The more frequent a traveler you become, the more picky you are about where you wait. Not that there’s anything terrible about sitting in front of the departure gate waiting for the plane to arrive, but experience it enough and your enjoyment starts to swiftly decline.
An airport lounge for first class or business class passengers can be a haven for travelers looking for a quiet and comfortable place to relax and rejuvenate away from the hustle and bustle of the terminal. This type of VIP lounge boasts a wide array of amenities and conveniences, including free Wi-Fi, complimentary food and beverage, charging stations, comfortable chairs, and a host of reading materials and other entertainment options.
Unfortunately, all of these perks often usually come at a great cost to the traveler. However, you don’t always have to have a first class ticket to get into one. Here are 4 alternative ways to get access to airline VIP lounges.
An airport lounge pass from a third-party vendor, like Priority Pass or Lounge Pass, may be a good idea if you have a significant amount of travel on different airlines in your future. These types of passes are a particularly good choice if you don’t want to limit your travel to just one or two airlines. One pass may provide you access to over 1,000 lounges worldwide, giving you maximum versatility in your travels. Some of these passes may even feature discounts at airport restaurants. There are also different membership levels that come with varying costs, allowing you to customize your pass to fit your needs and budget. Depending on your eating and drinking habits, a third-party pass may pay for itself after just a few visits.
The easiest and most cost-effective way to enjoy lounge access is to use a credit card that provides this privilege as part of its perks. Having the right card can make a significant difference in your overall travel experience. You may have access already if you use a high-end credit card. While you may incur a larger annual fee for the privilege of using this type of premium credit card, you can make up that price if you utilize the membership perks to the full degree. For example, instead of spending money on a mediocre pre-flight meal in the terminal, head to the lounge for complimentary food and drink. Just be sure to read all of the fine print carefully before acquiring a card.
Many airlines sell day passes to their lounges that don’t require any special membership. This is a good option if you are traveling for a special occasion and want to feel pampered or if you are not a frequent flyer and buying an annual membership or pass is not worth your investment. Once in the lounge, you can enjoy the same privileges as the other members. Just be warned: it may be hard to go back to regular flying once you experience this perk. You may even be able to negotiate the price upon arrival. Try checking with the ticketing agent when you check your luggage or simply ask at the entry to the lounge.
It’s true that loyalty comes with a certain amount of privilege. Savvy travelers understand the importance of picking an airline and sticking with it if you want to enjoy regular lounge access. Once you reach a predetermined status level on many airlines, you can enjoy discounted or even free access to their lounge. It’s important to remember that once you achieve this level of status, you will need to continue your loyalty by booking plane tickets on the airline to retain it and the access to its lounge. But many airlines offer lounge access to travelers flying within their alliance of partners, which can stretch your access availability even further. So if lounge access is important to you, be sure to consider what airline and partners you will be traveling with the most and stick to that alliance.