Although they were originally designed as a place for business travelers to work and unwind, airport lounges have become popular among all types of travelers, but are airport lounges worth it?
Airport lounges offer travelers a place to eat, drink, rest, or entertain themselves while waiting for their flight, and with some day passes starting at $29, they can be an affordable way to make your travel experience better.
Continue reading to learn more about airport lounges, what they offer to travelers, and how you can access a lounge the next time you fly.
What Are Airport Lounges?
At its most basic, an airport lounge is a place where travelers can rest away from the busy flight terminal while waiting for their flight. Not all airports have lounges, but they have become more popular in recent years, and travelers can expect to see them popping up in airports around the world.
Not all lounges are created equal, with some being nothing more than a quiet room and others offering entertainment, playrooms, food, and even spa treatments. Although some lounges are exclusive, catering only to premium passengers, other lounges can be accessed by anyone for a fee.
How Do Airport Lounges Work?
Although they are really nothing more than posh rooms, airport lounges are quite complicated. One might think the lounge is a service of the airport itself, but this is not always true. Many lounges are owned by credit card companies and cater to their travel cardholders.
Others are owned by the airport and are either only available to club members or to the public. Additionally, people can sometimes access exclusive lounges if they have an account with another alliance.
Lounges are staffed with attendees who will ask you to provide some type of permission into the lounge area. In some cases, this is as simple as showing them a QR code from your credit card company, while in other cases, you may have to purchase a special lounge pass.
Once in, you will have access to the services that are offered to you. Since lounges vary, it might be helpful to ask the attendee what is included in your lounge visit.
How Much Do Airport Lounges Cost?
The cost of lounge entry will fluctuate because there are so many ways to access an airport lounge. For example, if you have a certain credit card, you might be able to enter the lounge for free. Additionally, airport clubs will often offer lounges to their members. Even if you do not have a credit card or membership, you may still be able to buy a lounge pass.
Again, the price will depend on how you gain access to the lounge, but you can find a list of some of the prices below.
|Entry Method||Brief Description||Average Price|
|Credit Cards||Many credit card companies own airport lounges and offer entry to their premium card members. Additionally, you may be able to enter independently owned lounges with certain card memberships.||Prices will depend on the terms of the card that you have but most premium cards carry a membership fee anywhere from $95 to $700 dollars.|
|Priority Passes||Priority pass is an independent program that allows members access to airport lounges even with economy class tickets. There are four membership levels to choose from and each level allows a different number of visits each year.||Standard: Yearly fee of $99 and a $27 fee per visit. Standard Plus: Yearly fee of $249 and a limit of 10 visits per year. Prestige: A yearly fee of $399 and members get unlimited visits. Select: Access with certain credit cards.|
|Lounge Membership||Some airlines offer lounge memberships that allow users to access the lounges in all their airports. Some will allow you to access the airline’s lounge even if you are flying with another company.||Prices vary among airlines, but they typically cost anywhere between $350 and $500 a year.|
|First Class||Most airlines offer lounge access to their first-class flyers.||First-class ticket prices will vary depending on who you fly with, where you fly out of, and your destination. Cheaper first-class flights will start at $1,300 with the most expensive tickets costing around $16,000.|
|Day Pass||Day passes can often be bought right from the lounge itself. Some lounges will require that you be flying with them, while others will allow anyone to buy a pass.||$29 to $80|
|LoungeBuddy||LoungeBuddy is a program that has partnered with airport lounges worldwide to offer lounge access to anyone regardless of service or status.||Costs vary depending on the lounge, but prices often fall between $30 and $60.|
Can I Access the Airport Lounges for Free?
Although there are some lounges that can be accessed for free, and these can often be found using the LoungeBuddy app, most lounges are offered to people who have a membership or ticket. This means that even though you are technically entering the lounge free of cost, you probably paid for the service when you paid for the ticket or membership.
What Services Do Airport Lounges Offer?
Services will vary depending on where you are, with some lounges offering basic services and others offering far more lavish services to their guests. For example, the Polaris lounge in Chicago offers its guests a full-service restaurant, premium bath products in a spa-like shower, and custom areas to work.
While there are some lounges that offer some pretty glamorous services, the basic services that you can expect from a lounge are:
- Peace and Quiet
- Free Food
- Private Bathrooms
- Comfortable Seating
- High-Speed Internet
- Customer Service
Premium services differ among lounges but could include:
- Bath Products
- Robes and Slippers
- Customer Work Areas
- Free Meals
- Video Games
- Movie Theatres
- Pool Tables
- Cigar Bars
- Sleeping Quarters
- Spa Treatments
- Family Rooms
- Much More
Pros and Cons of Airport Lounges
Like most things, there are both pros and cons to airport lounges, and we compare both below.
- Access to special facilities and amenities
- Privacy away from the often-crowded flight terminals
- Free food and beverages
- A quiet area to get some work done
- More comfortable seating
- Showers and places to rest
- Free alcoholic drinks and open bars
- A place to keep kids entertained
- Families can relax and enjoy one another
- Stress-free environment
- Not all airports offer lounges, so you may pay for a membership you never use
- Ones that are not exclusive may be crowded
- More people are choosing to buy day passes
- Not all lounges are family-friendly
- Kids may feel stifled
- Other members may be rude if you are intruding on their space
- It might not be worth paying for a first-class ticket or getting a special credit card
- Credit cards might have hidden fees
- They are usually marketed toward business travelers and elites
Can I Sleep in Airport Lounges?
Yes. In fact, having a comfortable place to rest during late-night stayovers or delays is one of the biggest benefits of having a lounge membership. People often tuck themselves away in a quiet corner and catch some much-needed sleep. Additionally, some lounges offer guests private quarters with chaises, pillows, and blankets.
How Long Am I Allowed to Stay in the Airport Lounge?
Technically, if you are paying for entrance into the lounge, you would think that you could stay as long as you needed. However, many lounges do have a time limit.
The exact time limit will depend on the lounge, but many expect guests to stay two or three hours before their flight lands or leaves. That being said, most lounges do not strictly enforce these time limits unless someone is taking advantage of the services. If you are quiet and have a legitimate reason to be there, you will probably not get kicked out.
Can I Take My Family to The Airport Lounge?
This is a tricky topic, with many people saying that kids defeat the intended purpose of having a lounge at all. However, unless the lounge has a specific policy barring children from entering, you should be able to take your family into the lounge with you.
In fact, some lounges offer family rooms, playrooms, and entertainment areas geared toward families with younger children.
The biggest barrier will be the cost. Depending on how you are gaining entry into the lounge, you may or may not be able to bring a guest, and a child may or may not be considered a guest of yours. However, some credit cards will allow users to bring their families into the lounges with them.
Do I Need a Boarding Pass to Enter an Airport Lounge?
Lounges will typically be airside of airport security, and if you do not have a boarding pass, you are not getting through security. That being said, some airports do have lounges landside, and you may or may not be able to access these without showing proof of a previous flight.
Do All Airports Have Airport Lounges?
Although there are more than 1,300 airport lounges in the world, there are over 15,000 airports, and not all of them have airport lounges—yet. The good news is that because these exclusive rooms are becoming more popular, you will likely start to see them popping up in more airports around the world.
Are Airport Lounges Worth the Money?
Traveling can be stressful, and airport lounges offer a way for travelers to unwind and find some peace and quiet. People who do not travel often may want to avoid hefty annual fees by purchasing a day pass or booking through LoungeBuddy.
Those who travel more often might find it beneficial to sign up for a premier card or purchase an annual lounge membership. Those who don’t mind waiting in the terminal may want to avoid the experience altogether. Ultimately, it is up to you to decide if having access to the extra benefits is worth your hard-earned cash.
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