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Last week I showed you how to get into the Miami Airport lounges. What if you aren’t flying through the Miami airport? It’s helpful to know how to get into every airport lounge. Here are some tricks and tips on how to get airport lounge access.
How to Get Into Every Airport Lounge
Have you walked past those double doors at the airport? Sometimes they’re frosted glass or solid wood.
Often they’re restricted to access to a select few passengers.
Passengers who’ve paid for the privilege in one form or another.
But no longer.
From being a frequent flyer, buying a day pass, to having the right credit card, here are all the ways you can get into an airport lounge.
Book a First Class or Business Class Ticket
You can get airport lounge access when you book Business Class and First Class tickets. But each airline has different requirements depending on where you’re flying.
For flights in the United States, a First Class or Business Class ticket will not get you lounge access. Unless you are flying First Class on transcontinental flights.
Transcontinental flights are non-stop flights from the East Coast to the West Coast and vice versa.
Examples of transcontinental flights:
- Boston to San Francisco (Delta starting June 8, 2017)
- Los Angeles to New York
- Miami to Los Angeles
- San Francisco to New York
- Washington, DC to Los Angeles (Delta starting April 24, 2017)
An international First Class or Business Class ticket gets you airport lounge access. Some airports like Los Angeles have separate First Class and Business Class lounges.
Pro-tip: American Airlines and Delta Airlines consider certain international flights as domestic flights:
- Flights between the US and the Bahamas, Bermuda, Canada, the Caribbean, and Mexico (except Mexico City) on American Airlines
- Flights on Delta to/from the US and the Caribbean, Guam, Palau, and Saipan
Have Elite Status
Frequent flyers with elite status can get free airport lounge access. And the best part, you get lounge access flying coach or on an award ticket.
American Airlines Executive Platinum Members get access to American Airlines and OneWorld lounges when flying internationally.
Delta SkyTeam Elite members on international flights can use the Delta lounges. And you get lounge access on a domestic flight with an international connection.
If you have United Airlines Gold elite status and are flying internationally, you get free airport lounge access to Star Alliance lounges. You can get into United Club lounges if you have Gold Elite status on a different Star Alliance airline such as Turkish or Aegean.
Pro-tip: Qantas Frequent Flyer Gold members can’t use the Qantas Domestic Business Lounges.
Don’t have elite status and are flying in in coach? You can get invited into an airport lounge. If you’re traveling with friends, family or colleagues, they can guest you in.
But what if you’re traveling solo? Or no one in your party has lounge access? Time to get friendly and cozy up to a stranger.
Consider hanging out near the door to the lounge. Muster up your courage and ask someone if they’d be willing to guest you in. Too shy to ask in person? Post your request on Flyertalk.
Don’t take it personally if someone turns your request down. They might be flying on a coach ticket, or have a restricted membership. Or they could be uncomfortable. Keep trying until you find someone who says yes. Or you get chased away by the lounge staff.
Pro-tip: Dress sharp. No one wants to invite a backpacker or scruffy looking person into a lounge as their guest.
Buy an Airline Lounge Membership
Buying an airline lounge membership could be worth it, especially if you fly a lot on the same airline. Membership can range from $400 to $745 a year.
Before you purchase a membership make sure that the airports you’re flying into have lounges. Not all airports have lounges. Some airports may only have non-airport lounges, also known as contract lounges.
Pro-tip: Sometimes the airlines offer discounts on airline lounge membership.
Buy a Day Pass
If buying a yearly airline lounge membership is too rich for your blood or you don’t fly enough to make it worth it, buy a day pass. Not all airlines sell days passes to their lounges so you’ll have to check the airline you’re flying.
You can buy a one day, single visit airline lounge pass for the American Airlines Admirals Clubs, United Clubs, or Delta Sky Club for $59. A day pass for an Alaska lounge is $45. Qantas sells days passes by invitation.
A one day pass on Alaska Airlines and American Airlines allows you to visit several lounges on the same day. Day passes are not valid at American Airlines clubs under construction.
Whereas a day pass for Delta and United airport lounges is a single visit pass. Meaning you have to pay $59 for each Delta or United lounge you visit, even if you’re flying through many airports on the same day.
Pro-tip: You can apply the cost of your day pass to a full airline lounge membership if you join within 30 days.
Use Independent or Third-Party Lounges
What are your options if you aren’t flying in First Class or Business Class? If the airline you’re flying doesn’t have a lounge or sell day passes? Or no one will guest you into a lounge?
Some airports offer public, third-party, or contract lounges you can use for a fee. Fees vary depending on the lounge. You can buy at the lounge or book in advance through an app like Loungebuddy. LoungeBuddy sells day passes to 220 airport lounges worldwide.
Purchase a Lounge Membership
If you usually fly coach and on different airlines, you should get a Priority Pass membership.
With over 1,000 airport lounges worldwide, Priority Pass membership gives you flexibility. Lounges in their network include third party, airline, and VIP lounges.
I use my Priority Pass membership to get into airport lounges without an airline lounge. Being able to relax in the Panama Airport lounge in during a mileage run with a 3-hour turn, made a huge difference.
There are three different Priority Pass membership levels:
Standard – $99 yearly fee, $27 visits
Standard Plus – $249 yearly fee, 10 free visits, $27 thereafter
Prestige – $399 yearly fee, free visits
Pro-tip: You can save 10% on your Priority Pass membership for the first year.
Have the Right Credit Card
Did you know that you can get free lounge access from your credit card? Yep, some credit cards offer free airport lounge access.
Some cards like the Gold Delta Skymiles from American Express get you into airline lounges. Other credit cards like the Chase Sapphire Reserve give you access to independent lounges.
Relax in comfort, enjoying free Wi-Fi, snacks, and all the amenities that come with airport lounge access. Airport lounge access is usually reserved to those who buy expensive tickets like First Class and Business Class. Or who have an airline lounge membership.
But with these easy tips and tricks, you can get into every airport lounge, even if you’re flying coach or on using airline miles. It can be as simply as having a credit card that gives you airport lounge access like the Citi Prestige or American Express Platinum card.
What’s your favorite way to access an airport lounge?
Related posts on airport lounges:
- Secret Travel Hack: What to do if Your Flight is Canceled
- Star Alliance First Class Lounge Los Angeles Aiport LAX Review
- Cathay Pacific The Pier First Class Lounge
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Traveling Well For Less has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Traveling Well For Less and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers.