a bar with chairs and a counter

Airport lounges completely change the travel experience. Thanks to cool apps, and credit cards that include lounge access, there are more ways to get in than ever. When it comes to getting in via your frequent flyer card, things get a bit more confusing. Here’s everything you’ve ever wanted to know about lounge access, getting in and making sure you don’t get the ‘turn away’ of shame…

a large pool with a staircase in the middle of itIf You’re Accessing A Lounge With Priority Pass, Lounge Club Or An App…

Accessing a lounge with a membership from your credit card, Priority Pass or an app like LoungeBuddy is very straight forward. It does not matter which airline you are flying, or what class of service. Yep, flying economy on a random discount airline is fine. Your criterion for entry is just your Priority Pass, Lounge Club or LoungeBuddy pass. You can see which lounges you have access to in advance via your membership, so just check with your app, membership or credit card in advance.

Example: You’re flying EasyJet or JetBlue and found a lounge you can get into via an app or your credit card. You can get in.

a bar with bottles on the wallIf You’re Accessing A Lounge By Flying International Business or First Class…

If your access to the lounge is based on your airline ticket alone (frequent flyer status doesn’t matter), you can use the lounge of the airline you’re flying, or any of their alliance partners, offered to your class of service. Basically, if you’re flying business class, you can use any of your airline, or their partner’s business class lounges. If you’re flying first, you can use their or their partners first class lounges or business class lounges. Check out a map of your terminal in advance to scope out options.

Example: You’re flying British Airways First Class, so you can use the Qantas or Cathay Pacific First Class lounge in the airport. Same would go for any other partners. All good! A couple notable exceptions happen with Lufthansa, Swiss and Qatar, who restrict first access only to those on their flights. Otherwise, no worries!

a large room with a large bar and a large counterIf You’re Accessing A Lounge Via Frequent Flyer Status…

If you’re accessing a lounge via frequent flyer status, you can use any lounge of your airline, or any of their partners SO LONG AS you’re flying on an airline within that alliance. If you’re flying with an airline from a different alliance, you’re not eligible to use your frequent flyer privileges and get in. So, no, if you’re a OneWorld frequent flyer, flying Air France, you get nothing via frequent flyer status. You’d need to be flying business class on Air France to use their lounge, or have a Priority Pass or LoungeBuddy membership for access to another lounge. Just an FYI, all US airlines exclude their own members from lounges on domestic flights, even if flying first. International only, unless you’re a member of a foreign frequent flyer program, like British Airways, then you can get in on any flight.

Example: You have Air France frequent flyer status, and you’re flying Delta economy. You can use the lounge based on your status. No problem!

a bar with shelves of liquorBut, You May Be Able to Pay Your Way In Regardless…

More and more airlines offer paid lounge access for all flyers. Yes, again, even economy flyers. So if you’re flying with Delta, American, United, Emirates, Etihad, Cathay Pacific or any other number of airlines, you may be able to access a lounge, even if you don’t have elite status and aren’t flying business or first class.

Example: You’re flying Etihad in economy, and you realize you can pay $50 to use their lounge. You’re in!

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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  1. I’m not trying to mock your info ( its all good), but I would be curious to hear how many people that read this info don’t already know how it works

    1. Hey Mike, my only answer to your question is that so far 5,000 people read this article alone today, so I think there are quite a few who are looking for clarification. I know tons of the most frequent travelers, those with ConciergeKey, etc, who have absolutely no clue what they can and cannot do in difference circumstances.

  2. Well, as a data point I clicked…and realized knew everything in the article before I did. Was just curious about this author’s approach. No surprises.

  3. Example – “You have Air France frequent flyer status, and you’re flying Delta economy. You can use the lounge based on your status. No problem!”

    I thought SkyTeam required an international flight for lounge access for elites, so a Flying Blue Elite wouldn’t be able to access a Delta lounge unless the flight was part of a same-day international itinerary.

    1. Nothing wrong with that! It’s what we’re here for. People are busy and many have lounge access work out without thinking, but it’s nice to know the rules, or guidelines. Hope it was helpful.

  4. Thanks for the post and thoughts. I’ve tried to use the Delta Skymiles lounge using my platinum amex card, while flying another airline and was denied entry.

  5. I think it was helpful as I needed clarity on certain accesses which I now know about .

  6. I am Qantas platinum (OW Emerald) but want to credit the flight to BA Blue (to build status and Avios there). Will I be allowed access to BA first class lounge on production of my Qantas Card. Is this in the rules somewhere so i can point to it if I am not allowed in. Thanks.

    1. Hey akkers, you definitely can. As long as your QF card or digital card is handy you’ll have no problem at all. They’re used to it.

  7. Does anyone know the answer to this scenario: Flying from US to Sofia, Bulgaria with tickets booked through Delta and DM status. The final flight from AMS to SOF is shown as Airfrance but operated by AirBulgaria, as neither of those main carriers fly to Sofia. Does one have access to the KLM lounge in Amsterdam before that last leg, booked as KLM but operated by Air Bulgaria. And, flying out of Sofia is there any lounge access at the Sofia airport?

    1. If it’s booked via KLM and same day travel from AMS to SOF in business class then yes, definitely. If the same day long haul is business then you’ll have a lounge both ways.

  8. Hi Just a quick one, I have silver status with One world however im fkying with AF this week, can i get access to a one world alliance lounge using my BA status regardless of my AF ticket

  9. Hello, I am flying from Austin to the Maldives on both American and Qatar business class,
    my first leg out of Austin is economy and from Dallas back to Austin is economy .
    Can I use Qatar’s lounges/ or American lounges in Austin and DFW during my trip to and from the Maldives even thou
    I’m only flying coach on these two legs from and back to Austin thru DFW and business on Qatar from DFW to Males and back to Austin
    Thanks Ken R

  10. Can you use a lounge (I’m using through PriorityPass) in any concourse, for example a different concourse than one your flight arrives or departs from?

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