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Wishing for an Airline Lounge Membership? 6 Ways to Get One

Mar 11, 2008
Airline lounge memberships provide an oasis of calm for the business traveler and the harried vacationer. When the weather conspires against your flight connections, wouldn't you like a comfortable place to think, away from the noise and hubub? I know I sure do.

I used to think airline lounges were only for the wealthy, or the lucky executives whose companies footed the bill. Not so. Here's how the "in the know" travelers get their airline lounge memberships.

1. One of the more expensive approaches is to purchase membership directly from the airline, at full price. The price tag varies between the airlines, but is several hundred dollars. I wouldn't turn it down if my company purchased this membership for me, but am too thrifty to spend the money myself.

2. Instead of buying full access to an airline's club, you can consider a day pass with that airline. Prices run from $25 to $75 and are only good for the single day. If you only travel a couple times a year this might be the right option.

3. If you're offered an American Express Platinum card take a few minutes to consider the services it brings. The annual fee is pricy ($450 least I checked) but it does give access to many airline lounges. I recommend this approach if you plan to make use ALL of the card's services.

4. A less expensive option is to get a Diners Club card. They have relationships with a number of airport lounges internationally -- most of which are very well-rated. Unfortunately, at the time of this writing Diners Club has only 5 lounges in the United States.

5. Do you nearly always fly on one airline alliance? If so, you probably have frequent flyer "status" and quality for reduced loung membership prices. Some airlines will let you apply your frequent flyer miles towards the price. I wish I traveled on a single airline enough for this to work for me.

6. If you've made it this far down the list without finding an answer, don't dispair. You still have Priority Pass membership to look forward to, and it's a great option. My Priority Pass membership gives me access to over 500 lounges in more than 275 cities. They have access in the U.S. airports I frequent, and a nice range of membership fees. You can start as low as $99 plus $27 per visit.

Hopefully you found an airline lounge membership option in the list above that meets your needs. For me, Priority Pass was the right choice. I don't travel a single airline enough to get much of a discount, and am too cheap to pay for the other options. You'll need to weigh your own budget and travel habits to determine what works best for you.
About the Author
Still undecided? Make sure you check out Beth B's discussion of the Priority Pass program and why the Priority Pass program was right for her.
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