What Are Airport Lounges, Anyway?
Updated: Feb 11, 2021
Here are the ins and outs of everything you need to know about lounges.
Hey hey adventure buddies! It is already the middle of January and I feel like the New Year is going well so far for me, and I hope you feel the same! A few weeks back, I wrote about why airport lounges are worth it. I received a lot of questions about lounges and that they didn’t know it wasn’t just for special people. I hope this blog helps you learn everything you need to know about lounges and how to access them! :)
What are airport lounges?
So what is that mysterious room that you always pass and wonder what is inside? According to Smarter Travel, "Lounges were first launched in 1939 by the then-giant airlines as facilities for VIPs and recognized frequent flyers. The no-fee airport lounge membership system was by invitation only." I can see why people think to this day that they are only for special people because of this definition! However, lounges today are a lot different today as they are now a paid system allowing anyone to come. Lounges are a place where you can go for "free" food & drinks or to relax & get away from the craziness of a loud airport.
What is the priority pass?
Priority Pass is the largest lounge program that offers you access to 1300+ airport lounges across the ENTIRE world. It doesn't matter what class of travel you took or the airline you flew, you have access to any of these at any time! (There might have to be a whole blog about this sometime :P)
Best two credit cards that offer priority pass for "free" - Platinum Card from American Express & Chase Sapphire Reserve (see more later)
Here is a breakdown of the cost:
Are there credit cards that allow free access?
YES! Here is a list of the top credit cards that offer "free" access to lounges.
- Platinum Card from American Express ($550 Annual fee) - Access to any Centurion lounge and gives you access to ANY of the lounges with the priority pass (as described above).
- Delta SkyMiles Reserve American Express Card ($550 Annual fee) - Access to Delta Sky Club Lounges (but you have to be flying Delta) & discounted prices for guests.
- Chase Sapphire Reserve ($550 Annual Fee) - Free priority pass (as described above).
- United MileagePlus Club Card ($450 Annual Fee) - Access to any United Club lounges around the world
- Citi/AAdvantage Executive World Elite Master Card ($450 Annual Fee) - Admiral Club Membership
*If you would like to read about the best travel credit cards (with an annual fee) check out my blog post here!
If I don't have one of those credit cards listed or the Priority Pass membership, can I buy a one-day pass to any of them?
This is a little complicated and the answer is not a straight forward yes or no. For example, you can buy a one-day pass to United or Alaska Airline lounges, but Delta only allows it's Delta Sky Members, who must be flying Delta to enter their lounges. For example, over Thanksgiving, we tried to go the Delta lounge since Vince is a member, but since we were flying United, we weren't able to enter. The best way to know which is lounges you can buy a one-day pass to, is to use Lounge Buddy described next :)
What is Lounge Buddy?
Lounge Buddy is an app that allows you to see what airport lounges are offered at any airport! It is seriously a really awesome app. It is free to download and once in, you search for the airport you want to see the lounges for. It shows you all the available lounges, the cost, and any requirements for entry. Lastly, you can buy a pass through lounges that don't have any special requirements for right through the app! Click on the video on the left to see how the app works, it is pretty simple! We used this for a lounge at the Minneapolis airport and it was so ease free! I just like to look at the app sometimes to see all the cool lounges out there :D
Are they worth it?
Check out my other blog post about this question here. :)
Are certain lounges “better” than others?
It depends on what you are looking for, but there are definitely luxury airport lounges out there. I have been to a few lounges now and they were all so different from one another. Some brands of airport lounges are known to have top of the line, but there are also airports that just have better lounges than other airports. So it can really be hit or miss for any airport! I would say do your research online and through the Lounge Buddy app first to see if the lounge looks like somewhere you would want to go!
Hopefully that helps you understand the business behind airport lounges a little better! They can be a really fun place to hang out at the airport if you have some time during a layover. I highly recommend trying one out if you haven't already! If you have any other questions, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or message me on Instagram :)