Fly in Style: How to Access Airport Lounges for Less

Tips By Kendra Ralston September 18, 2017

We’ve all been there: Long layovers, delayed flights, lost luggage. While it may be a necessary evil, the list is endless when it comes to airport grievances. Luckily, there’s an escape from your personal airport hell. From free Wi-Fi and plush lounge chairs to unlimited food and booze, airport lounges are like an oasis in the middle of the airport.

What if we told you these coveted sanctuaries aren’t just for first class flyers? In fact, you don’t even have to break the bank to get a taste of this luxury. Try these tips to access airport lounges for less — or better yet, totally free.

For the Economical Vacationer

Get a Day Pass

Day passes are the most affordable way to gain lounge access. American, Delta, and United Airlines offer day passes at $59 in the U.S.

Use Your Credit Card

Many American credit cards offer complimentary access to airport lounges. Though some tend to have high registration fees, you can save money by taking advantage of their other benefits.

For example, the American Express Platinum Card gives you access to Delta Sky Clubs and Centurion Lounges, as well as a Priority Pass Select membership. A Priority Pass membership gets you into to over 1,000 lounges around the world.

Chase Sapphire Reserve similarly gives you access to over 1,000 airport lounges and Priority Pass Select, while the United MileagePlus Explorer card offers two one-day passes to any United Club per year.

For the Bleisure Traveler

Splurge on a First-Class Ticket

Mix some pleasure into your business trip: From TSA PreCheck to pre-boarding, there’s nothing more luxurious than flying in style. With a first-class ticket, you can expect exceptional treatment straight from your car to customs. Ready for that martini now?

For the Loyal Passenger

Become an Elite Member

If you’re loyal to a particular airline, look into purchasing a club membership. As a loyalty member, you’ll have a slew of rewards, like bonus miles, free upgrades, and preferred seating. Depending on the airline, you’ll be able to access Star Alliance lounges around the world.

For the Budget Traveler

Just Ask

Your $99 trip to Iceland was a steal, but flying a budget airline can definitely take its toll. If you’re looking for some quick respite and feeling bold, ask a stranger or airline staff near the lounge. Depending on their membership, lounge members have the option to bring a plus one.

Ready to plan your next vacation? Check out these seven cities reinventing themselves as tourist destinations.