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What is an airport lounge pass?

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    Flying to new or even familiar destinations is exciting! That is, of course, if the actual traveling part goes smoothly. By the time you stand in long lines, navigate crowded terminals and potentially wait for hours in an uncomfortable waiting area, the excitement may have dampered.

    The good news is that there is a respite from all the crowds and chaos, right inside the terminal. Airport lounges! These luxurious lounges can help alleviate the small inconveniences travelers might experience while navigating an airport. In addition, they can provide a great value for those who maximize the amenities, especially when complimentary food, drinks, beds and even showers are provided.

    In this article we'll share more about how to access these lounges either through a lounge pass or by becoming a network member.

    What does an airport lounge include?

    Each lounge is slightly different, offering unique features depending on the city and the lounge itself. However, most airport lounges include the follow amenities:

    • Complimentary refreshments, usually including alcohol
    • Spacious and comfortable lounge areas to stretch out
    • Spaces to rest, eat, work or read
    • Workstations
    • Outlets for charging your devices
    • Some include conference rooms, showers, beds and spa facilities

    Lounges are not in every airport, so be sure to find out ahead of time if there is one at your departure airport and destination.

    Can anyone use an airport lounge?

    Airport lounges are becoming more accessible to everyday travelers rather than being reserved for big spenders or first-class ticket holders. Anyone can access airport lounges if you have a paid membership or day pass. But if you don't have these passes, there are still other ways to gain access.

    Keep in mind that your boarding pass alone will not get you in to some of these locations. Even if you are a first-class traveler your boarding pass does not always guarantee lounge access.

    Accessing airport lounges

    When it comes to accessing an airport lounge, some frequent travelers prefer to get a membership at either a network of lounges, or through their preferred airline. If you're a less frequent traveler, you may find that day passes are more economical. Depending on your preferences, below are several ways to get access to a lounge.

    Priority Pass™

    One of the most popular and easily accessible airport lounge networks is Priority Pass, a global collection of independently owned airport lounges. This network has over 1,300 lounges in 600 cities throughout the world. With that kind of global footprint, you might be flying through an airport with a lounge participating in the Priority Pass network. Each lounge is slightly different in layout and features, but generally includes the most important amenities such as free refreshments, Wi-Fi and comfortable places to relax.

    The cost of Priority Pass includes an annual fee, plus depending on the membership tier, there may be an additional fee for each visit. If you have a Priority Pass membership, you're able to utilize their participating lounges regardless of the airline you're flying or the class of your ticket.

    Lounge Pass

    Lounge Pass is an online airport lounge booking service that anyone can use. This service allows individual travelers, tour companies and businesses to reserve a spot at airport lounges around the world ahead of a trip, or even on the fly (pun intended).

    It doesn't matter which airline you are flying with, or the class of ticket you have.


    Similarly, LoungeBuddy is another mobile app that enables American Express travelers to find out which airport lounges they have access to based on the credit cards in their wallet, their airline loyalty status or the airport they're located in at the time.

    One thing to note is that LoungeBuddy was recently acquired by American Express, so only AmEx cardmembers can use the app to book a pass.

    Day passes

    As mentioned above, most airport lounges have a day pass option, even if you're not flying with that particular airline. You can purchase a day pass in advance online, or using the various apps listed above, or you can walk up to the front desk of any lounge to inquire about availability for that day.

    This is a great option if you're not ready to commit to one specific network of lounges or a single airline.

    Depending on the lounge, day passes can generally range between $19 and $75 per visit. Visit limits can vary by lounge, some may be 6 hours or some may have no limit as long as it's within the same day. You can check the visit limit terms ahead of booking.

    Get a credit card with complimentary Priority Pass membership

    Many popular travel rewards credit cards come with Priority Pass membership as one of the benefits. Additional rewards, discounts, and annual fees will vary from card to card. But many cardmembers find this list of travel benefits are worth the annual fee. In addition, you're able to earn points for every purchase you make with most travel rewards cards, including the Chase Sapphire Reserve® card.

    Check to see if your travel rewards credit card already has this benefit, or could do some research to find one that fits your lifestyle and spending habits.

    Earn elite or loyalty status with an airline

    If you have a preferred airline that you travel with often, you could sign up for their loyalty program. This allows you to earn points every time you fly. Over time, those points may be redeemed for discounted flights and it may also give you a certain status level with that airline.

    You may find that you earn points faster when you use an airline's cobranded credit card and make purchases through their online shopping portals.

    Be a guest of someone with lounge access

    If you're traveling with someone who has a lounge membership, you're in luck. Most lounges allow guests, which means you can enjoy all the amenities by paying a guest fee when applicable.

    In conclusion

    There are many ways for today's traveler to snag an airport lounge pass. Day passes may be a good option if you're an infrequent traveler and don't want to purchase a full lounge membership. Or you may want to apply for a travel credit card that offers complimentary membership to a network of lounges. Lastly, you may want to sign up for free airline loyalty programs where you can work toward earning a higher status each time you fly with that airline.

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