How to

Get Inside The Airport Lounges


Want to relax on your next layover? Here are some tips for accessing lounges from our little black book of globe trotting experts.

Travel Rewards Cards

Earning points and miles with a credit card is great, but airport lounge access can be one of the best benefits from a travel rewards card, says Jason Steele of CompareCards. “Among other options, ticket holders with the Delta SkyMiles Reserve card from American Express can get membership in the Delta Sky Club (annual fee: $450). With the United Club card from Chase, cardholders gain access to any United Club, along with their spouse, children under 21, or up to two guests (annual fee: $395). The Citi/AAdvantage Executive World Elite MasterCard offers a membership to American Airlines’ Admiral's Club and U.S. Airways Club locations for the cardholder, his or her immediate family or up to two traveling guests (annual fee $450).”

Pay To Play

“There’s no need to fly first class anymore,” says Krista Canfield of Gogobot. “With a spare chunk of change, chances are you can access an airport lounge at most major airports. Many new ones are pay-to-play, meaning you can simply show up and fork over cash for entry, while around 850 classic lounges worldwide can be accessed with a membership to Priority Pass, which, for a reasonable annual fee gives you a membership with low daily access rates to all participating lounges.”

Elite Status With Ease

“If you fly in the US frequently, considering earning elite status with a non-US airline,” says Brian Karimzad, director of MileCards.com. “That usually grants you access to the US lounges of the airline partner, even when you’re flying on domestic flights. If you instead earn your status with a U.S. airline, you generally only get free lounge access on international flights.”

The Express Way

Consider the American Express Platinum card, ideal for lounge access, notes Christ Van Patten, founder of Ask First Hand. “You get access to American Express’s deluxe Centurion lounges, any Delta lounge (when flying on Delta), and a Priority Pass membership, which is especially handy overseas.”

Do A Status Match

“Try joining the frequent flyer program for a given airline, which might help. This got me into a lounge on my recent trip around the world,” says comedian Dan Nainan. “Also, when you get status with one airline, do a status match and get the same status on other airlines. For example, I got Star Alliance Gold by doing a status match with my Delta Diamond status to Turkish Airlines.”

Stay Loyal

“The good old fashioned way is to get status on an airline,” says luxury travel blogger Ana Silva O'Reilly. “Having lounge access is a way for the company to recognize its most frequent flyers. I fly with British Airways 98% of the time and I am lucky to call Heathrow Terminal 5 my hub. Its First Lounge comes with Taittinger champagne, made-to-order meals and the odd Elemis spa treatment if I'm flying long haul and manage to get a space.”"