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Airport Lounge - What Is It?
The term Airport Lounge is usually used to refer to a peaceful and restricted area where people can relax before their flights. Traditionally, airport lounges have been meant for business travellers but this is slowly changing. All respected airlines have their own lounges at least at their hub airports. While at the other airports, these reputable airlines have usually outsourced lounge services. In this article, we tell you How to Access Airport Lounges. We suggest you many useful and cheap methods how to get in airport lounges.
The quality of airport lounges varies a lot. Simplest ones have only a few chairs and tables and some cold snacks available. Better ones are really stylishly decorated and they offer warm food with huge drink selection. The best lounges may even have a'la carte menu, saunas and other similar extra services. In the lounges, all services are usually included to the entry price except some special extras like massage.
We like airport lounges especially for two simple reasons: There is a relaxing atmosphere to unwind before flights and free reliable WiFi. All other services, like food and drinks, make our air travelling perfect.
How to Buy Airport Lounge Access?
There are many ways to enter airport lounges but naturally almost all of them involves money. Years ago there was only one way to enter lounges: to have a business or first class ticket. Nowadays, entering lounges can be done in several and often also in cheap ways. Having a business class ticket is probably the most expensive way and it can be recommended only for travellers whose tickets are paid by someone else (sponsored tickets). We are now listing the most common ways, how to enter an airport lounge.
Business and First Class Tickets
The doors of the lounges will surely open if you have a valid boarding pass in the business or in the first class category. The airline will invite you to its business lounge and the service will be included to the ticket price. If the airline does not have its own lounge at the airport, you will most likely be invited to airline's partner lounge. Usually you can't choose, which lounge to access, but you are forced to use airline's own or its partner's lounge.
In some big airports, business and first class passengers are separated to different lounges. First class travellers are invited to a lounge where the service level is superior. Business class travellers end up to more basic ones but still high quality lounges.
Airlines' Status Cards
Airlines may invite also their economy class passengers to their lounges if the passenger has a status card of airline's loyalty program. Loyalty programs commonly have four different levels. The basic level does not include the lounge benefit but the benefit comes after the silver or the gold level depending on the airline. The exact names of the status levels differ between different airlines.
The airline will invite status card holders to their lounges only when you are travelling with their own flight tickets. Sometimes it may be enough that you have a ticket from an airline inside the same alliance. For example, you may be invited to Finnair's lounge at Helsinki Airport if you are a status card holder of British Airlines and travelling with Finnair.
The holders of the status cards can usually take one guest free of charge to the lounge. To reach high enough level, you must fly a lot with airlines who are members of the same airline alliance.
Paying at the Door
The simplest but also the most expensive way to access airport lounges is to pay at the door. Usually third party lounges accept cash or credit card payments at their receptions. The entrance costs typically from 40 to 50 US dollars. Airline lounges are more selective about their customers and it may be impossible to get in even though you are ready to pay at the door. Airlines want to keep their lounges exclusive and less crowded.
Paying at the door can only be recommended for rich people and for travellers who do not like making plans in advance.
Buying Priority Pass Membership
For frequent travellers, one of the best option is to buy the Priority Pass membership. Priority Pass has different membership levels and the best level includes unlimited lounge access. In big airports, there are usually many lounges that accept Priority Pass membership.
Priority Pass membership is good especially for people who are not holding any airlines' status card. Priority Pass gives you the freedom to choose always the most suitable airline and still enjoy the possibility to visit airport lounges. It suits both to business travellers and to frequent holiday makers. We recommend Priority Pass for all savvy travellers who still want to enjoy travelling. Read more from our Priority Pass review.
Buying DragonPass Membership
Like Priority Pass, DragonPass is really good option for frequent travellers. Priority Pass and DragonPass are almost similar but there are some minor differences. Read from our separate review, why DragonPass can be even better choice than Priority Pass.
Having a Premium Credit Card
Many people have a free access to airport lounges but everyone may not be aware about it. Premium credit cards like American Express come often with the lounge access feature. For example, Amex has its own lounges in many big airports and they are also co-operating with Priority Pass. With a premium credit card, you can get Priority Pass or DragonPass free of charge. Be careful with the terms, because these memberships do not always include unlimited lounge access and guests may have to pay a separate fee.
Upgrades and Airlines' Lounge Vouchers
Many holiday makers are members of airlines' loyalty clubs but they are never reaching any status level because the total amount of flights is too low. They may, however, be collecting award miles always when flying. Airlines sell usually upgrades to business class with award miles. And as we told before, a business class ticket includes a free lounge access, so this is a simple way to get access into the lounge. Some airlines are also selling their lounge vouchers that can be paid with the award miles.
We have been upgrading ourselves to the business class with Finnair Plus points. We have also been buying Finnair lounge vouchers with Finnair Plus points. Always calculate carefully if it's worth the money to use your award miles to these services. According to our experiences, upgrades are much better way to spend the miles than buying award flights. Awards flights often come with taxes and fuel surcharges so the value of your award points if used to this service is not worth it.
Buying Single Entry Lounge Voucher
If you are infrequent holiday maker or a business traveller but you are still interested in airport lounges, we have a recommendation for you. You can buy single entry vouchers to many airport lounges. Many lounges have their own web pages where the vouchers are being sold with discounted prices but looking for those pages is time-consuming. There is a company called Lounge Pass*s who sells lounge entry vouchers to airports all over world. Surprisingly, they are often inexpensive and the vouchers can normally be cancelled free of charge if your plans change. Many of our readers have already found Lounge Pass Service valuable and that is the way how they have made their journeys more comfortable.
How to Get Free Access to Lounges?
We all want things free. Unfortunately there are normally no free lunches but with suitable social connections you may be lucky.
For example, if your partner is at high enough level of the airline's loyalty program, he/she may be able to take you to the lounge without extra charge when you are travelling together. Some Priority Passes, that have come with credit cards, include also free guest access. Basically it always comes to the one thing: you must know the right people. Unfortunately, we do not have that kind of connections, so we are using the methods we have described in this article.
The Best Way to Get Airport Lounge Access?
Sorry, we do not have a solution that fits for everyone, but we have given you a few alternatives, where you can choose from. Our recommendation to you is to analyze these alternatives and choose the most suitable for yourself.
Buying business and first class tickets is never an affordable option. However, if someone else pays your ticket or you have no need to calculate every single dollar/euro, a business class ticket may be your option. It does not only open the lounge door but keeps the service level high during the whole journey. For the majority of people, flying in the business class is just too expensive especially when travelling frequently.
If you fly in the economy class, money is your key to access airport lounges. But spend your money wisely. Think carefully if you want to buy a lounge membership or just single entries. Before buying any entry voucher check, if your airline's loyalty card gives you a free lounge access. Check also, if you are able to buy a lounge voucher from the airline with your award miles. Often you may have enough award miles for a few lounge entries but for frequent travellers we recommend you to buy a lounge membership card. Read our analysis about Priority Pass and DragonPass to understand, if they are the best options for you. For example we are using Priority Pass to visit lounges every now and then.
For infrequent travellers and for families, we recommend to buy single airport lounge vouchers. We recommend Lounge Pass*because their price level is often lower than lounges' own prices and they offer free cancellation.
What is your way to access lounges? Are we missing some good options? Please comment below.
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We are updating articles when we get new information. This article has been edited last time on 06/15/18.