How to get Lounge Access.
Lounge access isn’t just for the Elite anymore. There are ways stacked upon ways to get into airport lounges for free, or close to it.
Chilling in the airport lounge while waiting for your flight makes a huge difference in the airport experience. It offers a more pleasant atmosphere, better seating, less of a crowd (although lounges are getting more and more crowded with all the easy ways to get in now, pissing off some of the “Elites”…), FREE drinks, and usually some snacks (think cheese, crackers, and nuts)
A big reason I love airport lounge access is free wi-fi. While some airports are now offering wi-fi, most don’t. And I spend a lot of time on my mac (more than I care to say), so I freak if I don’t have wi-fi. Of course, my wife usually likes when I don’t have wi-fi on vacations and that’s understandable.
Here are some of the cheap and easy ways to separate yourself from the common folk at the airport.
SkyGuide Executive Privilege Club
Edit#2: My wife has received her SkyGuide creds after two weeks from signing up. The deal is still a go!
The SkyGuide Executive Privilege Club is exclusive to American Express card holders. If you hold an Amex, you have probably received numerous mailers from them, and if you are like me you just threw them in the recycle bin.
SkyGuide Executive Club will reimburse you for up to 12 lounge passes annually! Lounge access is usually valued at $50 a day, so that’s $600 in value. What’s even better is you can get a membership to the SkyGuide Executive Privilege Club for $20 a year.
Here’s the link where you can sign up for the SkyGuide Executive Privilege Club. Only sign up for the the one year membership for $20.
You must use your American Express card to pay for the lounges, you will have to mail in your receipts individually, and it usually takes about a month to receive the reimbursement check. You won’t be reimbursed for monthly Club memberships or passes bought for other individuals. The lounge passes must be in your name.
p.s. you can also get reimbursed for some gym visits when traveling.
Buy 1 Day Passes
You can usually buy one day passes to most lounges for $50. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this, but it’s an option. I guess if I had an extremely long layover and I didn’t have any passes, or I wasn’t a member of the SkyGuide Club- I would think about it.
I see buying 1 day passes as a way for people to sample a club before they buy a full year of access. If you are an Amex Platinum card holder, one day passes will count towards yours $200 incidental credit, so you would be reimbursed.
Travel Credit Cards
There are several credit cards that will give you access to lounges as long as you hold the card. These cards all have hefty annual fees, but if you fly often, then they can pay for themselves. Some of these rewards cards also come with many other perks, including: priority boarding, check-in, credits and opportunity to earn elite miles.
The Platinum card from Amex will grant you access to Delta, American, and US Airways lounges. You don’t even have to be flying US Airways metal to gain entry into their lounges, but Delta and American require you to be ticketed through them.
You will also gain access to Priority Pass for free! This opens up 600 lounges worldwide for your use.
There is a $450 annual fee for the Amex Platinum card, but you do receive a $200 incidental credit every year, so if you frequent lounges, the annual fee easily pays for itself.
United Club Card
The United MileagePlus Club card grants you access into United lounges. Makes sense. There is a $395 annual fee, but United Clubs are giving out free codes to waive the annual fees. Be sure to stop by and see if the United Club has one.
The Delta Reserve card has a $450 annual fee. Great for high rollers who fly on Delta and spend $$$. You can even earn Elite Status with Delta by spending ($30k or $69k) on your Reserve card.
The Citi AAdvantage WorldElite Mastercard has an annual fee of $450. You also have the opportunity to earn Elite qualifying miles as well.
There are also several other cards that come with free passes when you sign up for them, or annually. They are:
United Explorer | 2 free United Club passes every year. Respect. I received mine a couple weeks after I applied for my United Explorer card.
US Airways | 1 free pass for signing up for the US Airways card. Eh.
Ink Bold® Business Card | A little known fact is that the Ink Bold comes with 2 free lounge passes through the Lounge Pass program. After your first 2 free visits, you will have to pay $27. Not too shabby.
Ink Plus® Business Card| Just like the Ink Bold, you will receive 2 free passes through Lounge Pass.
Have Elite Status or Know Someone Who Does
Of course, if you are an Elite with an airline alliance, you will have lounge access. And if you don’t have elite alliance status, then make friends with an Elite and start traveling with them. You can usually bring one person in with you for free.
International First Class Award Ticket (or full fare)
If you book an international first/business class award ticket, you will get access to lounges for the extent of your whole trip.
Having access to airport lounges can really add to the quality of traveling. I love getting the free wi-fi so I can get some work done or just surf the web. Who doesn’t like that? Especially when you are drinking a free beverage of your choice.
The SkyGuide Executive Privilege Club is an inexpensive way to get into lounges, but requires some paperwork and time to receive your refund. I personally love the free passes I get for signing up for rewards cards. Oh, the perks.
— Noob Master