There's nothing like the feeling of being a business traveler who gets access to an airport lounge for the first time. I know I felt like a celebrity (and a tiny bit of imposter syndrome) the first time I entered a lounge. I didn't think I'd be back to I remember sitting there in awe, trying to blend in with the other business travelers like it was no big deal.
Airport lounges not only provide a comfortable space for people who need to find a spot to sit and work, they also offer other services like free food, drinks, and sometimes even showers, massages, and spaces to have a nap. I always thought you had to be flying business or first class to get in. I learned that flying a specific seat class isn't always the case.
Here are a few ways you can get access to an airport lounge. Note that before purchasing any passes, be sure that there is an airport lounge that is available at the airports you will be flying in and out of.
1. Use your credit card.
One of the easiest ways to get access to one of the thousands of airport lounges available worldwide is to use your credit card. However, not all credit cards are created equally and some will only get you so far. For instance, co-brand airline credit cards, such as some of the personal and business Delta credit cards, will only get you into a lounge that is only good for that airline. In this scenario, that would mean only access to the Delta Sky Club when flying Delta.
However, there are other premium travel credit cards with more flexibility. For instance, the Platinum Card from American Express, one of the best credit cards for travel miles, comes with the most access with the ability to enter Priority Pass lounges, Centurion Lounges, and even the Delta Sky Club (when flying Delta). While this credit card also comes with other exciting travel benefits that business travelers can enjoy, there is also a high annual fee.
However, if you travel for business often, you may find that these credit cards perks help pay themselves off. Note that some credit cards come with the ability to bring up to two companions with you to the lounge, but there may be an additional fee.
2. Pay for access with a membership.
Another way business travelers can get into an airport lounge is to pay for access. The good news is travelers have several options in this scenario. For one, business travelers who frequently travel may want to try Priority Pass.
Priority Pass is essentially a tiered membership program with access to over 1,200 lounges around the globe. Travelers can choose one of the three paid membership tiers that best suits them, depending on how often they want to visit a lounge. Note that with each tier, there is an option to bring a guest (or two, depending on the lounge) for an additional $32.
Alternatively, if you and your company only fly with one airline, investing in an airline specific lounge membership might be worth it. While these memberships can be expensive, you usually get access to the airline and their alliances which is great if you do a lot of international travel. Additionally, if you have elite status, you will likely be offered exclusive access and benefits through the airline.
3. Pay for access with a one-time pass.
If you don't feel the need for a membership but still want access to lounges every so often, consider Lounge Buddy. With Lounge Buddy, you can book access on the day of travel or up to two months in advance to a lounge that has a partnership with Lounge Buddy. You don't need to have a certain credit card or be flying with a specific airline to access Lounge Buddy either.
Additionally, in order to entice traveler's loyalty, most major airlines offer the ability to buy a day pass. Depending on the terms and conditions, you may be able to use that pass for a partner airline's airport lounge. This is something to consider, especially if visiting lounges abroad as they tend to be designed well with many amenities.
3. Pay for access to a public airport lounge.
Some airports have their own lounges that anyone can get access to as long as they pay the access fees. For example, you can purchase a single use day pass for $40 that can be used anytime within six months at The Club Airport Lounges. However, there are only 11 lounges in the U.S. and two in the U.K. that are accessible. If you travel abroad often, consider Plaza Premium Lounges. There are over 70 locations available around the globe that are open to all travelers.