your electronic devices and travel assistance. Some lounges even offer spa treatments. The Priority Pass network is also expanding to include benefits outside of the airport lounge memberships. For example, in Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport, members get free access to the airport’s putting green, while at Miami International Airport’s Corona House Restaurant, members can get 30 USD worth of complimentary food.

Airport lounges provide free Wi-Fi so you can connect to loved ones, no matter where you are. Image credit: jacoblund/iStock
Airport lounges provide free Wi-Fi so you can connect to loved ones, no matter where you are. Image credit: jacoblund/iStock

Guests are welcome at Priority Pass lounges for a 32 USD per person fee.

There are three membership tiers associated with Priority Pass. With the standard membership, you pay 99 USD per year and 32 USD per visit. A standard plus membership is 299 USD per year and includes 10 free visits with additional visits at 32 USD each. The third option, which includes unlimited visits, is the Prestige membership for 299 USD per year.

Centurion Lounge by American Express

Many credit card companies offer complimentary annual membership into a particular airport lounge, such as Delta SkyClub, with their highest tier of cards. Recently, American Express upped the ante and started building their own network of airport lounges as an additional travel service to market to their elite card members.

The Centurion Lounge network by American Express is reserved exclusively for the company’s Platinum and Centurion card members. The network currently includes nine lounges, in locations from Las Vegas to Hong Kong, with five more under construction. Being a Platinum or Centurion American Express card member also gives you access to hundreds of other airport lounges in premier locations around the globe.

Lounges include complimentary food and beverages, and semi-private workstations with individual outlets and high-speed Wi-Fi. Some locations also have mini-spas, family rooms, wine-tasting rooms and shower facilities.

Access to Centurion Lounges is only for American Express Platinum and Centurion card holders only. There is no other means of purchasing airport lounge memberships.

Cardholders can bring up to two guests with them for free. Additional guests are 50 USD each. Centurion Lounges are day-of-departure lounges, with entry limited to boarding pass holders who have a flight scheduled to depart within three hours.

There’s no reason to suffer in the crowded terminal departure lounges. Today, most major airports have at least one airport lounge where you can relax, work and rejuvenate before you continue on your journey.

All prices listed were sourced from the respective websites and are subject to variation.