They’re mysterious to those who’ve never been in one, yet unforgettable to anyone who has. Before I was lucky enough to visit an airport lounge, I’d walk by those doors that say “Admirals Club” or “Sky Club” slowly, just so I could maybe get a peak inside, wondering what it was like.
Still, they’re unheralded, often forgotten parts of every airport (certainly by the majority of people who travel). If you fly on a regular basis, a lounge can potentially save you, not only your sanity, but a ton of cash. If you don’t fly a lot, buying a day pass may turn your trip to the airport into something you look forward to, rather than a chore.
What is it like inside a lounge?
Well, I’d highly recommend you check it out for yourself. At least once. But in the meantime, I’d be happy to explain.
Once you reach the front desk, you’ll be asked to present your membership card or pay a daily fee for your visit (that’s right, you don’t have to be a member to visit). Shuffle yourself past the front desk, and you’re in. You’ll likely see a lounge area, a buffet (free food), a bar (free drinks), some tables to set up shop at, and some comfy looking chairs to relax in.
Depending on the lounge membership of your choosing, you can pay more or less. Personally, I’m a member of Priority Pass. They have over 1,000 lounges worldwide, soooo yeah, depending on where you live and how often you travel a membership may be in order. I got my membership through having the Chase Sapphire Reserve. Doing that is certainly an option for yourself. Or you could buy an annual membership which’ll cost you between $100 and $400. A day pass, on the other hand, will probably set you back anywhere between $50-$70.
A lounge is good for someone on business. It will have WiFi. It will also have some sorta workspace where you can set up a laptop, where you can print if needed, and where you can have some quiet and privacy.
A lounge is good for someone who just wants to get away from the crowd of the public terminal. Want a drink or two...or three? It won’t cost you a thing in a lounge. Want some food? Won’t set you back a penny. Get as much as you want. Want a quiet environment to relax during a long layover? An airport lounge is perfect. Need a shower? You’ll be in luck in a lounge (not all, but many).
The first lounge I visited was at Boston Logan. It was a Delta Sky Club and it was amazing. I remember it being quiet (compared to the terminal), and just an overall relaxed atmosphere. The view was splendid, too. It was located one floor above the terminal floor, so we had an overhead view of the planes on the tarmac. A very unique experience indeed. And, in case any of you were wondering, I certainly had close to my fair share in free food and drinks during our time there.
Downsides to getting a membership
Of course, there are downsides too. For instance, $400 is a lot of money for many people.
Then there’s the actual location of the lounge. First, the big picture question: at your home base airport, what lounges are there? If you live in Austin, getting a Priority Pass may not be the best idea, simply because there is no Priority Pass lounge at the Austin-Bergstrom International.
Then, once you get to your airport, what terminal is the actual lounge located in? This is something important to consider, because, for example, if you fly domestically out of Chicago’s O’Hare a lot, what happens if the lounge group you become a member of is in the international terminal - and only for passengers on international flights. Or, it could be in a terminal you don’t fly out of very often, therefore requiring you to go through security multiple times. And finally, if you can get to the lounge from your terminal without going through security multiple times, how close is it to your gate?
Location is the name of the game when it comes to these lounges, and I would suggest you know the answer to all of these questions before committing to becoming a member.
One last thing to consider before getting a membership: do you fly enough to make it worth it? To get your money’s worth for a $400 annual membership, I would suggest - based simply on my ability to do mistake-filled arithmetic, and a tendency to drink way too much alcohol when it’s free - that you would need to visit seven or eight times by yourself (half that if you bring a guest along) to get your money's worth.
If you’ve never been in a lounge, I’d highly recommend purchasing a day pass one day to check it out. I guarantee you’ll enjoy yourself. It may not be something you’re interested in doing on a regular basis - and honestly, you really don’t need to. But there’s little doubt it can be a unique and special experience. It can certainly make a special trip (like a honeymoon) that much more special.
It’s also the perfect place to read a book. And if you’d like your reading list to expand, join my online book club where you’ll get great book suggestions sent to your email once a month. All you have to do is sign up below. Probably the easiest thing you’ll do today.