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Covered in the Article
- What Is an Airport Lounge?
- How to Access Airport Lounges
- Credit Card's Lounge Perk
- Best Sites to Buy Lounge Passes
- Are Airport Lounges Worth the It?
- Bottom Line
What Is an Airport Lounge?
Airport lounge is a peaceful and restricted area where people can relax before boarding a plane. Traditionally, airport lounges have been meant for business travellers but this has changed. All respected airlines have lounges at their home bases. At the other airports, these reputable airlines have outsourced lounge services. In this article, we introduce how to access airport lounges in affordable ways.
The quality of airport lounges varies a lot. The simplest lounges have only a few simple soft chairs and cold snacks. Better ones are stylishly decorated and they offer warm food with a huge drink selection. The best lounges may even have an à la carte menu, saunas and other well-being services. In lounges, all services are usually included in the entry price except special treatments like massage.
We visit airport lounges 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 air travelling perfect.
What Things Do Lounges Have in Airports?
Airport lounges have usually the following basic services:
- Comfortable seating
- Quiet athmisspehre
- Cold/warm buffer
- Free drinks including alcoholic ones
- Free WiFi
- Magizines, TVs, flight information screen
The best airport lounges have the following additional services:
- Shower facilities
- Spa area
- Printing and computer
- Table service
Plaza Premium Lounge at Helsinki Airport is an example of lounges having a sauna. Also, Finnair non-Schengen Lounge in Helsinki has a sauna area.
How to Access Airport Lounges
There are multiple ways to access airport lounges but naturally, almost all of them involve a payment. Years ago, a passenger had only one way to enter lounges: To buy a business or first-class ticket. Nowadays, accessing lounges can be done in several and often also in inexpensive ways. We list the most common ways how to access airport lounges.
Paying at the Counter
The simplest but also the most expensive way to access airport lounges is to pay at the counter. Usually, third-party lounges accept cash or credit card payments at reception. The entrance fee is typically from 40 to 50 euros. Airline lounges are more selective about customers and it may be impossible to get in even though you are ready to pay the walk-in rate. Airlines want to keep their lounges exclusive and less crowded.
Paying at the reception can only be recommended for business travellers and holidaymakers who do not like making plans in advance and who do not care about the costs.
Business or First Class Ticket
The doors of the best lounges will surely open if you have a business or first-class boarding pass. The airline will invite you to a business lounge and this service will be included in the ticket price. If the airline does not have its lounge at the airport, you will most likely be invited to the airline's partner lounge. Usually, you can't choose which lounge to access but you are directed to the airline's own or its partner's lounge.
In some big airports, business and first-class passengers are separated into different lounges. First-class travellers are invited to a lounge where the service level is superior. Business-class travellers end up with more basic ones but still high-quality lounges.
Miles Status Card
Airlines invite also their economy class passengers to lounges if the passenger has a status card of the 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 gold level depending on the airline. The exact names of the status levels differ between airlines.
The airline will invite status cardholders to their lounges only when they are travelling with their 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 cardholder of British Airways and travelling with Finnair.
The status cardholders are usually allowed to take one guest free of charge. To reach a high enough level, you must fly a lot with the airline in the same airline alliance.
Priority Pass Membership
For frequent travellers, one of the best lounge options is to purchase 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 airline's status card but still travel often. Priority Pass gives the freedom to choose the most suitable airline and still enjoy the services of airport lounges. It suits both business travellers and frequent holidaymakers. We recommend Priority Pass for all active and savvy travellers who wish to enjoy airport lounge services while travelling. Read more from our Priority Pass review.
Priority Pass membership comes often together with a credit card.
Priority Pass Prestige with unlimited lounge access costs 459 euros/year. The membership can be bought on Priority Pass website and used instantly with a digital membership card. For frequent travellers, it pays itself back quickly.
Like Priority Pass, DragonPass is a good option for frequent travellers. Priority Pass and DragonPass are almost similar but there are some minor differences. Read from our review, why DragonPass can be even better choice than Priority Pass. But to be honest, we have noticed that the majority of our European readers prefer Priority Pass to DragonPass.
LoungeKey is a lounge program just like Priority Pass or DragonPass. The difference is that you can't buy it with money. It comes usually with a credit card like Visa or Mastercard.
Travel Class Upgrade
Many holidaymakers are members of airlines' loyalty programs but they never reach a better status level because the total number of flights is just too low. However, they collect award miles always when flying. Airlines sell upgrades to business class with the award miles. A business class ticket includes free lounge access, so this is a simple way to get complimentary access to the lounge. Some airlines sell also lounge vouchers that can be paid with the award miles.
We have upgraded ourselves a few times to the business class with Finnair Plus points. We have also bought Finnair lounge vouchers with Finnair Plus points. It is recommended always to carefully calculate if it's worth the money to redeem award miles for these services. According to our experience, upgrades are a much better way to spend the miles than buying award flights. Awards flights come often with taxes and fuel surcharges which lowers the point value.
Tickets can sometimes be upgraded also with money or in upgrade auctions.
A lounge membership may be too pricey for an infrequent holidaymaker. If you are still interested in airport lounges but without commitments, there is a perfect solution. You can buy single-entry airport lounge passes to many airport lounges. There is a British company called Lounge Pass which sells lounge entry passes to lounges all over the world. Surprisingly, vouchers are inexpensive and they can normally be cancelled free of charge. Many of our readers have already found the Lounge Pass service valuable and made journeys more comfortable.
LoungeBuddy is another website for buying prepaid lounge vouchers. It has a little different lounge selection than Lounge Pass. Unfortunately, LoungeBuddy accepts only American Express payments.
Surely, nobody disagrees that free things are nice. Unfortunately, there are no free lunches but with suitable social connections, you may be lucky.
For example, if your partner is at a high enough level of the airline's loyalty program, he/she may be able to take you to the lounge without an extra charge when you are travelling together. Some Priority Passes that have come with credit cards include free guest access. Free lounge access always comes to the one thing: You must know the right people. Unfortunately, not everyone does have that kind of connection.
Credit Card's Lounge Perk
Some people are not aware of lounge memberships that they can get without extra charges. Premium credit cards like American Express come often with an excellent lounge access feature. For example, Amex has its own American Express lounges in big airports but Amex is also cooperating with Priority Pass. With American Express, you can get a lounge membership, like Priority Pass, free of extra charge.
Mastercard and Visa are cooperating with LoungeKey. It is just like Priority Pass but can't be bought with pure money. It always with a payment card like Curve Metal. LoungeKey's selection contains about 1000 lounges while Priority Pass has 1300 lounges around the world.
Best Sites to Buy Lounge Passes
Lounge Pass is our readers' favourite place to buy lounge access. Every week many of our readers secure themselves a nice lounge visit to make the journey smoother. The benefit of Lounge Pass is that the vouchers are inexpensive and access to a lounge is still secured. As the voucher grants only a single-time visit, there are no commitments or recurring payments.
Lounge Pass is a British company but the company sells passes to lounges all over the world. Visits are paid during the purchase but they can be cancelled free of charge. The risk of an advance purchase is low if you just remember to cancel the pass if plans change. It isn't a surprise why people like using Lounge Pass. Its interface is clear and the booking process is fast and simple. Also, we prefer using Lounge Pass if our lounge membership is not valid.
Are Airport Lounges Worth the It?
Your journey will be much nicer when you can start it relaxed. Lounge access costs about 40 euros or even less so the price is a good value for your money in exchange for a more peaceful environment. Remember how crowded airport restaurants are. Not everyone is also aware that the cumulative cost of having snacks, coffee or beer in airport restaurants comes with an expensive price and the atmosphere in airport cafeterias is not pleased with much noise pollution. Lounges pay back with a relaxed mind.
You often get cheaper when booking a lounge by using Lounge Pass. In addition, you can secure your lounge access in advance. Paying at the counter is often the most expensive way. The latter option has also another disadvantage, there is always a risk that the lounge is all fully occupied especially when visiting a lounge in busy major airports.
- What is an airport lounge?
- It is a peaceful and restricted area where passengers can relax before their flights.
- Where can I buy a single-entry lounge pass?
- Lounges sell vouchers on their websites. Also, companies like Lounge Pass have a huge lounge selection.
- What is the best lounge membership program?
- Priority Pass is the most well-known lounge program. However, many similar smaller lounge programs come often with credit cards. Priority Pass is a good choice but so are many of the other programs too.
- What is an airport lounge card?
- An airport lounge card means a membership card of a lounge program like Priority Pass.
- Can I take a guest with me to a lounge?
- Normally, you can. However, you may need to pay a guest fee. Some lounge memberships include a free guest.
- What is the cheapest way to access a lounge?
- Be a guest of someone who has complimentary lounge access for two people.
- Can I use my airline miles to access a lounge?
- Most likely, yes. It depends on the airline. We recommend upgrading yourself to a better class with the miles.
Not a single lounge access solution fits all. Our recommendation is to analyse different options and choose the most suitable one for yourself.
Buying a business and first-class tickets is never an affordable option. However, if someone else pays for your ticket or you have no need to calculate every single penny, 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 business class is just too expensive, especially when travelling frequently.
For people flying in economy class, money is the key to accessing airport lounges. Spend money wisely! Think carefully if you want to buy a lounge membership or just a single lounge pass. Before buying a voucher, check if your airline's loyalty card gives free lounge access. Check also, if you can 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 travelling, we recommend buying a lounge membership.
What is your way to access lounges? Comment below.
We have been following the travel industry for years, while travelling in Finland, in various regions of Europe and Asia. Our multicultural background with the extensive travel experience gives us a diverse perspective. We encourage individuals embark on high-quality yet sustainable journeys. Furthermore, we are thrilled to introduce the captivating beauty of our homeland, Finland.