You know those people who look happy boarding an airplane? It's most likely because while you've been sitting on an airport floor, they've been having complimentary drinks on a comfortable couch, away from the fray, with wifi. Airport lounges aren't just for celebrities, billionaires and sports stars, they are for everyone and can literally be accessed by anyone traveling in any airplane cabin. That's right, economy is just fine. If you're happy to trade crowds for quiet, without spending a fortune, there are some very clever, useful and most importantly affordable ways to indulge in the good life.
Priority Pass offers quite a few glorious lounges Worldwide. It is essentially an annual membership with varying tiers from "pay as you go" to "all in". For a $99 (£69) per year annual fee, anyone can pay $27 (£15) per person, per visit allowing you to access a wide variety of lounges without too much any status, fancy ticket or major cost. Some credit cards include complimentary Priority Pass access, so if you have a Citi Prestige or Amex Platinum, you're already enrolled! If you fly often and don't hate elite status that get's you lounges, there's also a "prestige membership" allowing unlimited visits for $399 (£259) per year with no per visit cost. If I travel ten times a year and grab four drinks, some food and some wifi I think I win on this deal especially in higher end European, Gulf and Asian lounges.
Membership Info/Sign Up: HERE
LoungeBuddy is the hip modern answer to lounge access. The service operates as an app allowing you to pay for access on a one off basis directly from your mobile phone, even while standing in front of the lounge. You'll receive a mobile lounge pass to help with your last minute indulgent decisions! Since there's no annual fee, or upfront commitment, the prices of each visit vary between $29-$100 with most high end (worthwhile) offerings in the $50 range. For the occasional traveler, the benefit of LoungeBuddy is that you avoid a membership fee and simply pay as you go for lounges with tons of different airlines and airports. If you are a very frequent traveler the value proposition can obviously change, and it might be cheaper to grab a lounge membership. One thing the app does a brilliant job with is pictures. You'll find detailed amenities for each lounge, letting you know exactly what you're getting into before purchasing. Hopefully lots of drinks and peace. LoungeBuddy likes us and we like their approach of "lounge access for all", so they offer our readers $10 (£6) off their first visit using the promo code "GSTPSAVE". Enticing.
Info/Sign Up: HERE
LoungePass is another great one off option for the occasional traveler looking to spice up a holiday. You book online in advance on a pay as you go basis allowing you to avoid an annual fee with prices for your lounge visit varying by length of stay, property and amenities. Prices are in a similar range to LoungeBuddy with fairly competitive offerings and similar lounges. Simply plan ahead, enter your airport, terminal and flight time online to find out what lounges and amenities are available and process the request. You'll receive a printed confirmation which acts as your entry. I personally find the "whats included in the price" to be a little more vague compared to other services but if you know how to navigate there are some great prices to phenomenal lounges. As always, compare prices and convenience for your personal travels.
No. 1 Traveller
Everyone enjoys feeling like the number one traveler, whatever that means. No. 1 Traveller has created an excellent airport experience for those in the United Kingdom with lounge offerings at Heathrow, Gatwick, Birmingham, Manchester, Edinburgh and Stansted. The service allows you to pay for access as you go without any annual fees or commitments while customizing packages online to suite your needs. As a matter of note, most No. 1 Traveller lounges can be accessed by PriorityPass, LoungeBuddy and LoungePass so you'll simply need to compare prices to see who offers the best deal and what's included. As with LoungePass I have a slight grumble that not all things are complimentary with champagne and cocktails requiring extra charge while beer and wine remain complimentary. I suppose No. 1 means the best so do some comparison shopping and see who can get you the best deal into one of these great airport oasis. Info HERE.
Airline Lounge Membership
Many airlines (especially those in America) allow you to purchase annual lounge access for a fee in the range of $400-600. There are big pluses and minuses here. If you fly regularly and only fly with one airline this can be an essential move towards airport peace. Additionally as a member of one airline's lounge program you are generally able to access all airline partner lounges giving solid flexibility. The minuses come in the form of high annual cost, no options when flying airlines not in your alliance and at least on domestic (US) lounges, a lackluster experience. I personally used to hold a Delta Sky Club membership but felt very happy to see it go when my American Express Platinum included Priority Pass. Combined with my various elite status I find I always have access without having to worry about which airline I am flying or where.
Lounges are for everyone and I love all of these services for helping to provide viable options we can all act on whether we are a million miler or a five miler. There's something amazing about paying a modest fee to receive the same seamless airport tranquility as those paying thousands for first and business class tickets. Once you've experienced a good lounge it's hard to go back to the terminal. If you want to know just how good it can be, check out our post on the BEST airport lounges in Europe.
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