I was recently asked by a reader who was new to flying about Airline Lounges and how does one get access to them.
Generally speaking, most Airline Lounges are meant for the premium passengers who either hold a business class or first class tickets, or those who hold an elite status with the airline or their select partners, or if you have purchased a Membership for their lounges. Each Airline has a different set of rules for access to their Lounge. It is best to check what these rules for the Airline Lounge of your interest.
Holding a lounge membership in one Airline gets you access only to their own lounges and may be one or two additional partner airline’s lounge. This can restrict the choice of lounges and may not be offer you the most options. An alternative to holding a membership in one Airline’s lounge is a program called Priority Pass. Priority Pass is a program which partners with a lot of Airline lounges as well as independent airport lounges all over the world. Membership in Priority Pass gets you access to over 600 lounges at over 300 Airport in over 100 countries. You can search for the lounges at the airports of your interest on their website or on a smart phone. No matter what airline, what frequent flyer membership, elite status, or class of ticket bought, eligible cardholders will enjoy all of the convenience of an airport lounge.
Disclaimer: Please note that I am not affiliated or connected to Priority Pass or any any other websites in mentioned in this post in any ways, commercial or otherwise.
Membership in Priority Pass can cost you anywhere between $99 to $399 depending on the type of the membership you purchase. Following are the three types of memberships in Priority Pass:
- Standard membership which charges $27 to your sponsoring credit card for each visit to an Airline lounge covered in the Priority Pass network. Each accompanying guest also pays $27. This standard membership costs $99.
- Standard Plus Membership which comes with 10 free lounge visits included every year of membership. After the free visits have been used, each visit is charged at US$27 per visit to the member’s credit card on file. Each accompanying guest is also charged at $27. Standard Plus membership costs $249.
- Prestige Membership which provides unlimited free in-network lounge visits to the member and accompanying guests are charged $27 directly to the member’s credit card on file. Prestige membership costs US$399.
Apart from the above ways to access airline lounges, American Express Platinum card ($475 annual fee + $175 for up to 3 add-on cards) holders also get access to select Airlines’ lounges which include American Airlines’ Admirals Club, Delta Airlines’ Sky Club and US Airways Club. AMEX Platinum card holders can also request free Priority Pass Prestige Membership to access lounges covered by Priority Pass. Thus, with AMEX platinum card, you can get access to most Airline lounges.
There are several credit cards out there that sponsor free membership to Priority Pass. However, please note that there are multiple levels of PP membership with varying types of coverages and charges. Examples of such cards are AMEX Hilton Surpass Card, most MasterCard World Elite cards, some other premium cards.