5 Ways to Get Into the Airport Lounge When You're Not a Member
After more than a year and a half of limited flights and even fewer travelers, airports are once again bursting with passengers waiting to board the next plane. Security lines are slow, concourse restaurants are full, and people are crowded in front of the gates searching for somewhere to sit.
The airport lounge has never felt so enticing — especially if you are COVID-cautious and want to wait for your flight with fewer people and more space.
But if you are not a frequent flyer or lounge member, how can you access the oasis amid travel chaos? We have rounded up a few tried-and-true ways to get into the airport lounge without having to fly a million miles.
Be selective about which credit card you choose
Rather than using your bank’s credit card, research credit cards that include airport lounges as a perk. There are a number of options available, so choose one that works best for your travel style:
- Alaska Airlines Visa Signature Credit Card provides 50% off day passes at the Alaska Lounge when you pay with the credit card
- Chase Sapphire Reserve offers complimentary access to Priority Pass Select lounges
- Citi/AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard offers Admirals Club lounge access
- Citi Prestige Credit Card includes complimentary access to Priority Pass Select lounges
- Delta SkyMiles Reserve American Express Card provides Delta SkyClubs lounge access
- Luxury Card Mastercard offers complimentary access to Priority Pass Select lounges
- United Club Infinite Card includes United Club lounge membership
Grab a day pass
If you are not planning to use the airport lounge frequently, nor looking to open a new line of credit, most airport lounges offer day passes to travelers. Since lounges can be run by an airline, credit card company, or private business, research which lounges are available at your airport to see if they offer day passes that you can book before you go — but worry not, even if you make a last-minute decision, most lounges will sell you one-time access if you walk up. Isn’t the promise of respite ahead a nice treat to look forward to though?
Here are the current day pass rates for a few popular lounges:
- American Airlines’ Admiral Club: Day passes are for $59 if you are flying American or a partner airline
- Alaska Lounge: Day passes are $50
- United Airlines’ United Club: Day passes are $59 if you are flying United or a partner airline that day
- The Club: Day passes are $45 and are not airline-specific
Keep an eye out for free passes
If you sign up for a frequent flyer membership with your preferred airline, you may be eligible for free passes to airport lounges as you accrue more miles. Check the conditions of your frequent flyer club to see if they offer any free day passes and eligibility criteria.
Download a lounge-finder app like LoungeBuddy
LoungeBuddy is an iOS app and website that offers a database of airports and lounges around the world. When you add your travel credit cards, lounge memberships, and elite statuses to your profile, the app will automatically highlight the lounges you can access for free. You can also purchase a day pass through the app, but you can only pay with American Express. Passes start at $25.
Get in with a friend
Finally, the cheapest and easiest way to get into an airport lounge is tag along with a friend. Most airport lounge memberships allow members to bring one or two companions for free or at a discounted rate. If you’re traveling with a coworker or friend, ask if they are a member of any airport lounges and plan to meet there before your flight!
Whether you are flying for business or personal reasons, the airport can feel chaotic and overwhelming. The airport lounge can provide welcome respite. Use the tips listed above to make your next trip a little less stressful and a lot more enjoyable!
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