[Archive Home][Date Prev][Date Next][Index]
"Are Airport Lounges Worth the Cost?"
Monday, February 13, 2017
Are Airport Lounges Worth the Cost?
Here's what to know before deciding whether to join one
By Aimee Picchi
Airport lounges can provide a haven of quiet amid evermore crowded airports,
but they don't come cheap.
Lounges are privately operated hospitality clubs that typically cater to
frequent flyers and passengers with business- or first-class tickets. Most are
operated by airlines, such as Delta's Sky Club, and are discretely tucked away
in airport terminals.
Annual passes can set you back about $500 for individuals, but there are
several less expensive ways to gain access, such as buying day passes or
through credit card perks.
It might seem as if airport lounges are only for the rich, but they could be
worth the money even if you fly just a few times per year or if you end up with
long layovers. Airports are growing more crowded due to lower airfares and the
stronger U.S. dollar. As a result, more travelers are turning to lounges to get
away from congested terminals and tap amenities such as secure WiFi and comfier
"It's about creating a space that allows travelers to break away from the
chaotic sense of the terminal," says Fern Fernandez, vice president of
marketing for American Airlines, which saw a 12 percent increase in memberships
last year. "People are looking for spaces to be productive while on their
Aside from offering more space and quiet than the terminal, airport lounges
usually provide services that can make a trip flow more smoothly. Because
lounges are geared to business travelers, they are often equipped with plenty
of charging stations for laptops and other devices, as well as secure WiFi
that's often faster than the terminal's network.
The entry price also includes food and beverages as well as private bathrooms
and showers. On top of that, airline lounge staff can help with reservations,
such as rebooking tickets or finding new seats for travelers.
If you're flying economy, the ticket doesn't include access to the airline's
lounge. Below are several ways to gain access without paying too much.
Join a lounge network. For a more economical option, consider joining a lounge
network such as Priority Pass or LoungeBuddy. Priority Pass' least expensive
membership costs $99 per year, and then you pay $27 each time you enter a
lounge. Its most expensive plan costs $399 per year. With that plan, there are
no additional charges to enter a lounge.
Priority Pass then offers you access to a network of more than 1,000 lounges
across the world that include those run by Virgin, Air Canada, and Air France.
LoungeBuddy doesn't require a membership; instead its app allows customers to
buy lounge passes when they need them. Day passes cost about $50 each.
Another benefit: These networks typically have a much broader geographic reach
than an individual airline's club. American Airlines has about 90 Admirals
lounges around the world, but LoungeBuddy can give you access to more than 200
lounges in places like Brisbane, Australia and Anchorage, Alaska.
Buy a day pass. If you get hit by a long layover or unexpected delay, go to a
lounge and ask to buy a day pass. Most lounges sell them for about $50 each. It
generally doesn't matter if you're not flying on the airline that operates the
To find out which lounges are available at an airport, check the airport's
website or do a search on LoungeBuddy, PriorityPass, or The Guide to Sleeping
in Airports. LoungeBuddy and Sleeping in Airports even let you buy a pass on
Use credit card perks. Premium credit cards, such as the American Express
Platinum card, include access to some airport lounges. Because these cards
usually have a annual membership fee of at least $400, they appeal to consumers
who want to pay more for such perks. Not all cards provide the same level of
access, so read the fine print before signing up.
Splurge on a club membership. If you tend to fly on one particular airline, it
might be worth buying access to its club network. These annual memberships
usually cost about $500 for an individual and more than $900 for a family.
Do research before buying. Because of the rise in lounge use, there are more
reports of crowded spaces, with some travelers reporting that it can be
difficult to find seats. Travel websites such as One Mile at a Time and The
Points Guy can give you a general idea ahead of time whether a lounge is likely
to be crowded.
Do you have an opinion about this story?
Share it with other readers in our CAA Discussion Forums
Fair Use Notice
This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of political, human rights, economic, democracy and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.html. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.
If you have any queries regarding this issue, please Email us at email@example.com