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Private Airport Lounge Passes

Rest like a VIP before your flight or during a layover with a day pass to your carrier’s private club.

 

It’s a fact of life if you fly: At some point or another, your flight will be delayed. How you spend that time in the airport can color the rest of your trip, especially if the delays last several hours. Would you rather sit in an uncomfortable seat with the masses, paying for every snack, meal, cocktail or bottled water, or would you rather kick back in a V.I.P lounge stocked with amenities? The answer is a no-brainer, and you don’t have to be a platinum card-carrying frequent flyer to gain access to these airport oases.

One-time day passes, even at $50 or so a pop, can save you considerable money if the alternative is eating and drinking in an overpriced airport restaurant. If you fly a lot, there are also clubs that you can join for an annual fee to cut the costs. Some even have kid areas, a bonus for families facing long layovers with antsy youngsters.

Not all lounges are created equal though.

Buyer Beware: Tips for Purchasing a Day Pass

  • Not all airlines offer lounges at every airport. Check to make sure there’s a lounge available at the airport(s) you’ll be departing from before you buy a pass.
  • Some lounges allow guests for a fee (or even free); some don’t.
  • Check to see if minors are allowed. Sometimes the day passes restrict them.
  • Amenities vary wildly. Some offer free food, drinks (including alcohol) and Wi-Fi Internet access; others charge, sometimes more than what you’d pay for a sandwich or day pass in the terminal. Also, if you definitely need access to a shower or a private room, check first.
  • Make sure the pass is good for where you want to go. Some passes only allow access to U.S. lounges.

Lounge Pass Perks

Here’s a breakdown of some of the lounge day pass programs available.

American Airlines
The one-day Admirals Club pass costs $50 and is good for more than one American Airlines lounge if you are connecting. If you are flying overnight, you can use the pass in the morning. You can bring two guests with you for $25 per person. Children under age 18 are allowed in free. Get the pass online, at a lounge or at a self-service machine if available at the airport. Amenities include complimentary Wi-Fi service through T-Mobile and nonalcoholic beverages. www.aa.com

Continental
Presidents Club Day Passes are available for $45. The pass is good for 24 hours at any airport on your ticketed itinerary.  Amenities include complimentary beverages, light snacks, bar service, high-speed and Wi-Fi Internet access and photocopy machine use. www.continental.com

Delta
A day pass to Delta’s Crown Room Club is $30. No guests are allowed with the pass and no one under 21 is allowed in. Amenities include satellite TV, fully stocked bars, Wi-Fi access (must have T-Mobile account), magazines and newspapers, and even putting greens. www.delta.com

Northwest Airlines
The $45 WorldPass is a misnomer. You can use it only for domestic U.S. travel, and no guests are allowed. You must be 21 years of age or older. Amenities include complimentary cocktails, beer, wine and other beverages, snacks, USA Today and Wall Street Journal, private workstations and free Wi-Fi access. www.nwa.com

United
United’s Red Carpet Club one-day pass goes for $50 or 7,000 miles. Buy one at any U.S. or international location or online. Amenities include complimentary soft drinks, juices, tea, coffee, snacks, newspapers and magazines, and free Wi-Fi service through T-Mobile. www.united.com

Membership Clubs

Priority Pass 
For a nominal fee, you have access to 500 lounges in 275 cities in more than 90 countries. Choose three levels of membership depending on your flying habits.
Standard Pass: $99 a year, plus $27 per visit.
Standard Plus: $249 includes 10 lounge visits. After that, each visit is $27.
Prestige: $399 gets you unlimited access to all the participating lounges as often as you like. www.prioritypass.com

American Express Club Access Program
Platinum cardholders get complimentary access to participating American Airlines Admirals Club, Continental Airlines Presidents Club, Delta Crown Room Club and Northwest Airlines WorldClubs around the world. Your spouse and children under age 21, or up to two traveling companions, may join you as guests. www.americanexpress.com

Lounge Pass
Lounge Pass allows you to buy a day pass in advance at a less expensive rate than the airlines. It offers a choice of 128 airport lounges in 39 countries at almost 100 airports. Prices vary. As an example, a pass at the Boston Logan Airport Continental Presidents Club costs £20—all prices on the site are in British pounds—or about $35, saving you $10. www.loungepass.com


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