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How to Get Airport Lounge Access Before Every Flight

Travel days aren’t always the most enjoyable. Even the best planned trip usually involves some last minute packing, the hassle of getting to the airport and then making your way through security (although TSA Pre-Check helps). After all that, there’s no downplaying how enjoyable an airport lounge can be. Here is how you can get airport lounge access before every flight.

Hong Kong Airport Loung

1. Priority Pass Membership

Priority Pass is a lounge membership program with access to 1000+ lounges worldwide. We’ve used our Priority Pass membership regularly while traveling the world, as we’re often flying economy and don’t have status with any airline.

Priority Pass membership is easy to get (maybe too easy, and  in the long run it may become a less appealing perk). It’s so easy, in fact, that we have FIVE Priority Pass memberships between the two of us currently. Priority Pass membership is notably a perk on the following credit cards:

  • American Express Platinum (2 guests)
  • Citi Prestige (Immediate Family + 2 Guests)
  • Ritz-Carlton Visa (Unlimited Guests)
  • Chase Sapphire Reserve (Unlimited Guests)

You can see above we’ve indicated the number of guests (in your traveling party) that you can bring into the lounge with you.

If you don’t want to sign up for any of those cards, you can purchase a Priority Pass membership outright on their website. There are three membership levels starting at $99 (+$27 for each member or guest visit) and going up to $399 (for free unlimited member visits). Although we’re not sure purchasing priority pass is really the best use of the money.

2. Credit Cards With Lounge Memberships

Priority Pass isn’t the only way credit cards can get you into lounges. The American Express Platinum card gives you access to American Express Centurion Lounges (2 guests) and access (not membership) to Delta SkyClub lounges when flying Delta.

The Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard comes with an American Airlines Admirals Club membership (access with cardholder for immediate family and two guests), and the Chase United MileagePlus Club Card card comes with membership to United Club (access with cardholder for immediate family and two guests). With these memberships, you can use these lounges regardless of what airline you’re flying.

The downside of these cards is that other than the American Express Platinum Card, they don’t offer much by way of perks for infrequent flyers beyond the lounge membership.

3. Credit Cards That Are Good For Day Passes

The Chase United MileagePlus Explorer card (which we hold) comes with two day passes to United Club lounges annually.

Several credit cards also come with travel credits that can’t be used for plane tickets (at least not according to the terms set forth by the issuer). One way to use these credits, though, is for day passes or annual lounge memberships.

These include the American Express Premier Rewards Gold Card ($100 credit) and JP Morgan Ritz Carlson Rewards credit card ($300 credit). The American Express Platinum card comes with a $200 credit, but with its other lounge perks, you shouldn’t need to use it on day passes.

4. Fly The Appropriate Class

This varies by airline, but typically…

  • Business and First class passengers usually have complimentary access to some lounge at their departure airport, either their airline’s lounge or a partner lounge
  • Premium economy passengers usually don’t have special lounge access. Sometimes they are given the ability to purchase day passes where not otherwise available, or for a reduced rate. In rare cases they have lounge access.
  • Economy passengers don’t get lounge access, though in many cases they may be able to purchase day passes where other travelers (on other airlines) cannot.

It won’t matter whether you’ve paid cash or with points when you’re in a cabin that gives your lounge access.

5. Use Miles

Most airline-affiliated lounges have some sort of program setup for you to pay for lounge membership with miles. It’s hard to imagine this making sense, though, at the rates they commonly offer.

Hong Kong Airport Loung

So take your pick and get the most out of your travel day!

Jet Fighter

Wednesday 10th of January 2018

Unfortunately lounges are usually too crowded and refills are not what they used to be. I like to fly early in the morning to get some peace in the lounge. Thanks for your article, and for sharing.


Thursday 11th of January 2018

I like early morning lounge time, too. Especially at a lounge that has a great coffee bar, like at the SAS Lounge in Oslo Airport. I definitely see your point on the crowding, too, and unfortunately all the ways I list above only lead to that problem. It's worth noting that Am Ex has cut back on access to the Centurion Lounge lately, which could make it a more appealing option if you're searching for a less crowded experience. Happy Travels!

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