Today, we welcome back Daniel Kinnoch, co-founder of LoungePair. He comes back to us (from an interview) as a guest writer sharing his thoughts on airport lounges. Thank you Daniel for taking the time to write this post and sharing your experience with us. Keep up the good work at LoungePair!
Airport lounges are a great way to escape the hustle and bustle of the airport terminal. During the COVID-19 pandemic where distancing yourself from others has been desirable, an airport lounge offers that much-needed escape before your flight.
While there is a perception that airport lounges are for the wealthy or those who fly a crazy number of miles in a year and acquire flashy status, there is usually an avenue for anyone to get access to all but the most exclusive lounges.
We at LoungePair are in the business of helping people get into airport lounges at an affordable rate. However, we also want to give our customers the choice and educate them on the other ways that they can get access.
This guide scratches at the surface of some of the options available to those wanting to enjoy a lounge before their next flight.
Pay for Access to an Airport Lounge Direct or via a Third-Party
Do you know all those lounges that you can use Priority Pass to get into? Subject to capacity, you can usually just pay to walk right in the door. Alternatively, you can book and pay online in advance.
Here is a non-exhaustive list of links to sources that will let you purchase airport lounge access:
- LoungePair, which is our baby. We let you name your own price for access, which lounges can then accept subject to capacity and price. We have a special join offer for Pointshogger readers, with $10 credit towards your first successful bid.
- Lounge Pass, which is owned by Priority Pass. You may like to check the websites for individual lounges to ensure you’re getting a good price.
- LoungeBuddy, which is owned by American Express. You must have an American Express credit card to purchase access. You can get 10% off access by using the promotional code “welcomemat10”.
- Plaza Premium Group, the world’s largest independent airport lounge operator. They have lounges in Toronto, Edmonton, Vancouver and Winnipeg.
- Sleep ‘n fly who offer fantastic ‘sleep’ pods and rooms in Dubai and Doha.
- No1 Lounges, who have lounges in the United Kingdom and Australia.
- Marhaba, owned by Emirates.
- Executive Lounges, owned by Swissport. Many of their lounges are under the coveted Aspire Airport Lounge brand. They operate lounges in Calgary and Montreal.
- Airspace Lounge
- Escape Lounges, who have lounges in the United Kingdom and the United States.
- LoungeMe, owned by TAV.
Montreal Airport Swissport Lounge, Canada
Apply for a Credit Card that Offers Airport Lounge Access
Applying for a credit card that offers airport lounge benefits is by far one of the easiest ways to ensure that you have access before your next flight.
The credit cards that offer unlimited airport lounge access usually have very high annual fees. American Express is the most commonly known card issuer that offers this benefit, particularly their Platinum card. This card comes with an annual Priority Pass membership for the main cardholder, and also for one supplementary cardholder. You can also use the card to get complimentary access to a range of other lounges with partners like Escape and Plaza Premium.
There are also credit cards that offer a limited number of annual lounge access passes per year. The fees on these cards are usually reasonable to most. Often this more limited benefit will suffice, particularly if you only fly a few times per year.
There are also cards that offer a new lounge access pass each time you hit a specific spend threshold, and these are good if you have an approximation of how much you’d spend on your card per year.
Pointshogger covers a wide variety of financial products that offer lounge access as a key benefit of being a cardholder.
Buy an Airport Lounge Membership
This is an option for those that find themselves loyal to one airline, but do not fly frequently enough to earn status, and do not spend enough cash or points to find themselves in Business or First Class.
There are many airlines that offer paid membership programs. Air Canada offers an annual paid Maple Leaf Club membership, which many can get cheaper through corporate work packages, or from discounts for holding select credit cards.
They even have a unique worldwide membership that gives access to all Star Alliance run lounges across the world.
In the United States, American Airlines, Delta and United all offer paid lounge membership programs.
Expect to pay $375 to $650 per year, plus an “initiation fee” or “join fee” (waived for some if they have the right credit card). As long as you renew each year, or even purchase a multi-year membership, you’ll find yourself paying less as time goes on.
However, you need to make sure you do the maths. This could be a good option for those who would otherwise pay for one-time access or have other memberships like Priority Pass but fly via airports that don’t offer participating lounges (i.e. they’re dominated by airline-run lounges).
Attain Elite Status
Whether paid for by you or your employer, most airlines reward those who live on their aircraft for ridiculous amounts of time, and even more so if you’re up the pointy end in Business or First.
The status earn requirements are different depending on the airline you fly with. Attain 50K status on Air Canada with Aeroplan, for example, and you’ll get access to most Star Alliance airport lounges around the world.
The SkyTeam Airline Alliance made up of airlines like Delta, Air France, and KLM offers airport lounge access for certain elite members.
My personal favourite is the Oneworld alliance, which is spearheaded by American Airlines and Alaska Air in North America.
Some airlines like Qantas and British Airways even offer lifetime status after you’ve earned a certain number of ‘status’ points. I’m well over halfway there myself, and once achieved, this means that I can fly once a year and still get access to Oneworld lounges worldwide.
Be a Guest of Another Traveller
LoungePair started off as a site where you could rely on the kindness of strangers to gift airport lounge access. One only has to read travel forums like FlyerTalk to find that there are plenty of examples of travellers standing outside of airport lounge doors, hoping that someone will kindly guest them in. You can also check for airport lounge guest passes for sale online, however, note that this will likely be against the terms and conditions of the lounge membership program, and if you are caught out, you’ll likely find yourself back in the terminal with everyone else.
As you can tell, there is a myriad of different options for getting access to airport lounges.
There is no ‘best’ airport lounge access method for everyone. It will often depend on budget, travel frequency, what airport you’re flying from, or whether you want a high-end credit card.
LoungePair offers a bid-based booking platform that satisfies those who don’t want to pay full price for access and are happy to miss out if their bid isn’t accepted.
However some want the security of guaranteed access, and hopefully, this guide has taught you some of the ways in which you can get it before your next flight.