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Cheap Airport Lounge Access

I’ve finally gotten to the breaking point. Screaming babies, seriously uncomfortable plastic chairs, loud speakers with repetitive announcements, people bumping into me, smells that shouldn’t be mentioned and sometimes, having to sleep on the floor… I’m talking about normal airport waiting areas. I’m done hanging out with the “cattle”. I need to get access to the airport VIP lounges. You know, the ones that the Elite/Diamond/Ultra/High-end/Whatever/Toot-your-own-horn-people get and I need access right now!

First I checked Delta, since they’re the largest airline in the world. I figured they’d have lots of lounges at the lowest price. Delta’s Sky Club will set you back a cool $500 for new members and gives you access to about 50 lounges (mostly in the USA with some abroad). Not bad, but also not a huge value for me due to the limited number of lounges. Upon looking further, Delta also gives you access to the SkyTeam member airline’s lounges as well. But the huge caveat is that, “Specific partner-operated lounges permit access to Delta Sky Club members with a same-day Delta or partner flight“. For me, I don’t always fly with Aeroflot, Aeromexico, Air Europe, Air France, Alitalia, China Southern, Czech, Delta, Kenya, KLM, Korean, TAROM or Vietnam Airlines… so with only 50 usable lounges, it just wasn’t meant to be.

On to United with their Red Carpet Club. They only have 30 lounges, but you also get to use the lounges of their Star Alliance airline partners. This brings the lounge total up to a seriously impressive 970 lounges worldwide! The cost comes in at, $525 for new members. It sounds like exactly what I need! But… there’s a big catch, and that is “The member’s departing flight must be with a Star Alliance carrier.” Ya, that’s just not going to work. I rarely fly on a Star Alliance carrier, so that takes me back to a pitiful 30 lounges, a no vote and no red carpet for me.

US Airways Club$500 for new members with 13 lounges and the same Star Alliance deal/limitations as United. 13 lounges for five hundred dollars? No way Jose.

Next up, Continental. With a fancy name like the Presidents Club, I had to be on to something right? Well, not really. Only 18 lounges but with the same Star Alliance access/limitations as United. On their website they break the limitations down even further: “Present your same-day international boarding pass on the Star Alliance member airline that has contracted the lounge. You must also present a valid OnePass Gold or Platinum Elite card, or any Star Alliance airline frequent flyer card, with the Star Alliance Gold logo for entry.” Nope, Continental isn’t going to work for me either. I’m feeling bad, but going to keep trying!

On to American Airlines’ Admirals Club Lounge, which is incidentally part of the One World airline alliance. They want you to spend a cool $500 for their club. With your membership you get access to 40 Admirals clubs. In addition, you get access to 30 Qantas operated clubs – but only if you’re traveling on Qantas. They’ve got fairly great locations for light travelers but with only 40 locations, well over 75% of the places I enjoy traveling are just not covered.

I need this!

At this point I started feeling like I might not get anywhere after all this research, time and effort. Maybe there just isn’t one solution, maybe I needed to buy multiple lounge access memberships. I began to reason in my head that if I had a few memberships, Delta+AA+United all my bases would be covered. Albeit, the cost would be $1,500 a year for total coverage but maybe it would work. Or, on second though, I could just forget the whole thing and go back and sit down next to the cattle… No, that’s not an option, I need to find a solution that didn’t cost $1,500.

Finally, I discovered Priority Pass, fell in love with it and decided to buy it right away! Priority Pass is an independent company that has assembled access to over 600 airport lounges, all useable no matter what airline you’re flying. I got really excited and read every word listed in their fine print to make sure there really were no airline restrictions or deal breakers. So far so good. I then checked all the locations of the lounges that I fly to, including USA airports and my top international destinations. I was shocked to see they provide access to lounges everywhere I want to go! 95% worldwide coverage. It was almost too good to be true when I saw the price… only $399/year, unlimited access. Perfection at last and I joined on the spot!

Goodbye cattle car, hello luxury lounges:

  • I now have space to relax, comfortable chairs and a quiet environment
  • Free Wi-Fi
  • Computer access
  • Conference rooms
  • Entertainment facilities
  • Telephones and Fax machines
  • Complimentary newspapers and magazines
  • Complimentary drinks, snacks & often full meals
  • Showers, beds and much more – all wherever I go

If you’re a traveler, don’t be silly like I was and wait 2 years to get lounge access, believe me, it’s worth doing today.


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