Ahh, the airport lounge. That magical land behind those frosty doors; the one most of us aren’t cool enough to gain access to.
Luxury airport lounges offer a ton of amenities including complimentary snacks and drinks (including, most importantly, booze), clean bathrooms and showers, comfortable seating, electrical outlets galore, fast Wi-Fi, and quiet spaces to work. The really fancy ones have jacuzzis, saunas, stylists, facials, wine and champagne bars, pool tables, and gardens. Virgin Atlantic’s Clubhouse at Heathrow even has a DJ mixing studio.
Yes, these are wondrous places. And the good news? You can actually experience them for yourself, and it’s easier than you may think. While you may not have a business- or first-class ticket or elite status with one of the airlines, there are several different ways you can step behind the velvet ropes for a few hours and wait for your flight from the comfort of an airport lounge.
Here are four ways to get in.
- Buy a day pass
- Use LoungePass.com, PriorityPass.com, or LoungeBuddy
- Use your credit card
- Ask a stranger to let you in
Some airlines sell day passes to their lounges that allow you access without having to upgrade your ticket or buy an annual membership. Most of these passes are for U.S. domestic airlines. You can access the Alaska Airlines’ Board Room lounges in Seattle, Portland, Los Angeles, and Anchorage for $45; $50 will get you in to select American Airlines lounges; and you can get into United and Delta’s lounges for $59.
For international flights, consider buying a pass at LoungePass.com, which sells passes to hundreds of lounges around the world. Passes start around $20 but keep in mind that most lounges restrict your time there to three hours and some can only be used by passengers flying within that country.
PriorityPass.com offers access to over 1,000 lounges worldwide for an annual fee. There are several membership levels. For $99 a year you can get into many lounges for only $27 per day; for $249 you can get 10 visits and $27 passes thereafter; and for $399 a year you can get unlimited access to all clubs in Priority Pass’ network. All memberships offer $27 guest passes, as well.
Alternatively, the app LoungeBuddy allows you to purchase instant access to hundreds of lounges around the world without any membership fees or upfront costs.
If you have an American Express card, you can get into one of their growing network of Centurion Lounges for $50 (access is free for Platinum cardholders). Additionally, the Citi Prestige card and Chase Ritz Carlton card both come with complimentary Priority Pass membership.
Several other cards give you access with their annual membership fee. These include American’s AAdvantage World Elite MasterCard, Delta’s SkyMiles Reserve American Express card, and United’s MileagePlus Club Visa card.
Yes, really. Most airport lounges allow first-class passengers to bring one person with them as their guest at no cost to them. All you need to do is ask. While this may be nerve-wracking, keep in mind that people like to help others out and you’ll give them a chance to feel like they did a good deed.
How do you pull this off? First, try to dress professionally. Stand near the lounge but not in direct view of the front desk. Wait for someone who looks friendly—and not in a hurry—and approach them with a smile. Tell them your name and that you’re flying economy class today and have a long layover (hopefully this is true!), and that you have a lot of work to get done. Ask if there is any way they’d be able to add you as their guest. If they say yes, thank them of course, and leave them alone once you get in the lounge. If they say no, try again. Someone is likely to help you out!