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Airports are portals to the world, but as anyone who has traveled in the last decade can attest, airport experiences aren’t always the most luxurious or enjoyable. One potential oasis in the midst of all the hustle and bustle is the airport lounge. Airport lounges offer exclusive benefits and are places to relax away from the chaos of the airport. But are airport lounges worth the price? Read on to find out if lounge benefits are right for you.
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What is an airport lounge?
Airport lounges are special areas within an airport where travelers can take advantage of perks such as free meals, Wi-Fi, and in some cases showers. Airport lounges fall into three categories.
These are lounges such as American Airlines Admirals Club, United Club, Delta Sky Club and Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse. These lounges are associated with a specific airline and access is provided primarily to those who fly that airline or who have a premium co-branded airline card.
Some airlines sell club memberships, while others such as Virgin Atlantic and British Airways only offer premium cabin flyers and access to elite program members. Access is often provided to alliance members as well. For example, American Airlines offers reciprocal membership of its American Flagship First Lounge to oneworld Emerald.
Credit card lounge
These lounges are operated by credit issuers, not airlines. The American Express Centurion Lounge is the most famous of its category and operates under the American Express name. For example, cardholders with The Platinum Card® from American Express have automatic access.
Capital One is another option, with a current lounge in Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) and plans for new lounges at Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD) and Denver International Airport (DEN).
- Chase has also partnered with Airport Dimensions to express interest in six unique lounges in the US and one in Hong Kong. That said, we don’t have a specific schedule for these openings. The Boston and Phoenix lounges are currently scheduled to open in early 2023, and the San Diego location is scheduled to open in late 2023.
third party lounge
These are lounges independent of airlines and credit issuers. These are typically accessed via membership through programs such as Priority Pass, or by paying for daily access. Many third-party owned lounges contract with airlines that may not have their own lounges at certain airports, so they can offer access to premium passengers.
average lounge experience
Many lounges are nothing to write home about. You can often find drinks and snacks, free his Wi-Fi, places to sit and clean bathrooms. In some cases, it even has a place to work or do some plane spotting. However, while the lounge offers luxury, it can get crowded and there can even be a wait to enter.
That said, sometimes you get lucky to find a Priority Pass lounge like the Primeclass lounge in Terminal 1 at JFK airport. However, this is rather unusual as most lounges are full these days.
‘Over the Top’ lounge highlights
Airlines invest the most in creating luxurious lounge experiences for their premium customers. For example, United Airlines introduced Polaris lounges in his 2016. This includes ample seating, work areas, showers, buffet, bar, sit-down and a la carte dining experiences.
A Star Alliance member, Lufthansa has long been known for its ultra-premium lounge experience at its two hubs, Frankfurt (FRA) and Munich (MUC). The Lufthansa First Class Terminal is a lounge in a separate building with a full bar, plenty of seating, a sit-down a la carte dining experience, showers (and a bathtub), and even a cigar his lounge. The Lufthansa First Class Lounge is exclusively for HON (Lufthansa’s top elite) and First Class passengers.
How to access airport lounges
One of the most popular ways to access airport lounges is with Priority Pass. Priority Pass is a benefit common to many premium travel cards, including American Express’ The Platinum Card®, Chase Sapphire Reserve® and Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card.
- American Express Platinum Card®: Members have access to American Express Centurion lounges, Priority Pass lounges (but not Priority Pass restaurants), and a subset of other lounges negotiated with various operators. These include the Delta Sky Club, the Escape Lounge and Virgin Atlantic’s clubhouses (his JFK in New York, Newark, San Francisco and Washington Dulles).
- Chase Sapphire Reserve®: Provides access to Priority Pass lounges (including restaurants) and a small number of Chase branded lounges that are not yet open.
- Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card: Provides access to Priority Pass lounges (but not Priority Pass restaurants) and exclusive Capital One lounges located in Dallas Fort Worth. More lounges are planned for Washington Dulles and Denver.
Chase and Citi offer co-branded premium credit cards that provide access to the United Club (United Club℠ Infinite Card) and American Admirals Club (Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard®).*).
Finally, most airlines offer lounge access to passengers flying in premium cabins. If there is no lounge at a particular airport, you can use the contracted lounge. Some airlines also offer access to Elite Frequent Flyer Program members, depending on the airline and route they are flying on.
For example, Star Alliance Gold members (such as those acquired through Lufthansa status) can access United Club when boarding flights operated by Star Alliance members departing from the same airport. If you have Star Alliance Gold status through United, you will only have access when traveling internationally.
Similarly, Platinum (AA) and MVP Gold (Alaska) and above AAdvantage and Frequent Flyer Plan members may access Flagship First lounges when flying between the United States and parts of Asia, Australia, Europe, the Middle East, New Zealand, or South America. available. Country.
Lounge usage fee
Not all lounges offer guest passes or annual memberships.
As mentioned above, you can access the lounge with a variety of credit cards, including Capital One Venture X, which offers Priority Pass membership. But what if you get a Priority Pass membership directly?Priority Pass offers a membership with an annual fee of $99, and a member pays $35 for his one visit and one guest. Pay $35 per. In addition, Priority Pass offers him two higher levels. Standard Plus offers 10 free visits for $329 annual fee, then $35 per visit, $35 per guest, Prestige Membership Plan for $469 annual fee, all member visits included and still available. $35 per guest visit fee.
Airlines also sell club memberships.
- Delta Air Lines offers two SkyClub membership levels. For $1,495 per year, the executive gets unlimited club access for a member and up to two guests per his visit. Individual memberships cost $695 per year, and members can bring up to two guests for an additional fee.
- United Airlines offers annual memberships for $650 a year that can accommodate a member and up to two guests, or one adult and dependents up to the age of 21.
- American Airlines offers non-status members individual membership to the Admirals Club for $650 per year. Discounts apply if you hold status, and family members without status start at her $1,250.
It’s important to note that each of these airline lounge memberships has a corresponding co-branded credit card that allows for cheaper airline lounge access, including annual fees. For example, Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard®* With an annual fee of $450, you’ll save $200 over purchasing a membership to the American Admirals Club.
Some airlines offer day passes for $35-50. Unless you fly regularly, buying a lounge membership directly from your provider is clearly a poor value proposition, so when it comes to paying for lounge access, this is the only worthwhile option. may become. The best value is to incorporate lounge requirements into your credit card selection. For example, if you fly United Airlines, it makes more sense to have a United Club card in your wallet than to buy a United Club membership right away.
The lounge is often overcrowded since the pandemic and the ensuing “revenge trip”. It is not uncommon for Signage at Priority Pass partner lounges to limit the number of people a Priority Pass cardholder can enter, or to display waiting lists for Centurion Lounges. Worse yet, it can also result in excessively long lines, as is commonly shared on social media, for example, to enter the Delta Sky Club.
Is airport lounge worth it?
As with many travel preferences, whether an airport lounge is worth it depends on your personal priorities and travel habits. It’s always nice to have a place to sit away from the hustle and bustle of the airport terminal where you can enjoy drinks, snacks or even meals, Wi-Fi and clean restrooms. Some lounges, such as the super-premium Lufthansa First Class lounge and the United Polaris lounge, are definitely great experiences to visit if you can find a way to enter.
Perhaps the bigger question is whether airport lounges are worth it in the face of long wait times such as American Express Centurion Lounges and Delta SkyClubs. Is it really available?
That said, there are often plenty of lounge options. The American Express Platinum Card alone entitles you to access Lufthansa Lounges on Lufthansa flights, Delta Lounges on Delta flights and Centurion Lounges on American Express. option.
You may encounter setbacks, but the numbers favor a fairly positive lounge experience, except at airports where options are very limited.
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Airport lounges are generally worth taking advantage of, whether they’re offered by airline tickets, credit cards, or elite status. From the basics like Wi-Fi, clean restrooms, drinks, places to sit, sit-down meals and fine drinks, the benefits are really there.
Is it worth waiting hours to access the lounge? Is it worth going to the airport before hours just to experience the lounge? Stale crackers and cheap wine aren’t worth the trek, but get to the Lufthansa First Class lounge (or terminal) early to enjoy a nice meal, have a premium his drink, or join the cigar lounge. It is almost always worth doing.