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Airport Lounges: A Beginner’s Guide

by The Masculine Traveler

I used to think that airport lounges were strictly for VIPs traveling on First Class fares. I resigned myself to pay for expensive food and drinks at an airport restaurant.  It wasn’t until the past year that I enhanced my travel experience with the use of Airport Lounges. To my chagrin, I discovered that you don’t need to be wealthy for access to these Lounges. Access can be granted to budget travelers as well.

Even the lowly budget traveler can gain access to lounges in airports all over the world. Airport lounges offer at a minimum a respite in a separate location, where the tired traveler can rest or work in a quiet area. Most lounges offer free drinks and a buffet-style food. The top-tier lounges offer full dining, showers, and even hotel rooms.

The following are 4 ways that you can access lounges in airports all over the world.

1.Credit Cards are the most common way for the average traveler to gain access to premier lounges. Several credit cards offer lounge access as part of their sign-up bonuses.I personally have the following 2 credit card which, provide more than enough access to airport lounges:

The Platinum Card from American Express (Personal and Business Versions). You will receive 4 distinct lounge benefits with this card:

  • Priority Pass Select: Provides access to over 1,000 lounges worldwide.
  • Access to The Centurion Lounge: Upscale lounges in the U.S. locations of LGA, SEA, SFO, LAS, DFW, IAH
  • Airspace Lounge:  Luxury lounges in Dulles, VA, and lounges in Baltimore, Cleveland, New York, and San Diego
  • Delta Sky Club:  Owned and operated by Delta Airlines, these lounges are located in 45 international airports.

Citi Prestige from Mastercard

  • American Airlines Admiral’s Club: Access to 45 worldwide lounges and 30 lounges by Quantas.
  • Priority Pass:  membership, like above, but you’ll have free access for up to two guests or for immediate family.

2. Buy a first or business class ticket. Historically, this was the most common way of obtaining access to premier lounges in airports. Airlines rewards their first class and business customers by providing them with access to their lounges or their affiliates’’.  Providing premier travelers with access to lounges is standard practice for most major airline companies.

3. Obtaining Elite Status with an airline is usually accomplished through the accumulation of flights within one airline of airline alliance. The airline is rewarding their customers for loyalty. The major American airlines (United, American, Delta) have different criteria for status.

4. Buy Access to any of the major American airlines (United American, Delta). You can pay or redeem miles for access to a particular lounge for one year. Buying a day pass is also an option at most lounges. Day passes cost anywhere from 20 to 60 U.S. Dollars.


This past year I became a believer in the value that Airport Lounges have in enhancing your travel experience.  At a minimum the lounges offer a respite to the weary traveler. Considering, the outrageous cost of food and drinks in airport restaurants, airport lounges are a great bargain considering they usually serve free alcohol and food.

For long layovers and flight delays, they provide a refuge in a comfortable, quiet location where you can even take a nap. Airport lunges have become an indispensable component of my travel routine. It’s hard to imagine traveling without them.



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